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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...

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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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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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‘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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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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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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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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A Closer Look at Why the QakBot Malware Is So Dangerous

February 22, 2019 by Max Gannon in Threat Intelligence

CISO Summary Cofense Intelligence ™ recently reported a phishing campaign distributing the QakBot malware. QakBot infestation is a significant threat, so be sure to share today’s follow-up post with your SOC analysts. We’ll drill down into the novel techniques QakBot uses to stymie detection and manual analysis. This sophisticated banking trojan, which Cofense™ has seen distributed via the Geodo/Emotet botnet, uses multiple tools to cover its tracks and steal credentials. The threat actors who have developed it are creative and aggressive.

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With Upgrades in Delivery and Support Infrastructure, Revenge RAT Malware is a Bigger Threat

February 11, 2019 by Max Gannon in Threat Intelligence

CISO Summary The Revenge RAT malware is getting stealthier, thanks to unusually advanced delivery techniques and support infrastructure. Cofense IntelligenceTM has recently seen this basic and widely available Remote Access Trojan benefit from these upgrades, which help it to access webcams, microphones, and other utilities as Revenge RAT does recon and tries to gain a foothold in targeted computers. When they succeed, RATs enable threat actors to wreak havoc, including monitoring user behavior through keyloggers or other spyware, filching personal information, and distributing other malware.

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Emo..Qak? Geodo/Emotet Botnet Delivers Qakbot Malware as First-Stage Payload

February 4, 2019 by Cofense in Threat Intelligence

By Max Gannon, Mollie MacDougall, Darrel Rendell, and Aaron Riley CISO Summary In the past few days, CofenseTM has detected double trouble from the Geodo/Emotet malware. Not only have we seen Geodo botnets directly delivering non-Geodo malware via phishing campaigns, we’ve also observed Geodo campaigns use more precise targeting.

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The Malware Holiday Ends—Welcome Back Geodo and Chanitor

January 29, 2019 by Darrel Rendell in Threat Intelligence

CISO Summary Even cybercriminals knock off for the holidays. Then in January, it’s back to work. We all have bills to pay. This past holiday season, including the Russian Orthodox Christmas which fell on January 7, threat actors cooled their heels and malware campaigns dipped. But with the holidays over, threat actors are back in action. Chanitor malware campaigns are spiking, at even higher levels than a year ago, and Geodo/Emotet campaigns have been surging too.

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Introducing the Cofense Triage Certification Program

January 23, 2019 by Cofense in Cyber Incident Response

By Kiarra Grant Want to be a certified expert in phishing response? Now you can. Introducing the Cofense Triage TM Operators Certification. It’s our second industry-specific certification program, complementing our program for operators of Cofense PhishMeTM. The new program is focused on Cofense Triage, the first and only phishing-specific incident response platform. Become an expert in Cofense Triage while taking your phishing defense program to the next level. The Cofense Triage Certification program provides: Validation and certification of skills in the operation of Cofense Triage Training in running a successful phishing response program The ability to augment Cofense solution expertise...

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Jigsaw Ransomware Returns With Extortion Scam Ploys

January 23, 2019 by Cofense in Phishing Defense Center

By Lucas Ashbaugh Want to play a game? Jigsaw ransomware does, and it’s going to run you $400… or you could just download the free decrypter online. Jigsaw, featuring Billy The Puppet from Saw, was first released in 2016. It not only encrypts the victim’s files but deletes them at a continuously increasing rate until a payment in bitcoin can be confirmed against the bitcoin blockchain. Now, Jigsaw has been observed again, this time delivered through scam tactics. The Delivery Each email starts off with a ploy about how the threat actor somehow compromised the victim’s financial accounts. After shocking and...

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The Kutaki Malware Bypasses Gateways to Steal Users’ Credentials

January 21, 2019 by Darrel Rendell in Threat Intelligence

CISO Summary It’s a case of hiding in plain sight. CofenseTM recently found a phishing campaign that hides the Kutaki malware in a legitimate application to bypass email gateways and harvest users’ credentials.

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Phishing Campaigns are Manipulating the Windows Control Panel Extension to Deliver Banking Trojans

January 17, 2019 by Cofense in Threat Intelligence

By Aaron Riley and Marcel Feller CISO Summary Recently, CofenseTM has seen phishing campaigns that bypass email security using a .cpl file extension attachment. .CPL is the file name extension for items or icons appearing in the Windows Control Panel. These file extensions are vital for most Control Panel tools to function, making endpoint threat mitigation extremely difficult. After evading controls and successfully executing on the endpoint, the .cpl file downloads a second-stage payload, which is typically a banking trojan. According to Cofense IntelligenceTM, most of these phishing campaigns are aimed at South American inboxes. As part of security awareness training...

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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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Expect Credential Phishing to Continue Surging in 2019

February 6, 2019 by Tonia Dudley in Internet Security Awareness

“Hackers don’t need to break in, they only need to log in.” This was a quote mentioned at a conference I attended last December and which I repeated in an e-book Cofense™ recently published, 6 Phishing Predictions for 2019. My prediction was that hackers will continue to go full bore with credential phishing, emails that specifically ask for username and password.  

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We’re Making It Easy for MSSP’s to Deliver Phishing Defense

January 31, 2019 by Cofense in Phishing

By John McCabe We’re Making It Easy for MSSP’s to Deliver Phishing Defense A new Cofense™ Managed Security Service Provider (MSSP) program makes it easy for service providers to offer phishing defense to small and medium-sized businesses. Phishing is a huge problem for SMB’s. With limited budget and expertise, they’re often targets of spear phishing, ransomware, and other attacks.

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5 Things We Launched this Year to Stop Phishing Attacks Faster

December 17, 2018 by John Fitzgerald in Phishing

Merry Phishmas! It’s been another busy year of phishing scams, malware delivery, and other Grinchy activity. To help keep you protected, Cofense™ has refined our solutions to stop phishing in its tracks. Following are some of the new capabilities we launched in 2018. 

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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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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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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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