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COFENSE PHISHING PREVENTION & EMAIL SECURITY BLOG

STAY CURRENT ON INDUSTRY TRENDS & COFENSE NEWS

BEC Scams: Hey! I know I’ve never talked to you before – but can you send some money – QUICK!

April 22, 2019 by Tonia Dudley in Phishing

Business Email Compromise (BEC), also known as CEO Fraud, is a type of phishing email designed to impersonate an executive. In a BEC campaign, the “executive” urgently instructs an employee to wire money, sometimes lots of money, to a bank account. The FBI reports that BEC scams hit businesses to the tune of $12.5 billion annually. What makes BEC campaigns different? In a BEC attack, the weapon of choice is simple words. Instead of tricking people into clicking a malicious link or attachment, a BEC attack tries to lure recipients into taking action. The threat actor will spend time researching...

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Flash Update: Emotet Gang Distributes First Japanese Campaign

April 15, 2019 by Cofense 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 Phishing

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 Cofense 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 Cofense 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...

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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 Cofense 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 Cofense 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 Cofense 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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Build Phishing Countermeasures to Protect Your Brand

May 22, 2013 by Cofense in PhishingThreat Intelligence

Corporations fight phishing each and every day. Large and recognizable financial institutions, retail companies, internet service providers/telecommunication companies are among those most heavily targeted victims of phishing. While the aftermath of a phishing attack is costly and yields long-term consequences, it’s quite difficult to keep up with cybercriminals. It’s shockingly easy for cybercriminals to create a phishing site targeted at your brand, so easy that the cybercriminal simply needs to unpack and upload a pre-built “phishing kit” in order to create a new phishing website. Just one phishing kit can produce hundreds of phishing URLs. With just a few clicks...

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Defining a Sophisticated Attack

March 18, 2013 by Aaron Higbee in Internet Security AwarenessThreat Intelligence

What do nearly all of the recent high-profile data breaches have in common? They have all been traced to sophisticated threats and cyber criminals. While there are many disagreements in the security industry, after every significant breach nearly everyone agrees that it was sophisticated (Twitter, Apple, and the Department of Energy are some of the unfortunate organizations to be compromised by a sophisticated attack recently). On the surface, it isn’t hard to see why. First, technology vendors need attackers to be super sophisticated, because simple tactics couldn’t circumvent their products, right? For victims of a breach, it is advantageous for...

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What Trend Micro’s research means for organizations

November 29, 2012 by Rohyt Belani in Malware AnalysisPhishingThreat Intelligence

Trend Micro has just published research confirming what we at PhishMe already knew – spear phishing is the top threat to enterprise security. Trend Micro’s report estimates that spear phishing accounts for 91% of targeted attacks, making it the most prevalent method of introducing APT to corporate and government networks. Industry recognition of the severity of the dangers posed by spear phishing is always a positive development, but merely acknowledging the problem doesn’t provide a solution. Fortunately, many of the underlying issues Trend Micro identifies are problems PhishMe is already helping our customers address.

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Machines v/s Humans: Who Do You Think Is More Intelligent?

June 9, 2011 by Cofense in Cyber Incident ResponseThreat Intelligence

As the barrage of security breaches continues, Citigroup is the latest victim. This eWeek article: http://www.eweek.com/c/a/Security/Citigroup-Credit-Card-Portal-Breach-Compromises-200000-Customers-461930/ discusses the potential impact of this attack.   One of the commentators brings up the topic of phishing.   Hannigan, the CEO of Q1 labs, rightly points out that  “Security trust means more than just making sure you’re in compliance with regulations,”. On the other hand, some of the quotes, like that from Anup Ghosh, co-founder of Invincea has a blatant technology solution vendor bias. He discounts human intelligence when referring to customers in this quote – “it’s not reasonable to expect them to differentiate...

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Why You Need to Keep Brands Out of Phishing Simulations

July 26, 2018 by Tonia Dudley in Internet Security Awareness

The top 4 brands in the world—Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Facebook—are worth over $500B. Not the operations of those brands, not their proprietary technology, or their real estate—the brands alone. When something is that valuable, companies protect it zealously. They monitor how their brands are used and take action to defend them. Cofense stands firm on not allowing 3rd party brands or logos to be utilized in our phishing simulations without prior express permission. There are times when we may partner directly with specific brands and organizations on the official inclusion of their brand assets in simulation content where it...

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Messenger of the Bots: Hermes Malware Makes Phishing Debut

July 24, 2018 by Cofense in PhishingMalware Analysis

For the first time ever, Cofense Intelligence™ recently observed a phishing campaign distributing the infamous Hermes ransomware. The low-volume campaign delivered .doc files, weaponized with heavily obfuscated macros. These macros reached out to an attacker-controlled server to download and execute a copy of Hermes.

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Who’s Got Access? “Value at Risk” Anti-Phishing

July 23, 2018 by Cofense in Internet Security Awareness

Part 3 of 3  So far, we have looked at the concept of “value at risk” (VAR) and how it applies to anti-phishing. We’ve seen how this model can guide your anti-phishing program by focusing on the value of assets you protect. We’ve also examined ways to translate your organization’s data to dollars, which is useful if you’re responsible for data oversight and governance—in other words, it helps to know where data might live and the (estimated) value of digital assets should a breach occur.  

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Data to Dollars: “Value at Risk” Anti-Phishing Strategies

July 16, 2018 by Cofense in Internet Security Awareness

Part 2 of 3 Last week,  we looked at the concept of “value at risk” (VAR) and how it applies to anti-phishing. This week let’s do a deep-dive into the “value” aspect of VAR. We’ll ask: do you know where your crown-jewel data is stored and how much it might be worth? Even if the answer is “Not exactly,” an educated guess can help set anti-phishing priorities.

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This Amazon Prime Day, Keep Your Network Safe from Phishing

July 12, 2018 by Josh Bartolomie in Internet Security Awareness

Unfortunately, with the world we live in, especially with any type of highly visible promotions or sales, scammers will try to take advantage of the situation. Remember last year’s Amazon Prime Day phishing scam? Consumers around the world received an email promising a $50 bonus for writing a product review, or an email stating there was a problem with their payment method or shipping information. When they clicked on an embedded link, they went to a bogus login page designed to harvest their credentials.

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“Value at Risk”: Focus Your Anti-Phishing on the Bottom Line

July 10, 2018 by Cofense in Internet Security Awareness

Part 1 of 3: Over the past year at Cofense, we’ve introduced and discussed the importance of elevating the visibility of anti-phishing programs to the Board of Directors level. The key measures we presented included a measure of capability we refer to as ‘resilience’ and enumeration of which specific attacks your organization may be facing. As a result, the questions we are now answering for board members globally are – “What phishing threats do you need to be the most concerned with?” “How likely are you to stop those specific attacks in progress?” In the same time frame, the World...

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Cofense Phishing Awareness: The Innovations Continue

June 26, 2018 by Cofense in Internet Security Awareness

Every week you read about a new phishing-inflicted breach. Despite heavy spending on perimeter security, malicious emails still get through. Here’s something that can help and, best of all, costs nothing. It’s the latest in a blitz of Cofense phishing awareness innovations.

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Phishing Defense: Let’s Get Personal

June 20, 2018 by Cofense in Internet Security AwarenessPhishing

We all know phish aren’t just sent to corporate email accounts, yet this is what we hear about most often in the news. The reason, at least in part, is because headlines highlighting millions of dollars lost or millions of accounts compromised make for better news than “Man Has Personal Savings Account Drained After Clicking Malicious Link.”

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Cofense has you covered as Office attachment attacks grow.

June 4, 2018 by Cofense in Malware AnalysisInternet Security Awareness

At Cofense™, we’ve known for some time that phishing attacks using MS Office attachments were a big problem. That’s why our solutions help you combat these attacks in important ways.

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