Malicious shortcuts: now documents and webpages are risky too

There’s more bad news for those troubled by the Microsoft zero-day vulnerability that allows a Windows shortcut link, known as an .LNK file, to run malicious code whenever Windows displays their icon.

The Shortcut exploit is well known to be capable of spreading via USB sticks, network and remote WebDav shares.

But the latest version of Microsoft’s security advisory on the subject also warns that a malicious shortcut file can be embedded on a website (meaning that users who visit the page via Internet Explorer could be infected) or hidden inside documents.

Shortcut Microsoft advisory

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It has also become apparent that .PIF files can also be exploited by the vulnerability, as well as .LNK files.

This vulnerability isn’t just ugly, it’s ugly as sin.

And don’t forget – the code for how to exploit this vulnerability has been published in the wild, and Microsoft hasn’t yet issued a proper patch for the exploit (their temporary mitigation advice has some usability issues that may actually cause more serious problems inside your organisation than the real malware).

Follow the latest news about this threat, and find out about our new free tool to protect against it, on our dedicated webpage about the Windows Shortcut exploit.

Graham Cluley is an award-winning keynote speaker who has given presentations around the world about cybersecurity, hackers, and online privacy. A veteran of the computer security industry since the early 1990s, he wrote the first ever version of Dr Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit for Windows, makes regular media appearances, and is the co-host of the popular "Smashing Security" podcast. Follow him on Twitter, Mastodon, Threads, Bluesky, or drop him an email.

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