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.

Vulnerabilities / Threats

8/16/2017
03:00 PM
Connect Directly
Twitter
LinkedIn
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Old Flaws, New Tricks: CVE-2017-0199 and PowerPoint Abuse

Researchers discover attackers are using a patched Microsoft vulnerability to abuse PowerPoint files and distribute malware.

Attackers are using an old vulnerability to distribute malware in a new way. Microsoft PowerPoint files are being used as more effective means of delivering payloads.

CVE-2017-0199, originally a zero-day remote code execution vulnerability, lets attackers run code on target systems using the Object Linking and Embedding (OLE) technology in Windows to deliver malware. It was previously exploited using malicious Rich Text File (RTF) documents, the same technique seen in the DRIDEX banking Trojan.

Attackers who successfully exploited the vulnerability could assume control over target systems and create new accounts with full user rights, install programs, and view, edit, or delete data. Researchers at TrendMicro have found malware exploiting the same flaw but using PowerPoint files for distribution, a technique not previously seen in the wild.

"Attackers are using the PowerPoint Show (PPSX) format -- a slide presentation that starts showing automatically -- in order to reduce the chances that the victim sees anything amiss with the slides," says Mark Nunnikhoven, VP of cloud security at Trend Micro.

PPSX files are designed for PowerPoint viewers, not authors, he continues. While the malicious file is still a full document, the intention is different and most users will automatically execute the presentation. Using PPSX files streamlines payload delivery to a single click.

The initial exploit arrives as a spearphishing email disguised as a message from a cable manufacturing provider. Nunnikhoven explains these attacks have initially targeted electronic manufacturers but this likely has little to do with that specific industry.

"It's not uncommon for new techniques to target specific verticals first," he says. "This speaks more to the attackers' motivations than any particular issue with that vertical."

The emails contain a malicious PPSX attachment, which downloads a file called logo.doc from the C&C server. This runs a PowerShell command to download and execute a file called RATMAN.EXE, a trojanized version of the REMCOS remote access tool (RAT).

Attackers can use the customizable REMCOS RAT to run remote commands and control a system from anywhere in the world. Its capabilities include a download and execute command, keylogger, screen logger, and webcam and microphone recorders.

The trojanized sample discovered by Trend Micro uses an unknown .NET protector, which contains obfuscations that make it difficult to reverse. Since most detection methods for CVE-2017-0199 focuses on RTF, the use of PPSX files allows attackers to evade antivirus detection.

Microsoft issued a patch for CVE-2017-0199 in April that will prevent this method of exploitation. PPSX is simply a more effective means of attacking victims. However, Nunnikhoven acknowledges the reality that systems may have been left unpatched and remain exposed. Legacy systems and business challenges "provide attackers with a lengthy window" to exploit vulnerabilities.

In some cases, there is no patch at all. This vulnerability affects Microsoft Office 2007 SP3, 2010 SP2, 2013 SP1, and 2016. It also affects Windows Vista SP2, Server 2008 SP2, 7 SP1, and 8.1.

"Some of these systems are end of life supporting, which means without an explicit support agreement with Microsoft a patch is unavailable," he continues. "For other systems, the challenges in patching all systems in a timely manner leave organizations at risk."

Legacy systems are "a weak link in the chain," says Nunnikhoven, and attackers can use them to gain footholds into networks where they can find more modern systems to hit. Attackers are continuing to "actively exploit" older systems, he emphasizes, and it's critical for businesses to invest in IT infrastructure.

Learn from the industry’s most knowledgeable CISOs and IT security experts in a setting that is conducive to interaction and conversation. Click for more info and to register.

Related Content:

Kelly Sheridan is the Staff Editor at Dark Reading, where she focuses on cybersecurity news and analysis. She is a business technology journalist who previously reported for InformationWeek, where she covered Microsoft, and Insurance & Technology, where she covered financial ... View Full Bio
 

Recommended Reading:

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
News
Inside the Ransomware Campaigns Targeting Exchange Servers
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  4/2/2021
Commentary
Beyond MITRE ATT&CK: The Case for a New Cyber Kill Chain
Rik Turner, Principal Analyst, Infrastructure Solutions, Omdia,  3/30/2021
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
2021 Top Enterprise IT Trends
We've identified the key trends that are poised to impact the IT landscape in 2021. Find out why they're important and how they will affect you today!
Flash Poll
How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
Recent breaches of third-party apps are driving many organizations to think harder about the security of their off-the-shelf software as they continue to move left in secure software development practices.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2021-29370
PUBLISHED: 2021-04-13
A UXSS was discovered in the Thanos-Soft Cheetah Browser in Android 1.2.0 due to the inadequate filter of the intent scheme. This resulted in Cross-site scripting on the cheetah browser in any website.
CVE-2021-3460
PUBLISHED: 2021-04-13
The Motorola MH702x devices, prior to version 2.0.0.301, do not properly verify the server certificate during communication with the support server which could lead to the communication channel being accessible by an attacker.
CVE-2021-3462
PUBLISHED: 2021-04-13
A privilege escalation vulnerability in Lenovo Power Management Driver for Windows 10, prior to version 1.67.17.54, that could allow unauthorized access to the driver's device object.
CVE-2021-3463
PUBLISHED: 2021-04-13
A null pointer dereference vulnerability in Lenovo Power Management Driver for Windows 10, prior to version 1.67.17.54, that could cause systems to experience a blue screen error.
CVE-2021-3471
PUBLISHED: 2021-04-13
** REJECT ** DO NOT USE THIS CANDIDATE NUMBER. ConsultIDs: none. Reason: This candidate was withdrawn by its CNA. Notes: none.