2018/11/27: attacks arrive in spear-phishing emails and in some cases postal packages that contain design documents and plans. Included in the same directory are camouflaged files formatted in AutoLISP, an AutoCAD-specific dialect of the LISP programming language. When targets open the design document, they may inadvertently cause the AutoLISP file to be executed. While modern versions of AutoCAD by default display a warning that a potentially unsafe script will run, the warnings can be disregarded or suppressed altogether. To make the files less conspicuous, the attackers have set their properties to be hidden in Windows and their contents to be encrypted.
The attacks aren't new. Similar ones occurred as long ago as 2005, before AutoCAD provided the same set of robust defenses against targeted malware it does now.
The value of these documents–especially in new and prospering industries such as renewable energy–have probably never been this high. All this makes it attractive for the more skilled cybercriminal groups to chip in: instead of spamming out millions of emails and waiting for people to fall for it, significantly more money can be realized by selling blueprints to the highest bidder.
The Document Foundation, the organisation supporting the development of LibreOffice, is calling for supporters to promote the use of Open Document Format (ODF). Standardisation organisation OASIS would welcome and assist renewed marketing efforts, as would the Open Source Initiative, says OSI director Italo Vignoli.
Vignoli, who is involved in marketing LibreOffice, hopes to build a group of ODF advocates to educate the general public and raise public sector awareness of the importance of the open ICT standard.
ODF (ISO 26300), a format specification for office applications such as spreadsheets, presentations and text documents, is supported by many commonly used office productivity tools. The standard is recognised by most European governments, including France and the United Kingdom, as well as by the European institutions.
However, most public sector organisations continue to rely on a mix of document formats that are either proprietary or not fully supported. This causes document interoperability problems and increases complexity. It is also a barrier to public administrations that want to use open source office solutions.
Interoperable and valid
The Dutch government is one of the EU Member States that contribute to ODF development. It has co-funded automated interoperability tests to check the portability of office documents across applications and operating systems.
The Netherlands is also supporting the ODF Plugfest, a series of hackathons where software developers improve ODF interoperability. Most of the results of these hackathons and other ODF-related development are documented on the OpenDocument Format Community Wiki.
In addition, ODF interoperability has been improved in France by cities and ministries, as well as by public services in Germany and Switzerland.
Another test method to check the validity of document formats was announced two weeks ago at the LibreOffice conference in Tirana (Albania).
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