This Advanced Keylogger Delivers a Cryptocurrency Miner

By Aaron Riley

In a new twist, a phishing campaign is delivering the advanced Hawkeye Keylogger malware to act as a first stage loader for a cryptocurrency miner. Hawkeye Keylogger – Reborn V9 was attached to a job application attachment themed phishing email. Once executed, Hawkeye then downloaded and ran a sample of the open-source software CGMiner. The CGMiner sample was an older version and configured for the cryptocurrency Litecoin. This is the first instance in which Cofense IntelligenceTM has analyzed a keylogger being used as merely a first stage loader to deploy a crypto-miner.

The job application attachment theme used in this phishing campaign was generic and did not target a specific business department or job opening. As seen in Figure 1, the email is short and plain; however, the email source code showed a configuration that can be used for alerts. The email’s character set was configured for “Windows-1251,” which is used to support Cyrillic languages. Considering the business use of Cyrillic languages, this configuration can be used for alerting within the email security stack. The email had a .zip archive attachment that delivered a sample of Hawkeye Keylogger – Reborn V9.

Figure 1: Compromised email address delivering malicious ZIP attachment under guise of a CV

Hawkeye Keylogger is subscription-based and has been sold on forums since 2013. It has gone through many version updates and has even changed development ownership in the past. This advanced keylogger can be used to monitor systems, gather sensitive information from the machine, and exfiltrate the information to the Command and Control (C2) structure in multiple ways. The developer’s advertisement does not tout it as a first stage downloader. The threat operator behind this campaign utilized the file installation feature—typically used for setting persistence on the infected machine—to download and execute the sample of CGMiner. After the download and execution of the secondary payload, Hawkeye Keylogger stalled in its processes and did not attempt any further action.

CGMiner is an open-source cryptocurrency miner that can be executed across all operating systems. Older CGMiner versions can be configured to mine multiple different types of cryptocurrency and are designed to work with most AMD graphics cards. This sample of CGMiner is version 3.5, which is an older version that still supports CPU/GPU mining. This miner sample uses the Stratum protocol over TCP port 3333 and is configured to mine Litecoin. Newer versions of CGMiner do not support CPU/GPU mining and only provide algorithms for the Bitcoin cryptocurrency. CGMiner can be easily spotted when analyzed in a sandbox environment. The same is true of the Stratum protocol, which can be used as an alert for network activity.

Cryptocurrency miners have been seen in phishing campaigns before, but rarely are they ever used as a second stage infection from an advanced keylogger. This version of CGMiner was deliberately selected for the CPU/GPU mining feature for Litecoin mining. The infection chain showed places where the email and network security stack should have acted. Setting these alerts, tuning the technology, and educating end users is the best way to avoid these phishing campaigns.

Table 1: Indicators of Compromise

Description Indicator
Hawkeye Keylogger Within Attachment Redacted_RESUME_Sep.exe a381ba89d294f120dd76a684bda24276
Email Attachment Redacted_RESUME_Sep.zip
3866532d537df4795d88f97c38c1c25a
CGMiner functionupdate.exe
4a7d5d67ce8e6a890f4a272be3f782bd
Payload URL hxxp://165[.]22[.]50[.]215/functionupdate[.]exe
Litecoin Mining Connection stratum+tcp://us[.]litecoinpool[.]org:3333

 

 

HOW COFENSE CAN HELP

Cofense PhishMeTM offers simulation templates to educate users on phishing tactics similar to those described in today’s blog.

  • Job Application – Office Macro / Hermes Ransomware
  • Job Inquiry – Cerber (Attachment)
  • Response to Job Posting
  • Resume Attached
  • CV Attached – Petya

Cofense Intelligence TM: ATR ID 32403

Cofense Triage TM: PM_Intel_GCMiner_32403

Every day, the Cofense Phishing Defense CenterTM analyzes phishing emails with malware payloads that bypassed email gateways. 100% of the threats found by the Cofense PDC were identified by the end user. 0% were stopped by technology.

Condition users to be resilient to evolving phishing attacks with Cofense PhishMe TM and remove the blind spot with Cofense Reporter TM.

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

Easily consume phishing-specific threat intelligence to proactively defend your organization against evolving threats with Cofense Intelligence TM.

 

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.

Bundle Up and Build an End-to-End Phishing Defense

By David Mount, Product Marketing

Back in 2008, CofenseTM (then PhishMe®) pioneered the concept of phishing simulation as a tool to reduce organizational risk to phishing threats. Since then, the phishing threat landscape has evolved at a rapid pace, as evidenced in many of the posts on this blog. Back then, traditional approaches to Security Awareness didn’t (and still don’t) demonstrably and measurably improve security posture, especially relating to phishing threats. And, as we’ve mentioned before (and we highlight in this blog), every threat identified by the Cofense Phishing Defense CenterTM has bypassed the technical controls like Secure Email Gateways that were out in place to protect the end user.

It’s Time to Shift Your Focus

If traditional approaches to phishing defense aren’t working, then what can we do?

Like many areas of cybersecurity, we need to shift our focus. We need to stop believing that the optimal approach is to stop all the bad stuff from breaching our defenses. Rather, we have to accept that stuff is going to get through, so we need greater focus on our ability to detect and respond to the threats that are inside our networks, including the phish lurking inside our user inboxes.

Now, I’m not saying that we ignore our defensive controls – absolutely not. However, we must optimize them. We need to understand the threat landscape to be able to effectively defend and ensure that we’re blocking as much known bad as possible. Consumption of phishing-specific threat intelligence enables us to do this and so much more. By understanding the phishing threat landscape, including current campaigns and emerging trends, we can fine tune our controls and refine awareness programs so that they’re focused on the right threats, at the right time.

But no control is 100% effective, and when technology fails and a phishing threat is delivered to the inbox, the only sensor you have in the environment that can alert you to it is the users themselves – but you must enable and empower them to do this. Here, phishing simulation earns its stripes. Rather than using phishing simulation to ‘test’ your users, use it to keep the risks of phishing front and center and condition them to recognize evolving phishing threats. But don’t stop there. Don’t get hung up on click rates on your simulations. Instead focus on reporting rates – a far more valuable indicator of behavioral change and improvement in defensive posture. When you encourage your users to report in simulations, they’re rehearsing the behavior that’s needed in a real attack situation.

When that attack happens (and it is a when, not an if), security teams need to be able to turn the emails reported by users into actionable intelligence – fast. They need to cut through the noise of spam and other non-malicious emails to find the bad stuff quickly. And when bad is found, the clock is ticking. The longer it takes security teams to take decisive action like searching for all users who have received the threat, and removing it from all inboxes, the greater the chance of significant compromise or data breach.

We’ve Got a Bundled Solution for You

Intelligent phishing defense is a fusion of the human with technology, and it shouldn’t be complicated. We’ve made it easier to for organizations to obtain essential phishing defense capabilities through our solution bundles.

Depending upon your specific needs, choose a bundle from the following flavors:

Awareness, Detection, Defense, Defense with Threat Intelligence, and Managed Phishing Defense. For more information, you can check out our solutions bundles here. You can also review pricing and a breakdown of capabilities included in each bundle.

 

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.

Raccoon Stealer Found Rummaging Past Symantec and Microsoft Gateways

By Max Gannon and Alan Rainer, Cofense IntelligenceTM

Threat actors continue to exploit legitimate services to trick users, as seen in the latest campaign using Raccoon Stealer malware, aimed at a financial organization and delivered by a Dropbox-hosted .IMG file. A rather unsophisticated malware, Raccoon Stealer came to light around April 2019, bypassing Symantec Email Security and Microsoft EOP gateways. The malware is sold on underground forums in both Russian and English, features an easy-to-use interface, around-the-clock customer support, and highly active development. Users of the malware can distribute it in any way they deem fit. In this campaign, the actors chose to host the malicious .IMG file on a Dropbox share, which upon execution, drops Raccoon Stealer onto the victim machine.

The email used in this campaign was delivered to the inbox of an employee of a financial institution. Figure 1 shows the email signature and originator address which probably belong to a compromised user. Using the familiar theme of a wire transfer—closely akin to those often seen in Business Email Compromise (BEC) scams—the threat actors look to trick users into opening the Dropbox URL and downloading the malicious file.

Educating users on spotting these types of scams and carefully scrutinizing emails that originate outside the organization are great ways to thwart this threat. Cofense IntelligenceTM Indicators of Compromise (IOCs) provided via our feed and noted in the appendix below can be used to fortify network defense and endpoint protection solutions.

Technical Findings

In the past, CofenseTM has seen Raccoon Stealer delivered by direct attachments and via RTF documents leveraging CVE-2017-8570 that targeted sectors such as utilities. In this most recent campaign, a potentially compromised email account was used to send the email shown in Figure 1, which managed to make its way past Symantec Email Security and Microsoft EOP gateways without the URL being removed or tampered with to the extent that it would prevent victims from clicking on it and downloading the payload.

Figure 1: Email delivering Dropbox URL

Raccoon Stealer is a relatively new malware that first appeared on the market around April 2019. Due to Raccoon Stealer’s ease of use and range of capabilities that allow for quick monetization of infected users, it is becoming increasingly popular. Although not particularly advanced or subtle with its network activity and processes, the malware can quickly gather and exfiltrate data as well as download additional payloads.

Initial contact with the command and control center (C2) is made when the malware does an HTTP POST that includes the “bot ID” and “configuration ID”. The C2 location responds with a JSON object explicitly including C2 data and payload locations for libraries and additional files, as shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2: Configuration Data From C2

The payload URLs currently deliver a set of DLLs, as specified by the “attachment url” and “libraries” parameters, but future development could easily allow threat actors to use Racoon Stealer as a loader for other malware to generate additional income.

The use of several distinct delivery methods in a relatively short time, including via the Fallout Exploit Kit, may indicate increased usage by numerous threat actors as predicted in prior Cofense research. Given the variety of delivery options, Racoon Stealer could be a problem for organizations that focus too much on one infection vector.

Table 1: Indicators of Compromise

Description

Indicator

Dropbox URL

hXXp://www[.]dropbox[.]com/s/g6pz8dm4051rs0o/SCAN%20DOC[.]IMG?dl=1

Raccoon Stealer C2 Locations

34[.]89[.]185[.]248

hXXp://34[.]89[.]185[.]248/file_handler/file[.]php hXXp://34[.]89[.]185[.]248/gate/libs[.]zip hXXp://34[.]89[.]185[.]248/gate/log[.]php hXXp://34[.]89[.]185[.]248/gate/sqlite3[.]dll

Raccoon Stealer Hashes

SCAN DOC.exe             f7bcb18e5814db9fd51d0ab05f2d7ee9

SCAN DOC.IMG            0c8158e2a4267eea51e12b6890e68da8

HOW COFENSE CAN HELP

Cofense PhishMeTM Offers a simulation template, “Dropbox Wire Transfer – Raccoon Stealer,” to educate users on the phishing tactic described in today’s blog.

Cofense IntelligenceTM: ATR IDs 32407, 31881, 31977

Cofense TriageTM: PM_Intel_Raccoon_31881, PM_Intel_Raccoon_31977

100% of malware-bearing phishing threats analyzed by the Cofense Phishing Defense CenterTM were reported by end users. 0% were stopped by technology. 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. Reduce exposure time by rapidly quarantining threats with Cofense VisionTM.

Easily consume phishing-specific threat intelligence to proactively defend your organization against evolving threats with Cofense Intelligence 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 Bogus Payment HTML File to Scoot Past Proofpoint Gateway

By Tej Tulachan

The Cofense Phishing Defense CenterTM (PDC) has prevented a phishing attack that attempts to steal users’ Office365 credentials by luring them with a fake payment order attachment. Hiding a malicious re-direct within a html file, threat actors bypassed the Proofpoint secure email gateway to try and steal users’ credentials.

Here’s how it works:

At first glance, the email appears to be a genuine communication originating from the accounts team of a relatively well-known company. The message body informs the recipient there is a payment order that requires processing. The message simply says, “Please find attached copies of our P.O#9000, dated 05/11/2019,” with the attachment to the email as a html file labelled “P.O#9000.” The email doesn’t specifically ask the user to open the attachment, however it does instruct the user to acknowledge receipt of the email. Any vigilant accountant would be inclined to check the contents of the bill as part of their workflow or processing procedures.

Malicious Attachment

If we take a deeper look into the source code of the html file, we can see that it only contains three lines of html code. The code takes advantage of the http-equiv attribute, used to trigger a page refresh of the user’s web browser and then load new content, which in this case is a URL to a phishing page. This happens almost instantly when the user opens the attachment.

Fig 2: Malicious URL

Phishing Page

Once the attachment is opened the user is redirected to the phishing page as seen below in fig.3. The malicious page attempts to disguise itself as a genuine Microsoft Online Excel document, which most users would expect to see if they are editing documents on SharePoint. In the background we can see a blurred-out Excel spreadsheet with an authentication box obscuring the file contents. The user’s email address is auto populated in the dialog box, which asks the user to authenticate with his or her password.

Fig 3: Phishing Page

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.

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 CofenseTM. 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.

Quit Faking It—Train Your Users to Stop Real Phish

By Tonia Dudley

CofenseTM was the pioneer of phishing simulation as a training method to defend against phishing incidents. We’ve evolved our products and methodology as we understand that real phish are the real problem. What has also evolved over time is the depth of our scenario templates—when threat actors shift to use a new tactic to make their way past the secure email gateway (SEG), Cofense is able to quickly offer a scenario based on that tactic.

When we say, “Real phish are the real problem” we mean organizations should set their phishing defense strategy from end to end. This starts with how we provide simulation training, teaching users how to identify phish and react, and then how Security Operations teams mitigate the potential incident. Training against real phish, the ones your organization actually faces, is essential.

Let’s look at data to tell the story. It comes from our recently published Annual Phishing Report 2019. Looking at the data in Figure 1, which specifically related to “real phish,” we can see organizations that use templates based on real phishing emails (active threats) have far better results. Not only is the report rate higher, but we see the susceptibility rate also lower, ultimately affecting the overall resiliency rate.

Figure 1

When an organization has been running their program for a few years, they begin to wonder how much is enough and whether they should keep sending scenarios. We point to the phishing emails reported by our customers in our Cofense Phishing Defense CenterTM (PDC). More than 90% of emails reported came from environments that use a SEG. While the SEG is absolutely necessary to protect an organization, like any other defense it’s not infallible against threat actors who continually adjust their tactics to make their way into the inbox. This is why it’s vital to align your training scenarios to what gets past your SEG.

Taking another view, we see what happens with two common templates available for simulation campaigns. The first one is made to look similar to a social media message users might receive if they associate their work email with this site. You can see the click rate is fairly low. Are the threat actors really spending that much time making a phishing email look this fancy?

The second template looks very simplistic and our security awareness operator is less likely to select this template. It appears too basic, nobody would actually click the message, right? Yet, there is a much higher click rate on this template that mimics a real phishing message.

So are you preparing your organization to detect and report real phishing emails? Are you preparing them to defend against the actual messages that make it past your SEG? Our data shows that keeping it real makes a real difference.

View our report to learn other ways to double your resiliency to phishing.

 

HOW ELSE COFENSE CAN HELP

Most 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. Reduce exposure time by rapidly quarantining threats with Cofense VisionTM.

Easily consume phishing-specific threat intelligence to proactively defend your organization against evolving threats with Cofense IntelligenceTM.

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.

Cofense Labs Has Identified a Sextortion Botnet in the Wild – and it’s Growing

By Tonia Dudley, Cofense Security Solutions

Every day, CofenseTM threat analysts and researchers monitor phishing and cyber security threats in the wild. In June of 2019, our researchers uncovered a sextortion botnet that contained a list of 200 million email addresses. Read the original announcement here.

That database has since grown to over 330 million email addresses.

We have also identified an increase in the number of unique web domains being targeted by the botnet. When we released our original findings, the database had close to 6 million unique domains. That total has grown to 7.4 million unique domains.

To be clear, this threat is not a breach of any Cofense data or systems. Rather, it’s a botnet that our research team discovered out in the wild. The botnet uses email addresses and credentials which we believe were acquired via a series of breaches over the past decade. Visit our info center for additional resources.

Fig. Sample containing text as images to deceive automated analysis

Cofense LabsTM has created a sextortion lookup tool to check impacted accounts and domains as well as a resource center with helpful tips on how to protect your organization and your personal accounts from falling victim to these types of threats as well as the steps you can take should you receive a sextortion scam.

Cofense Labs will continue to monitor the botnet and share updates on our Twitter handles @Cofense and @CofenseLabs.

HOW COFENSE SOLUTIONS CAN HELP

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 PhishMeTM 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 CloudSeekerTM.

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.

New Credential Phish Targets Employees with Salary Increase Scam

By Milo Salvia, Cofense Phishing Defense CenterTM

The Cofense Phishing Defense Center (PDC) has observed a new phishing campaign that aims to harvest Office365 (O365) credentials by preying on employees who are expecting salary increases.

The threat actors use a basic spoofing technique to trick employees into thinking that their company’s HR department has shared a salary increase spread sheet. Here’s how it works:

Email Body

Figure 1: Email Body

The threat actor attempts to make the email appear to come from the target company by manipulating the “from” field in the headers. In particular, the threat actor changes the part of the from field that dictates the “nickname” displayed in the mail client to make it appear as if it originated within the company.

The email body is simple: recipients see the company name in bold at the top of the page. Greeted by only their first names, they are informed that “As already announced, The Years Wage increase will start in November 2019 and will be paid out for the first time in December, with recalculation as of November.” Recipients are then presented with what appears to be a hosted Excel document called “salary-increase-sheet-November-2019.xls.”

It is not uncommon, of course, for companies to increase salaries throughout the year. As a result, it wouldn’t be uncommon for an email like this to appear in an employee’s mailbox. Human curiosity compels users to click the embedded link.

The idea is to make recipients believe they are being linked to a document hosted on SharePoint. However, they are being linked to an external website hosted on hxxps://salary365[.]web[.]app/#/auth-pass-form/. One can assume from the context of this malicious URL that it was specifically chosen and hosted for this phishing attempt.

Figure 2: Phishing Pages

Once users click on the link, they are presented with a common imitation of the Microsoft Office365 login page. The recipient email address is appended to the end of the URL that automatically populates the email box within the form, leaving just the password field blank to be submitted by the recipient. This adds a sense of legitimacy to the campaign, allowing the recipient to believe this comes from their own company.

HOW COFENSE CAN HELP

Cofense Resources

Cofense PhishMeTM offers a simulation template, “Salary Increase,” to educate users on the phishing tactic described in today’s blog.

Cofense IntelligenceTM: ATR ID 31510

Cofense TriageTM: YARA rule PM_Intel_CredPhish_31510

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.

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 CofenseTM. 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.

Are URL Scanning Services Accurate for Phishing Analysis?

By Chris Hall, Professional Services

There are plenty of websites offering URL scanning for malicious links. Their tools are a quick and easy way to analyze a URL without visiting the site in a sandboxed environment. Widely used, these tools are accurate to a point.

But in today’s phishing landscape, where attacks are increasingly sophisticated, such tools are becoming less and less reliable. We in the Cofense Phishing Defense CenterTM (PDC) believe they are ineffective against more advanced phishing websites.

Phishing Sites Are Using Redirect Methods to Avoid Detection

Let start with this example:

An attacker can easily set up a new domain and host a phishing site with a legit SSL certificate from most established certificate authorities for free. The attacker then can configure the server or webpage to redirect all connections that are not from the organization’s IP to an external safe site such as google.com.

If a security analyst then submits the URL to a third-party lookup tool, for example VirusTotal, the tool will only detect the site google.com and not the actual phishing site. At this point, the analyst can submit the URL to another URL scanning tool, but the results will all come back the same.

In the Cofense PDC, we are seeing an increase of phishing sites that are using redirect methods to avoid detection from URL scanners and unaware security analysts.

Here is another example with browser detection phishing websites:

This phishing link below redirected users depending on which browser they used.  If users use Firefox as their default browser, they will get the actual payload, while a Chrome default browser will get a redirect to MSN.

Figure 1: Original Phishing Email

When recipients click the ‘Open Notification’ link in the email message above, they are directed to the website below.

URL: hxxp://web-mobile-mail.inboxinboxqjua[.]host/midspaces/pseudo-canadian.html?minor=nailer-[recipient’s Email Address]

When someone clicks the URL, the experience can vary depending on the default browser, Firefox vs. Chrome.

The real phish site using Firefox:

Figure 2: Actual Phishing Site

Using Chrome:

Figure 3: Redirected Site

Regardless of the user’s geolocation, the URL redirect will go to the UK page. URL: https://www.msn.com/en-gb/news/uknews

Now let’s put the same URL in a popular URL scanner and see the results:

Figure 4: Virus Total Results of the Reported URL

The search results show that one of the vendors has detected the phishing site as malware. However, this is not the case.  Let’s look at the Details tab.

Figure 5: VirusTotal Details of the Reported URL

In the results it states that the final URL is to msn.com. We still do not know what the actual phishing site looks like, what the site is doing, or even if the phishing site is active at all.

There’s a Better Way to Check for Malicious Links

Organizations must ask if these URL scanners are providing enough information to analysts so they can complete their investigations.  Is the scanner testing the suspicious link with multiple user agents or querying the site with different source IP addresses?  While the URL scanning services are useful, they lack the basic dynamic analysis that most analysts will perform on a malicious website.

What if I told you that it is quick, easy, and more accurate by far to analyze URL based phishing attacks manually, using various tools such as User-agent switcher or with a VPN and proxy servers while in a dedicated virtual machine? Remember that if a phishing email bypassed those same scanners to reach your users’ inboxes, it’s an undiscovered phishing attack and will require human analysis.

To better equip your analysts, we came up with a list that your security team can use to detect these types of attacks.

  1. Create an isolated proxy server that can reach out to the phishing site without restrictions.

– If your company has locations in different countries, use additional proxy servers in those countries or use proxy services like Tor or a third-party VPN service.

– Acquiring a VPN service with multiple locations is another option.

– Create a “dirty” network to browse malicious sites that can also be used to analyze malware samples.

 

  1. Create a VM for URL analysis.

– This VM should be isolated from the organization’s network.

– VMs such as Remnux will have tools built-in to assist in URL and file analysis.

 

  1. Use Firefox for visiting the site

– Based on the vast amounts of customization, Firefox may be the best browser suited to URL analysis

– Add-ons such as User-agent switcher, FoxyProxy, and HTTP Header Live are essential.

– You can also use the browser’s developer tools to track requests, detect redirects, and alter elements on the page.

URL scanning services are useful to a point. These tools will alert you to some suspicious URLs, but often lack the details need for escalations and blocking the threat. More often than not, the tools will be a point of failure for your organization’s security due to the high amount of risk they introduce. So take a couple of minutes to look at that suspicious URL in a safe environment and see what it really does. It may save you lots of money and time cleaning up an incident.

 

HOW COFENSE SOLUTIONS CAN HELP

Easily consume phishing-specific threat intelligence to proactively defend your organization against evolving threats with Cofense IntelligenceTM

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. Reduce exposure time by rapidly quarantining threats with Cofense VisionTM.

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.

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

By Milo Salvia, CofenseTM Phishing Defense CenterTM

This blog has been updated since its first appearance on October 17, 2019 to include information related to the threat origin and bypassed email gateways.

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.

Figure 1: Email Headers

The phishing email originates from a compromised press email account with privileged access to MailChimp. The threat actor used the MailChimp app to launch a “marketing campaign” comprised of phishing emails. Because the emails came from a legitimate marketing platform, they passed basic email security checks like DKIM and SPF. As we can see from the headers in figure 1, the email passed both the DKIM authentication check and SPF.

Figure 2: URL

The threat actor was able to obfuscate the URLs contained in the email by using MailChimp’s redirect services. This method hides the true destination and replaces it with a list manage URL. The threat actor also gains the ability to track whether a link has been clicked by a recipient.

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.

The email body contains a button with an embedded hyperlink: “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 3: Email Body

Figure 4: 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 5: Phishing Pages

HOW COFENSE CAN HELP

Cofense Resources

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.

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.