Security Update for Microsoft Office to Address Remote Code Execution (MS16-004)

ITS Advisory Number: 
2016-007
Date(s) Issued: 
Tuesday, January 12, 2016
Subject: 
Security Update for Microsoft Office to Address Remote Code Execution (MS16-004)
Overview: 

Multiple vulnerabilities have been discovered in Microsoft Office that could allow remote code execution. 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: 

Microsoft Office Software:

  • Microsoft Office 2007 (Service Pack 3)
  • Microsoft PowerPoint 2007 (Service Pack 3)
  • Microsoft Visio 2007 (Service Pack 3)
  • Microsoft Word 2007 (Service Pack 3)
  • Microsoft Office 2010 (Service Pack 2)
  • Microsoft Excel  2010 (Service Pack 2)
  • Microsoft PowerPoint 2010 (Service Pack 2)
  • Microsoft Office 2013 (Service Pack 1).
  • Microsoft Excel 2013 (Service Pack 1)
  • Microsoft PowerPoint 2013 (Service Pack 1)
  • Microsoft Visio 2013 (Service Pack 1)
  • Microsoft Word 2013 (Service Pack 1)
  • Microsoft Office 2013 RT Service Pack 1
  • Microsoft Excel 2013 RT Service Pack 1
  • Microsoft PowerPoint 2013 RT Service Pack 1
  • Microsoft Word 2013 RT Service Pack 1
  • Microsoft Office 2016
  • Microsoft Excel 2016
  • Microsoft PowerPoint 2016
  • Microsoft Visio 2016
  • Microsoft Word 2016
  • Microsoft Excel for Mac 2011
  • Microsoft PowerPoint for Mac 2011
  • Microsoft Word for Mac 2011
  • Microsoft Excel for Mac 2016
  • Microsoft PowerPoint for Mac 2016
  • Microsoft Word for Mac 2016
  • Microsoft Office Compatibility Pack Service Pack 3
  • Microsoft Excel Viewer
  • Microsoft Word Viewer

Microsoft Server Software:

  • Microsoft SharePoint Server 2013 Service Pack 1
  • Microsoft SharePoint Foundation 2013 Service Pack 1

Microsoft Visual Basic Server:

  • Visual Basic 6.0 Runtime
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 remote code execution vulnerabilities exist in Microsoft Office software when the Office software fails to properly handle objects in memory. An attacker who successfully exploited these vulnerabilities could run arbitrary code in the context of the current user. If the current user is logged on with administrative user rights, an attacker could take control of the affected system. An attacker could then install programs; view, change, or delete data; or create new accounts with full user rights. Users whose accounts are configured to have fewer user rights on the system could be less impacted than users who operate with administrative user rights.

To exploit the vulnerabilities, a user must open a specially crafted file with an affected version of Microsoft Office software. In an email attack scenario an attacker could exploit the vulnerabilities by sending the specially crafted file to the user and convincing the user to open the file. In a web-based attack scenario an attacker could host a website (or leverage a compromised website that accepts or hosts user-provided content) that contains a specially crafted file that is designed to exploit the vulnerabilities. An attacker would have no way to force users to visit the website. Instead, an attacker would have to convince users to click a link, typically by way of an enticement in an email or Instant Messenger message, and then convince them to open the specially crafted file. The security update addresses the vulnerabilities by correcting how Office handles objects in memory. 

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 open files provided by unknown or un-trusted sources.
  • Inform and educate users regarding the threats posed by opening files, especially those from un-trusted sources or suspicious files from trusted sources.