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  • Writer's pictureESET Expert

News Clip: Hackers weaponize Microsoft Visual Studio add-ins to push malware

Security researchers warn that hackers may start using Microsoft Visual Studio Tools for Office more often as method to achieve persistence and execute code on a target machine via malicious Office add-ins. The technique is an alternative to sneaking into documents VBA macros that fetch malware from an external source, BleepingComputer reports. Since Microsoft announced it would block the execution of VBA and XL4 macros in Office by default, threat actors moved to archives (.ZIP, .ISO) and .LNK shortcut files to distribute their malware. However, using VSTO introduce an attack vector that allows building .NET-based malware and embedding it into the Office add-in.

Where we stand!

The Microsoft Office suite makes an attractive target for cyberattacks as it is widely used by the majority of computer users. Despite going through thorough testing, new features can still be vulnerable to exploitation by determined threat actors. Malicious add-ins remain very effective because they rely on human interaction, such as when a user receives an Office alert. Unfortunately, users often ignore security warnings and continue to open potentially dangerous files, like ZIP files from untrusted sources that can run harmful code on their computer. It is crucial to only open files from trustworthy sources to avoid these types of attacks and always err on the side of caution.


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