Microsoft’s Edge browser has changed Web Explorer in virtually each regard, however some exceptions stay. A kind of, deep inside Microsoft Phrase, was exploited by a North-Korean-backed group this fall, Google safety researchers declare.
It is not the first time the government-backed APT37 has utilized Web Explorer’s lingering presence, as Google’s Risk Evaluation Group (TAG) notes in a blog post. APT37 has had repeated success focusing on South Korean journalists and activists, plus North Korean defectors, by means of a restricted however nonetheless profitable Web Explorer pathway.
The final exploit focused these heading to Daily NK, a South Korean website devoted to North Korean information. This one concerned the Halloween crowd crush in Itaewon, which killed at the very least 151 folks. A Microsoft Phrase .docx doc, named as if it had been timed and dated lower than two days after the incident and labeled “accident response state of affairs,” began circulating. South Korean customers started submitting the document to the Google-owned VirusTotal, the place it was flagged with CVE-2017-0199, a long-known vulnerability in Phrase and WordPad.
Simply as in April 2017, the doc, when you click on to permit Phrase/WordPad to view it exterior the no-download “Protected View,” downloads a wealthy textual content template from an attacker-controlled server, then grabs extra HTML that appears like Wealthy Textual content Format templates. Workplace and WordPad intrinsically use Web Explorer to render HTML in what Microsoft describes as “specifically crafted recordsdata,” giving attackers a technique to then usher in numerous malware payloads. Whereas patched that same month, the vulnerability continued; it was one of many vectors exploited in a Petya wave more than a year later.
Microsoft patched the specific exploit in its JScript engine, however this being the fifth yr of remote-code Phrase doc assaults, it looks as if they’re going to be round for some time longer. And North Korean actors shall be desirous to act on them.