Public Vulnerability Reports

Microsoft Windows Color Management Module Heap Buffer Overflow Vulnerability



Microsoft Windows Color Management Module provides consistent color mappings between different devices and applications. It is also used to transform colors between color spaces. For more information about Windows Color Management, visit the following URL.


Remote exploitation of a heap-based buffer overflow vulnerability in multiple versions of Microsoft Corp.'s Windows operating system allows an attacker to execute arbitrary code with the privileges of the current user.

This vulnerability specifically exists in the InternalOpenColorProfile function in mscms.dll. When a malformed parameter is supplied, a heap-based buffer overflow can occur, resulting in an exploitable condition.


Exploitation allows an attacker to execute arbitrary code with the privileges of the current user. Exploitation would require convincing a targeted user to view a malicious image file either hosted on a Web server, on local file system or embedded in an-email or Office documents, or through some form of social engineering.

This vulnerability also can be triggered through e-mail. If the e-mail client can automatically display images embedded in the e-mail, the user only needs to open the e-mail to trigger the vulnerability. Currently an EMF file is used as test attack vector. Outlook and Outlook Express will automatically display EMF image and trigger the vulnerability. Lotus Notes and Thunderbird do not display EMF images in e-mail directly, but the vulnerability still can be triggered when opening or viewing the EMF attachment.


iDefense has confirmed the existence of this vulnerability in the following Microsoft products:

 Windows 2000 Service Pack 4 Windows XP Service Pack 2 Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1 Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 2 

The following products are not affected:

 Windows Vista Windows Vista Service Pack 1 Windows Server 2008 


In order to prevent exploitation of this vulnerability, turn off metafile processing by modifying the registry. Under the registry key, "HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWAREMicrosoftWindows NTCurrentVersionGRE_Initialize" create a DWORD entry "DisableMetaFiles" and set it to 1.

Keep in mind that this only blocks the attack vector through Windows metafiles. It may be possible to exploit this vulnerability through other attack vectors.

Note: Modifying the registry does not affect processes that are already running, so you may need to log off and log on again or restart the computer after making the change.

Implementing this workaround may cause components relying on metafile processing, such as printing, to misbehave.

Viewing e-mail in plain text format mitigates e-mail-based attack.


Microsoft has officially addressed this vulnerability with Security Bulletin MS08-046. For more information, consult their bulletin at the following URL.


The Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE) project has assigned the name CVE-2008-2245 to this issue. This is a candidate for inclusion in the CVE list (, which standardizes names for security problems.


04/10/2008 Initial vendor notification
04/16/2008 Initial vendor response
08/12/2008 Coordinated public disclosure


This vulnerability was discovered by Jun Mao of iDefense Labs.

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Copyright © 2008 Verisign, Inc.

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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.