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Domain Fronting, Phishing Attacks, and What CISOs Need to Know

December 13, 2018 by Aaron Riley in Threat Intelligence

CISO Summary Cofense IntelligenceTM is seeing continued use of a cyber-attack technique known as domain fronting. It’s yet another way hackers conceal their malicious activity, in this case using work-arounds to evade security controls and gain access to command-and-control (C2) infrastructure (scroll down for a technical explanation). Cozy Bear, the Russian threat actors, used similar tactics when they hacked the Democratic National Committee in 2016. Today, businesses are dealing with phishing and malware attacks that domain fronting enables. While Google and Amazon have taken measures in their CDNs to curtail this trend, we have seen an uptick in C2 infrastructure...

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TV-License Phishing Scam Tricks UK Users Into Giving Personal Information

December 5, 2018 by Milo Salvia in Threat Intelligence

Cofense Intelligence™ recently observed a new phishing scam making the rounds in the United Kingdom. It poses as the TV licensing authority better known as the British Broadcasting Corporation. The premise behind the scam is to trick the user into believing that he or she is breaking the law by not owning a valid license to receive TV, a criminal offense in the UK with a maximum penalty of a £1000 fine plus any legal costs incurred during prosecution.  

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2018: A Reverse-Course for Ransomware

December 5, 2018 by Cofense in Threat Intelligence

By Mollie MacDougall The overall number of ransomware campaigns and active families has declined precipitously in 2018 as compared to last year, almost certainly due to multiple deterrents and a better alternative for profit-minded hackers. This reverse-course in ransomware trends follows years of sustained growth in the number of ransomware families and unique campaigns. Still, ransomware attacks make headlines and will likely continue into next year.

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Mature Your Anti-Phishing Program to Reflect Active Threats

November 28, 2018 by Zach Lewis in Internet Security Awareness

At CofenseTM we often hear comments from customers like, “My anti-phishing program has been running for years, email reporting rates have increased, and overall my users are better prepared. How can I continue to address and lower my risk?”

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Bah HumBUG: 5 Recent Holiday Phishing Samples You Need to Watch Out For

November 21, 2018 by Aaron Riley in Threat Intelligence

Along with more online shopping, correspondence, and travel, the holiday season sees an increase in phishing operators eager to capitalize on a more-active attack surface. With Thanksgiving tomorrow, Cofense Intelligence and the Cofense Phishing Defense Center have seen a bombardment of Thanksgiving-themed phishing lures this week. Threat actors use this inundation of emails to their advantage—hoping to trick anyone looking for a good deal or eager to partake in the season’s merriment.

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Major US Financial Institutions Imitated in Advanced Geodo/Emotet Phishing Lures that Appear More Authentic by Containing ProofPoint URL Wrapped Links

November 19, 2018 by Cofense in PhishingThreat Intelligence

By Darrel Rendell, Mollie MacDougall, and Max Gannon Cofense IntelligenceTM has observed Geodo (also known as Emotet) malware campaigns that are effectively spoofing major US financial institutions in part by including legitimate URLs wrapped in Proofpoint’s (PFPT) TAP URL Defense wrapping service. This adds an air of legitimacy to the casual observer, designed to increase the chances of malware infection. Figures 1 and 2 provide examples of the template and URL wrapping. Cofense Intelligence assesses the improved phishing templates are likely based upon data pilfered with a recently updated scraper module to spoof US financial institutions so effectively. Figure 1:...

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Phishing Emails with .COM Extensions Are Hitting Finance Departments

November 15, 2018 by Aaron Riley in Threat Intelligence

Cofense IntelligenceTM has seen a substantial uptick in the use of .com extensions in phishing emails that target financial service departments. In October alone, Cofense Intelligence analyzed 132 unique samples with the .com extension, compared to only 34 samples analyzed in all nine months preceding. Four different malware families were utilized. The .com file extension is used for text files with executable byte code. Both DOS (Disk Operating System) and Microsoft NT kernel-based operating systems allow execution of .com files for backwards compatibility reasons. The .com style byte code is the same across all PE32 binaries (.exe, .dll, .scr, etc.)...

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They stopped a phishing attack in 10 minutes. It used to take days.

November 7, 2018 by John Fitzgerald in Cyber Incident Response

Don’t you love a feel-good story? Me too. Especially in an industry where the headlines tend to be scary. Recently, a CofenseTM customer—a large financial services company—stopped a phishing attack in 10 minutes using Cofense TriageTM. That’s a very cool story, but as they say, wait, there’s more.

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October may be over – but phishing attacks never stop. Here’s how to make security awareness successful all year round.

November 1, 2018 by Tonia Dudley in Internet Security Awareness

Part 4 of a 4-part series in support of National Cybersecurity Awareness Month. You can read part 3 here. As October comes to a close, so too does National Cybersecurity Awareness month. But not so fast – Security Awareness isn’t just about October. It’s all year long and it never stops, it’s ever evolving. I developed this four-part blog series during National Cybersecurity Awareness Month to provide key industry insights and proven methodologies for building and enhancing your security awareness program. We started in week 1 with building a program strategy, followed up by discussing program content in week 2....

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Re: The Zombie Phish

October 31, 2018 by Cofense in Malware AnalysisPhishing Defense CenterThreat Intelligence

By: Lucas Ashbaugh, Nick Guarino, Max Gannon Out of nowhere, someone responds to an email conversation that wrapped up months ago. It’s a real conversation that actually happened. Maybe it’s about a meeting, a job opportunity, or a reply to that problem you had over a year ago; this email is highly relevant to you. But something is off, the topic of the email is months out of date and now there is a weird error message. This is a devious tactic, reviving an email conversation long dead – it’s the Zombie Phish. Not Your Average Phish The Cofense™ Phishing...

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Domain Fronting, Phishing Attacks, and What CISOs Need to Know

December 13, 2018 by Aaron Riley in Threat Intelligence

CISO Summary Cofense IntelligenceTM is seeing continued use of a cyber-attack technique known as domain fronting. It’s yet another way hackers conceal their malicious activity, in this case using work-arounds to evade security controls and gain access to command-and-control (C2) infrastructure (scroll down for a technical explanation). Cozy Bear, the Russian threat actors, used similar tactics when they hacked the Democratic National Committee in 2016. Today, businesses are dealing with phishing and malware attacks that domain fronting enables. While Google and Amazon have taken measures in their CDNs to curtail this trend, we have seen an uptick in C2 infrastructure...

READ MORE

TV-License Phishing Scam Tricks UK Users Into Giving Personal Information

December 5, 2018 by Milo Salvia in Threat Intelligence

Cofense Intelligence™ recently observed a new phishing scam making the rounds in the United Kingdom. It poses as the TV licensing authority better known as the British Broadcasting Corporation. The premise behind the scam is to trick the user into believing that he or she is breaking the law by not owning a valid license to receive TV, a criminal offense in the UK with a maximum penalty of a £1000 fine plus any legal costs incurred during prosecution.  

READ MORE

2018: A Reverse-Course for Ransomware

December 5, 2018 by Cofense in Threat Intelligence

By Mollie MacDougall The overall number of ransomware campaigns and active families has declined precipitously in 2018 as compared to last year, almost certainly due to multiple deterrents and a better alternative for profit-minded hackers. This reverse-course in ransomware trends follows years of sustained growth in the number of ransomware families and unique campaigns. Still, ransomware attacks make headlines and will likely continue into next year.

READ MORE

Bah HumBUG: 5 Recent Holiday Phishing Samples You Need to Watch Out For

November 21, 2018 by Aaron Riley in Threat Intelligence

Along with more online shopping, correspondence, and travel, the holiday season sees an increase in phishing operators eager to capitalize on a more-active attack surface. With Thanksgiving tomorrow, Cofense Intelligence and the Cofense Phishing Defense Center have seen a bombardment of Thanksgiving-themed phishing lures this week. Threat actors use this inundation of emails to their advantage—hoping to trick anyone looking for a good deal or eager to partake in the season’s merriment.

READ MORE

Major US Financial Institutions Imitated in Advanced Geodo/Emotet Phishing Lures that Appear More Authentic by Containing ProofPoint URL Wrapped Links

November 19, 2018 by Cofense in PhishingThreat Intelligence

By Darrel Rendell, Mollie MacDougall, and Max Gannon Cofense IntelligenceTM has observed Geodo (also known as Emotet) malware campaigns that are effectively spoofing major US financial institutions in part by including legitimate URLs wrapped in Proofpoint’s (PFPT) TAP URL Defense wrapping service. This adds an air of legitimacy to the casual observer, designed to increase the chances of malware infection. Figures 1 and 2 provide examples of the template and URL wrapping. Cofense Intelligence assesses the improved phishing templates are likely based upon data pilfered with a recently updated scraper module to spoof US financial institutions so effectively. Figure 1:...

READ MORE

Phishing Emails with .COM Extensions Are Hitting Finance Departments

November 15, 2018 by Aaron Riley in Threat Intelligence

Cofense IntelligenceTM has seen a substantial uptick in the use of .com extensions in phishing emails that target financial service departments. In October alone, Cofense Intelligence analyzed 132 unique samples with the .com extension, compared to only 34 samples analyzed in all nine months preceding. Four different malware families were utilized. The .com file extension is used for text files with executable byte code. Both DOS (Disk Operating System) and Microsoft NT kernel-based operating systems allow execution of .com files for backwards compatibility reasons. The .com style byte code is the same across all PE32 binaries (.exe, .dll, .scr, etc.)...

READ MORE

They stopped a phishing attack in 10 minutes. It used to take days.

November 7, 2018 by John Fitzgerald in Cyber Incident Response

Don’t you love a feel-good story? Me too. Especially in an industry where the headlines tend to be scary. Recently, a CofenseTM customer—a large financial services company—stopped a phishing attack in 10 minutes using Cofense TriageTM. That’s a very cool story, but as they say, wait, there’s more.

READ MORE

Re: The Zombie Phish

October 31, 2018 by Cofense in Malware AnalysisPhishing Defense CenterThreat Intelligence

By: Lucas Ashbaugh, Nick Guarino, Max Gannon Out of nowhere, someone responds to an email conversation that wrapped up months ago. It’s a real conversation that actually happened. Maybe it’s about a meeting, a job opportunity, or a reply to that problem you had over a year ago; this email is highly relevant to you. But something is off, the topic of the email is months out of date and now there is a weird error message. This is a devious tactic, reviving an email conversation long dead – it’s the Zombie Phish. Not Your Average Phish The Cofense™ Phishing...

READ MORE

“Brazilian Election” Themed Phish Target Users with South American-Targeted Malware, Astaroth Trojan

October 31, 2018 by Max Gannon in Malware AnalysisThreat Intelligence

Threat actors attempted to leverage the current Brazilian presidential election to distribute the Astaroth WMIC Trojan to Brazilian victims. The emails had a subject line related to an alleged scandal involving Brazilian then-presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro. Some campaigns impersonated a well-known Brazilian research and statistics company. Multiple delivery methods and geolocation techniques were used to target Brazilian users, who were encouraged to interact with the attached and downloaded archives containing .lnk files. These files downloaded the first stage of the Astaroth WMIC Trojan, previously spotted this year by the Cofense™ Phishing Defense Center and known to target South American users.

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Threat Actors Seek Your Credentials Before You Even Reach the URL

October 30, 2018 by Neera Desai in Threat Intelligence

Cofense Intelligence™ has observed a phishing technique that takes a unique approach to illicitly obtain a target’s sensitive information. In a recent campaign, threat actors harvested victims’ credentials through a PDF window prompt rather than via a webpage—the more traditional credential phishing technique. Cofense Intelligence obtained a phishing email that allegedly informs the recipient of an Amazon.de bill of sale. The German language email lure claims to deliver a tax invoice and requests the recipient to view the attached PDF. The PDF, also presented in German, specifies that the document cannot be opened in a browser and must be opened...

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Mature Your Anti-Phishing Program to Reflect Active Threats

November 28, 2018 by Zach Lewis in Internet Security Awareness

At CofenseTM we often hear comments from customers like, “My anti-phishing program has been running for years, email reporting rates have increased, and overall my users are better prepared. How can I continue to address and lower my risk?”

READ MORE

Major US Financial Institutions Imitated in Advanced Geodo/Emotet Phishing Lures that Appear More Authentic by Containing ProofPoint URL Wrapped Links

November 19, 2018 by Cofense in PhishingThreat Intelligence

By Darrel Rendell, Mollie MacDougall, and Max Gannon Cofense IntelligenceTM has observed Geodo (also known as Emotet) malware campaigns that are effectively spoofing major US financial institutions in part by including legitimate URLs wrapped in Proofpoint’s (PFPT) TAP URL Defense wrapping service. This adds an air of legitimacy to the casual observer, designed to increase the chances of malware infection. Figures 1 and 2 provide examples of the template and URL wrapping. Cofense Intelligence assesses the improved phishing templates are likely based upon data pilfered with a recently updated scraper module to spoof US financial institutions so effectively. Figure 1:...

READ MORE

October may be over – but phishing attacks never stop. Here’s how to make security awareness successful all year round.

November 1, 2018 by Tonia Dudley in Internet Security Awareness

Part 4 of a 4-part series in support of National Cybersecurity Awareness Month. You can read part 3 here. As October comes to a close, so too does National Cybersecurity Awareness month. But not so fast – Security Awareness isn’t just about October. It’s all year long and it never stops, it’s ever evolving. I developed this four-part blog series during National Cybersecurity Awareness Month to provide key industry insights and proven methodologies for building and enhancing your security awareness program. We started in week 1 with building a program strategy, followed up by discussing program content in week 2....

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Where Do Security Awareness Programs Belong on the Org Chart?

October 25, 2018 by Tonia Dudley in Internet Security Awareness

Part 3 of a 4-part series in support of National Cybersecurity Awareness Month. You can read part 2 here. For this blog series on building a security awareness program, we started in week 1 with how to build a strategy. Last week we discussed how to select and use content in your overall program and specifically your phishing program. This week we’ll focus on program alignment – in other words, where does the security awareness role report within an organization?

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Security Awareness: Choosing Methods and Content that Work

October 15, 2018 by Tonia Dudley in Internet Security Awareness

Part 2 in our 4-part series in support of National Cybersecurity Awareness Month. You can read part 1 here.  Last week we examined the importance of setting a strategy and goals for your security awareness program. Now that you’ve selected the user behaviors you want to address, the next step is to think about methods and content to nudge users to the correct behaviors. We live a fast-paced world of information overload. You have seconds to get your message across to engage your users. You need to choose proven learning methods and focus your educational content on the behaviors that...

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Phishing Enables Domestic Violence. Education Can Help Stop It.

October 8, 2018 by Jim Hansen in Internet Security Awareness

According to estimates, approximately 760 people, or more than two per day, are killed by their partners. Most of the victims are women.1  Making matters worse, abusers use “stalkerware” to track their victims online, cutting off sources of income, isolating them from friends and family, and otherwise trying to control every aspect of their lives.

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Building a Security Awareness Program? Start with Strategy and Goals

October 8, 2018 by Tonia Dudley in Internet Security Awareness

Part 1 of a 4-part series on building and maintaining a security awareness program, in support of National Cybersecurity Awareness Month. In 2011, I began my journey into security awareness. At that time, there were limited resources and most programs were still compliance focused. Even though I had previously spent 5 years in IT compliance, I knew this wasn’t the right approach to get users to learn or care about security. I kept telling the director that owned the role, “Compliance focus is wrong –you have to market to the users.”

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Ouch! Our Report Shows Why the Healthcare Industry Needs Better Phishing Defense

September 24, 2018 by John Robinson in Internet Security AwarenessPhishing

Cofense™ released new research last week on phishing in the healthcare industry. It’s one of those industries that routinely gets hammered by phishing and data breaches. In fact, according to Verizon’s most recent Data Breach Investigations Report, over a third of all breaches target healthcare companies1. One recently reported example: the phishing attack on the Augusta University healthcare system, which triggered a breach that may have compromised the confidential records of nearly half a million people. None of this is surprising, considering that healthcare lives and breathes data. But our research also found this: Healthcare lags behind other industries in...

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Here’s a Free Turnkey Phishing Awareness Program for National Cybersecurity Awareness Month

September 18, 2018 by Tonia Dudley in Internet Security Awareness

So….it’s September and October is only a few weeks away. Have you started putting together your campaign for National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NCSAM) yet? If not, you’re in luck – we’ve created a complimentary turnkey phishing awareness program for you to quickly launch and look like a super hero to your leader AND your organization! And best yet, these resources can be used all year round – BECAUSE security awareness goes beyond October. 

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How to Protect Against Phishing Attacks that Follow Natural Disasters

September 14, 2018 by Cofense in Internet Security AwarenessPhishing

By Aaron Riley and Darrel Rendell With Hurricane Florence battering parts of the East Coast, here’s a reminder that phishing campaigns sometimes pretend to promote natural-disaster relief efforts in hopes of successfully compromising their target. Cofense IntelligenceTM has analyzed plenty of these campaigns, which are designed to entice the end user into credential theft or endpoint infection.

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