Nasty RTFs Nudge Word Into Submission

Nasty RTFs Nudge Word Into Submission

Severity: High


  • These vulnerabilities affect: Word (and Office) 2003 through 2010 for Windows (and related components)
  • How an attacker exploits it: By enticing one of your users to open a malicious RTF document
  • Impact: In the worst case, an attacker executes code on your user’s computer, gaining complete control of it
  • What to do: Install Microsoft’s Word update as soon as possible, or let Microsoft’s automatic update do it for you


As part of today’s Patch Day, Microsoft released a security bulletin describing a serious security vulnerability in the Windows version of Word — part of Microsoft Office package. The flaw doesn’t affect the Mac versions, but does affect the Word viewer and Office Compatibility Packs.

The vulnerability stems from an unspecified memory corruption fkaw having to do with how Word handles rich text format (RTF) documents. If an attacker can entice one of your users into downloading and opening a maliciously crafted RTF document, he can exploit the flaw to execute code on that user’s computer, usually inheriting that user’s level of privileges and permissions. If your user has local administrative privileges, the attacker gains full control of the user’s machine.

Solution Path

Microsoft has released Word and Office updates to correct these vulnerabilities. If you use Office or Word, download, test, and deploy the appropriate updates as quickly as possible, or let Windows Update do it for you.

You’ll find links to these updates in the “Affected and Non-Affected Software” section for of Microsoft’s Word bulletin.

For All WatchGuard Users:

WatchGuard’s Gateway Antivirus and Intrusion Prevention services can often prevent these sorts of attacks, or the malware they try to distribute.

More specifically, our IPS signature team has developed a signature, which detects and blocks this Word RTF vulnerability:

  • EXPLOIT Microsoft Word RTF listoverridecount Remote Code Execution Vulnerability (CVE-2012-2539)

Your appliance should get this new IPS update shortly.

You can also configure WatchGuard devices to block RTF documents. However, this will block all RTFs, whether legitimate or malicious. If you decide you want to block them, the links below contain instructions that will help you configure proxy’s content blocking features for your device:


Microsoft has released Word updates to fix these vulnerabilities.


This alert was researched and written by Corey Nachreiner, CISSP.

Published with permission from WatchguardWire. Source.

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