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Security Services

Microsoft Windows Theme ScreenSaver Remote Code Execution Vulnerability



Microsoft Windows is an operating system produced by Microsoft. More information can be found at the following vendor's website:


Remote exploitation of a design error in Microsoft Corp.'s Windows handling of theme files could allow an attacker to execute arbitrary code with the privileges of the current user.

The Windows theme file format is simply a configuration file that allows users to create and save themes. Typically, these themes are shared with other users over the Internet. The screensaver configuration value of the theme file can be set to a UNC path. The UNC path can point to either local network locations or remote WebDAV servers. This would allow the theme file to remotely grab the screensaver .SCR file, which is Microsoft considers to be a dangerous file format since it is an executable file.


Exploitation of this issue would allow an attacker to execute arbitrary code on the victim's computer with the privileges of the current user. An attacker would need to use social engineering techniques to trick a victim into downloading an opening a maliciously crafted theme file. Once the file is opened by the victim and selected at the current theme, the screensaver .SCR file will be downloaded from a remote location of the attacker's choosing once the screensaver becomes active. This attack also allows an attacker some level of persistence on the victim's computer because the screensaver will be downloaded each time the screensaver is set to run after a user has been idle.


The following Microsoft products are vulnerable to this issue:

  • Windows XP
  • Windows Vista SP2
  • Windows 7
  • Windows Server 2003 SP2
  • Windows Server 2008 SP2


Disabling the Theme service will prevent exploitation of this issue.


Microsoft has released a fix which addresses this issue. For more information, consult their advisory at the following URL:


The Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE) project has assigned the name CVE-2013-0810 to this issue. This is a candidate for inclusion in the CVE list (, which standardizes names for security problems.


04/03/2013 Initial Vendor Notification
04/03/2013 Initial Vendor Reply
09/10/2013 Coordinated Public Disclosure


This vulnerability was reported to iDefense by Eduardo Prado.

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Copyright © 2013 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.