How to detect overlay data in RTF files? When officemalscanner says it detected overlay data, what does that mean ? Is overlay data specific to malicious files ?

  • I don't know answer for this but, I was developed a RTF parser for specific data set. You can also use context-specific expressions for your data. Dec 26, 2017 at 8:43

1 Answer 1


It's difficult to say for sure since the tool is closed-source, but I suspect it means that the file contains extra data after the end of the document. For example, RTF usually begins with {\rtf1, contains many embedded commands (some using nested {} for parameters) and ends with a matching }. If there is extra data after the final }, it's not part of the document but could be part of the payload used by the exploit inside the main body. It is of course not a 100% indicator of a malicious file but just one of the possible hints that it should be checked more thoroughly.

To confirm, you can try running it on this sample RTF file from Wikipedia:

{\rtf1\ansi{\fonttbl\f0\fswiss Helvetica;}\f0\pard
This is some {\b bold} text.\par

Add some extra data at the end and see if it triggers the warning.

  • Good answer, “overlay” is a term from MSDOS days and used to mean exactly this. Malscan author is probably old :-)
    – manduca
    May 25, 2018 at 4:09

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