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Why Join Us at Cofense Submerge? Here’s What Attendees Say

August 20, 2019 by Tonia Dudley in Internet Security Awareness

Next month in Orlando we’ll be hosting CofenseTM Submerge 2019, our fourth annual user conference and phishing defense summit. As we wrap up each event, we ask attendees for feedback. What did they like best? Networking and hearing other customers’ experiences are always the top responses. As a former customer who now works at Cofense, I totally agree.    Here are some of the answers we heard last year when we asked, “Why attend Submerge?”  “Sharing ideas was tremendously helpful to me—having the opportunity to meet other people from a variety of industries doing the same thing that I do.”  We’re all on this journey...

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Remote Access Trojan Uses Sendgrid to Slip through Proofpoint

August 14, 2019 by Marcel Feller in Phishing Defense CenterProofpointSEG Misses

The CofenseTM Phishing Defense CenterTM observed a malware campaign masquerading as an email complaint from the Better Business Bureau to deliver the notorious Orcus RAT, part of the free DNS domain ChickenKiller which we blogged about in 2015. Here’s how it works:

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Phishing Campaigns Imitating CEOs Bypass Microsoft Gateway to Target Energy Sector

August 13, 2019 by Aaron Riley in Cyber Incident ResponseMicrosoft 365 EOPPhishingSEG Misses

Cofense IntelligenceTM has identified a highly customized credential phishing campaign using Google Drive to target a company within the energy sector. This phishing campaign is crafted to look like the CEO of the targeted company has shared an important message with the recipient via Google Drive. The email is legitimately sent by Google Drive to employees and appears to be shared on behalf of the CEO by an email address that does not fit the email naming convention of the targeted company. By using an authentic service, this phishing campaign was able to bypass the email security stack, in particular...

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TrickBot Adds ‘Cookie Grabber’ Information Stealing Module

August 8, 2019 by Aaron Riley in PhishingThreat Intelligence

Cofense Intelligence™ has identified a new credential information stealing module for the TrickBot banking trojan being used to gather web browser cookie data. Previous versions of TrickBot allowed for minimal web browser data theft; however, this ability was within the main functionality of the trojan platform and not a stand-alone module as it is now. This new module, dubbed ‘Cookie Grabber,’ has an added feature that allows for further control and manipulation of the victim’s host. TrickBot is a modular banking trojan that targets financial information within an infected host. The threat actors behind TrickBot are always re-tooling and adapting...

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This Phish Uses DocuSign to Slip Past Symantec Gateway and Target Email Credentials

August 7, 2019 by Cofense in PhishingSEG MissesSymantec

By Tej Tulachan The Cofense Phishing Defense CenterTM has observed a new wave of phishing attacks masquerading as an email from DocuSign to target the credentials of all major email providers. DocuSign is an electronic signature technology that facilitates exchanges of contracts, tax documents, and legal materials. Threat actors utilize this legitimate application to bypass the email gateway and entice users into handing out their credentials. Here’s how it works. Email Body At first glance, the email body looks well-presented with the correct DocuSign logo and its content. However, there is something suspicious within the first line of the message—the...

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Cofense Labs Shares Research on Massive Sextortion Campaign

August 2, 2019 by David Mount in Threat Intelligence

Are you one in two hundred (or so) million?   Today, CofenseTM announced the launch of Cofense Labs. Our experts are sharing the details of some deep research into the inner workings of a large-scale sextortion campaign that to date has over 200m recipients in its sights – and you might be one of them.   What’s Sextortion?  You may be lucky enough to have not encountered the threatening narrative of a sextortion email. If so, the threat actor’s M.O. is typically this:  Send an email in which they claim to have installed malware on your system and have a record of...

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Threat Actors Subscribe To Patches

July 29, 2019 by Max Gannon in PhishingThreat Intelligence

Cofense IntelligenceTM has analyzed a relatively new malware known as Alpha Keylogger, which appears to be part of a growing trend among threat actors to use subscription-based malware that doesn’t deliver on its original promises. Part of the reason behind this trend is that threat actors are more frequently releasing malware builders that are incomplete and still under development, then charging users a subscription fee to have the builder updated with a “patch.” This practice has become increasingly common with enterprise software as well as video games, so it is not surprising to see the trend in the criminal underworld....

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Cofense Vision UI: Quarantine Phish Faster, Without Disrupting the Mail Team

July 25, 2019 by Cofense in Cyber Incident ResponsePhishing

By Karen Kokiko The holy grail of phishing defense is now within your grasp. Cofense VisionTM now comes with a user interface that lets you quarantine phishing emails with a single click—without disrupting the mail team and slowing down your response. Let’s stop and let that sink in. You can quarantine phish right from your desktop, without asking the busy mail team to stop and perform a search. There’s no more waiting while an active phish does the backstroke in your inboxes. Faster, more precise phishing response is here. Fast and Flexible Searching Traditional email search and quarantine tools are...

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Pretty Pictures Sometimes Disguise Ugly Executables

May 15, 2019 by Max Gannon in Threat Intelligence

CISO Summary Reaching deep into their bag of tricks to avoid detection, threat actors are using an oldie but goodie— packing image files (think tropical beach scenes) with malicious executables, usually a .jpg. The technique allows attackers to avoid detection by some anti-virus programs that merely recognize a file as an image, but don’t check its full contents. This vintage tactic works—threat actors still use it a lot. Anti-virus systems rely on file headers to detect malware. Tuning systems to rely less on file headers is difficult and sometimes impossible. One counter-measure that does work: educate employees not to fall...

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Babylon RAT Raises the Bar in Malware Multi-tasking

May 15, 2019 by Aaron Riley in Threat Intelligence

CISO SUMMARY  Ancient Babylon defeated its enemies with chariots, horses, and archers. Now Cofense IntelligenceTM has analyzed a phishing campaign delivering the powerful Babylon Remote Administration Tool (RAT). This malware is an open-source tool that can handle many tasks: encrypt command-and-control communication, hide from network security controls, trigger denial of service (DOS) attacks, and last but not least, steal data. Used skillfully, Babylon RAT would make the armies of Hammurabi proud.  Full Details Cofense Intelligence has analyzed a phishing campaign delivering a multi-feature open source Remote Administration Tool (RAT) named Babylon RAT. Babylon RAT’s Command and Control (C2) communication is...

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The Cofense Phishing Defense Center Sees Threats That Most Don’t

May 8, 2019 by Marcel Feller in Cyber Incident ResponseSEG Misses

The CofenseTM Phishing Defense CenterTM analyzes suspicious emails reported by customers’ users and alerts their security teams when they need to take action. Because we live and breathe phishing analysis and response, and because we operate 24/7/365, we have visibility into threats most teams can’t see. Here’s a Real Example Involving Compromised Email Accounts A few months back, an organization exploring our services did a proof-of-concept trial, during which we analyzed emails its users found suspicious and reported for inspection. Soon enough, we saw emails sent from compromised email accounts within the organization. In fact, they utilized a technique known...

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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DMARC Is NOT a Fail-Safe Defense against Phishing Attacks

April 4, 2019 by David Mount 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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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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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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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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SMILE – New PayPal Phish Has Victims Sending Them a Selfie

June 15, 2017 by Cofense in Malware AnalysisPhishingPhishing Defense Center

Phishing scams masquerading as PayPal are unfortunately commonplace. Most recently, the PhishMe Triage™ Managed Phishing Defense Center noticed a handful of campaigns using a new tactic for advanced PayPal credential phishing. The phishing website looks very authentic compared to off-the-shelf crimeware phishing kits, but also levels-up by asking for a photo of the victim holding their ID and credit card, presumably to create cryptocurrency accounts to launder money stolen from victims.

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New Phishing Emails Deliver Malicious .ISO Files to Evade Detection

May 26, 2017 by Cofense in Malware AnalysisPhishingPhishing Defense Center

On May 22, 2017, PhishMe® received several emails with .ISO images as attachments via the Phishing Defense Center. ISO images are typically used as an archive format for the content of an optical disk and are often utilized as the installers for operating system. However, in this case, a threat actor leveraged this archive format as a means to deliver malware content to the recipients of their phishing email. Analysis of the attachments showed that this archive format was abused to deliver malicious AutoIT scripts hidden within a PE file that appears to be a Microsoft Office Document file, which...

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FBI Announces That BEC Scam Losses Continue to Skyrocket, as Losses Exceed $3.1B

May 19, 2017 by Cofense in Malware AnalysisPhishingPhishing Defense Center

Financial losses from business email compromise (BEC) scams skyrocketed by 2,370% between January 2015 and December 2016, according to an FBI public service announcement released Thursday. The alarming statistic represents a sharp increase from the agency’s previous announcement, serving as a warning to users to stay vigilant in recognizing the threat.  

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Tales from the Trenches: DocuSign® DELoader Phishing Attack

May 17, 2017 by Cofense in Internet Security AwarenessMalware AnalysisPhishing Defense Center

Over the past several days, the Phishing Defense Center identified and responded to several messages related to an ongoing phishing email campaign spoofing DocuSign to carry out an attack. These messages appear to be official DocuSign emails including links to review the document. Upon clicking the link, various malicious files are downloaded to the victim’s computer including the DELoader financial crimes malware.

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Google Doc Phishing Attack Hits Fast and Hard

May 3, 2017 by Cofense in PhishingPhishing Defense Center

Google Doc Campaign Makes a Mark In the process of managing phishing threats for our customers, our Phishing Defense Center and PhishMe Intelligence teams saw a flood of suspicious emails with subject line stating that someone has “has shared a document on Google Docs with you”, which contained a link to “Open in Docs”. The “Open in Docs” link goes to one of several URLs all within the https://accounts.google.com website.

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April Sees Spikes in Geodo Botnet Trojan

May 2, 2017 by Cofense in PhishingPhishing Defense Center

Throughout April, our Phishing Defense Team observed an increase in malicious URLs that deliver the financial crimes and botnet trojan known as Geodo. These emails take a simple approach to social engineering, using just a sentence or two prompting the victim to click on a link to see a report or invoice that has been sent to them. An example of a typical phishing email used in these attacks is shown below: Following the malicious links will lead the victim to download a hostile JavaScript application or PDF document tasked with obtaining and executing Geodo malware. One common attribute of...

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Does your Incident Response Plan include Phishing?

April 20, 2017 by Cofense in Cyber Incident ResponsePhishingPhishing Defense Center

It’s no secret that 90% of breaches start with a phishing attack. The question is: are you prepared to recognize phishing and respond to it? Many organizations are concerned with how much spam they receive and implement controls specific to spam. But you shouldn’t confuse preventing spam with responding to phishing attacks.

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Wide-Spread Ursnif Campaign Goes Live

April 11, 2017 by Cofense in Phishing Defense Center

On April 5th, our Phishing Defense Center received a flurry of emails with subject line following a pattern of Lastname, firstname. Attached to each email was a password-protected .docx Word document with an embedded OLE package. In all cases the attachments were password protected to decrease the likelihood of detection by automated analysis tools. A password was provided to the victim in the body of the email which attempts to lure the victim into opening the malicious attachment and to increase the apparent legitimacy of the message. 

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W-2 Fraud – Tax Season and All Year Long

April 4, 2017 by Cofense in Phishing Defense Center

It’s the time of year when Taxes are on everyone’s mind – especially Phishers! The stress of filing.  The stress of gathering all the documents.  The stress of reporting.  The stress of the deadline.  All of that on top of everything else you have to do this time of year makes tax time phishing a favorite and highly successful annual event for phishing scams. However, once the filing is completed, it doesn’t mean the campaigns will stop.  W2 and CEO fraud are timeless phishing campaigns that run all year long.

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Tales from the Trenches:  Loki Bot Malware

March 23, 2017 by Cofense in Phishing Defense Center

On March 15, 2017, our Phishing Defense Center observed several emails with the subject line “Request for quotation” pretending to award Shell Oil Company contracts – a very targeted subject tailored to the receiver. As with most phishing emails, there is a compelling call to action for the receiver, in this case a contract award from a well-known organization. And, an added bonus unknown to the receiver, the emails also contained a malicious attachment designed to siphon data from its targets. Included is an example of one of these emails along with basic Triage header information. Each email analyzed contained instructions...

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