Windows Media Player holes could expose PC

A flaw in an antipiracy feature in Microsoft's Windows Media Player could put systems at risk to hacker attacks, Microsoft warned in a security bulletin Wednesday.

All the currently supported versions of Windows Media Player, versions 6.4, 7.1 and Windows Media Player for Windows XP, are flawed in the way they handle a license request for certain secure media files. An attacker could exploit this flaw to hijack a user's system and take any action a user is capable of, Microsoft said.

The media player, when it requests license information from a server, erroneously discloses the location on the user's system of the Internet Explorer (IE) cache, which is used by IE to temporarily store files. An attacker could use this information to bypass IE's security mechanisms and run executable files in the cache, Microsoft said.

IE places information that a Web page or an HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) e-mail need to have stored on the user's system -- a file for example -- in the cache and retrieves it later for handling. One way the cache is protected against direct access is by using dynamic folder names. The cache should only be accessible by IE, Microsoft said.

An attacker could exploit the vulnerability by sending an HTML e-mail with a specially formed Windows Media file or by hosting the file on a Web site. In both cases, the IE cache location could be returned to the attacker's site once the file is played, at which point the attacker could try to run an executable in the cache, Microsoft said.

Microsoft released a software patch to fix this problem. The patch, called a cumulative patch, also includes all previously released patches for Windows Media Player and two other new patches that fix less broad security problems.

Microsoft does rate a newly patched privilege elevation vulnerability in Windows Media Player 7.1 when run on Windows 2000 "critical." A malicious user could exploit the flaw in a part of Media Player that deals with storage devices to increase his privilege level on a Windows 2000 system. The user would need to write a special software program to do that, Microsoft said.

The third newly patched vulnerability could allow an attacker to run a script of his choice on the user's computer and affects only Windows Media Player 7.1. Microsoft deems this a "low" risk vulnerability as a successful attack requires a specific series of user actions to follow in exact order.

More information about the flaws and the patch, which Microsoft urges users apply immediately, can be found at: http://www.microsoft.com/technet/security/bulletin/MS02-032.asp

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Joris Evers

Computerworld
Show Comments

Essentials

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?