Security Flaw Found With Outlook VCards - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.


Security Flaw Found With Outlook VCards

Security consulting and research firm @Stake Inc. has discovered a security flaw within Microsoft's ubiquitous Outlook and Outlook Express E-mail applications. The vulnerability concerns the use of Outlook's vCards, or virtual business cards, which can fall victim to a buffer overflow attack or contain code that can attack a user's system.

VCards can be created with malicious code that can either cause Outlook to crash, or even allow the E-mail application to run damaging code on a targeted victim's system. In Microsoft Security Bulletin MS01-012, posted Thursday, Microsoft admitted that the flaw is potentially devastating. "In the more serious case, the attacker could cause the mail client to run code of her choice on the user's machine. Such code could take any desired action, limited only by the permissions of the recipient on the machine," the bulletin states.

This means that if an unsuspecting user opens the malicious vCard, virtually anything can happen, including reforming the disk drive, adding or deleting files, or any other dangerous action.

Ollie Whitehouse, security architect manager for @stake, says he discovered the flaw late last year and worked with Microsoft testing the patch. Whitehouse says users who install the patch will be protected but warns that users should "always be intelligent about what they're downloading. Even seemingly benign attachments can be malicious."

The flaw is serious enough that Microsoft recommends all Outlook users update their browser with the security patch. Since the flawed software component ships with Internet Explorer, users are recommended to download the Internet Explorer patch at

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
The State of Cloud Computing - Fall 2020
The State of Cloud Computing - Fall 2020
Download this report to compare how cloud usage and spending patterns have changed in 2020, and how respondents think they'll evolve over the next two years.
Can Cloud Revolutionize Business and Software Architecture?
Joao-Pierre S. Ruth, Senior Writer,  1/15/2021
10 IT Trends to Watch for in 2021
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek,  12/22/2020
How CDOs Can Build Insight-Driven Organizations
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor, Enterprise Apps,  1/15/2021
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
Current Issue
2021 Top Enterprise IT Trends
We've identified the key trends that are poised to impact the IT landscape in 2021. Find out why they're important and how they will affect you.
White Papers
Twitter Feed
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.
Sponsored Video
Flash Poll