Microsoft Word Vulnerability Used Against Taiwanese Government

security vulnerability Shutterstock - © Andy Dean Photography

Prolific hacker group spotted using patched flaw to hit government and educational institutes

A vulnerability in Microsoft Word has been used to target a range of Taiwanese government bodies and an educational institute, a security company has warned.

Whilst a patch was released by Microsoft in its April Patch Tuesday release, attackers continue to use the flaw in the knowledge that organisations would have failed to update their systems.

Word vulnerability abused

Cyber attackThe first attack spotted by researchers at Trend Micro used an email with a malicious attachment, claiming to have been sent by a government employee offering information on a national poll. The second used similar tactics, but focused on free trade issues, with an attachment containing a title about a work project.

Both dropped malware onto the targets’ systems, which was capable of stealing files and persistent surveillance.

The attacks have been tied to a campaign known as Taidoor, which has used zero-day flaws in Internet Explorer to hit high-profile targets in the past.

“We have determined that these two attacks have ties to the Taidoor  – a campaign that has been active since 2009 – through the similar network traffic structure. The attacks described above have the same characteristics as previous runs in terms of target, social engineering lure, as well as techniques used (using a zero-day vulnerability),” they said in a blog post.

The researchers also revealed attacks on a mailing service in Taiwan using the vulnerability. “Just like the other attacks, this run uses an email attachment as the entry point to the network. The email attachment pretends to be a list about new books from a particular publishing house,” the researchers said.

Patching should remain a top priority for regular users and enterprises alike. Installing patches as soon as they are made available can help organizations against attacks that exploit vulnerabilities. Enterprises should also consider virtual patching as they can help mitigate threats in the presence of zero-days and unsupported systems.”

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