Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Attacks/Breaches

4/3/2009
03:31 PM
Connect Directly
Google+
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Zero-Day PowerPoint Attacks Under Way

Microsoft warns of targeted exploits of unpatched flaw that could let attackers take control of victim's computer

Microsoft's PowerPoint application is being used in a new attack that exploits an unpatched vulnerability in the popular Office app. The software giant yesterday issued a security alert confirming "limited and targeted attacks" were under way using malicious PowerPoint files that exploit the flaw.

The exploits carry a Trojan, according to Microsoft, and in an interesting twist, the exploit files were recently submitted to the VirusTotal free malware-scanning site. "Either the miscreants who created these exploits were looking to see how antivirus products detect their new files, or the victims were looking to get some information about their maliciousness," blogged Cristian Craioveanu and Ziv Mador of Microsoft's Malware Protection Center.

When exploited, the vulnerability can give an attacker local rights to a user's machine if he opens the malicious PowerPoint file, which is currently being delivered via targeted email messages, but can also be pushed via a Website or instant messaging link.

The vulnerability affects PowerPoint 2000 Service Pack 3, PowerPoint 2002 Service Pack 3, PowerPoint 2003 Service Pack 3, and Microsoft Office 2004 for Mac . The newer Microsoft Office PowerPoint 2007 and Microsoft Office for Mac 2008 are immune.

"Microsoft will take the appropriate action to protect our customers, which may include providing a solution through our monthly security update release process, or an out-of-cycle security update, depending on customer needs," said Bill Sisk, security response communications manager for Microsoft, in a statement.

Paul Henry, security and forensic analyst for Lumension Security, blogged today that the attack is a reminder of the importance of least-privilege user rights. "...A reduced level of privilege for our users can afford significant risk mitigation in the current malware-ridden environment that exists. Simply put, you are not only limiting the users' rights, you are potentially limiting the rights of malware that may infect the users' PC," Henry said.

For now, Microsoft has provided a few workarounds for users to protect against the new PowerPoint attack:

  • Do not open or save Office files received unexpectedly from a trusted or untrusted source;
  • Use the Microsoft Office Isolated Conversion Environment to open those files; or
  • Use Microsoft Office File Block policy to ban Office 2003 and earlier files from being opened.

Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos, says it's unclear whether Microsoft will have a fix ready in time for its April 14 patch update. "So take action now," he says in his new blog for Dark Reading. "Make sure your antivirus software is configured to automatically update as security vendors are rushing out detection routines, and ensure that your staff knows not to open unsolicited or unknown PowerPoint files, just in case they are carrying a dangerous payload."

Have a comment on this story? Please click "Discuss" below. If you'd like to contact Dark Reading's editors directly, send us a message.

Kelly Jackson Higgins is Executive Editor at DarkReading.com. She is an award-winning veteran technology and business journalist with more than two decades of experience in reporting and editing for various publications, including Network Computing, Secure Enterprise ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Where Businesses Waste Endpoint Security Budgets
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  7/15/2019
US Mayors Commit to Just Saying No to Ransomware
Robert Lemos, Contributing Writer,  7/16/2019
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Current Issue
Building and Managing an IT Security Operations Program
As cyber threats grow, many organizations are building security operations centers (SOCs) to improve their defenses. In this Tech Digest you will learn tips on how to get the most out of a SOC in your organization - and what to do if you can't afford to build one.
Flash Poll
The State of IT Operations and Cybersecurity Operations
The State of IT Operations and Cybersecurity Operations
Your enterprise's cyber risk may depend upon the relationship between the IT team and the security team. Heres some insight on what's working and what isn't in the data center.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2018-17210
PUBLISHED: 2019-07-20
An issue was discovered in PrinterOn Central Print Services (CPS) through 4.1.4. The core components that create and launch a print job do not perform complete verification of the session cookie that is supplied to them. As a result, an attacker with guest/pseudo-guest level permissions can bypass t...
CVE-2019-12934
PUBLISHED: 2019-07-20
An issue was discovered in the wp-code-highlightjs plugin through 0.6.2 for WordPress. wp-admin/options-general.php?page=wp-code-highlight-js allows CSRF, as demonstrated by an XSS payload in the hljs_additional_css parameter.
CVE-2019-9229
PUBLISHED: 2019-07-20
An issue was discovered on AudioCodes Mediant 500L-MSBR, 500-MBSR, M800B-MSBR and 800C-MSBR devices with firmware versions F7.20A to F7.20A.251. An internal interface exposed to the link-local address 169.254.254.253 allows attackers in the local network to access multiple quagga VTYs. Attackers can...
CVE-2019-12815
PUBLISHED: 2019-07-19
An arbitrary file copy vulnerability in mod_copy in ProFTPD up to 1.3.5b allows for remote code execution and information disclosure without authentication, a related issue to CVE-2015-3306.
CVE-2019-13569
PUBLISHED: 2019-07-19
A SQL injection vulnerability exists in the Icegram Email Subscribers & Newsletters plugin through 4.1.7 for WordPress. Successful exploitation of this vulnerability would allow a remote attacker to execute arbitrary SQL commands on the affected system.