This Credential Phish Masks the Scam Page URL to Thwart Vigilant Users

By Milo Salvia, Cofense Phishing Defense CenterTM

The Cofense Phishing Defense Center (PDC) has observed a phishing campaign that aims to harvest credentials from Stripe, the online payment facilitator handling billions of dollars annually, making it an attractive target for threat actors seeking to use compromised accounts to gain access to payment card information and defraud consumers. The phish prevents email recipients from seeing the destination of an embedded link when they try to hover over the URL. Instead, what they see is a bogus account message. Here’s how the campaign works.

Email Body

The email pretends to be a notification from “Stripe Support,” informing the account administrator that “Details associated with account are invalid.” The administrator needs to take immediate action, otherwise the account will be placed on hold. This is cause for panic among businesses that rely solely on online transactions and payments. Fear and urgency are the most common emotions threat actors play on, spurring otherwise rational people to make irrational decisions.

Figure 1: Email Body

The email body contains a button with an embedded hyperlink, as seen above: “Review your details.” When clicked, the recipient is redirected to a phishing page. Usually one can check the destination of the hyperlink by hovering over it with the mouse curser. The true destination of this hyperlink is obscured by adding a simple title to HTML’s <a> tag, which shows the recipient the title “Review your details” when the recipient hovers over the button instead of the URL. Potentially this is a tactic to mask the true destination from a vigilant recipient.

Figure 2: Malicious Button

The phishing page is an imitation of the Stripe customer login page. In fact, it consists of three separate pages. The first one aims to harvest the admin’s email address and password, while the second page asks for the bank account number and phone number associated with the account. Lastly, the recipient is redirected back to the account login page which displays an error massager, “Wrong Password, Enter Again.” This leads the recipient to believe an incorrect password has been entered and redirects back to the legitimate site, so the recipient doesn’t suspect foul play.

Figure 3: Phishing Pages

IOCs:


Cofense Resources
HOW COFENSE CAN HELP

Cofense PhishMeTM offers a simulation template, “Stripe Account Notification,” to educate users on the campaign described in today’s blog.

75% of threats reported to the Cofense Phishing Defense CenterTM are credential phish. Protect the keys to your kingdom—condition end users to be resilient to credential harvesting attacks with Cofense PhishMe.

Over 91% of credential harvesting attacks bypassed secure email gateways. Remove the blind spot—get visibility of attacks with Cofense ReporterTM.

Quickly turn user-reported emails into actionable intelligence with Cofense TriageTM. Reduce exposure time by rapidly quarantining threats with Cofense VisionTM.

Attackers do their research. Every SaaS platform you use is an opportunity for attackers to exploit it. Understand what SaaS applications are configured for your domains—do YOUR research with Cofense CloudSeekerTM.

Thanks to our unique perspective, no one knows more about the REAL phishing threats than Cofense. To understand them better, read the 2019 Phishing Threat & Malware Review.

 

All third-party trademarks referenced by Cofense whether in logo form, name form or product form, or otherwise, remain the property of their respective holders, and use of these trademarks in no way indicates any relationship between Cofense and the holders of the trademarks. Any observations contained in this blog regarding circumvention of end point protections are based on observations at a point in time based on a specific set of system configurations. Subsequent updates or different configurations may be effective at stopping these or similar threats.

New Phishing Sextortion Campaign Using Alternative Crypto Currencies to Evade Detection

By Hunter Johnson, Cofense Professional Services 

Cofense has observed threat actors employing a modified version of a sextortion scam using alternative crypto currencies to bitcoin.

Typical sextortion scams claim to have installed malware on recipients’ systems and recorded their browsing history of adult websites and webcam footage. Ransom is demanded in bitcoin, upon threat of releasing damaging information to family, friends, and co-workers. Because threat actors often get recipients’ emails from password breach lists, they sometimes include passwords to lend authenticity.

Early sextortion scams started with a plain text extortion email threating the recipient and asking for payment. As enterprises began writing detection rules to block those emails, threat actors modified the text by replacing it with an image, which prevented key words from being identified by Secure Email Gateways (SEGs). The bitcoin address was left as a plain text string in the email, so it could be easily copied. As enterprises began checking for bitcoin addresses, threat actors removed text and images and switched to attaching PDF documents containing the threats. Most recently, threat actors began encrypting PDF attachments and including the password in the email body to foil any further SEG detection rules.

This latest sextortion version is using a Litecoin wallet address instead of bitcoin to evade detection. Previous iterations showed a gradual shift away from identifiable patterns and to alternative crypto currencies, in an attempt to foil SEG bitcoin-detection rules. The current emails appear to be crafted to contain very few searchable word patterns. While we could publish the contents of those emails, let’s just say the emails contained adult language admonishing the recipient to be more careful about their browsing and webcam habits.

As this latest twist shows, threat actors can switch to the next crypto currency and attempt to iterate through all the scam’s previous versions. While there are thousands of crypto currencies, only a dozen or so are easily attainable from large exchanges. For the scam to work, the recipient needs an easy way to acquire the requested payment method.

Avoiding this scam is simple. Your users can safely ignore the emails—if threat actors actually had such access and data, they would include stronger proof. Also educate users about sites such as haveibeenpwned.com, so they can know if their email address is likely to become a target.

Cofense will also be publishing a rule to detect attacks we’ve seen so far using this new method.

HOW COFENSE CAN HELP

Cofense Resources

Cofense PhishMeTM offers a phishing simulation template, “Fear Driven Phishing Scams Involving Embarrassing Situations,” to educate users on sextortion and similar scams.

Cofense Labs has published a database of 300 million compromised email accounts for use in sextortion campaigns. Find out if your organization’s accounts are at risk.

Reports of sextortion and other ransom scams to the Cofense Phishing Defense CenterTM are increasing. Condition users to be resilient to evolving phishing attacks with Cofense PhishMe and remove the blind spot with Cofense ReporterTM.

Quickly turn user reported emails into actionable intelligence with Cofense TriageTM. Reduce exposure time by rapidly quarantining threats with Cofense VisionTM.

Attackers do their research. Every SaaS platform you use is an opportunity for attackers to exploit it. Understand what SaaS applications are configured for your domains – do YOUR research with Cofense CloudSeeker TM.

Thanks to our unique perspective, no one knows more about REAL phishing threats than Cofense. To understand them better, read the 2019 Phishing Threat & Malware Review.

 

All third-party trademarks referenced by Cofense whether in logo form, name form or product form, or otherwise, remain the property of their respective holders, and use of these trademarks in no way indicates any relationship between Cofense and the holders of the trademarks. Any observations contained in this blog regarding circumvention of end point protections are based on observations at a point in time based on a specific set of system configurations. Subsequent updates or different configurations may be effective at stopping these or similar threats.

Threat Actors Use Percentage-Based URL Encoding to Bypass Email Gateways

Last week, the Cofense Phishing Defense CenterTM observed phishing threat actors using low-level trickery to avoid detection, by utilizing basic percentage-based URL encoding. This takes advantage of Google’s nifty ability to decode the encoded URL data on the fly. The easiest way to trick a secure email gateway (SEG) is hiding the true destination of the payload.

Here’s how it works:

Figure 1: email body

The phishing email is simple and originates from a compromised email account of a relatively well-known American brand, informing recipients that they have a new invoice awaiting payment. The email body has an embedded hyperlink button, highlighted in yellow, where users can click to view the invoice.

As we can see in Figure 1 above, the true destination of the hyperlink is not immediately obvious to the untrained eye and unfortunately the same is true for many perimeter security devices. We note that the URL’s top-level domain is google.lv which is the home page for Google Latvia.

Figure 2: URL Encoding

If we take a deeper look into the embedded hyperlink, we see that Google is being used to redirect the recipient to a secondary malicious URL. The first part of the URL is benign “hxxps://google.lv/url?q=”, which tells the web browser to use Google to query a specific URL or string.

The second part of the string, highlighted in red (Figure 2), is the payload which is a string that is encoded with basic URL encoding. This is sometimes referred to as percent encoding, which replaces ASCII characters with a “%” followed by two hexadecimal digits. Most web browsers recognize URLs that contain hexadecimal character representations and will automatically decode them back into ASCII on the fly without any user interaction. When users click on the hyperlink within the email, they are redirected through their browsers to Google to query the encoded string. This is recognized as a URL to redirect the user to the final destination of the malicious payload.

This is enough to fool basic URL and domain checks by perimeter devices, a simple yet effective way for threat actors to ensure delivery of malicious payloads.

Figure 3: Phishing Page 

The phishing page itself is a simple imitation of the Office 365 login portal and aims to steal corporate users’ credentials. With businesses’ growing reliance on Office365, it’s fast becoming a favorite target amongst phishing threat actors.

Network IOCs
hxxps://gdank[.]com/office[.]o/microsoft/office/ 107[.]180[.]27[.]240

HOW COFENSE CAN HELP

Cofense Resources

Cofense PhishMeTM offers a simulation template, “New Invoice,” to educate employees on the phishing tactic described in today’s blog.

75% of threats reported to the Cofense Phishing Defense Center are credential phish. Protect the keys to your kingdom—condition end users to be resilient to credential harvesting attacks with Cofense PhishMe.

Over 91% of credential harvesting attacks bypassed secure email gateways. Remove the blind spot—get visibility of attacks with Cofense ReporterTM.

Quickly turn user-reported emails into actionable intelligence with Cofense TriageTM. Reduce exposure time by rapidly quarantining threats with Cofense VisionTM.

Attackers do their research. Every SaaS platform you use is an opportunity for attackers to exploit it. Understand what SaaS applications are configured for your domains—do YOUR research with Cofense CloudSeekerTM.

Thanks to our unique perspective, no one knows more about the REAL phishing threats than Cofense. To understand them better, read the 2019 Phishing Threat & Malware Review.

 

All third-party trademarks referenced by Cofense whether in logo form, name form or product form, or otherwise, remain the property of their respective holders, and use of these trademarks in no way indicates any relationship between Cofense and the holders of the trademarks. Any observations contained in this blog regarding circumvention of end point protections are based on observations at a point in time based on a specific set of system configurations. Subsequent updates or different configurations may be effective at stopping these or similar threats.

New Phishing Campaign Uses Captcha to Bypass Email Gateway

By Fabio Rodrigues

Phishing threat actors are using Captcha methods to bypass automated URL analysis. By using Captcha techniques to prove human presence, the phish prevents the secure email gateway (SEG), in this case Mimecast’s gateway, from scanning the URL thereby enabling the threat to get through. Here’s how it works.

Email Body
The phishing email is sent from a compromised account at @avis.ne.jp as if it originated from a voip2mail service. The email alerts the recipient to a new voicemail message. The message is crafted in a simple format, with a preview of the voicemail to entice the recipient to click on the button to listen to the full message.

Figure 1: Email Body

This button is in fact an embedded hyperlink that will redirect the recipient to a page that contains a Captcha code to prove the victim is a human and not an automated analysis tool or, as Google puts it, “a robot.” It’s at this point that the SEG validation would fail. The SEG cannot proceed to and scan the malicious page, only the Captcha code site. This webpage doesn’t contain any malicious items, thus leading the SEG to mark it as safe and allow the user through.

Figure 2: Captcha Page

Once the human verification process is complete, the recipient is redirected to the real phishing page. In this example, it imitates the Microsoft account selector and login page. When unwitting victims login, their credentials are captured.

Figure 3: Phishing Page

As we can see, both the Captcha application page and the main phishing page are hosted on MSFT infrastructure. Both pages are legitimate Microsoft top level domains, so when checking these against domain reputation databases we receive a false negative and the pages come back as safe. SEGs frequently check URLS against reputation databases as part of a layered defense.

Table 1: Network IOCs

hxxp://t[.]mid[.]accor-mail[.]com/r/?id=
hxxps://osnm[.]azurewebsites[.]net/?b=
hxxps://phospate02[.]blob[.]core[.]windows[.]net/vric/112-vml[.]html?sp=r&st=2019-09-03T19:01:36Z&se=2019-09-28T03:01:36Z&spr=hxxps&sv=2018-03-28&sig=q4OWNkGXIlBtE99JknDZ047J94uFFCc%2BoNaZmtHOt2k%3D&sr=
52[.]239[.]224[.]36
66[.]117[.]16[.]17
52[.]173[.]84[.]157

 

HOW COFENSE CAN HELP

Cofense Resources

Cofense PhishMeTM offers a phishing simulation template, “New Voice Message,” to educate users on the attack described in this blog.

75% of threats reported to the Cofense Phishing Defense CenterTM are credential phish. Protect the keys to your kingdom—condition end users to be resilient to credential harvesting attacks with Cofense PhishMe.

Over 91% of credential harvesting attacks bypassed secure email gateways. Remove the blind spot—get visibility of attacks with Cofense ReporterTM.

Quickly turn user-reported emails into actionable intelligence with Cofense TriageTM. Reduce exposure time by rapidly quarantining threats with Cofense VisionTM.

Attackers do their research. Every SaaS platform you use is an opportunity for attackers to exploit it. Understand what SaaS applications are configured for your domains—do YOUR research with Cofense CloudSeekerTM.

Thanks to our unique perspective, no one knows more about the REAL phishing threats than Cofense. To understand them better, read the 2019 Phishing Threat & Malware Review.

 

All third-party trademarks referenced by Cofense whether in logo form, name form or product form, or otherwise, remain the property of their respective holders, and use of these trademarks in no way indicates any relationship between Cofense and the holders of the trademarks. Any observations contained in this blog regarding circumvention of end point protections are based on observations at a point in time based on a specific set of system configurations. Subsequent updates or different configurations may be effective at stopping these or similar threats.

Phishing Emails Are Using SharePoint to Slip Past Symantec’s Gateway and Attack Banks

Hiding in plain sight by using trusted enterprise technologies almost guarantees delivery of a phishing URL. Case in point: a phishing campaign that delivered a legitimate Sharepoint URL to bypass the email gateway, in this case Symantec’s. Here’s how this increasingly popular phishing tactic works.

Email Body

The phishing email is sent from a compromised account at a third-party vendor asking the recipient to review a proposal document. The recipient is urged to click on an embedded URL. As seen below in figure 1, the URL has been wrapped by Symantec’s Click-time URL Protection and redirects the recipient to a compromised SharePoint account. SharePoint, the initial delivery mechanism, then delivers a secondary malicious URL, allowing the threat actor to circumvent just about any email perimeter technology.

Figure 1: email body

The embedded URL in the email body delivers the recipient to a compromised SharePoint site where a malicious OneNote document is served. The document is illegible and invites the recipient to download it by clicking on yet another embedded URL, which leads to the main credential phishing page.

Figure 2: Malicious OneNote Document

Phishing Page

The phishing page is a cheap imitation of the OneDrive for Business login portal. There, the recipient is given two options to authenticate, with their O365 Login credentials or by choosing to login with any other email provider. We see this tactic quite often as it increases the chances that the recipient will log in.

Figure 3: Phishing Pages

When we download the files from the compromised server, we can see that the credentials from the phishing form are posted by login.php. Login.php posts the harvested credentials to a Gmail account.

Figure 4: Login.php

Other files harvested from the compromised server shed light on the origin of this attack. Below is a readme file that instructs the operator on how to configure and install the phishing page onto a compromised webserver. We have also identified that this phishing exploit kit is part of a series of “Hacking tools” built and sold by BlackShop Tools.

Figure 5: readme.txt

IOCs:

Malicious URL(s):

hxxps://botleighgrange-my[.]sharepoint[.]com/:o:/p/maintenance/EngTNCs22_REkaJY4gVf9lwBqkwYFtDSmJJ7L2H-AnoDQg?e=tgtauL
hxxps://alblatool[.]com/xxx/one/
hxxps://alblatool[.]com/xxx/one/office365/index[.]php

Associated IP(s):

13[.]107[.]136[.]9
198[.]54[.]126[.]160

 

HOW COFENSE CAN HELP

To defend against the attack described in today’s blog, Cofense offers:

 

75% of threats reported to the Cofense Phishing Defense CenterTM are credential phish. Protect the keys to your kingdom—condition end users to be resilient to credential harvesting attacks with Cofense PhishMe.

Over 91% of credential harvesting attacks bypassed secure email gateways. Remove the blind spot—get visibility of attacks with Cofense ReporterTM.

Quickly turn user-reported emails into actionable intelligence with Cofense Triage. Reduce exposure time by rapidly quarantining threats with Cofense VisionTM.

Attackers do their research. Every SaaS platform you use is an opportunity for attackers to exploit it. Understand what SaaS applications are configured for your domains—do YOUR research with Cofense CloudSeekerTM.

Thanks to our unique perspective, no one knows more about the REAL phishing threats than Cofense. To understand them better, read the 2019 Phishing Threat & Malware Review.

 

All third-party trademarks referenced by Cofense whether in logo form, name form or product form, or otherwise, remain the property of their respective holders, and use of these trademarks in no way indicates any relationship between Cofense and the holders of the trademarks. Any observations contained in this blog regarding circumvention of end point protections are based on observations at a point in time based on a specific set of system configurations. Subsequent updates or different configurations may be effective at stopping these or similar threats.

Updated Sep. 12

Phishing Campaigns Imitating CEOs Bypass Microsoft Gateway to Target Energy Sector

Cofense Intelligence™ 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 Microsoft Exchange Online Protection, and make its way to the end user.

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

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 slow and inflexible, offering limited search scope like ‘Sender’ and ‘Subject.’ It’s difficult to find the entire attack fast enough and account for the way tactics, techniques, and procedures morph.

The Cofense Vision user interface allows SOC analysts to search by combinations of fields, grouping emails together by selected criteria. You can search for recipients, senders, MIME type, attachments, a specific time, and more, essentially creating your own cluster. Then quarantine one or hundreds of malicious emails with a simple click. If you later determine that emails are harmless, you can “un-quarantine” them just as easily.

Built for Companies of All Sizes

The new Cofense Vision UI supports smaller customers who don’t have engineering teams or power users to write scripts and code. You can simply search natively and quarantine quickly. An hour after installation, analysts are ready to defend.

For example, an end-user at a small business sends a suspicious email to IT for investigation. IT determines it is malicious and wants to find out if anyone else received it. With the new Cofense Vision UI, they can search on key criteria found in the malicious email to determine if more than one instance of the message is in their environment, then quarantine it in seconds.

If your company is larger, the interface improves the experience of power users and operators who are writing scripts or otherwise programmatically interacting with Cofense Vision. Proactive analysts, those with some information about where and how the bad guys are likely to attack, can use the UI to identify and quarantine malicious actors before any damage is done. SOC analysts can write rules to look for signs of malicious activity, searching criteria such as To, From, Subject, Attachment Hash, and the content of the message.

All of this shortens “dwell time” and the amount of damage an attacker can cause in your email environment. According to a SANS Institute survey, 75 percent of respondents say they reduced their attack surface by through more threat hunting. Fifty-nine percent believed that threat-hunting enhanced the speed and accuracy of their company’s incident response.1

The new Cofense Vision UI makes threat-hunting faster, easier, and more effective. Learn more or sign up for a demo now!

More Ways Cofense Can Help

90% of phishing threats observed by the Cofense Phishing Defense Center bypassed secure email gateways. Condition users to be resilient to evolving phishing attacks with Cofense PhishMeTM and remove the blind spot with Cofense ReporterTM.

Quickly turn user reported emails into actionable intelligence with Cofense TriageTM. Then reduce exposure time by rapidly quarantining threats with Cofense Vision.

Be proactive against evolving phishing threats. Easily consume high-fidelity phishing-specific threat intelligence to defend your organisation with Cofense IntelligenceTM.

Thanks to our unique perspective, no one knows more about REAL phishing threat than Cofense. Understand the current phishing threat – read the 2019 Phishing Threat & Malware Review.

 

1SANS Institute, “2018 Threat Hunting Survey”: https://www.sans.org/media/analyst-program/Multi-Sponsor-Survey-2018-Threat-Hunting-Survey.pdf

  

All third-party trademarks referenced by Cofense whether in logo form, name form or product form, or otherwise, remain the property of their respective holders, and use of these trademarks in no way indicates any relationship between Cofense and the holders of the trademarks.

Phishing Attackers Are Abusing WeTransfer to Evade Email Gateways

By Jake Longden

The Cofense Phishing Defense Center has observed a wave of phishing attacks that utilize the legitimate file hosting site WeTransfer to deliver malicious URLs to bypass email gateways. The attacks span major industries like banking, power, and media. Here’s how they work.

Email Body:

The email body is a genuine notification from WeTransfer which informs the victim that a file has been shared with them. The attackers utilise what appears to be compromised email accounts to send a genuine link to a WeTransfer hosted file. As these are legitimate links from WeTransfer, this allows them to travel straight through security checks at the gateway.

WeTransfer allows for the addition of a note to the email to clarify why the file was sent. Here, the threat actor will often write a note stating that the file is an invoice to be reviewed. This is a commonly observed phishing technique to pique the user’s interest.

Fig 1. Email body

Phishing Page:

When the user clicks on the “Get your files” button in the message body, the user is redirected to the WeTransfer download page where a HTM or HTML file is hosted and thus downloaded by the unsuspecting victim. When the user opens the .html file, he or she is redirected to the main phishing page.

Fig 2. WeTransfer Hosted file

In the final stage of the attack, victims are asked to enter their Office365 credentials to login. More often than not, we see a Microsoft Service being targeted, however we have observed other targeted brands.

Fig 3. Phishing Page

Gateway Evasion

As WeTransfer is a well-known and trusted file hosting system, used to share files too large to attach to an email, these links will typically bypass gateways as benign emails, unless settings are modified to restrict access to such file sharing sites. The PDC has observed this attack method to bypass multiple gateways. These include ProofPoint, Office365 Safe Links,  and Symantec.

Useful Resources for Customers

Description
Triage Yara rule: PM_WeTransfer_File_Download
PhishMe Templates: “File Transfer”
Cofense Intelligence: https://www.threathq.com/p42/search/default#m=26412&type=renderThreat 


Other Ways Cofense Can Help

The Cofense Phishing Defense Center identifies active phishing attacks in enterprise environments. Learn how our dedicated experts provide actionable intelligence to stop phishing threats.

75% of threats reported to the Cofense Phishing Defense Center are credential phish. Protect the keys to your kingdom—condition end users to be resilient to credential harvesting attacks with Cofense PhishMeTM.  Our solution offers a phishing simulation to protect against file-transfer attacks like the one described in this blog.

According to the Cofense Phishing Defense Center, over 91% of the credential harvesting attacks they identify bypassed email gateways. Remove the blind spot—get visibility of attacks with Cofense ReporterTM.

Quickly turn user reported emails into actionable intelligence with Cofense TriageTM. Reduce exposure time by rapidly quarantining threats with Cofense VisionTM.

Attackers do their research. Every SaaS platform you use is an opportunity for attackers to exploit it. Understand what SaaS applications are configured for your domains—do YOUR research with Cofense CloudSeeker.

Thanks to our unique perspective, no one knows more about current REAL phishing threats than Cofense. To raise your understand, read the 2019 Phishing Threat & Malware Review.

 

All third-party trademarks referenced by Cofense whether in logo form, name form or product form, or otherwise, remain the property of their respective holders, and use of these trademarks in no way indicates any relationship between Cofense and the holders of the trademarks.

Cofense Report: 90% of Verified Phish Found in Environments Using Email Gateways

By Kaustubh Jagtap

Our recently released 2019 Phishing Threat and Malware Review highlights how perimeter protection technologies can’t stop all advanced phishing threats. Email gateways are a critical first line of defense, but as attackers have continued to innovate gateways haven’t kept up.  The CofenseTM report also underscores the importance of human intelligence to identify these advanced attacks once they make it past gateways. Trained users can effectively detect and report advanced phishing to allow SOC teams to accelerate incident response.

Credential Phish Are the Most Common Threat

90% of verified phishing emails were found in environments using email gateways. This included over 23k credential phishing emails and approximately 5k emails that delivered dangerous malware. The Cofense Research and Cofense IntelligenceTM teams also noted a change in tactics with Business Email Compromise (BEC) attacks. Threat actors are now targeting payroll administrators, as compared to the usual CEO/CFO targets. Our teams also found an increase in extortion tactics including sextortion and bomb threats to create urgency and panic.

Threat Actor Tactics Are Evolving

As they shifted malware delivery mechanisms, threat actors showed a strong preference for the exploitation of CVE-2017-11882, an older Microsoft Equation Editor vulnerability. Over 45% of all malicious attachments over the past year exploited this CVE to deliver malware.

Between August 2018 and February 2019, Cofense observed malicious .ISO files bypassing gateways, indicating the use of novel file types to escape detection. There were also significant developments in Installation-as-a-service (IaaS). Emotet embraced the IaaS business model in 2018 to deliver other malware like TrickBot, IceID, and QakBot. Cofense Research observed 678k unique Emotet infections through April 2019.

Cloud Filesharing Services Are Being Badly Abused

Cofense saw widespread abuse of cloud filesharing platforms to host and spread malicious content, including “legitimate” links to the content embedded in the phishing email. We found 9445 phishing emails that abused cloud filesharing services to deliver a malicious payload. Threat actors preferred SharePoint (55%) and OneDrive (21%) over other cloud filesharing providers.

How to Protect against Phishing and Malware

The report details numerous ways to defend against email threats. They include:

  • Educate users – Train and condition users to spot phishing emails. Faster incident response begins with better human intelligence.
  • Focus education on new TTPs – Make sure to educate your SOC team and end users on emerging threats and phishing tactics. Threat actor TTPs are constantly evolving. Complacency can breed painful consequences.
  • Train users to spot credential phish – Pay special attention to phishing scenarios where users are asked to login and supply credentials.
  • Enable multifactor authentication- It’s especially urgent if you have single sign-on.

To see more tips and the full story on phishing and malware threats, download your copy of the Cofense Phishing Threat & Malware Review 2019.

 

All third-party trademarks referenced by Cofense whether in logo form, name form or product form, or otherwise, remain the property of their respective holders, and use of these trademarks in no way indicates any relationship between Cofense and the holders of the trademarks.

New Phishing Attacks Use PDF Docs to Slither Past the Gateway

By Deron Dasilva and Milo Salvia

Last week, the CofenseTM Phishing Defense CenterTM saw a new barrage of phishing attacks hiding in legitimate PDF documents, a ruse to bypass the email gateway and reach a victim’s mailbox. The attacks masquerade as a trusted entity, duping victims into opening what appears to be a trusted link, which in turn leads to a fake Microsoft login page. Once there, victims are tricked into providing their corporate login credentials.