Vulnerability Note VU#428230

Multiple vulnerabilities in S/MIME implementations

Original Release date: 04 Nov 2003 | Last revised: 08 Dec 2003


Multiple vulnerabilities exist in different vendors' S/MIME (Secure/Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions) implementations. The impacts of these vulnerabilities are varied and range from denial of service to potential remote execution of arbitrary code.


The U.K. National Infrastructure Security Co-ordination Center (NISCC) has reported multiple vulnerabilities in different vendors' implementations of the Secure/Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions (S/MIME) protocol. S/MIME allows binary objects and attachments to be sent across an email system. S/MIME extends the MIME specification by including the secure data in an attachment encoded using ASN.1. If one of the entities in an email system knowingly or unknowingly send an exceptional ASN.1 element that cannot be handled properly by another party, the behavior of the application receiving such an element is unpredictable.

A test suite developed by NISCC has exposed vulnerabilities in a variety of S/MIME implementations. While most of these vulnerabilities exist in ASN.1 parsing routines, some vulnerabilities may occur elsewhere. Note that cryptographic libraries that implement S/MIME frequently provide more general-purpose cryptographic utility. In such libraries, it is common for ASN.1 parsing code to be shared between S/MIME and other cryptographic functions.

Due to the general lack of specific vulnerability information, this document covers multiple vulnerabilities in different S/MIME implementations. Information about individual vendors is available in the Systems Affected section.

Further information is available in NISCC Vulnerability Advisory - 006489/SMIME


The impacts associated with these vulnerabilities include denial of service, and potential execution of arbitrary code.


Patch or Upgrade

Apply a patch or upgrade as appropriate. Information about specific vendors is available in the Systems Affected section of this document.

Systems Affected (Learn More)

VendorStatusDate NotifiedDate Updated
HitachiAffected04 Nov 200306 Nov 2003
Check PointNot Affected04 Nov 200306 Nov 2003
ClavisterNot Affected04 Nov 200304 Nov 2003
FujitsuNot Affected04 Nov 200308 Dec 2003
IntotoNot Affected04 Nov 200306 Nov 2003
Nortel NetworksNot Affected04 Nov 200304 Nov 2003
Sun Microsystems Inc.Not Affected04 Nov 200314 Nov 2003
Tumbleweed Communications Corp.Not Affected-13 Nov 2003
Xerox CorporationNot Affected04 Nov 200325 Nov 2003
3ComUnknown04 Nov 200304 Nov 2003
AlcatelUnknown04 Nov 200304 Nov 2003
Apple Computer Inc.Unknown04 Nov 200304 Nov 2003
At&TUnknown04 Nov 200304 Nov 2003
AvayaUnknown04 Nov 200304 Nov 2003
BorderwareUnknown04 Nov 200304 Nov 2003
If you are a vendor and your product is affected, let us know.View More »

CVSS Metrics (Learn More)

Group Score Vector
Base N/A N/A
Temporal N/A N/A
Environmental N/A N/A



These vulnerabilities were discovered and researched by the NISCC Vulnerability Management Team.

This document was written by Chad R Dougherty based on information from NISCC.

Other Information

  • CVE IDs: CAN-2003-0564
  • Date Public: 04 Nov 2003
  • Date First Published: 04 Nov 2003
  • Date Last Updated: 08 Dec 2003
  • Severity Metric: 8.51
  • Document Revision: 13


If you have feedback, comments, or additional information about this vulnerability, please send us email.