Code that will allow attackers to compromise a Windows-based PC using a vulnerability in the way such systems handle images has been posted online over the holidays. Exploitation of this vulnerability by attackers could allow them to install spyware on a system or take complete control of it.
The vulnerability is within software that is part of the Windows operating system distribution. The affected software processes Windows MetaFile (WMF) images, but an attacker need only rename an infected WMF file with a JPG, GIF, PNG, or other common graphic file format extension to avoid any block on all WMF files, since a Windows system will examine the contents of files with those extensions and execute the code in them, if they are really WMF files.
An attacker can send infected images by email or put them on a website. The mere presence of an infected file on a system can lead to the system's infection, if file indexing software, such as Google's desktop search utility is presence. When the file is indexed, the exploit is triggered.
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