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Microsoft KB Archive/925330

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Knowledge Base


Article ID: 925330

Article Last Modified on 9/27/2007



APPLIES TO

  • Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Enterprise Edition
  • Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Datacenter Edition (32-bit x86)
  • Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Standard Edition (32-bit x86)
  • Microsoft Windows Server 2003, 64-Bit Datacenter Edition
  • Microsoft Windows Server 2003, 64-Bit Enterprise Edition
  • Microsoft Windows XP Professional
  • Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition
  • Microsoft Windows XP Tablet PC Edition
  • Microsoft Windows XP for Itanium-based Systems Version 2003
  • Microsoft Windows XP Professional x64 Edition
  • Microsoft Windows XP Media Center Edition 2002
  • Microsoft Windows 2000 Professional Edition
  • Microsoft Windows 2000 Datacenter Server
  • Microsoft Windows 2000 Server
  • Microsoft Windows 2000 Advanced Server



Introduction

Many Microsoft products use the concept of "unsafe file types" to help protect users from potentially malicious code that can be embedded in these files. This article provides an overview of unsafe file types and of the safeguards that Microsoft has created to help protect customers from unsafe file types.

MORE INFORMATION

Many types of files are designed to let automated actions run during ordinary use of the file. Obvious examples of this functionality include program files (*.exe), batch files (*.cmd and *.bat), and script files (*.vbs and *.js). These files are designed for the sole purpose of executing commands. Less obvious examples are file types that allow for embedded script operations, such as Microsoft Access files (*.mdb) or macros in Microsoft Word files (*.doc) or in Microsoft Excel files (*.xls).

The ability to perform script actions in applications can be a very powerful productivity tool that gives customers great flexibility in how they apply Microsoft products to solve real-world problems. However, these same technologies can be leveraged by a malicious attacker to damage a user's computer. A common scenario occurs when a malicious attacker sends an unsafe file attachment in an e-mail message. When the recipient opens the file attachment, the malicious payload is delivered. Microsoft has adopted many strategies to help protect customers from threats that could be delivered in these types of files without losing the benefits that these file types offer.

Microsoft customers should be aware that opening unsafe types of files could cause malicious damage to computer systems. These files could contain viruses or Trojan horse programs and could be used to alter or to delete information that is stored on the computer. These files could also be used to send information that is stored on a computer to other computers. We recommend that customers only open these types of files after customers verify that the sender is trustworthy and that the sender intentionally sent the file. (Customers must verify that a file was not sent by a virus that is running on the sender's computer.)

The following table lists Microsoft products that include safeguards to help protect customers from unsafe file types. To link to corresponding Microsoft Knowledge Base articles that describe the safeguards, see the "References" section.

Product Microsoft Knowledge Base article
Microsoft Windows XP with Service Pack 2 (SP2) 883260
Microsoft Internet Explorer 6 for Windows XP with SP2 291369
Microsoft Internet Explorer 6 Service Pack 1 (SP1) for Microsoft Windows Server 2003 and for Windows Server 2003 with SP1 291369
Internet Explorer 6 SP1 for Windows XP 64-Bit Edition Service Pack 1 291369
Internet Explorer 6 for Windows Server 2003 for Itanium-based systems, Windows Server 2003 with SP1 for Itanium-Based Systems, Windows XP 64-Bit Edition Version 2003 (Itanium), Windows Server 2003, x64 Edition, and Windows XP Professional x64 Edition 291369
Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.01 Service Pack 4 (SP4) for Windows 2000 SP4 927117
Outlook Express 6 SP1 for Windows XP 64-Bit Edition Service Pack 1 291387
Outlook Express 6 Service Pack 1 for Microsoft Windows 2000 SP4 or Windows XP SP1 291387
Outlook Express 6 SP1 for Windows XP 64-Bit Edition Version 2003 (Itanium) 291387
Outlook Express 6 for Windows Server 2003 for Itanium-Based Systems 291387
Outlook Express for Windows Server 2003 and for Windows Server 2003 with SP1 291387
Microsoft Office 2000 SP4 262631
Microsoft Office XP SP3 829982
Microsoft Office 2003 SP2 829982

In some cases, Microsoft provides functionality that lets customers modify the list of files that may be unsafe.

Important We strongly discourage customers from removing file types from the default lists.

Sometimes, Microsoft receives reports of purported security vulnerabilities because of the ability of unsafe file types to perform malicious actions. Microsoft evaluates these reports on a case-by-case basis. However, Microsoft does not categorize a specific file type as a vulnerability merely because someone used the file type for malicious purposes.

Microsoft provides the following additional guidance to help protect customers from damage that may be caused by unsafe files.

For home users, visit the following Protect Your PC Web site:

For IT Professionals, visit the following TechNet Security Center Web site:

For information about how to avoid computer viruses that spread by using e-mail messages, visit the following Microsoft Web site:

Customers who believe that they may have been affected by viruses or by Trojan horse programs may contact Microsoft Product Support Services. You can contact Product Support Services in North America at no charge. To do this, use the PC Safety line (1-866-PC-SAFETY). International customers can contact Product Support Services by using the methods that are described on the following Microsoft Security Help and Support for Home Users Web site:

REFERENCES

883260 Description of how the Attachment Manager works in Windows XP Service Pack 2


291369 Information about the unsafe file list in Internet Explorer 6


927117 Information about the unsafe file list in Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.01 Service Pack 4


291387 Using virus protection features in Outlook Express 6


262631 OL2000: Information about the Outlook e-mail security update


829982 Cannot open attachments in Microsoft Outlook


Keywords: kbinfo kbtshoot kbsecurity kbpubtypekc kbexpertiseinter kbexpertisebeginner KB925330