Office Document Security and Privacy

Jens Müller, Fabian Ising, Vladislav Mladenov, Christian Mainka, Sebastian Schinzel, Jörg Schwenk

14th USENIX Workshop on Offensive Technologies (WOOT 2020)


OOXML and ODF are the de facto standard data formats for word processing, spreadsheets, and presentations. Both are XML-based, feature-rich container formats dating back to the early 2000s. In this work, we present a systematic analysis of the capabilities of malicious office documents. Instead of focusing on implementation bugs, we abuse legitimate features of the OOXML and ODF specifications. We categorize our attacks into five classes: (1) Denial-of-Service attacks affecting the host on which the document is processed. (2) Invasion of privacy attacks that track the usage of the document. (3) Information disclosure attacks exfiltrating personal data out of the victim's computer. (4) Data manipulation on the victim's system. (5) Code execution on the victim's machine. We evaluated the reference implementations – Microsoft Office and LibreOffice – and found both of them to be vulnerable to each tested class of attacks. Finally, we propose mitigation strategies to counter these attacks.

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