Multiple Vulnerabilities in Microsoft Windows PDF Library Could Allow for Remote Code Execution (MS16-028)

ITS Advisory Number: 
2016-044
Date(s) Issued: 
Tuesday, March 8, 2016
Subject: 
Multiple Vulnerabilities in Microsoft Windows PDF Library Could Allow for Remote Code Execution (MS16-028)
Overview: 

Multiple vulnerabilities have been discovered in Microsoft Windows PDF Library, which could allow for remote code execution. Windows PDF Library is a library used for natively reading PDF files, and is included in various Windows operating system installations. These vulnerabilities are triggered if a user opens a specially crafted PDF file. Successful exploitation of these vulnerabilities could result in an attacker gaining the same privileges as the logged on user. Depending on the privileges associated with the user, an attacker could then install programs; view, change, or delete data; or create new accounts with full user rights.

Systems Affected: 
  • Windows 8.1
  • Windows 10
  • Windows Server 2012, 2012 R2, and Server Core installations
RISK
GOVERNMENT
Large and medium government entities: 
High
Small government entities: 
High
BUSINESS
Large and medium business entities: 
High
Small business entities: 
High
Home Users: 
High
Description: 

Multiple vulnerabilities have been discovered in Microsoft Windows PDF Library, which could allow for remote code execution. These vulnerabilities are triggered if a user opens a specially crafted PDF file. In an email attack scenario, an attacker could exploit these vulnerabilities by sending an email and enticing a user to open a specially crafted PDF file that is attached. (CVE-2016-0117, CVE-2016-0118)

Successful exploitation of these vulnerabilities could result in the attacker gaining the same rights as the logged on user. Depending on the privileges associated with the user, an attacker could then install programs; view, change, or delete data; or create new accounts with full user rights.

Actions: 
  • After appropriate testing, apply appropriate patches provided by Microsoft to vulnerable systems.
  • Run all software as a non-privileged user (one without administrative privileges) to diminish the effects of a successful attack.
  • Remind users not to visit un-trusted websites or follow links provided by unknown or un-trusted sources.
  • Inform and educate users regarding the threats posed by hypertext links contained in emails or attachments, especially from un-trusted sources.