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Microsoft Office vulnerabilities mean no .doc is safe

13 April, 2017, 02:20 | Author: Abraham Jackson
  • Microsoft-Word

The emails sent by attackers contained a Microsoft Word RTF (Rich Text Format) document and were sent by addresses using the recipient's domain name. Most software vulnerabilities give attackers user level code execution capability. In other words, the system was compromised even if the user was presented a dialog about the document containing "links that may refer to other files". This activity has been going on for months and affects all versions of the MS Office package, including Office 2016 that also came with the Windows 10 Operating System.

The vulnerability comes from Windows Object Linking and Embedding feature, according to FireEye.

McAfee reported seeing instances of the bug in the wild, typically in attacks from March and April but occasionally as far back as November.

Microsoft, which according to McAfee has known of the remote-code vulnerability since January, has yet to issue any sort of public advisory.

Microsoft also released additional updates for vulnerabilities in its products overnight, as part of its monthly security updates. "According to our tests, this active attack can not bypass the Office Protected View, so we suggest everyone ensure that Office Protected View is enabled, said McAfee".

Li said it had informed Microsoft Security Response Center of the attacks and vulnerability.

The malware can be disguised as important files or documents sent over email, meaning a student's homework or an office presentation could be harboring the next attack.

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He added that the successful exploit closes the bait Word document, and pops up a fake one to show the victim.

Two cybersecurity firms have uncovered vulnerabilities in Microsoft Office files that have allowed hackers to install malware through Word documents.

So, if you receive a shady email message asking you to download the document and open it immediately.

And that's the reason this vulnerability is more unsafe that many others, because the victim won't even know that the payload is being installed on their system.

The nature of the attack means it can bypass most memory-based mitigations designed by Microsoft. Protected View is normally used by default when opening a file delivered in an email or downloaded from the web, disabling everything but the essentials of its content to maximise security.

"We suggest everyone ensure that Office Protected View is enabled", said Li.

Details of the vulnerability were first released by McAfee and FireEye over the weekend.

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