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Flash Update: Emotet Gang Distributes First Japanese Campaign

April 15, 2019 by Darrel Rendell in Threat Intelligence

Cofense Intelligence™ has identified yet another change in Emotet’s behavior, this time distributing a campaign targeting Japanese-speaking recipients. The messages, which reference potentially overdue invoices and the payments thereof, deliver a macro-laden document, as per Emotet’s modus operandi. Figure one shows an example email from this campaign. Diversifying their target-base is the latest link in an ever-lengthening chain of updates and refinements being pushed by the actors behind Emotet. The targets in this campaign include Japanese academic institutions, demonstrating a keen interest in Emotet securing a presence in such networks worldwide. Appendix Subject Lines 特別請求書 三月發票 確認して承認してください。 請查看和 批准。 謝謝。...

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When You Unsubscribe to these Emails, You ‘Subscribe’ to the Loda RAT

April 11, 2019 by Max Gannon in Threat Intelligence

CISO Summary It’s critical that anti-phishing programs reflect the latest threats. Cofense IntelligenceTM has recently observed a phishing campaign that illustrates why. It entices users to download a malicious document from a seemingly legitimate source, an insurance company whose roots go back to 1896. Through a complex chain of abuse, including the exploitation of a legit subdomain hosted by Microsoft, this threat is capable of tricking users unfamiliar with wrinkles like multiple links to the same source and malicious “unsubscribe” links. If successful, the attack activates the Loda Remote Access Trojan, underscoring the importance of educating users to stop phishing...

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Emotet Gang Switches to Highly Customized Templates Utilizing Stolen Email Content from Victims

April 9, 2019 by Jason Meurer in Threat Intelligence

Beginning the morning of April 9th, the Emotet gang began utilizing what appears to be the stolen emails of their victims. It was noted back in October of 2018 that a new module was added that could steal the email content on a victim’s machine. Up until now, no evidence of real widespread use was seen. This marks a major evolution in the way Emotet works.

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DMARC Is NOT a Fail-Safe Defense against Phishing Attacks

April 4, 2019 by Maddie King in Phishing

DMARC, or Domain-based Authentication Reporting & Conformance, is an email authentication, policy and reporting protocol. It was conceived to prevent impersonation-based phishing attacks, but it doesn’t protect you 100%. Let’s examine why. What DMARC Can Do DMARC builds on the existing and widely deployed SPF and DKIM protocols. All mechanisms to protect the email infrastructure we so heavily rely upon should be gratefully received, but as with everything the benefits and limitations should be fully understood. It is this understanding that allows us to optimize our defenses against the perpetual menace of phishing attacks. DMARC has most promise to help...

READ MORE

This ‘Broken’ File Hides Malware Designed to Break Its Targets

April 2, 2019 by Max Gannon in Threat Intelligence

CISO Summary Cofense IntelligenceTM has identified a phishing campaign with a malicious attachment containing a “broken” file that actually works, in all the wrong ways. Under certain conditions, the file weaponizes in the target environment after evading both automated and manual analysis. The “break” is the lack of a file header, engineered to fool analysts into thinking the attachment is harmless, the work of threat actors too clumsy to be taken seriously. The headless file only appears when you open the attachment or use special programs in attempting to extract it. The campaign tries to exploit a common problem: information...

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Uncomfortable Truth #5 about Phishing Defense

March 27, 2019 by David Mount in Phishing

Last in a 5-part series.  In this blog series we’ve explored the Uncomfortable Truths about phishing defense that relate to the problem of over-relying on technology to keep us safe. We’ve also seen how empowered users can give Security Operations teams desperately needed visibility into phishing threats. This leads us to our fifth and final Uncomfortable Truth:   Most organizations are unable to effectively respond to phishing attacks.   Before you get offended and say “Hey, that doesn’t apply to me, our SOC is awesome,” stick with me on this. The reasons for ineffective phishing incident response are many and varied, but...

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Emotet Update: New C2 Communication Followed by New Infection Chain

March 26, 2019 by Darrel Rendell in Threat Intelligence

CISO Summary On March 15, CofenseTM Research reported that the Emotet botnet is changing the way it communicates, in a likely attempt to evade malware detection. Since then, Cofense IntelligenceTM has seen the same trend: Geodo-Emotet isn’t relying on cookies to make certain requests, instead performing HTTP POSTs to what seems to be the C2. Baking requests into cookies is a time-honored and easily detected pattern of  behavior. Switching this up makes it harder to see when the malware is calling home. Moreover, Geodo-Emotet is now using a new infection chain, utilizing JavaScript files as droppers instead of macro-packed Office...

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This Phishing Campaign Spoofed a CDC Warning to Deliver the Latest GandCrab Ransomware

March 20, 2019 by Darrel Rendell in Threat Intelligence

CISO Summary Cofense IntelligenceTM reports that threat actors have spoofed a CDC email—this one warns of a flu epidemic—to deliver an updated variant of GandCrab ransomware. Besides competing for a new low in predatory cyber-crime, the phishing campaign follows the public release of a decryptor tool for infections of recent GandCrab versions, through version 5.1. The fake CDC email contained version 5.2, which renders the decryptor tool ineffective. Though ransomware has dropped off over the past year, the authors of GandCrab are still pushing out frequent, powerful updates.  GandCrab is the last of the infamous “ransomware as a service” threats....

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Uncomfortable Truth #4 about Phishing Defense

March 20, 2019 by David Mount in Phishing

Part 4 of a 5-part series.   I’m not going to beat around the bush here. Uncomfortable Truth #4 is quite simple:  Users are NOT the problem.  There. I said it. If this statement seems at odds with your current thinking, don’t close this browser window just yet. Stick with me, and the effectiveness of your phishing defense programs could be changed for the better.  Let’s illustrate with a story from Malcolm Gladwell.   In his book ‘Blink’, Malcolm Gladwell tells of the Getty Museum in New York buying an ancient Greek Kouros statue—a tale of man triumphing over machine, as it...

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Uncomfortable Truth #3 about Phishing Defense

March 18, 2019 by David Mount in Phishing

Part 3 of a 5-part series. In part 1 and part 2, we discussed the Uncomfortable Truths that no matter how good your perimeter controls, malicious emails still reach the inbox, and that security teams cannot defend against attacks they cannot see. While some still hold next-gen technologies in almost exalted status, many organizations are beginning to accept that phishing threats still reach user inboxes and that these users will be tempted to click. To address this risk, significant investments are made in awareness activities, including phishing simulation. Commonly, the primary goal or success metric of these activities is a...

READ MORE

Flash Update: Emotet Gang Distributes First Japanese Campaign

April 15, 2019 by Darrel Rendell in Threat Intelligence

Cofense Intelligence™ has identified yet another change in Emotet’s behavior, this time distributing a campaign targeting Japanese-speaking recipients. The messages, which reference potentially overdue invoices and the payments thereof, deliver a macro-laden document, as per Emotet’s modus operandi. Figure one shows an example email from this campaign. Diversifying their target-base is the latest link in an ever-lengthening chain of updates and refinements being pushed by the actors behind Emotet. The targets in this campaign include Japanese academic institutions, demonstrating a keen interest in Emotet securing a presence in such networks worldwide. Appendix Subject Lines 特別請求書 三月發票 確認して承認してください。 請查看和 批准。 謝謝。...

READ MORE

When You Unsubscribe to these Emails, You ‘Subscribe’ to the Loda RAT

April 11, 2019 by Max Gannon in Threat Intelligence

CISO Summary It’s critical that anti-phishing programs reflect the latest threats. Cofense IntelligenceTM has recently observed a phishing campaign that illustrates why. It entices users to download a malicious document from a seemingly legitimate source, an insurance company whose roots go back to 1896. Through a complex chain of abuse, including the exploitation of a legit subdomain hosted by Microsoft, this threat is capable of tricking users unfamiliar with wrinkles like multiple links to the same source and malicious “unsubscribe” links. If successful, the attack activates the Loda Remote Access Trojan, underscoring the importance of educating users to stop phishing...

READ MORE

Emotet Gang Switches to Highly Customized Templates Utilizing Stolen Email Content from Victims

April 9, 2019 by Jason Meurer in Threat Intelligence

Beginning the morning of April 9th, the Emotet gang began utilizing what appears to be the stolen emails of their victims. It was noted back in October of 2018 that a new module was added that could steal the email content on a victim’s machine. Up until now, no evidence of real widespread use was seen. This marks a major evolution in the way Emotet works.

READ MORE

This ‘Broken’ File Hides Malware Designed to Break Its Targets

April 2, 2019 by Max Gannon in Threat Intelligence

CISO Summary Cofense IntelligenceTM has identified a phishing campaign with a malicious attachment containing a “broken” file that actually works, in all the wrong ways. Under certain conditions, the file weaponizes in the target environment after evading both automated and manual analysis. The “break” is the lack of a file header, engineered to fool analysts into thinking the attachment is harmless, the work of threat actors too clumsy to be taken seriously. The headless file only appears when you open the attachment or use special programs in attempting to extract it. The campaign tries to exploit a common problem: information...

READ MORE

Emotet Update: New C2 Communication Followed by New Infection Chain

March 26, 2019 by Darrel Rendell in Threat Intelligence

CISO Summary On March 15, CofenseTM Research reported that the Emotet botnet is changing the way it communicates, in a likely attempt to evade malware detection. Since then, Cofense IntelligenceTM has seen the same trend: Geodo-Emotet isn’t relying on cookies to make certain requests, instead performing HTTP POSTs to what seems to be the C2. Baking requests into cookies is a time-honored and easily detected pattern of  behavior. Switching this up makes it harder to see when the malware is calling home. Moreover, Geodo-Emotet is now using a new infection chain, utilizing JavaScript files as droppers instead of macro-packed Office...

READ MORE

This Phishing Campaign Spoofed a CDC Warning to Deliver the Latest GandCrab Ransomware

March 20, 2019 by Darrel Rendell in Threat Intelligence

CISO Summary Cofense IntelligenceTM reports that threat actors have spoofed a CDC email—this one warns of a flu epidemic—to deliver an updated variant of GandCrab ransomware. Besides competing for a new low in predatory cyber-crime, the phishing campaign follows the public release of a decryptor tool for infections of recent GandCrab versions, through version 5.1. The fake CDC email contained version 5.2, which renders the decryptor tool ineffective. Though ransomware has dropped off over the past year, the authors of GandCrab are still pushing out frequent, powerful updates.  GandCrab is the last of the infamous “ransomware as a service” threats....

READ MORE

Flash Bulletin: Emotet Epoch 1 Changes its C2 Communication

March 15, 2019 by Cofense in Threat Intelligence

We are currently noticing a change in the way that the Emotet botnet, specifically the epoch 1 variant, is communicating with the C2.  In past versions, the client would typically perform a GET request with data contained in the cookie value. As of approximately 11pm UTC on March 14, this changed. The clients have begun to perform HTTP POSTs to what appear to be their C2s.  The URI’s contacted contain variable words in the paths.  We are seeing form data passed with a name variable and data.  This change will break researchers as well as certain detection technologies while they...

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‘Read the Manual’ Bot Gives This Phishing Campaign a Promising Future

March 12, 2019 by Aaron Riley in Threat Intelligence

CISO Summary Cofense IntelligenceTM has spotted a surgical phishing campaign whose targets could easily broaden, given the sophisticated development of its tactics. For now, it’s taking aim at financial departments in Russia and neighboring countries, using the Read the Manual (RTM) Bot to deliver a banking trojan. Among other capabilities, the malware steals data from accounting software and harvests smart card information. The newest version uses The Onion Router (TOR) communication protocol, whose privacy and extra encryption are signs the threat actors could be serious about developing the banking trojan for future campaigns. Technical controls can help combat this threat,...

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Lime RAT: Why It Caught Our Eye and How this Versatile Malware Works

March 6, 2019 by Aaron Riley in Threat Intelligence

CISO Summary Cofense IntelligenceTM has spotted a phishing campaign using the Lime remote administration tool (RAT), whose versatility makes it an especially dangerous malware type. Lime RAT is a mash-up of ransomware, cryptominer, stealer, worm, and keylogger. When skillfully deployed, it can filch a wide range of information, encrypt computers for ransom, or transform the target host into a bot. Lime RAT appeals to novice and seasoned threat actors alike, thanks to its anti-virus evasion techniques, anti-virtual machine features, small footprint, and encrypted communications. Threat analysts will want to read the full analysis below. Security awareness managers will want to...

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Finding the Whole Phishing Attack: Problems and Solution

March 5, 2019 by David Mount in Cyber Incident Response

Mitigating a phishing attack is a little like zapping termites. If you don’t eliminate the whole problem, trouble continues to breed. To help, CofenseTM has announced the general availability of Cofense VisionTM. We knew that existing email search and quarantine tools weren’t fast enough, making it hard for the SOC to find and remove every phish. Integrated with the latest release of Cofense TriageTM, Cofense Vision lets incident responders see the entire phishing attack, including emails not reported by users. With a single click, the SOC can quarantine every bad email and stop the attack in its tracks. Cofense Vision...

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DMARC Is NOT a Fail-Safe Defense against Phishing Attacks

April 4, 2019 by Maddie King in Phishing

DMARC, or Domain-based Authentication Reporting & Conformance, is an email authentication, policy and reporting protocol. It was conceived to prevent impersonation-based phishing attacks, but it doesn’t protect you 100%. Let’s examine why. What DMARC Can Do DMARC builds on the existing and widely deployed SPF and DKIM protocols. All mechanisms to protect the email infrastructure we so heavily rely upon should be gratefully received, but as with everything the benefits and limitations should be fully understood. It is this understanding that allows us to optimize our defenses against the perpetual menace of phishing attacks. DMARC has most promise to help...

READ MORE

Uncomfortable Truth #5 about Phishing Defense

March 27, 2019 by David Mount in Phishing

Last in a 5-part series.  In this blog series we’ve explored the Uncomfortable Truths about phishing defense that relate to the problem of over-relying on technology to keep us safe. We’ve also seen how empowered users can give Security Operations teams desperately needed visibility into phishing threats. This leads us to our fifth and final Uncomfortable Truth:   Most organizations are unable to effectively respond to phishing attacks.   Before you get offended and say “Hey, that doesn’t apply to me, our SOC is awesome,” stick with me on this. The reasons for ineffective phishing incident response are many and varied, but...

READ MORE

Uncomfortable Truth #4 about Phishing Defense

March 20, 2019 by David Mount in Phishing

Part 4 of a 5-part series.   I’m not going to beat around the bush here. Uncomfortable Truth #4 is quite simple:  Users are NOT the problem.  There. I said it. If this statement seems at odds with your current thinking, don’t close this browser window just yet. Stick with me, and the effectiveness of your phishing defense programs could be changed for the better.  Let’s illustrate with a story from Malcolm Gladwell.   In his book ‘Blink’, Malcolm Gladwell tells of the Getty Museum in New York buying an ancient Greek Kouros statue—a tale of man triumphing over machine, as it...

READ MORE

Uncomfortable Truth #3 about Phishing Defense

March 18, 2019 by David Mount in Phishing

Part 3 of a 5-part series. In part 1 and part 2, we discussed the Uncomfortable Truths that no matter how good your perimeter controls, malicious emails still reach the inbox, and that security teams cannot defend against attacks they cannot see. While some still hold next-gen technologies in almost exalted status, many organizations are beginning to accept that phishing threats still reach user inboxes and that these users will be tempted to click. To address this risk, significant investments are made in awareness activities, including phishing simulation. Commonly, the primary goal or success metric of these activities is a...

READ MORE

Uncomfortable Truth #2 about Phishing Defense

March 14, 2019 by David Mount in Phishing

In Part 1, we explored the uncomfortable truth that no matter how good your perimeter controls, malicious emails still reach the inbox. While security technologies do a great job of telling us about the attacks they have stopped, they do a poor job of telling us about the threats they have let through. This segues nicely into:  Uncomfortable Truth #2: You cannot defend against attacks you cannot see.  Visibility is a core tenet of any security operations center. Afterall, if a SOC has no visibility of an attack, they cannot mitigate it.  As the threat landscape evolves, organizations deploy more...

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Uncomfortable Truth #1 about Phishing Defense

March 11, 2019 by David Mount in Phishing

Part 1 of a 5-Part Series    The threat posed by phishing is not new. For many years, the media and research papers have been littered with examples of data breaches that have been traced back to phishing attacks.   Organizations have attempted to tackle the threat through investments in next-gen technologies and increased employee awareness training. Despite these efforts, the threat has not receded, in fact, it’s become more sophisticated and more effective.   It’s time for organizations to accept some uncomfortable truths about routine approaches to phishing defence and think differently – understanding that REAL phish are the REAL problem. In...

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Efficient Phishing Programs: 3 Common Problems and 1 Awesome Solution

March 4, 2019 by Cofense in Internet Security Awareness

By Kaustubh Jagtap You hear it all the time. Teams tasked with improving phishing defense aren’t sure how many employees see, or even receive, the simulations they send. It’s why CofenseTM has introduced the Cofense PhishMe Responsive Delivery™ capability in Cofense PhishMe™ Enterprise edition. This capability allows operators to send a phishing simulation only when targeted employees are actively using email. It also delivers the phishing simulation directly to the employee inbox, thereby bypassing any technical issues including gateway configuration changes and whitelisting complications. Additionally, having this capability adds another layer of automation to your phishing program, making it more effective...

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This Company Turned a Phishing Attack into a Teachable Moment

February 27, 2019 by Zach Lewis in Phishing

You’ve read it on this blog before. It’s not enough to simulate phishing emails and raise employees’ awareness. At the end of the day, you need to be able to stop real attacks. One key: basing simulations on phishing threats you actually see in your organization. Following is a real example of one CofenseTM customer that took these words to heart. This company is global. It operates in an extremely data-rich industry that stores Social Security numbers, email addresses, credit card information, and more. In other words, they have a lot to protect. First, the company leveraged information from a...

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When Sharing Isn’t Caring: Phishing Attacks Are Abusing File-Sharing Sites

February 20, 2019 by Tonia Dudley in Internet Security Awareness

Cofense™ has predicted continued growth in phishing attacks that abuse file-sharing services, for example, Google Docs or Sharepoint. In this post, I’ll examine why and how threat actors are doubling down on this tactic. First, here’s the full prediction from Cofense threat analysts Nick Guarino and Lucas Ashbaugh: “The majority of phish seen in the wild in 2019 will live in historically ‘trusted’ sharing services like Google Docs, Sharepoint, WeTransfer, Dropbox, Citrix ShareFile, and Egnyte. It’s difficult for these services to keep up with the constant barrage of varied phishing tactics (Whack-A-Phish, anyone?). In fact, the service providers can be...

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Here’s Proof that Corporate Board Members Want Stronger Phishing Defense

February 12, 2019 by Cofense in Internet Security Awareness

By Susan Mo More and more, boards of directors are security decision-makers. One example: Cofense just published a case study on a company whose board lit a fire for a stronger phishing defense—and it’s paying dividends.  This board took the lead in launching phishing simulations.  A leading aviation company in my part of the world, Australia, has a highly public presence. Translation: any security issues would likely make headlines. So the board mandated an anti-phishing program. Using Cofense PhishMeTM, the company now runs phishing simulations to condition its employees to recognize and report phishing emails.  The program is still in the...

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