Hackers exploit IE bug with 'insidious' Word docs
ActiveX control in Word file downloads malware to unpatched PCs, says McAfee
"Inside the document is an ActiveX control, and in that control is a line that makes it call out to the site that's hosting the malware," said David Marcus, director of security research and communications for McAfee Inc.'s Avert Labs. "This is a pretty insidious way to attack people, because it's invisible to the eye, the communication with the site."
Embedding malicious ActiveX controls in Word documents isn't new -- Marcus said he had seen it "a time or two" -- but using an ActiveX control to ping a hacker's server for attack code is "definitely an innovation," he added. "They're stepping it up."
The rogue documents can be delivered as attachments to spam e-mail or offered up by hacked sites.
Attackers have been exploiting the IE bug since at least Dec. 9, when reports first surfaced about malicious code found in the wild and on several Chinese hacker servers. McAfee was one of the first security companies to report the emerging exploit.
Yesterday, the company released the patch.
Although other researchers continue to claim that thousands of legitimate Web sites have been compromised, then used to serve "drive-by" attacks against unpatched browsers, Marcus wasn't certain about the numbers he's seen bandied about. "But absolutely, there's been a lot of activity around this," he said. "A lot of the bad guys have embedded IFrames in their sites to attack IE."
According to other reports, the IE exploit has been added to one or more multistrike hacker tool kits that try several different exploits when users visit a compromised or malicious site. "If it's not in one of those yet, it probably will be," said Marcus. "Some of the exploits in those kits are years old, so a good one like this, unpatched until yesterday, will make its way into them."
Marcus recommended that users be cautious about opening Word documents, keep their security software up to date, and apply the IE patch as soon as possible.
Read more about Security in Computerworld's Security Topic Center.
- Securing Mobile App Data - Comparing Containers and App Wrappers Analysts agree that Mobile Device Management (MDM) is not enough when it comes to securing app data. Although it remains a critical component...
- PCI 3.0 Compliance In this white paper, learn how PCI-DSS 3.0 effects how you deploy and maintain PCI compliant networks using CradlePoint devices.
- Mitigating Security Risks at the Networks Edge This white paper provides strategies and best practices for distributed enterprises to protect their networks against vulnerabilities, threats, and malicious attacks.
- 5 Strategies for Modern Data Protection Read the five strategies for modern data protection that will not only help solve your current data management challenges but also ensure that...
- Business-driven data protection Setting up data protection infrastructures with your organizations' core mission or business in mind is key. In this webinar, the ARCserve team will...
- On-Demand Webinar: Mind the Gap! Watch the webinar featuring Bob Janssen, CTO and Co-Founder of RES Software, to start building a solid foundation for business and IT to... All Security White Papers | Webcasts
Our new bimonthly Internet of Things newsletter helps you keep pace with the rapidly evolving technologies, trends and developments related to the IoT. Subscribe now and stay up to date!