Microsoft announced at the beginning of 2022 that they would soon start to disable macros by default in Office documents downloaded from the Internet. They implemented the changes around June, only to remove the feature later that month. The feature was finally re-enabled by the end of July. Cisco Talos observed threat actors reacting to these changes by moving away from malicious macros as an initial access method in favor of other types of executable attachments.
While tracking some prevalent commodity malware threat actors, Talos observed the popularization of malicious LNK files as their initial access method to download and execute payloads. A closer look at the LNK files illustrates how their metadata could be used to identify and track new campaigns.