Malware infects Macs through Microsoft Office vulnerability

Rogue emails distribute booby-trapped Microsoft Word file that installs Mac OS Trojan, researchers said

Security researchers have encountered new email-based targeted attacks that exploit a vulnerability in Microsoft Office to install a remote access Trojan horse program on Mac OS systems.

The rogue emails appear to target Tibetan activist organizations and distribute booby-trapped Microsoft Word documents that exploit a known remote code execution vulnerability in Microsoft Office for Mac, according to malware experts from security firm AlienVault.

"This is one of the few times that we have seen a malicious Office file used to deliver Malware on Mac OS X," said AlienVault security researcher Jaime Blasco in a blog post on Tuesday.

Security researchers from Mac antivirus vendor Intego believe that the attacks might become more widespread. "This malware is fairly sophisticated, and it is worth pointing out that the code in these Word documents is not encrypted, so any malware writer who gets copies of them may be able to alter the code and distribute their own versions of these documents," they said in a blog post on Thursday.

"The attack will be very effective on those who have not updated their copies of Microsoft Office, or aren't running antivirus software," the Intego researchers said.

If the vulnerability is exploited successfully, the rogue Word files will install a previously unknown Mac OS X Trojan horse. The remote attackers can instruct this malware to download, upload and delete files, or to start a remote shell on the system.

AlienVault believes that this attack was carried out by the same gang that last week distributed a similar Mac Trojan by exploiting a vulnerability in outdated Java installations.

This type of targeted attack, also known as spear phishing, has become common in recent years and is usually associated with government or corporate cyberespionage operations. However, the vast majority of spear phishing emails have so far targeted Windows users.

"While, in the past, we did not see this type of attack targeting Macs, it is clear that the game has changed, and that we are entering a new period of Mac malware," the Intego researchers said.

Mac users are advised to keep the software installed on their computers up to date, especially the popular applications, and to run an antivirus program at all times. Several Mac antivirus products are available for free.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Lucian Constantin

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?