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Threat LevelLow threatDamageHighDistributionNot widespread


MS10-048 is not categorized as virus, worm, Trojan or backdoor. It is a group of important vulnerabilities in the Windows Kernel-Mode Drivers on Windows 2008/7/Vista/2003/XP computers, which allows to gain local privilege escalation and denial of service attacks to be launched.

The kernel is the core of the operating system and provides basic services for all other parts of the operating system. Win32k.sys is a kernel-mode device driver and is the kernel part of the Windows subsystem.

The addressed vulnerabilities are:

  • Win32k Bounds Checking vulnerability: a denial of service vulnerability that occurs because the Windows kernel-mode drivers do not properly validate an argument passed to a system call.

    If exploited successfully, this vulnerability could cause the system to stop responding until it is restarted.
  • Win32k Exception Handling vulnerability: an elevation of privilege vulnerability that occurs due to the way that the Windows kernel-mode drivers handle certain exceptions.
  • Win32k Pool Overflow vulnerability: an elevation of privilege vulnerability that occurs because the Windows kernel-mode drivers do not properly allocate memory when copying data from user mode.
  • Win32k User Input Validation vulnerability: this elevation of privilege vulnerability occurs because the Windows kernel-mode drivers do not properly validate input passed from user mode.
  • Win32k Window Creation vulnerability: this elevation of privilege vulnerability occurs because the Windows kernel-mode drivers do not properly validate all parameters when creating a new window.

    If exploited successfully, MS10-048 would allow to gain unauthorized privileges on a computer or network. An example of privilege elevation would be an unprivileged user who could manage to be added to the Administrator's group. In such case, the hacker could take complete control of the system: create, modify or delete files, install programs, create new user accounts, etc.

MS10-048 usually exploited by running a specially crafted program in the vulnerable computer. In order to do so, a hacker must be able to log on locally to the system.


If you have a Windows 2008/7/Vista/2003/XP computer, it is recommended to download and apply the security patch for this vulnerability. Click here to access the web page for downloading the patch.

Bear in mind that this security patch replaces a previous one, called MS10-032.