Macro viruses make a return in targeted attacks

Posted by   Virus Bulletin on   Jan 31, 2014

Macros disabled in modern versions of Office, but enabled within many organisations.

A report by the National Cyber Security Center (NCSC, the Dutch CERT) points to a resurgence of macro viruses in targeted attacks.

Macro viruses are viruses that are written in a software's built-in macro language. They were very common in the late 1990s, and usually exploited the ability of Microsoft Office to store commonly executed patterns in macros. Macros can be called by certain key-strokes or mouse-clicks, but also automatically - for instance when a document is opened.

In modern versions of Office, the ability to record and execute macros is disabled by default, and thus macro viruses have ceased to be a problem for most home users. However, the NCSC notes that many organisations have macros enabled - for instance to support corporate house styles.

This situation is being abused by some advanced persistent threats: many APT attacks start with someone at the targeted organisation receiving an email with a malicious document attached to it. The NCSC reports that in some cases, macros in these attachments are being used to download malware onto the target's system.

The NCSC notes that these attacks are very targeted and thus the term 'macro virus' might be slightly inappropriate. Moreover, a hesitance among victims to report the attacks and low detection by anti-virus software means it is hard to get an accurate picture of how prevalent they are.

The report, which so far has only been published in Dutch, can be downloaded here.

Posted on 31 January 2014 by Martijn Grooten

twitter.png
fb.png
linkedin.png
hackernews.png
reddit.png

 

Latest posts:

VB2018 paper: Office bugs on the rise

At VB2018 Sophos researcher Gábor Szappanos provided a detailed overview of Office exploit builders, and looked in particular at the widely exploited CVE-2017-0199. Today we publish his paper and release the video of his presentation.

VB2018 video: The Big Bang Theory by APT-C-23

Today, we release the video of the VB2018 presentation by Check Point researcher Aseel Kayal, who connected the various dots relating to campaigns by the APT-C-23 threat group.

VB2019 London - join us for the most international threat intelligence conference!

VB calls on organisations and individuals involved in threat intelligence from around the world to participate in next year's Virus Bulletin conference.

VB2018 paper: Tracking Mirai variants

Today, we publish the VB2018 paper by Qihoo 360 researchers Ya Liu and Hui Wang, on extracting data from variants of the Mirai botnet to classify and track variants.

VB2018 paper: Hide'n'Seek: an adaptive peer-to-peer IoT botnet

2018 has seen an increase in the variety of botnets living on the Internet of Things - such as Hide'N'Seek, which is notable for its use of peer-to-peer for command-and-control communication. Today, we publish the VB2018 paper by Bitdefender…

We have placed cookies on your device in order to improve the functionality of this site, as outlined in our cookies policy. However, you may delete and block all cookies from this site and your use of the site will be unaffected. By continuing to browse this site, you are agreeing to Virus Bulletin's use of data as outlined in our privacy policy.