VB2020 presentation: Evolution of Excel 4.0 macro weaponization

The use by attackers of legitimate Excel 4.0 (XL4) macros as a simple and reliable method to gain a foothold on a target network is becoming increasingly popular and presents a significant challenge for organizations and defenders alike.

For many organizations blacklisting isn’t a viable solution, and for defenders, building reliable signatures for this type of attack is no small task.

At VB2020 localhost James Haughom, Stefano Ortolani and Baibhav Singh of VMware gave a presentation in which they described exactly how XL4 macros are being weaponized, including their observation that the techniques used by attackers appear to surface in waves, each new wave introducing new techniques and building on the previous wave or cluster.

In their presentation the researchers broke down every new technique discovered, and explained why each is significant, effective or, conversely, ineffective.



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