Baibhav Singh

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Evolution of Excel 4.0 Macro Weaponization – Continued


The evolution of the Excel 4.0 (XL4) macro malware proceeds apace, with new variations and techniques regularly introducedTo understand the threat landscape, the VMware NSBU Threat Analysis Unit extended its previous research on XL4 macro malware (see the previous blog) to analyze new trends and techniques.  

Against analysis engines, the new samples have some novel evasion techniques, and they perform attacks more reliably. These variants were observed in June and July. Figure 1 depicts the Excel 4.0 macro malware wave.  

Figure 1: Malicious XL4 submission: May-Aug 2020 

Broadly, the samples can be categorized into three clusters. Based on the variation of the samples in these three clustersthe weaponized documents can be grouped into multiple variants. 

Cluster 1: Relative Reference   

The samples in this cluster appeared in the month of June. They use FORMULA.FILL for obfuscation and to move the payload around the sheet. The formula uses relative references to access values stored in the sheet. There are variations in this category; Continue reading