Vulnerability Note VU#543907

Microsoft Office fails to properly handle specially crafted Rich Text Format files

Original Release date: 13 May 2008 | Last revised: 13 May 2008


A vulnerability in the way Microsoft Office handles Rich Text Format files may lead to execution of arbitrary code.


Microsoft Office contains a vulnerability that could be exploited when parsing malformed strings contained in specially crafted Rich Text Format (.rtf) files. According to Microsoft Security Bulletin ms08-026:

    The vulnerability could allow remote code execution if a user opens a specially crafted .rtf file with malformed strings in Word or previews a specially crafted .rtf file with malformed strings in rich text e-mail.


A remote, unauthenticated attacker may be able to execute arbitrary code with the privileges of the affected user or cause a denial-of-service condition.


Microsoft has released an update to address this issue. See Microsoft Security Bulletin ms08-026 for more details.

Do not open untrusted Microsoft Office documents

Do not open unfamiliar or unexpected Microsoft Office documents, particularly those hosted on web sites or delivered as email attachments. Please see Cyber Security Tip ST04-010.

Disable automatic opening of Microsoft Office documents

By default, Microsoft Office 97 and Microsoft Office 2000 will configure Internet Explorer to automatically open Microsoft Office documents. This feature can be disabled by using the Office Document Open Confirmation Tool. Mozilla Firefox users should disable automatic opening of files, as specified in the Securing Your Web Browser document.

Do not rely on file name extension filtering

In most cases, Windows will call a Microsoft Office application to open a document even if the document has an unknown file extension. Filtering for common extensions (e.g., .ppt, .xls, and .doc) will not detect all Microsoft Office documents. Additionally, a Microsoft Office file with no file extension will also open with a Microsoft Office application.

Systems Affected (Learn More)

VendorStatusDate NotifiedDate Updated
Microsoft CorporationAffected-13 May 2008
If you are a vendor and your product is affected, let us know.

CVSS Metrics (Learn More)

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



This vulnerability was reported in Microsoft Security Bulletin ms08-026. Microsoft credits wushi of team509, working with Zero Day Initiative, for reporting this issue.

This document was written by Chris Taschner.

Other Information

  • CVE IDs: CVE-2008-1091
  • Date Public: 13 May 2008
  • Date First Published: 13 May 2008
  • Date Last Updated: 13 May 2008
  • Severity Metric: 25.25
  • Document Revision: 10


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