MS08-001 (part 2) – The case of the Moderate ICMP mitigations

This is the second post in the three-part series covering MS08-001. In this post we’ll look at the ICMP vulnerability (CVE-2007-0066) in more detail. This vulnerability is caused by Windows TCP/IP’s handling of the ICMP protocol, specifically regarding router advertisement messages. This post covers the mitigating factors for this vulnerability in more detail.

Technical description of the vulnerability

Internet Control Message Protocol (ICMP) router discovery is the use of ICMP messages to discover the default gateway on a network segment when a default gateway is not manually configured or assigned by using DHCP. ICMP router discovery consists of two ICMP messages: the router solicitation and the router advertisement. A router solicitation is sent by a host to discover the routers on the network. A router advertisement is sent by a router in response to a router solicitation and periodically to notify hosts on the network that the router is still available.

Windows TCP/IP incorrectly handles fragmented ICMP router advertisement messages. (When a message is too large to be sent in one chunk, IP allows it to be fragmented into several pieces and the receiving machine is then responsible for re-assembling the original message.) Fragmented router advertisement messages can cause the system to read invalid memory, leading to a system crash. (The crash will happen sporadically depending on the contents of memory when the ICMP message is received). Since at worst the targeted machine will crash, and no code execution is possible, this issue results in a denial-of-service (DoS).


The mitigation factor of this vulnerability is that it can only be reached if Router Discovery Processing is enabled. There are some differences between Win2k and Win2k3/WinXP about the default setting for the Router Discovery Processing.

Important: Make sure to back up the registry before you modify it. Make sure that you know how to restore the registry if a problem occurs. For information about how to back up, restore, and modify the registry, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base: 256986 ( Description of the Microsoft Windows registry

The setting is controlled by the registry key PerformRouterDiscovery under: HKLM\System\CurrentControlSet\Services\Tcpip\Parameters\Interfaces\ interface_name

For Win2K, there are 2 values for PerformRouterDiscovery:

  • 0 (disabled)
  • 1 (enabled)

0 is the default setting if the key is not present. Therefore, ICMP router discovery is disabled on Win2k by default.

For Win2k3 and WinXP, a new value is added for PerformRouterDiscovery key:

  • 2 (enable only if DHCP sends the Perform Router Discovery option)

The default setting if the registry key is not present is 2, meaning ICMP router discovery is disabled by default on TCP/IP for host computers running Windows XP or Windows Server 2003 operating systems, unless the host receives the perform router discovery option from a DHCP server.

You can also configure a server running Windows Server 2003 and the Routing and Remote Access service to support ICMP router discovery as a router. contains more details about which DHCP option controls this setting.

Based on the above info, you can decide whether your system is affected by this vulnerability.

Next up, we’ll look into the IGMP vulnerability in more detail and see why, although we’ve rated it Critical on most platforms, we think successful exploitation for remote code execution is not likely in practice.

Update:  Text updated with correct CVE number.

– Security Vulnerability Research & Defense bloggers