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Date: Thu, 11 Jun 2009 14:47:03 -0500
From: iDefense Labs <>
Subject: iDefense Security Advisory 06.11.09: Microsoft Excel SST Record Integer
 Overflow Vulnerability

iDefense Security Advisory 06.09.09
Jun 09, 2009


Excel is the spreadsheet application included with Microsoft Corp.'s
Office productivity software suite. More information is available at
the following website:


Remote exploitation of an integer overflow vulnerability in Microsoft
Corp.'s Excel could allow an attacker to execute arbitrary code with
the privileges of the current user.

The vulnerability occurs when parsing a Shared String Table (SST) record
inside of an Excel file. This record is used to hold a table of strings
that are used inside of the document. One of the fields in this record
is a 32-bit integer that represents the number of unique strings in the
table. This value is used to allocate an array of pointers to the
strings contained inside of the table. When allocating this array, an
integer overflow occurs in the calculation of its size. This leads to a
heap based buffer overflow when the array is filled with pointers to
strings from the file.


Exploitation of this vulnerability results in the execution of arbitrary
code with the privileges of the user opening the file. To exploit this
vulnerability, an attacker needs to convince a user to open a malicious
file. This is typically accomplished by emailing a user the file, or
embedding it inside of a web page.


iDefense has confirmed the existence of this vulnerability in all
currently supported versions of Excel, this includes:

  Excel 2000 SP3 (Excel.exe version
  Excel 2002/XP SP3 (Excel.exe version 10.0.6850.0)
  Excel 2003 SP3 (Excel.exe version 11.0.8237.0
  Excel 2007 SP1 (Excel.exe version 12.0.6331.5000)

All patches as of February 2009 were applied.


To prevent exploitation of these issues, Microsoft recommends using the
MOICE tool and/or disabling legacy binary file support. More
information about these workarounds can be found within their security


Microsoft has released a patch which addresses this issue. For more
information, consult their advisory at the following URL:


The Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE) project has assigned the
name CVE-2009-0561 to this issue. This is a candidate for inclusion in
the CVE list (, which standardizes names for
security problems.


02/19/2009  - Initial Contact
02/19/2009  - PoC Sent
02/19/2009  - PoC requested
02/19/2009  - Vendor Status Update
04/22/2009  - Vendor set tentative disclosure date of 06/09/2009
05/22/2009  - Status update received
06/09/2009  - Coordinated public disclosure


This vulnerability was discovered by Sean Larsson and Joshua Drake,
iDefense Labs

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Copyright © 2009 iDefense, Inc.

Permission is granted for the redistribution of this alert
electronically. It may not be edited in any way without the express
written consent of iDefense. If you wish to reprint the whole or any
part of this alert in any other medium other than electronically,
please e-mail for permission.

Disclaimer: The information in the advisory is believed to be accurate
at the time of publishing based on currently available information. Use
of the information constitutes acceptance for use in an AS IS condition.
 There are no warranties with regard to this information. Neither the
author nor the publisher accepts any liability for any direct,
indirect, or consequential loss or damage arising from use of, or
reliance on, this information.

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