Ransomware uses outdated Microsoft Excel macros to deploy its attacks

Microsoft Security Intelligence alerted its users to a type of ransomware called, Avaddon, which uses Excel 4.0 macros to distribute malicious emails. These emails contain attachments that trigger an attack when opened in any version of Excel.

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Avaddon ransomware emerged in early June, through a massive spam campaign that chose its victims at random. Some patterns seem to indicate that ransomware is mainly targeted at Italian users.

Impersonating Italian officials

As BleepingComputer reports, the attackers behind this ransomware are recruiting „affiliates“ to distribute their harmful load. According to their analysis, the average ransom amount demanded by Avaddon is around USD 900 that must be paid in crypto currencies.

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This attack is usually carried out by officials from the Italian Labour Inspectorate. The messages alert small businesses to alleged „labour violations“ during „a period of crisis“, referring to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Microsoft said on its Twitter profile:

„While it was an old technique, malicious Excel 4.0 macros began to gain popularity in malware campaigns over the past few months. The technique has been adopted by numerous campaigns, including those that used COVID-19’s thematic decoys.

Avaddon’s messages warn of pending legal action if the user does not open the malicious document.

Numerous victims

A recent study by cyber security company Proofpoint shows a recent increase in email-based phishing attacks used to deliver ransomware.

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On July 1, Cointelegraph reported that a new type of ransomware was targeting macOS users who illegally download popular applications. The attack, known as, EvilQuest, was first discovered by, Dinesh Devadoss, a malware researcher at K7 Lab.