iDefense Security Advisory 03.09.10: Microsoft Excel Sheet Object- Type Confusion Vulnerability

From: iDefense Labs <>
Subject: iDefense Security Advisory 03.09.10: Microsoft Excel Sheet Object- Type Confusion Vulnerability

iDefense Security Advisory 03.09.10
Mar 09, 2010


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 a type confusion vulnerability in Microsoft
Corp.'s Excel could allow an attacker to execute arbitrary code with
the privileges of the current user.

This vulnerability is a type confusion vulnerability that occurs when
parsing several related Excel record types. In this case, the type
confusion is due to multiple records containing fields that identify
the type of an object shared between them.

By controlling memory outside of the bounds of the allocated heap chunk,
an attacker can control a C++ object pointer used in a virtual function
call. This can result in an area of memory being treated as a different
type of object than it actually is, resulting in access outside of the
bounds of the allocated object.


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 the targeted user a
malicious file, or providing a link to one on a webpage.

iDefense testing has demonstrated that this vulnerability is highly
exploitable, which is consistent with most type confusion

As with most memory corruption vulnerabilities, exploitation mitigation
technologies like DEP and ASLR substantially increase the difficulty of
exploiting this vulnerability.


iDefense has confirmed the existence of this vulnerability in all
currently supported versions of Excel (2007 SP1/SP2, 2003 SP3, XP SP3),
and also the currently unsupported Excel 2000 SP3. A full list of
vulnerable Microsoft products can be found in Microsoft Security
Bulletin MS10-017.


iDefense is currently unaware of any workarounds for this issue. Since
the vulnerability occurs in the core parsing code it is impossible to
disable the affected module.


Microsoft Corp. has released a patch which addresses this issue.
Information about downloadable vendor updates can be found by clicking
on the URLs shown.


The Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE) project has assigned the
name CVE-2010-0258 to this issue. This is a candidate for inclusion in
the CVE list (, which standardizes names for
security problems.


09/10/2009  Initial Vendor Notification
09/11/2009  Initial Vendor Reply
03/09/2010  Coordinated Public Disclosure


This vulnerability was discovered by Sean Larsson, iDefense Labs.

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