Macromedia Flash Activex Buffer overflow

From: Marc Maiffret (
Date: 05/03/02

From: "Marc Maiffret" <>
Date: Thu, 2 May 2002 17:17:22 -0700

Macromedia Flash Activex Buffer overflow

Release Date:

High (Remote code execution)

Systems Affected:
Flash Activex Ocx Version 6, revision 23
(Possibly older versions)

This is an unusual advisory in a number of ways.

One, it was found while investigating an access error encountered during
normal web surfing, which was suspicious. Within a few hours we had
confirmed on multiple Operating Systems that this was an exploitable
condition that overwrote EIP.

Two, while we tested on these systems with the latest install from the
vendor's site, when we contacted the vendor they informed us that they had
just released a new build this same day which already fixed the problem.
They asked us to confirm this. We tried the link they gave us and it did
indeed fix the problem and was a new build. Testing the link later that
night confirmed the link we used to install the ocx now had the fixed,
latest version.

In this, we congratulate Macromedia for: finding the bug, fixing it, and
releasing the build in a timely fashion. This truly shows that they are
dedicated to security just as they have stated they are.

However, because there is a signed flash ocx out there which has been
downloaded by an untold number of people, and potentially could still be
used in an exploit scenario against those without the latest ocx we felt the
need to release this advisory.

Furthermore, this issue was found in the wild, and it is not safe to assume
it could not be found by others with malicious intent. Nor do we believe it
is safe to assume this has not been found by users with malicious intent.

There are further issues with old activex objects which have such
vulnerabilities which will be discussed in the description section.


A vulnerability in the parameter handling to the Flash OCX, which could lead
to the execution of attacker supplied code via email, web or any other
avenue in which Internet Explorer is used to display html that an attacker
can supply. This includes software which uses the web browser activex.

All users of Internet Explorer are potentially affected because this is a
Macromedia signed ocx. We advise them to upgrade their flash version
immediately to version 6, revision 29.


<OBJECT classid="clsid:D27CDB6E-AE6D-11cf-96B8-444553540000">
VALUE="[...unstated, but
fixed number]XXXXXXXX">

Where X overwrites the EIP consistently across Windows platforms.

Technical Description:

Flash.ocx is an activex object installed with Internet Explorer, and is used
to display flash objects on the web.

Proper bounds checking is not in place in the "movie" parameter which
overwrites EIP at an unsaid, but fixed number of bytes across Windows

Because the ocx is signed by Macromedia: there is a chance the older activex
could be used against people without flash; people whom have an older
version of flash not affected may be forced to "upgrade" to the affected
version; and, of course, those with the affected versions need to upgrade
lest the exploit works out of the box on them.

There has been considerable debate about legacy activex objects which have
exploits within them. In general, if someone uses the codebase parameter to
point to an affected version of the activex, the system will first try and
grab the activex from Microsoft's activex store on the web. Then, it will
try the activex specified in the codebase tag by the malicious user.

We do not believe this method is full proof.

We do not believe the method is full proof because of the potential of the
activex storehouse check failing and because of the potentiality for the
activex to be called by other methods. (At least a few potential other
methods are in the RFC for applets and objects).

However, the other option of setting the "kill bit" for the affected activex
and reassigning the fixed activex version with a new classid is only a
suggestion we will make in this case. We do not believe it is necessarily

Risk should be mitigated to a satisfactory level by users upgrading to the
new ocx.

Vendor Status:
Visit Macromedia's site to get the latest Flash ocx to eliminate these

Credit: Drew Copley

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