The number of exploits for vulnerabilities in the Microsoft Office suite has gone significantly in the second quarter ended June 30, 2022, according to cybersecurity solutions company Kaspersky.

The number of users affected by the Microsoft MSHTML Remote Code Execution vulnerability, which was previously spotted in targeted attacks, went up by eight times.

Kaspersky experts found that exploits for the vulnerability, designated CVE-2021-40444, were used to attack almost 5,000 people in Q2 2022, which is eight times more than during Q1 2022.

The vulnerability was previously exploited during attacks on organisations in the research and development, energy and industrial sectors, financial and medical technology, as well as telecommunications and IT.

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“They now account for 82 per cent of the total number of exploits across different platforms and software such as Adobe Flash, Android and Java,” it said in the quarterly report on malware.

Old versions of applications remain the main targets for attackers, with almost 5.47 lakh users being affected by the vulnerabilities.

This zero-day vulnerability in Internet Explorer’s engine MSHTML was first reported in September 2021.

“The engine is a system component used by Microsoft Office applications to handle web content. When exploited, it enables the remote execution of malicious code on victims’ computers,” a Kaspersky statement said.

Malicious documents

It said criminals crafted malicious documents and convinced their victims to open them through social engineering techniques (gathering information through social media and results found on search engines).

After compromising the device, the Microsoft Office application then downloads and executes a malicious scrip.

The Moscow-based cybersecurity solutions firm has advised the users to install the vendor’s patch and use security solutions capable of detecting vulnerability exploitation.

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