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.
- Radicati: Cloud Business Email - Market Quadrant 2013 Google was named the top cloud business email provider in a recent report by research firm Radicati. Out of 14 key players, Google...
- Tablets in the Enterprise: A Checklist for Successful Deployment How can you enterprise manage and secure tablets in order to protect corporate data while providing access to the information and applications employees...
- Enterprise Mobility: A Checklist for Secure Containerization The advantages and disadvantages of the multiple approaches to containerization. Learn More>>
- Enterprise File Sync & Share Checklist File sync and share has changed the way people work and collaborate in today's tech-savvy world. Gone are the email roadblocks, clunky FTP...
- Live Webcast LIVE EVENT: 5/7, The End of Data Protection As We Know It. Introducing a Next Generation Data Protection Architecture. Traditional backup is going away, but where does this leave end-users?
- LIVE EVENT: 5/7, The End of Data Protection As We Know It. Introducing a Next Generation Data Protection Architecture. Traditional backup is going away, but where does this leave end-users?
- On-demand webinar: "Mobility Mayhem: Balancing BYOD with Enterprise Security" Check out this on-demand webinar to hear Sophos senior security expert John Shier deep dive into how BYOD impacts your enterprise security strategy... All Security White Papers | Webcasts