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Hackers Opting New Attack Methods After Microsoft Blocked Macros by Default

Hackers Opting New Attack Methods After Microsoft Blocked Macros by Default
Jul 28, 2022
With Microsoft taking steps to block Excel 4.0 (XLM or XL4) and Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) macros by default across Office apps, malicious actors are responding by refining their tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs). "The use of VBA and XL4 Macros decreased approximately 66% from October 2021 through June 2022," Proofpoint  said  in a report shared with The Hacker News, calling it "one of the largest email threat landscape shifts in recent history." In its place, adversaries are increasingly pivoting away from macro-enabled documents to other alternatives, including container files such as ISO and RAR as well as Windows Shortcut (LNK) files in campaigns to distribute malware. "Threat actors pivoting away from directly distributing macro-based attachments in email represents a significant shift in the threat landscape," Sherrod DeGrippo, vice president of threat research and detection at Proofpoint, said in a statement. "Threat act

New Saitama backdoor Targeted Official from Jordan's Foreign Ministry

New Saitama backdoor Targeted Official from Jordan's Foreign Ministry
May 13, 2022
A spear-phishing campaign targeting Jordan's foreign ministry has been observed dropping a new stealthy backdoor dubbed Saitama. Researchers from Malwarebytes and Fortinet FortiGuard Labs  attributed  the campaign to an Iranian cyber espionage threat actor tracked under the moniker APT34, citing  resemblances  to past campaigns staged by the group. "Like many of these attacks, the email contained a malicious attachment," Fortinet researcher Fred Gutierrez  said . "However, the attached threat was not a garden-variety malware. Instead, it had the capabilities and techniques usually associated with advanced persistent threats (APTs)." APT34, also known as OilRig, Helix Kitten, and Cobalt Gypsy, is known to be active since at least 2014 and has a track record of striking telecom, government, defense, oil, and financial sectors in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) via targeted phishing attacks. Earlier this February, ESET  tied  the group to a long-runni

Timing is Everything: The Role of Just-in-Time Privileged Access in Security Evolution

Timing is Everything: The Role of Just-in-Time Privileged Access in Security Evolution
Apr 15, 2024Active Directory / Attack Surface
To minimize the risk of privilege misuse, a trend in the privileged access management (PAM) solution market involves implementing just-in-time (JIT) privileged access. This approach to  privileged identity management  aims to mitigate the risks associated with prolonged high-level access by granting privileges temporarily and only when necessary, rather than providing users with continuous high-level privileges. By adopting this strategy, organizations can enhance security, minimize the window of opportunity for potential attackers and ensure that users access privileged resources only when necessary.  What is JIT and why is it important?   JIT privileged access provisioning  involves granting privileged access to users on a temporary basis, aligning with the concept of least privilege. This principle provides users with only the minimum level of access required to perform their tasks, and only for the amount of time required to do so. One of the key advantages of JIT provisioning

Microsoft Adds Support for JavaScript in Excel—What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

Microsoft Adds Support for JavaScript in Excel—What Could Possibly Go Wrong?
May 09, 2018
Shortly after Microsoft announced support for custom JavaScript functions in Excel, someone demonstrated what could possibly go wrong if this feature is abused for malicious purposes. As promised last year at Microsoft's Ignite 2017 conference, the company has now brought custom JavaScript functions to Excel to extend its capabilities for better work with data. Functions are written in JavaScript for Excel spreadsheets currently runs on various platforms, including Windows, macOS, and Excel Online, allowing developers to create their own powerful formulae. But we saw it coming: Security researcher Charles Dardaman leveraged this feature to show how easy it is to embed the infamous in-browser cryptocurrency mining script from CoinHive inside an MS Excel spreadsheet and run it in the background when opened. "In order to run Coinhive in Excel, I followed Microsoft's official documentation and just added my own function," Dardaman said . Here is an official doc

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Unpatched Microsoft Word DDE Exploit Being Used In Widespread Malware Attacks

Unpatched Microsoft Word DDE Exploit Being Used In Widespread Malware Attacks
Oct 20, 2017
A newly discovered unpatched attacking method that exploits a built-in feature of Microsoft Office is currently being used in various widespread malware attack campaigns. Last week we reported how hackers could leveraging an old Microsoft Office feature called Dynamic Data Exchange (DDE), to perform malicious code execution on the targeted device without requiring Macros enabled or memory corruption. DDE protocol is one of the several methods that Microsoft uses to allow two running applications to share the same data. The protocol is being used by thousands of apps, including MS Excel, MS Word, Quattro Pro, and Visual Basic for one-time data transfers and for continuous exchanges for sending updates to one another. The DDE exploitation technique displays no "security" warnings to victims, except asking them if they want to execute the application specified in the command—although this popup alert could also be eliminated "with proper syntax modification.&quo

Malware behind Microsoft Excel-based Sudoku generator

Malware behind Microsoft Excel-based Sudoku generator
Dec 20, 2012
Sudoku is one such game that I believe will benefit your brain, but now not for your system. Peter Szabo from SophosLabs have identified a piece of malware that resides behind a Microsoft Excel-based Sudoku generator. The Malware developed in Visual Basic requires macros, a scripting language that allows users to create equations based on values in different columns and rows. Microsoft disable macros by default , because in past macros were the weapon of choice for cyber criminals . But in order for the generator to work, the user must activate macros. Unfortunately, while the user is enjoying the Sudoku, the macro is installing malware in the targeted machine. Keyboard and mouse macros allow sequences of keystrokes and mouse actions to be transformed into shorter commands and also it can easily gathers system information by using the ipconfig, systeminfo like commands. Once the bug has collected a machine's IP address, running processes, installed applications
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