Security Flaw Found With Outlook VCards - InformationWeek

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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 http://www.microsoft.com/windows/ie/download/critical/q283908/default.asp.

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