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The Hacker News — Cyber Security and Hacking News Website: Microsoft office

Severe RCE Flaw Disclosed in Popular LibreOffice and OpenOffice Software

Severe RCE Flaw Disclosed in Popular LibreOffice and OpenOffice Software
February 05, 2019Swati Khandelwal
It's 2019, and just opening an innocent looking office document file on your system can still allow hackers to compromise your computer. No, I'm not talking about yet another vulnerability in Microsoft Office, but in two other most popular alternatives— LibreOffice and Apache OpenOffice —free, open source office software used by millions of Windows, MacOS and Linux users. Security researcher Alex Inführ has discovered a severe remote code execution (RCE) vulnerability in these two open source office suites that could be triggered just by opening a maliciously-crafted ODT (OpenDocument Text) file. The attack relies on exploiting a directory traversal flaw, identified as CVE-2018-16858, to automatically execute a specific python library bundled within the software using a hidden onmouseover event. To exploit this vulnerability, Inführ created  an ODT file with a white-colored hyperlink (so it can't be seen) that has an "onmouseover" event to trick victim

GandCrab ransomware and Ursnif virus spreading via MS Word macros

GandCrab ransomware and Ursnif virus spreading via MS Word macros
January 25, 2019Swati Khandelwal
Security researchers have discovered two separate malware campaigns, one of which is distributing the Ursnif data-stealing trojan and the GandCrab ransomware in the wild, whereas the second one is only infecting victims with Ursnif malware. Though both malware campaigns appear to be a work of two separate cybercriminal groups, we find many similarities in them. Both attacks start from phishing emails containing an attached Microsoft Word document embedded with malicious macros and then uses Powershell to deliver fileless malware. Ursnif is a data-stealing malware that typically steals sensitive information from compromised computers with an ability to harvest banking credentials, browsing activities, collect keystrokes, system and process information, and deploy additional backdoors. Discovered earlier last year, GandCrab is a widespread ransomware threat that, like every other ransomware in the market, encrypts files on an infected system and insists victims to pay a ransom

Hackers Using Zero-Width Spaces to Bypass MS Office 365 Protection

Hackers Using Zero-Width Spaces to Bypass MS Office 365 Protection
January 10, 2019Swati Khandelwal
Security researchers have been warning about a simple technique that cybercriminals and email scammers are already being using in the wild to bypass security features of Microsoft Office 365, including Safe Links, which are originally designed to protect users from malware and phishing attacks. Safe Links has been included by Microsoft in Office 365 as part of its ATP (Advanced Threat Protection) solution that works by replacing all URLs in an incoming email with Microsoft-owned secure URLs. Therefore, every time users click on a link provided in an email, Safe Links first sends them to a Microsoft owned domain, where it immediately checks the original link for anything suspicious. If Microsoft's security scanners detect any malicious element, it then warns the users about it, and if not, it redirects them to the original link. However, researchers at the cloud security company Avanan have revealed how attackers have been bypassing both Office 365's URL reputation check a

New Adobe Flash Zero-Day Exploit Found Hidden Inside MS Office Docs

New Adobe Flash Zero-Day Exploit Found Hidden Inside MS Office Docs
December 06, 2018Swati Khandelwal
Cybersecurity researchers have discovered a new zero-day vulnerability in Adobe Flash Player that hackers are actively exploiting in the wild as part of a targeted campaign appears to be attacking a Russian state health care institution. The vulnerability, tracked as CVE-2018-15982 , is a use-after-free flaw resides in Flash Player that, if exploited successfully, allows an attacker to execute arbitrary code on the targeted computer and eventually gain full control over the system. The newly discovered Flash Player zero-day exploit was spotted last week by researchers inside malicious Microsoft Office documents, which were submitted to online multi-engine malware scanning service VirusTotal from a Ukrainian IP address. The maliciously crafted Microsoft Office documents contain an embedded Flash Active X control in its header that renders when the targeted user opens it, causing exploitation of the reported Flash player vulnerability. According to cybersecurity researchers, neit

Unpatched MS Word Flaw Could Allow Hackers to Infect Your Computer

Unpatched MS Word Flaw Could Allow Hackers to Infect Your Computer
October 30, 2018Mohit Kumar
Cybersecurity researchers have revealed an unpatched logical flaw in Microsoft Office 2016 and older versions that could allow an attacker to embed malicious code inside a document file, tricking users into running malware onto their computers. Discovered by researchers at Cymulate, the bug abuses the ' Online Video ' option in Word documents, a feature that allows users to embedded an online video with a link to YouTube, as shown. When a user adds an online video link to an MS Word document, the Online Video feature automatically generates an HTML embed script, which is executed when the thumbnail inside the document is clicked by the viewer. Researchers decided to go public with their findings three months after Microsoft refused to acknowledge the reported issue as a security vulnerability. How Does the New MS Word Attack Works? Since the Word Doc files (.docx) are actually zip packages of its media and configuration files, it can easily be opened and edited. Acco

Microsoft October Patch Tuesday Fixes 12 Critical Vulnerabilities

Microsoft October Patch Tuesday Fixes 12 Critical Vulnerabilities
October 09, 2018Swati Khandelwal
Microsoft has just released its latest monthly Patch Tuesday updates for October 2018, fixing a total of 49 security vulnerabilities in its products. This month's security updates address security vulnerabilities in Microsoft Windows, Edge Browser, Internet Explorer, MS Office, MS Office Services and Web Apps, ChakraCore, SQL Server Management Studio, and Exchange Server. Out of 49 flaws patched this month, 12 are rated as critical, 35 are rated as important, one moderate, and one is low in severity. Three of these vulnerabilities patched by the tech giant are listed as “publicly known” at the time of release, and one flaw is reported as being actively exploited in the wild. Windows Update Patches An Important Flaw Under Active Attack According to the Microsoft advisory , an undisclosed group of attackers is actively exploiting an important elevation of privilege vulnerability (CVE-2018-8453) in Microsoft Windows operating system to take full control over the targete

Microsoft Issues Software Updates for 17 Critical Vulnerabilities

Microsoft Issues Software Updates for 17 Critical Vulnerabilities
September 11, 2018Swati Khandelwal
Times to gear up your systems and software. Just a few minutes ago Microsoft released its latest monthly Patch Tuesday update for September 2018, patching a total of 61 security vulnerabilities, 17 of which are rated as critical, 43 are rated Important, and one Moderate in severity. This month's security updates patch vulnerabilities in Microsoft Windows, Edge, Internet Explorer, MS Office, ChakraCore, .NET Framework, Microsoft.Data.OData, ASP.NET, and more. Four of the security vulnerabilities patched by the tech giant this month have been listed as "publicly known" and more likely exploited in the wild at the time of release. CVE-2018-8475: Windows Critical RCE Vulnerability One of the four publicly disclosed vulnerabilities is a critical remote code execution flaw ( CVE-2018-8475 ) in Microsoft Windows and affects all versions Windows operating system, including Windows 10. The Windows RCE vulnerability resides in the way Windows handles specially cra

Email Phishers Using New Way to Bypass Microsoft Office 365 Protections

Email Phishers Using New Way to Bypass Microsoft Office 365 Protections
August 15, 2018Swati Khandelwal
Phishing works no matter how hard a company tries to protect its customers or employees. Security researchers have been warning of a new phishing attack that cybercriminals and email scammers are using in the wild to bypass the Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) mechanism implemented by widely used email services like Microsoft Office 365. Microsoft Office 365 is an all-in-solution for users that offers several different online services, including Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, Lync Online and other Office Web Apps, like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and OneNote. On the top of these services, Microsoft also offers an artificial intelligence and machine learning powered security protection to help defend against potential phishing and other threats by going one level deep to scan the links in the email bodies to look for any blacklisted or suspicious domain. But as I said, phishers always find a way to bypass security protections in order to victimize users. Just over

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, 2018Mohit Kumar
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

Hackers Found Using A New Way to Bypass Microsoft Office 365 Safe Links

Hackers Found Using A New Way to Bypass Microsoft Office 365 Safe Links
May 08, 2018Mohit Kumar
Security researchers revealed a way around that some hacking groups have been found using in the wild to bypass a security feature of Microsoft Office 365, which is originally designed to protect users from malware and phishing attacks. Dubbed Safe Links, the feature has been included in Office 365 software as part of Microsoft's Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) solution that works by replacing all URLs in an incoming email with Microsoft-owned secure URLs. So, every time a user clicks on a link provided in an email, it first sends the user to a Microsoft owned domain, where the company immediately checks the original URL for anything suspicious. If Microsoft's scanners detect any malicious element, it then warns users about it, and if not, it redirects the user to the original link. However, researchers at cloud security company Avanan have revealed how attackers have been bypassing the Safe Links feature by using a technique called, " baseStriker attack ."

Warning: Your Windows PC Can Get Hacked by Just Visiting a Site

Warning: Your Windows PC Can Get Hacked by Just Visiting a Site
April 10, 2018Mohit Kumar
Can you get hacked just by clicking on a malicious link or opening a website? — YES . Microsoft has just released its April month's Patch Tuesday security updates, which addresses multiple critical vulnerabilities in its Windows operating systems and other products, five of which could allow an attacker to hack your computer by just tricking you visit a website. Microsoft has patched five critical vulnerabilities in Windows Graphics Component that reside due to improper handling of embedded fonts by the Windows font library and affects all versions of Windows operating systems to date, including Windows 10 / 8.1 / RT 8.1 / 7, Windows Server 2008 / 2012 / 2016. An attacker can exploit these issues by tricking an unsuspecting user to open a malicious file or a specially crafted website with the malicious font, which if open in a web browser, would hand over control of the affected system to the attacker. All these five vulnerabilities in Windows Microsoft Graphics were dis

Microsoft Office 365 Gets Built-in Ransomware Protection and Enhanced Security Features

Microsoft Office 365 Gets Built-in Ransomware Protection and Enhanced Security Features
April 06, 2018Mohit Kumar
Ransomware has been around for a few years, but it has become an albatross around everyone's neck, targeting big businesses, hospitals, financial institutions and individuals worldwide and extorting millions of dollars. Last year, we saw some major ransomware outbreaks, including WannaCry  and  NotPetya , which wreaked havoc across the world, hitting hundreds of thousands of computers and business networks worldwide. From small to mid-range businesses, Microsoft Office 365 remains the most widely used and fastest-growing work office suite, so it's no surprise that it has become a primary target for viruses, ransomware, and phishing scams. In fact, most strains of ransomware target Microsoft productivity apps such as Word, Excel and encrypt sensitive data to hold the company hostage until the ransom is paid. Now, to combat such cyber attacks, Microsoft has announced some new security features for Office 365 that can help users mitigate the damage done by ransomware a

Hackers Exploiting Three Microsoft Office Flaws to Spread Zyklon Malware

Hackers Exploiting Three Microsoft Office Flaws to Spread Zyklon Malware
January 17, 2018Mohit Kumar
Security researchers have spotted a new malware campaign in the wild that spreads an advanced botnet malware by leveraging at least three recently disclosed vulnerabilities in Microsoft Office. Dubbed Zyklon , the fully-featured malware has resurfaced after almost two years and primarily found targeting telecommunications, insurance and financial services. Active since early 2016, Zyklon is an HTTP botnet malware that communicates with its command-and-control servers over Tor anonymising network and allows attackers to remotely steal keylogs, sensitive data, like passwords stored in web browsers and email clients. Zyklon malware is also capable of executing additional plugins, including secretly using infected systems for DDoS attacks and cryptocurrency mining. Different versions of the Zyklon malware has previously been found being advertised on a popular underground marketplace for $75 (normal build) and $125 ( Tor-enabled build). According to a recently published report

Hackers Exploit Recently Disclosed Microsoft Office Bug to Backdoor PCs

Hackers Exploit Recently Disclosed Microsoft Office Bug to Backdoor PCs
November 29, 2017Mohit Kumar
A recently disclosed severe 17-year-old vulnerability in Microsoft Office that lets hackers install malware on targeted computers without user interaction is now being exploited in the wild to distribute a backdoor malware. First spotted by researchers at security firm Fortinet , the malware has been dubbed Cobalt because it uses a component from a powerful and legitimate penetration testing tool, called Cobalt Strike . Cobalt Strike is a form of software developed for Red Team Operations and Adversary Simulations for accessing covert channels of a system. The vulnerability (CVE-2017-11882) that Cobalt malware utilizes to deliver the backdoor is a memory-corruption issue that allows unauthenticated, remote attackers to execute malicious code on the targeted system when opened a malicious file and potentially take full control over it. This vulnerability impacts all versions of Microsoft Office and Windows operating system, though Microsoft has already released a patch upda

MS Office Built-In Feature Could be Exploited to Create Self-Replicating Malware

MS Office Built-In Feature Could be Exploited to Create Self-Replicating Malware
November 23, 2017Swati Khandelwal
Earlier this month a cybersecurity researcher shared details of a security loophole with The Hacker News that affects all versions of Microsoft Office, allowing malicious actors to create and spread macro-based self-replicating malware. Macro-based self-replicating malware, which basically allows a macro to write more macros, is not new among hackers, but to prevent such threats, Microsoft has already introduced a security mechanism in MS Office that by default limits this functionality. Lino Antonio Buono, an Italian security researcher who works at InTheCyber , reported a simple technique (detailed below) that could allow anyone to bypass the security control put in place by Microsoft and create self-replicating malware hidden behind innocent-looking MS Word documents. What's Worse? Microsoft refused to consider this issue a security loophole when contacted by the researcher in October this year, saying it's a feature intended to work this way only—just like MS Offic

17-Year-Old MS Office Flaw Lets Hackers Install Malware Without User Interaction

17-Year-Old MS Office Flaw Lets Hackers Install Malware Without User Interaction
November 15, 2017Swati Khandelwal
You should be extra careful when opening files in MS Office. When the world is still dealing with the threat of 'unpatched' Microsoft Office's built-in DDE feature , researchers have uncovered a serious issue with another Office component that could allow attackers to remotely install malware on targeted computers. The vulnerability is a memory-corruption issue that resides in all versions of Microsoft Office released in the past 17 years, including Microsoft Office 365, and works against all versions of Windows operating system, including the latest Microsoft Windows 10 Creators Update. Discovered by the security researchers at Embedi , the vulnerability leads to remote code execution, allowing an unauthenticated, remote attacker to execute malicious code on a targeted system without requiring user interaction after opening a malicious document. The vulnerability, identified as  CVE-2017-11882 , resides in EQNEDT32.EXE, an MS Office component which is responsibl

Russian 'Fancy Bear' Hackers Using (Unpatched) Microsoft Office DDE Exploit

Russian 'Fancy Bear' Hackers Using (Unpatched) Microsoft Office DDE Exploit
November 09, 2017Swati Khandelwal
Cybercriminals, including state-sponsored hackers, have started actively exploiting a newly discovered Microsoft Office vulnerability that Microsoft does not consider as a security issue and has already denied to patch it. Last month, we reported how hackers could leverage a built-in feature of Microsoft Office feature, called Dynamic Data Exchange (DDE), to perform 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. Soon after the details of DDE attack went public , several reports emerged about various widespread attack campaigns abusing this technique in the wild to target several organisations with malware. Now,

Unpatched Microsoft Word DDE Exploit Being Used In Widespread Malware Attacks

Unpatched Microsoft Word DDE Exploit Being Used In Widespread Malware Attacks
October 20, 2017Swati Khandelwal
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
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