Microsoft Security Advisory (960906)
Vulnerability in WordPad Text Converter Could Allow Remote Code Execution
Published: December 9, 2008
Microsoft is investigating new reports of a vulnerability in the WordPad Text Converter for Word 97 files on Windows 2000 Service Pack 4, Windows XP Service Pack 2, Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1, and Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 2. Windows XP Service Pack 3, Windows Vista, and Windows Server 2008 are not affected as these operating systems do not contain the vulnerable code.
Upon completion of this investigation, Microsoft will take the appropriate action to protect our customers, which may include providing a solution through a service pack, our monthly security update release process, or an out-of-cycle security update, depending on customer needs.
At this time, we are aware only of limited and targeted attacks that attempt to use this vulnerability. Additionally, as the issue has not been publicly disclosed broadly, we believe the risk at this time to be limited.
We continue to encourage responsible disclosure of vulnerabilities. We believe the commonly accepted practice of reporting vulnerabilities directly to a vendor serves everyone's best interests. This practice helps to ensure that customers receive comprehensive, high-quality updates for security vulnerabilities without exposure to malicious attackers while the update is being developed.
Customers who believe that they have been attacked can obtain security support at Get security support and should contact the national law enforcement agency in their country. Customers in the United States can contact Customer Service and Support at no charge using the PC Safety hotline at 1-866-PCSAFETY. Additionally, customers in the United States should contact their local FBI office or report their situation at Internet Crime Complaint Center.
Microsoft continues to encourage customers to follow the "Protect Your Computer" guidance of enabling a firewall, applying all software updates and installing anti-virus and anti-spyware software. Additional information can be found at Security at home.
This issue does not affect Windows XP Service Pack 3, Windows Vista, and Windows Server 2008.
An attacker who successfully exploited this vulnerability could gain the same user rights as the local user. Users whose accounts are configured to have fewer user rights on the system could be less affected than users who operate with administrative user rights.
The vulnerability cannot be exploited automatically through e-mail. For an attack to be successful, a user must open an attachment that is sent in an e-mail message.
When Microsoft Office Word is installed, Word 97 documents are by default opened using Microsoft Office Word, which is not affected by this vulnerability. However, an attacker could rename a malicious file to have a Windows Write (.wri) extension, which would still invoke WordPad. This file type can be blocked at the Internet perimeter.