Microsoft patches serious Word bug targeted by scammers


An attacker can make a user download malicious word file as an email attachment, execute codes, and install malware on victim's system. Researchers from security firms McAfee and FireEye warned that the malicious Word documents are being attached to e-mails, but didn't reveal the scope or ultimate objective of the campaign.

In this case, it's a Word document that contains an embedded exploit.

Instead, the vulnerability is triggered when a victim opens a trick Word document, which downloads a malicious HTML application from a server, disguised to look like a Rich Text document file as a decoy.

The.hta file is executed automatically, allowing the attackers to gain full code execution on the machine, downloading additional payloads from "different well-known malware families".

But the post does say that the exploit takes advantage of OLE - and even that might be useful to a would-be attacker looking to duplicate it, said Allen.

Microsoft confirmed it is planning to fix the issue in a patch set to be released with its scheduled monthly update on Tuesday.

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The advice of not opening files from the people you don't know is not really that helpful for employees working with scanned documents on a daily basis in a business environment, where they regularly have to open scanned documents and Word files from unknown (potential) business partners. "Customers who applied the update, or have automatic updates enabled, are already protected", said a Microsoft spokesperson.

Microsoft said the bug affects all supported versions of Office, and some versions of Windows.

According to McAfee, the files used by attackers were organized as Word files, but the exploit works on all versions of Microsoft Office, including Office 2016 running on Windows 10, which is supposedly the safest Windows version.

Both McAfee and FireEye noted that the exploit can bypass most memory-based mitigations included in Windows. However, it's not rare for such attacks to happen on larger populations once the underlying zero-day vulnerability becomes public knowledge. The first observed attack was in late January, noted Li.

Users should not open any Office files obtained from "untrusted locations".

"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". Also, the attack can not bypass the Protected View in Word, so McAfee suggested enabling this view mode when opening documents just to be sure.


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