Public Vulnerability Reports

Microsoft PowerPoint 4.2 Conversion Filter Heap Corruption Vulnerability



Microsoft PowerPoint is an application used for constructing presentations, and comes with the Microsoft Office Suite. For more information, see the vendor's site found at the following link.


Remote exploitation of a heap corruption vulnerability in Microsoft Corp.'s PowerPoint could allow an attacker to execute arbitrary code with the privileges of the current user.

In particular, there is code that parses structures in the PowerPoint file. If the number of these structures is greater than a certain value, then memory corruption will occur. This memory corruption leads to the executing of arbitrary code.


Exploitation of this vulnerability results in the execution of arbitrary code with the privileges of the user opening the file. To exploit this vulnerability, an attacker needs to convince a user to open a malicious file.


iDefense has confirmed the existence of these vulnerabilities in the following versions of PowerPoint:

* PowerPoint 2000 SP3

* PowerPoint XP SP3

PowerPoint 2003 SP2 and SP3 contain the vulnerable code, but by default are unable to open PowerPoint 4.2 formatted files. This is due to the Office 2003 SP2/SP3 File Block Policy, which limits the file formats that Office applications will open without special permissions. If the targeted user has disabled the File Block Policy settings in PowerPoint 2003 SP3, then they are vulnerable. However, this is a non-default configuration. More on this policy can be found at the following URL.

Office 2007 and Office 2007 SP1 are not vulnerable to these issues.


Use the cacls program to deny access to the DLL containing the vulnerable code, PP4X32.DLL. This will prevent the vulnerable DLL from loading in PowerPoint, which will also prevent users from importing PowerPoint 4.0 files. If Office 2003 SP3 is being used, then the default behavior is to block the opening of PowerPoint 4.0 files. If the default behavior has been changed, restoring it is an effective workaround.


Microsoft has released a patch which addresses this issue. For more information, consult their advisory at the following URL:


The Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE) project has assigned the name CVE-2009-0223 to this issue. This is a candidate for inclusion in the CVE list (, which standardizes names for security problems.


02/24/2009 - Initial Contact
02/24/2009 - Initial Response
02/24/2009 - PoC Requested
03/05/2009 - PoC Sent
03/06/2009 - Vendor requests clarification - cannot reproduce
04/03/2009 - Vendor Case # 9037 set
04/23/2009 - Requested CVE from Vendor
04/23/2009 - Vendor set disclosure date of June 9
05/12/2009 - Coordinated Public Disclosure


This vulnerability was reported to iDefense by Marsu.

Get paid for vulnerability research

Free tools, research and upcoming events


Copyright © 2009 Verisign, Inc.

Permission is granted for the redistribution of this alert electronically. It may not be edited in any way without the express written consent of iDefense. If you wish to reprint the whole or any part of this alert in any other medium other than electronically, please e-mail customer service for permission.

Disclaimer: The information in the advisory is believed to be accurate at the time of publishing based on currently available information. Use of the information constitutes acceptance for use in an AS IS condition. There are no warranties with regard to this information. Neither the author nor the publisher accepts any liability for any direct, indirect, or consequential loss or damage arising from use of, or reliance on, this information.