Malicious shortcuts: now documents and webpages are risky too

Filed Under: Malware, Microsoft

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

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.

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About the author

Graham Cluley runs his own award-winning computer security blog at, and is a veteran of the anti-virus industry having worked for a number of security companies since the early 1990s. Now an independent security analyst, he regularly makes media appearances and gives computer security presentations. Follow him on Twitter at @gcluley