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The Hacker News - Cybersecurity News and Analysis: Microsoft office

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
MS Office Built-in Feature Allows Malware Execution Without Macros Enabled

MS Office Built-in Feature Allows Malware Execution Without Macros Enabled

October 12, 2017Swati Khandelwal
Since new forms of cybercrime are on the rise, traditional techniques seem to be shifting towards more clandestine that involve the exploitation of standard system tools and protocols, which are not always monitored. Security researchers at Cisco's Talos threat research group have discovered one such attack campaign spreading malware-equipped Microsoft Word documents that perform code execution on the targeted device without requiring Macros enabled or memory corruption. This Macro-less code execution in MSWord technique, described in detail on Monday by a pair of security researchers from Sensepost, Etienne Stalmans and Saif El-Sherei, which leverages a built-in feature of MS Office, called Dynamic Data Exchange (DDE), to perform code execution. Dynamic Data Exchange (DDE) protocol is one of the several methods that Microsoft allows two running applications to share the same data. The protocol can be used by applications for one-time data transfers and for continuous exc
How Just Opening A Malicious PowerPoint File Could Compromise Your PC

How Just Opening A Malicious PowerPoint File Could Compromise Your PC

August 14, 2017Mohit Kumar
A few months back we reported how opening a simple MS Word file could compromise your computer using a critical vulnerability in Microsoft Office . The Microsoft Office remote code execution vulnerability (CVE-2017-0199) resided in the Windows Object Linking and Embedding (OLE) interface for which a patch was issued in April this year, but threat actors are still abusing the flaw through the different mediums. Security researchers have spotted a new malware campaign that is leveraging the same exploit, but for the first time, hidden behind a specially crafted PowerPoint (PPSX) Presentation file. According to the researchers at Trend Micro, who spotted the malware campaign, the targeted attack starts with a convincing spear-phishing email attachment, purportedly from a cable manufacturing provider and mainly targets companies involved in the electronics manufacturing industry. Researchers believe this attack involves the use of a sender address disguised as a legitimate ema
Beware! This Microsoft PowerPoint Hack Installs Malware Without Requiring Macros

Beware! This Microsoft PowerPoint Hack Installs Malware Without Requiring Macros

June 07, 2017Mohit Kumar
" Disable macros and always be extra careful when you manually enable it while opening Microsoft Office Word documents. " You might have heard of above-mentioned security warning multiple times on the Internet as hackers usually leverage this decade old macros-based hacking technique to hack computers through specially crafted Microsoft Office files, particularly Word, attached to spam emails. But a new social engineering attack has been discovered in the wild, which doesn't require users to enable macros ; instead it executes malware on a targeted system using PowerShell commands embedded inside a PowerPoint (PPT) file. Moreover, the malicious PowerShell code hidden inside the document triggers as soon as the victim moves/hovers a mouse over a link (as shown), which downloads an additional payload on the compromised machine -- even without clicking it. Researchers at Security firm SentinelOne have discovered that a group of hackers is using malicious PowerPoi
Not Just Criminals, But Governments Were Also Using MS Word 0-Day Exploit

Not Just Criminals, But Governments Were Also Using MS Word 0-Day Exploit

April 13, 2017Swati Khandelwal
Recently we reported about a critical code execution vulnerability in Microsoft Word that was being exploited in the wild by cyber criminal groups to distribute malware like Dridex banking trojans and Latentbot. Now, it turns out that the same previously undisclosed vulnerability in Word (CVE-2017-0199) was also actively being exploited by the government-sponsored hackers to spy on Russian targets since at least this January. The news comes after security firm FireEye, that independently discovered this flaw last month, published a blog post , revealing that FinSpy spyware was installed as early as January using the same vulnerability in Word that was patched on Tuesday by Microsoft. For those unaware, the vulnerability (CVE-2017-0199) is a code execution flaw in Word that could allow an attacker to take over a fully patched and up to date computer when the victim opens a Word document containing a booby-trapped OLE2link object, which downloads a malicious HTML app from a
Microsoft Issues Patches for Actively Exploited Critical Vulnerabilities

Microsoft Issues Patches for Actively Exploited Critical Vulnerabilities

April 12, 2017Swati Khandelwal
Besides a previously undisclosed code-execution flaw in Microsoft Word, the tech giant patches two more zero-day vulnerabilities that attackers had been exploiting in the wild for months, as part of this month's Patch Tuesday . In total, Microsoft patches 45 unique vulnerabilities in its nine products, including three previously undisclosed vulnerabilities under active attack. The first vulnerability ( CVE-2017-0199 ) under attack is a remote-code execution flaw that could allow an attacker to remotely take over a fully patched and up to date computer when the victim opens a Word document containing a booby-trapped OLE2link object. The attack can bypass most exploit mitigations developed by Microsoft, and according to Ryan Hanson of security firm Optiv, in some cases, exploits can execute malicious code even when Protected View is enabled. As The Hacker News reported Monday, this code-execution flaw in Microsoft Word was being exploited by hackers to spread a version
Unpatched Microsoft Word Flaw is Being Used to Spread Dridex Banking Trojan

Unpatched Microsoft Word Flaw is Being Used to Spread Dridex Banking Trojan

April 11, 2017Swati Khandelwal
If you are a regular reader of The Hacker News, you might be aware of an ongoing cyber attack — detected in the wild by McAfee and FireEye — that silently installs malware on fully-patched computers by exploiting an unpatched Microsoft Word vulnerability in all current versions of Microsoft Office. Now, according to security firm Proofpoint, the operators of the Dridex malware started exploiting the unpatched Microsoft Word vulnerability to spread a version of their infamous Dridex banking trojan . Dridex is currently one of the most dangerous banking trojans on the Internet that exhibits the typical behavior of monitoring a victim's traffic to bank sites by infiltrating PCs and stealing victim's online banking credentials and financial data. The Dridex actors usually relied on macro-laden Word files to distribute the malware through spam messages or emails. However, this is the first time when researchers found the Dridex operators using an unpatched zero-day flaw
Beware of an Unpatched Microsoft Word 0-Day Flaw being Exploited in the Wild

Beware of an Unpatched Microsoft Word 0-Day Flaw being Exploited in the Wild

April 09, 2017Swati Khandelwal
It's 2017, and opening a simple MS Word file could compromise your system. Security researchers are warning of a new in-the-wild attack that silently installs malware on fully-patched computers by exploiting a serious — and yet unpatched — zero-day vulnerability in all current versions of Microsoft Office. The Microsoft Office zero-day attack, uncovered by researchers from security firms McAfee and FireEye, starts simply with an email that attaches a malicious Word file containing a booby-trapped OLE2link object. When opened, the exploit code gets executed and makes a connection to a remote server controlled by the attacker, from where it downloads a malicious HTML application file (HTA) that's disguised as a document created in Microsoft's RTF (Rich Text Format). The HTA file then gets executed automatically with attackers gaining full code execution on the victim's machine, downloading additional payloads from "different well-known malware families"
Microsoft releases tons of Security Updates to patch 44 vulnerabilities

Microsoft releases tons of Security Updates to patch 44 vulnerabilities

June 14, 2016Swati Khandelwal
Microsoft has released 16 security bulletins on Tuesday resolving a total of 44 security holes in its software, including Windows, Office, Exchange Server, Internet Explorer and Edge. Five bulletins have been rated "critical" that could be used to carry out remote code execution and affected: Windows, Internet Explorer (IE), Edge (the new, improved IE), Microsoft Office and Office services; and the remaining 11 are marked important. One of the critical issues, MS16-071 that caused alarm bells to go off for many security experts involves a Use-After-Free bug (CVE-2016-3227), which affects Microsoft Windows Domain Name System (DNS) servers for Windows Server 2012 and 2012 R2. The vulnerability resides in the way servers handle requests. Attackers could send a specially crafted request to a DNS server and convinced it to run arbitrary code in the context of the Local System Account, Microsoft's advisory warns. Another critical vulnerability is addressed in MS16-070, which patc
Enable this New Setting to Secure your Computer from Macro-based Malware

Enable this New Setting to Secure your Computer from Macro-based Malware

March 31, 2016Unknown
Do you deal with MS Word files on the daily basis? If yes, then are you aware that even opening a simple doc file could compromise your system? It is a matter to think that the virus does not directly affect you, but it is you who let the virus carry out the attack by enabling deadly "Macros" to view the doc contents that are generally on eye-catching subjects like bank invoice. How Macros are Crippling your System? The concept of Macros dates back to 1990s. You must be familiar with this message: " Warning: This document contains macros. " A Macro is a series of commands and actions that help to automate some tasks. Microsoft Office programs support Macros written in Visual Basic for Applications (VBA), but they can also be used for malicious activities like installing malware. Hackers are cleverly using this technique on the shade of social engineering by sending the malicious Macros through doc file or spreadsheet with an eye-catching subject in t
Microsoft issues Security Patches for Windows 10 and Edge Browser

Microsoft issues Security Patches for Windows 10 and Edge Browser

August 12, 2015Swati Khandelwal
Updated your PCs to Windows 10 ? Now it's time to patch your Windows 10 software. Microsoft has issued its monthly Patch Tuesday by releasing 14 security bulletins , nearly half of it address vulnerabilities in its latest operating system, Windows 10. Four of them are marked critical, affecting Windows, .Net Framework, Microsoft Office, Microsoft Lync, Internet Explorer, Microsoft Silverlight and Edge Browser . Yes, the critical update includes even Edge browser – Microsoft's newest and supposedly super-secure web browser. Windows users are advised to patch their system as soon as possible because the security flaws can be remotely exploited to execute malicious code on vulnerable systems, allowing hackers to install malware and take full control of systems. Most Critical Security Updates: MS15-079 – The critical update fixes a total of 10 privately disclosed flaws in Internet Explorer. Most of these flaws allow a hacker to execute malicious code on v
Microsoft Critical Vulnerabilities that You Must Patch Coming Tuesday

Microsoft Critical Vulnerabilities that You Must Patch Coming Tuesday

April 05, 2014Anonymous
On passed Thursday, Microsoft has released an advance advisory alert for upcoming Patch Tuesday which will address Remote Code Execution vulnerabilities in several Microsoft's products. Microsoft came across a limited targeted attacks directed at their Microsoft Word 2010 because of the vulnerability in the older versions of Microsoft Word. This Tuesday Microsoft will release Security Updates to address four major vulnerabilities, out of which two are labeled as critical and remaining two are Important to patch as the flaws are affecting various Microsoft software such as, Microsoft Office suite, Microsoft web apps, Microsoft Windows, Internet Explorer etc. VULNERABILITY THAT YOU  MUST PATCH Google Security Team has reported a critical Remote code execution vulnerability in Microsoft Word 2010 ( CVE-2014-1761 ) which could be exploited by an attacker to execute the malicious code remotely via a specially crafted RTF file , if opened by a user with an affected vers
UK government planning to ditch Microsoft for Open Source alternatives

UK government planning to ditch Microsoft for Open Source alternatives

January 31, 2014Anonymous
Downfall in the monopoly of propriety software like Microsoft and Apple accelerated after the Snowden revelations of NSA spying, where technology giants like Microsoft, Google, Apple are sharing a bed with the NSA. The UK government is again planning to ditch Microsoft for Open Source and Free alternatives. Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude announced yesterday that they are move away from Microsoft Office, towards open source softwares like  OpenOffice & LibreOffice suites, in an effort to drive down costs and foster greater innovation. UK has spent about £200 million in the last three years for Microsoft's ubiquitous software suite, but now this migration will save large revenue of the kingdom, according to The Guardian . The cabinet Office minister said, " We know the best technology and digital ideas often come from small businesses, but too often in the past they were excluded from government work. In the civil service there was a sense that if you hired a
Syrian Electronic Army kept their promise; Microsoft's Office blog hacked

Syrian Electronic Army kept their promise; Microsoft's Office blog hacked

January 21, 2014Mohit Kumar
Yesterday Night Microsoft has faced another targeted attack by the Syrian Electronic Army (SEA), a group supposed to be aligned with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad . The SEA group is popular for its advance phishing attack and using the same technique they also hacked into the Official Twitter account of Microsoft News, Xbox Support, Skype and also defaced the Microsoft, Skype Official Blog pages in the past few weeks. Yesterday, Just after the Microsoft uploaded the newly designed website of it ' Microsoft Office ' blog, the Syrian Electronic Army gang again compromised it successfully. SEA uploaded the hacked blog screenshots on their twitter account, with a defacement article titled " Hacked by the Syrian Electronic Army ", as shown. Before, they also taunted Microsoft that " changing the CMS will not help you if your employees are hacked and they don't know about that ." The Group kept their promise to continue their attacks
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