Potential Increase in Malware Delivered by PDF and Office Attachments

The Information Security Office wants to make you aware that a number of vulnerabilities affecting Microsoft Office and Adobe Acrobat were disclosed this week. Furthermore, we have been made aware that savvy criminals are launching phishing campaigns to deliver malware (such as viruses, Trojans, worms, etc.) by sending specially crafted documents (like pdf, PowerPoint) attached to crafted email designed to bait recipients into opening the documents. If the document is opened, there is a potential for the computer to be infected and may begin downloading other malware.

The Office of Information Technology is aware of these vulnerabilities and is in the process of mitigating them by doing the following:

1. Updating the malware signatures on the email systems that deliver email to @uta.edu and @mavs.uta.edu addresses to block known attachments that might be infected.
2. Updating Microsoft Endpoint Protection (Windows) and McAfee Antivirus (Macintosh) to block known malware that might exploit this vulnerability.
3. Updating Microsoft Office and Adobe Acrobat products on computers that have the standard OIT image.
4. Patching vulnerable servers under their care that might be vulnerable if malware entered our network.

Additionally, the Information Security Office has implemented blocks on the Intrusion Prevention System for known communication that might exploit these vulnerabilities.

As is the nature with all anti-malware software or network protections, and while anti-malware vendors are constantly adjusting and improving detection capabilities, they are often playing catch-up with the latest techniques used by criminals to evade threat detection technology. As such I encourage you to alert your staff to be vigilant and to follow these general tips to avoid infection:

  • Do not open email attachments from unknown or untrusted sources
  • Remind users not to visit untrusted websites or follow links provided by unknown or untrusted sources, especially email.
  • Ensure that computers and servers are protected:
    • Keep all operating system, applications and essential software up to date to mitigate potential exploitation by attackers.
    • Make sure all AV products are up-to-date with their signatures.
    • Ensure that there is a properly configured firewall enabled on the computer or server.

If you are not sure whether your UTA computer is fully protected, please contact the OIT help desk or your Desktop Support Associate.

New Windows Vulnerability

The Microsoft Security Advisory (found here) describes a new, un-patched vulnerability in all currently supported versions of Windows except Server 2003. Successful exploitation of this vulnerability would allow an attacker to gain the same rights on the machine as the current user.

Exploitation of this vulnerability requires the user to open a specially crafted Microsoft Office document. Researchers are seeing targeting attacks utilizing this attack.

Prevention: standard behavior rules apply:

  • Don’t open attachments from unknown sources
  • Don’t click on suspicious links in email

New Phishing Campaign Discovered.

A CIS Cyber Alert (see below) has been published detailing a Phishing campaign that utilizes a weaponized PDF document that exploits a vulnerability in Adobe Reader(CVE-2013-2729). This campaign attempts to entice users to open the attached file by referring to an “Unpaid invoic”(sic)

This campaign is utilizing the Dyre Banking Trojan, focused on stealing banking credentials.

Recommendations:

  • Run all software as a non-privileged user (one without administrative privileges) to diminish the effects of a successful attack.
  • Do not open email attachments from unknown or untrusted sources.
  • Limit user account privileges to those required only.
  • Remind users not to visit untrusted websites or follow links provided by unknown or untrusted sources.
  • Keep all operating system, applications and essential software up to date to mitigate potential exploitation by attackers.
  • Ensure that systems are hardened with industry-accepted guidelines.
  • Make sure all AV products are up-to-date with their signatures.
  • Implement filters at your email gateway for filtering out emails with subject line “Unpaid invoic”. [Note the typo]

REFERENCES:

PhishLabs:

http://blog.phishlabs.com/enhancements-to-dyre-banking-trojan

CVE:

http://cve.mitre.org/cgi-bin/cvename.cgi?name=CVE-2013-2729

New SSLv3 Vulnerability

Also known as “Poodle”, this vulnerability could allow an attacker to steal web site login information or payment data.

“A vulnerability exists within the SSL version 3.0 protocol… allowing an attacker to hijack and decrypt session cookies that are utilized between a user’s web browser and the web site. This could lead to attackers obtaining enough information to temporarily impersonate web site visitor account logins and/or online payment systems.”

REFERENCES:

Google:

http://googleonlinesecurity.blogspot.com/2014/10/this-poodle-bites-exploiting-ssl-30.html

WIRED:

http://www.wired.com/2014/10/poodle-explained/

SANS:

https://isc.sans.edu/forums/diary/OpenSSL+SSLv3+POODLE+Vulnerability+Official+Release/18827

Multiple Vulnerabilities Released Today.

Several important vulnerabilities in Microsoft products, including Windows, Office, .NET, Internet Explorer, were released today along with patch information. They are:

  • Vulnerabilities in .NET Framework Could Allow Remote Code Execution (MS14-057)
  • Vulnerabilities in Kernel-Mode Driver Could Allow Remote Code Execution (MS14-058)
  • Vulnerability in Microsoft Word and Office Web Apps Could Allow Remote Code Execution (MS14-061)
  • Cumulative Security Update for Internet Explorer (MS14-056)
  • Vulnerability in OLE Could Allow Remote Code Execution (MS14-060)
  • Multiple vulnerabilities found in Adobe Flash Player and Adobe AIR could allow an attacker to execute code remotely. (APSB14-22)
  • Critical Oracle Patches (http://www.oracle.com/technetwork/topics/security/cpuoct2014-1972960.html)

These Security Advisories will affect many users; student, staff and faculty; so it is important to update your instances of the software mentioned.