MS responds to “intentional backdoor”, WMF claim

Microsoft is disputing claims by Steve Gibson, that the WMF vulnerability was an intentionally placed backdoor. There is a response to the claims in the Microsoft Security Incident Response blog. Apparently since the SetAbortProc procedure relates to printing, previous versions of Windows ignored the call unless printing was involved. (Why did windows start paying attention to it otherwise?)

Among other things….

It can run into the vulnerability when converting a raw WMF to a printable EMF

Which does start to make sense in a way…. When IE opens a wmf in Windows Picture and Fax viewer (in XP/2000) it converts it from a raw WMF to a printable EMF… that explains a bit more on how this works. For details on the difficulty that Steve Gibson ran into with triggering the vulnerability…

Now, there‚Äôs been some speculation that you can only trigger this by using an incorrect size in your metafile record and that this trigger was somehow intentional. That speculation is wrong on both counts. The vulnerability can be triggered with correct or incorrect size values. If you are seeing that you can only trigger it with an incorrect value, it’s probably because your SetAbortProc record is the last record in the metafile. The way this functionality works is by registering the callback to be called after the next metafile record is played. If the SetAbortProc record is the last record in the metafile, it will be more difficult to trigger the vulnerability.

And an explanation of why the problem on Win9x is not “critical”…

The reason Windows 9x is not vulnerable to a “Critical” attack vector is because an additional step exists in the Win9x platform: When not printing to a printer, applications will simply never process the SetAbortProc record. Although the vulnerable code does exist in the Win9x platform, all “Critical” attack vectors are blocked by this additional step. The remaining attack vectors that we have identified require extensive user interaction and are not rated “Critical”. Again the “Critical” rating refers to code execution attacks that could result in automated attacks requiring little or no user interaction.

Good explanations and response to the charges from what I can see. It’s more than the response I expected from Microsoft. Frankly it’s somewhat refreshing to see them talking so candidly about a(n already patched) vulnerability and how it works.

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