Staff Members’ Inbox Positive for Coronavirus Themed Phish

By Ashley Tran, Cofense Phishing Defense Center

From prime ministers, members of congress to celebrities and staff of nursing homes — many have been affected by COVID-19. And the worst part? Threat actors know this and are heavily weaponizing this pandemic, exploiting the fears and concerns of users everywhere. The Cofense Phishing Defense Center (PDC) has observed a new phishing campaign found in environments protected by Microsoft and Symantec that not only impersonates a company’s management but also suggests that a fellow employee has tested positive for the disease, urging users to read an enclosed malicious attachment posed as “guidelines” or “next steps.”

As we have seen before and noted in previous Cofense blogs and media stories, Coronavirus themed phishing attacks are running rampant and attacking users across all industries. Although the attacks vary in method, the main takeaway is the same: all users must exercise the utmost caution and restraint in the face of emotionally jarring emails.

Figures 1-3: Email Bodies

The PDC has found multiple instances of this attack and a trend among them all. As demonstrated in Figures 1-3, the email subject lines are relatively similar: “Staff Member Confirmed COVID 19 Positive ID,” followed by a random string of numbers and that day’s date. The emotion these subject lines evoke in users are also the same: fear and curiosity. Emails appearing to be a “Team Update on COVID 19” and bearing their company’s name can convince end users to believe the email was sent internally. However, the true senders are revealed via the return paths:

Maga[@]tus[.]tusdns[.]com and ungrez[@]ssd7[@]linuxpl[.]com

Admittedly these emails would appear suspicious to most, but the threat actor is relying on the emotional subject line to overcome logic and push users to read just the first line of the sender information and nothing more.

The bodies of the emails have more variety and are worded differently, but the same main point: a fellow employee has the virus, so read this guideline we’ve attached to get more details or at least learn the “next steps” to take. To top it off the email is signed by “Management.”

The true part of this attack lies within the HTML file found in the email.

Figure 4 shows that the attachment has been detected as malicious by a multitude of services, however users won’t see this when they read the email.

Figure 4: VirusTotal Analysis

Figure 5: Phishing Page

Upon opening the attachment users are presented with a generic Microsoft login page, a frequently targeted brand. The difference with this phish, however, is the threat actor has superimposed the login box over a blurred document that may appear to users as the previously mentioned “guidelines” lending an even greater sense of legitimacy.

The email of the recipient is automatically appended to the username field via code in the HTML. In fact, the threat actor has painstakingly put the base64 for each of the recipient’s email addresses, which is then translated to a readable format when interacting with the phish. This snippet of code can be observed in Figure 6.

Figure 6: Email Bodies

Once a user navigates to the next page and inputs their password, the information is then sent to the compromised site:

hxxp://tokai-lm[.]jp/style/89887cc/5789n[.]php?98709087-87634423

This exchange of information can be viewed by opening developer tools on any browser and navigating to the networking tab as shown in Figure 7.

Figure 7: Phishing Page

The code found within the HTML file that hosts the phishing content employs typical malicious tactics. For example, as seen in Figure 8, the code does not look like a typical HTML code. This is because the threat actor has attempted to obfuscate their code, to make analysis as well as detection harder. However, this is nothing new for phishing campaigns that choose to utilize a HTML file. De-obfuscating the code and revealing some its methods is not difficult.

Figure 8: Obfuscated Code

To begin, the code is notably broken into different parts. Each of these parts may stand out to anyone with an eye for encoding as being Hex text and base64. These both can easily be decoded back into their original form, the true HTML code, by utilizing tools such as RapidTables and Base64 Decode.

Figure 9: De-obfuscated Code

After de-obfuscating the code, the true HTML is seen in Figure 9, revealing the threat actor has compromised, or at the very least utilized, a compromised site to host the style sheet for their phish:

hxxp://ibuykenya[.]com/vendor/doctrine/styles[.]css

Figure 10: Open Directory with Phish Resource Files

The following is the directory which the threat actor has used to store the style sheet for the phish, along with what appears to be two additional files, based on their last modified dates.

Within the code, the image seen in the background of the document can also be recovered. The image is hosted on ImgBB, yet another relatively benign image hosting site to which threat actors flock to host images for their attacks.

hxxps://i[.]ibb[.]co/dMcjCWC/image[.]png

Figure 11: Document Preview from Phish

Upon closer observation, the title of the document can be obtained. With a quick search, the image the threat actor has used to further legitimize this login page in the eyes of the user can be linked back to the legitimate document found in Figure 12.

Figure 12: Legitimate Document Utilized by Threat Actor

All these steps – the social engineering, the obfuscated code, use of official COVID health advisories and more-are designed to ensure users don’t detect the phishing attack is in progress. This phish also demonstrates the attacker’s need to employ layered techniques designed to avoid detection by email gateways, as well as the incident responder’s need for the right investigative tools to properly analyze, detect and quarantine this threat.

Network IOC  IP
hxxp://tokai-lm[.]jp/style/89887cc/5789n[.]php?98709087-87634423 150[.]60[.]156[.]116

 

How Cofense Can Help

Visit Cofense’s Coronavirus Phishing Infocenter to stay up to date as threats evolve. Our site is updated with screenshots and YARA rules as we continue to track campaigns. (edited) 

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.
The Cofense® and PhishMe® names and logos, as well as any other Cofense product or service names or logos displayed on this blog are registered trademarks or trademarks of Cofense Inc.

Phishes Found in Proofpoint-Protected Environments – Week Ending May 3, 2020

100% of the phish seen by the Cofense Phishing Defense Center (PDC) have been found in environments protected by Secure Email Gateways (SEGs), were reported by humans, and automatically quarantined by Cofense Triage and Cofense Vision.  

Cofense solutions enable organizations to identify, analyze, and quarantine email threats in minutes.   

The following are examples of phishing emails seen by the PDC in environments protected by Proofpoint, which were detected by humans, analyzed with Triage, and quarantined by Vision.  

TYPE: Credential Theft 

DESCRIPTION: Phishing campaign spoofs the South African Revenue Service delivering embedded links to an illegitimate banking site established to steal credentials. 

TYPE: Credential Theft 

DESCRIPTION: Coronavirus-themed phishing campaign related to N95 masks delivering embedded links leading to a website established to steal credentials.

TYPE: Credential Theft 

DESCRIPTION: Quote Request-themed phishing campaign redirecting the victim to a Microsoft OneDrive page that led to a website established to steal credentials.

TYPE: Credential Theft 

DESCRIPTION: Purchase Order-themed phishing campaign redirecting the victim to a Dropbox page that led to a website established to steal credentials.

TYPE: Credential Theft 

DESCRIPTION: Invoice-themed phishing campaign delivering embedded links that lead to a website established to steal Outlook login credentials.

TYPE: Credential Theft 

DESCRIPTION: Document-themed phishing campaign delivering an embedded link to a Microsoft SharePoint-hosted OneNote document that leads to a website established to steal Office365 credentials.

TYPE: Malware – Banload

DESCRIPTION: Finance-themed phishing campaign delivering an embedded link to a Microsoft OneDrive-hosted .zip archive containing Banload malware.

TYPE: Credential Theft 

DESCRIPTION: Finance-themed phishing campaign delivering a .htm file crafted to look like an online document and prompting for email credentials to confirm the victim is not a robot.

TYPE: Malware – QakBot

DESCRIPTION: Response-themed phishing campaign delivering embedded links to VBS scripts that download the QakBot banking trojan.

TYPE: Credential Theft 

DESCRIPTION: Information-themed phishing campaign delivering embedded links to Google-hosted pages leading the victim to a page established to steal Office365 credentials.

TYPE: Malware – NanoCore

DESCRIPTION: Document-themed phishing campaign delivering embedded links to Microsoft OneDrive-hosted pages hosting GuLoader, which downloads the NanoCore Remote Access Trojan from Google Drive.

TYPE: Credential Theft 

DESCRIPTION: Document-themed phishing campaign spoofing a construction design and build organization delivering embedded Microsoft OneNote links that lead to a website crafted to steal email credentials.

Malicious emails continue to reach user inboxes, increasing the risk of account compromise, data breach, and ransomware attack.

We typically find 1 out of 7 employee-reported emails to be malicious.

Recommendations

Cofense recommends that organizations train their personnel to identify and report these suspicious emails. Cofense PhishMe customers should use SEG Miss templates to raise awareness of these attacks. Organizations should also invest in Cofense Triage and Cofense Vision to quickly analyze and quarantine the phishing attacks that evade Secure Email Gateways.

Targeted Attack Uses Fake EE Email to Deceive Users

By Kian Mahdavi and Tej Tulachan, Cofense Phishing Defense Center

The Cofense Phishing Defense Center (PDC) has discovered a spear-phishing campaign designed to defraud corporate executives’ payment details by spoofing EE, a well-known UK-based telecommunications and internet service provider.  These spear phishing messages were reported to the Cofense PDC by end users whose email environments are protected by Microsoft 365 EOP and Symantec. This new, targeted campaign shows that while exploiting well-known telecommunications brands is nothing new, such phishing emails continue to go undetected by popular email gateways designed to protect end users, leading to possible theft of prized corporate credentials

Figure 1: Email Body

Threat actors sent a targeted email to a few executives, including one at a leading financial firm, with the subject line reading ‘View Bill – Error’ from a purchased top-level domain (moniquemoll[.]nl). These details in and of themselves may raise red flags to eagle-eyed recipients, as EE’s trademarked name isn’t included in any part of the full email address.

The malicious URL inserted within the text is:

hXXps://fly-guyz[.]com/ee[.]co[.]uk[.]edcnymdsqmnydqnyo

The vague email indicates ‘we’re working to get this fixed’. At no point does the email give an indication what this error is. As we read on, the second hyperlink states ‘view billing to make sure your account details are correct’ to entice the recipient to click the phishing link.

The threat actor fails to include the correct registered office address, evident towards the bottom of the email. Once the threat actor’s social engineering does the trick and the user clicks one of the links, they are redirected to a phishing page.

Noted in Figure 2 below is the trusted HTTPS protocol (also displayed as the green padlock) within the URL, giving false hope to the user that network traffic is being encrypted, ensuring all data transferred between the browser and website is secure and not being eavesdropped on.

However, the threat actor even went to the trouble of obtaining SSL certificates for the domain to further gain end users’ trust. In fact, it has become much easier for site owners, including fraudsters, to obtain these certificates.

Figures 2 and 3: First and second phishing pages

The peculiar aspect is the message in which the threat actor included: ‘You will not be charged’ to reassure recipients and trick them into providing their payment information.  The user is then automatically redirected to the legitimate EE website, as displayed below in Figure 4, to avoid suspicion. This is a common tactic to make the user believe the session timed out or their password was mistyped.

Figure 4: Legitimate Redirect Login Page

At the time of writing, the phishing page is still live and active. To further validate the analysis of the investigation, we decided to input some fake credentials, allowing us to verify the transmitted TCP requests and redirects to the fraudster’s domain at hXXps://kbimperial[.]com/data[.]php.

Figure 5: TCP Retransmission Packets

Indicators of Compromise:

Network IOC IP
hXXps://fly-guyz[.]com/ee[.]co[.]uk[.]edcnymdsqmnydqnyo/
hXXps://kbimperial[.]com/ee[.]co[.]uk[.]edcnymdsqmnydqnyo/logins
hXXps://kbimperial[.]com/data[.]php?
104[.]31[.]82[.]7
104[.]31[.]83[.]7
35[.]208[.]71[.]62

 

Discover how cybersecurity awareness training can help your organization defend against changing phishing threats.

 

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.
The Cofense® and PhishMe® names and logos, as well as any other Cofense product or service names or logos displayed on this blog are registered trademarks or trademarks of Cofense Inc.

This Phish Uses Skype to Target Surging Remote Workers

By Harsh Patel

The Cofense Phishing Defense Center (PDC) recently unearthed a new phishing campaign spoofing Skype, the popular video calling platform that has seen a recent spike in use amid the need to keep employees connected as they work remotely. This phishing attack was found in email environments protected by Proofpoint and Microsoft 365 EOP, landing in end-users’ inboxes.

With so many people working from home, remote work software like Skype, Slack, Zoom, and WebEx are starting to become popular themes of phishing lures. We recently uncovered an interesting Skype phishing email that an end user reported to the PDC.

Figures 1 and 2: Email Body

For this attack, the threat actor created an email that looks eerily similar to a legitimate pending notification coming from Skype. The threat actor tries to spoof a convincing Skype phone number and email address in the form of 67519-81987[@]skype.[REDACTED EMAIL]. While the sender address may appear legitimate at first glance, the real sender can be found in the return-path displayed as “sent from,” which also happens to be an external compromised account. Although there are many ways to exploit a compromised account, for this phishing campaign the threat actor chose to use it to send out even more phishing campaigns masquerading as a trusted colleague or friend.

It is not uncommon to receive emails about pending notifications for various services. The threat actor anticipates users will recognize this as just that, so they take action to view the notifications. Curiosity and the sense of urgency entice many users to click the “Review” button without recognizing the obvious signs of a phishing attack.

Upon clicking ‘Review’ users will be redirected via an app.link:

hxxps://jhqvy[.]app[.]link/VAMhgP3Mi5

Finally, to the end phishing page:

hxxps://skype-online0345[.]web[.]app

The threat actor has chosen to utilize a .app top-level domain to host their attack. This TLD is backed by Google to help app developers securely share their apps. A benefit of this top-level domain is that it requires HTTPS to connect to it, adding security on both the user’s and developer’s end, which is great…but not in this case. The inclusion of HTTPS means the addition of a lock to the address bar, which most users have been trained to trust. Because this phishing site is being hosted via Google’s .app TLD it displays this trusted icon.

Figure 3: Phishing Page

Clicking the link in the email, the user is shown an impersonation of the Skype login page. If a well-trained user inspects the URL, they will see that the URL contains the word Skype (hxxps://skype-online0345[.]web[.]app). To add even further sense of authenticity, the threat actor adds the recipient’s company logo to the login box as well as a disclaimer at the bottom warning this page is for “authorized use” of that company’s users only. The username is auto-filled due to the URL containing the base64 of the target email address, thus adding simplicity to the phishing page and leaving little room for doubt. The only thing left for the user to do is to enter his or her password, which then falls into the hands of the threat actor.

 

Network IOCs
hxxps://jhqvy[.]app[.]link/VAMhgP3Mi5
hxxps://skype-online0345[.]web[.]app

Discover how cybersecurity awareness training can help your organization defend against changing phishing threats.

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.
The Cofense® and PhishMe® names and logos, as well as any other Cofense product or service names or logos displayed on this blog are registered trademarks or trademarks of Cofense Inc.

Threat Actors Masquerade as HR Departments to Steal Credentials through Fake Remote Work Enrollment Forms

By: Kian Mahdavi, Cofense Phishing Defense Center

With the escalation of COVID-19, organizations are rapidly adjusting as they move their workforce to work from home; it’s no surprise that threat actors have followed suit. Over the past few weeks, the Cofense Phishing Defense Center (PDC) has observed a notable uptick in phishing campaigns that exploit the widely used Microsoft Sway application to steal organizational credentials and to host phishing websites. Sway is a free application from Microsoft that allows employees to generate documents such as newsletters and presentations and is commonly used by professionals to conduct their regular day to day work tasks.

In a new campaign, threat actors send emails with subject lines such as ‘Employee Enrollment Required’ and ‘Remote Work Access.’

Figure 1: Email body

The sender in Figure 1 claims to come from ‘Human Resources.’ Closer inspection, however, reveals the actual sender’s address – a purchased domain address ‘chuckanderson.com’ with no association to the HR team or the organization’s official mailing address.  The attack includes carefully thought out trigger words, such as ‘expected’ and ‘selection/approval,’ language that often trips up employees who are accustomed to receiving occasional emails from their local HR team, especially during this pandemic. Should users hover over the link within the email, however, they would see ‘mimecast.com’ along with ‘office.com,’ potentially and mistakenly deeming these URL(s) as non-suspicious.

By using trusted sources such as Sway to deliver malware or steal corporate credentials, such campaigns often evade Secure Email Gateways (SEGs) thanks to the trusted domains, SSL certificates and URL(s) used within the email headers.

Figure 2: Cofense PDC Triage flagging the known malicious URL

Numerous employees across a variety of departments within the same company received and reported this email to the Cofense PDC, with each email consistently redirecting users to similar Sway URLs.  These URLs were already known by our Cofense Triage solution and were identified as malicious, providing valuable context for our PDC analysts when they commenced their investigation.

As previously discussed, as legitimate domains and URLs were used, these campaigns remained undetected for longer periods of time, likely leading to a higher number of compromised account credentials. On the other hand, malicious content hosted on purpose-built phishing sites usually gets flagged much quicker, taken down earlier, and therefore leading to a much shorter ‘time to live’ period. In short, this attack was easy to execute, required minimal skill, and remained undetected by security technologies.

Figure 3: Virus Total URL Analysis  

Upon conducting a web search using reliable threat intelligence feeds, as shown above in Figure 3, the authenticity of URLs can be verified against trusted security vendors that have recently detected the attack, flagging them as ‘malicious/phishing’. Displayed in the top right-hand side of Figure 3 is the timestamp revealing the latest known update from a security vendor.

Figure 4: First phase of phishing page

Awaiting the user is the bait on a generic looking page, a ‘BEGIN ENROLLMENT’ button and once clicked, redirects to a document hosted on SharePoint as seen below in Figure 5.

Figure 5: Second phase of phishing page

Once employees enter their credentials and hit the ‘Submit’ button, their log-in information is sent to the threat actor – the end user is none the wiser that they have been successfully phished.

As employees have rapidly shifted to remote working, threat actors have started to look at ways they capitalize on the COVID-19 pandemic to spoof new corporate policies and legitimate collaboration tools to harvest valuable corporate credentials, a trend we anticipate will only continue to gain steam in the foreseeable future.

Indicators of Compromise:

First Hosted URL IP Address
hXXps://sway[.]office[.]com/5CgSZtOqeHrKSKYS?ref=Link 52[.]109[.]12[.]51

 

Second Hosted URL IP Address
hXXps://netorgft6234871my[.]sharepoint[.]com/:x:/r/personal/enable_payservicecenter_com/_layouts/15/WopiFrame[.]aspx 13[.]107[.]136[.]9

 

How Cofense Can Help

Visit Cofense’s Remote Work Phishing Infocenter to stay up to date as threats evolve. Our site is updated with screenshots as we continue to track campaigns.

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.
The Cofense® and PhishMe® names and logos, as well as any other Cofense product or service names or logos displayed on this blog are registered trademarks or trademarks of Cofense Inc.

New Phishing Campaign Spoofs WebEx to Target Remote Workers

By Ashley Tran, Cofense Phishing Defense Center

The Cofense Phishing Defense Center  (PDC) has observed a new phishing campaign that aims to harvest Cisco WebEx credentials via a security warning for the application, which Cisco’s own Secure Email Gateway fails to catch. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of people are working from home using a multitude of online platforms and software. Attackers, of course, know this and are exploiting trusted brands like WebEx to deliver malicious emails to users.

Targeting users of teleconferencing brands is nothing new. But with most organizations adhering to guidelines that non-essential workers stay home, the rapid influx of remote workers is prime picking for attackers trying to spoof brands like WebEx. We anticipate there will continue be an increase in remote work phishing in the months to come.

Here’s how this campaign works:

Figure 1: Email Body

For this attack, the threat actor sends an email with varying subject lines such as “Critical Update” or “Alert!” from the spoofed address “meetings[@]webex[.]com”. With the subject and mail content combined, this may gauge users’ curiosity enough to entice them click in order to take the requested action.

The email then explains there is a vulnerability the user must patch or risk allowing an unauthenticated user to install a “Docker container with high privileges on the system.” In this scenario, the threat actor has spoofed a legitimate business service and explained a problem with their software, prompting even non-technical readers to read further. The threat actor even links to a legitimate write-up for the vulnerability, found at the URL embedded into the text ‘CVE-2016-9223:

hxxps://cve[.]mitre[.]org/cgi-bin/cvename.cgi?name=CVE-2016-9223

The linked article uses the same words as the email, lending further credibility.

The only thing for a responsible user to do next is follow the instructions in the email and update their Desktop App, right?

Even if more cautious users hover over the ‘Join’ button before clicking, they could still very well believe it’s legitimate. The URL embedded behind it is:

hxxps://globalpagee-prod-webex[.]com/signin

While the legitimate Cisco WebEx URL is:

hxxps://globalpage-prod[.]webex[.]com/signin

At a first glance, both URLs look eerily similar. A closer look, however, reveals an extra ‘e’ is added to ‘globalpage.’ Likewise, instead of ‘prod.webex’, the malicious link is ‘prod-webex’.

To carry out this attack, the threat actor registered a fraudulent domain through Public Domain Registry just days before sending out the credential phishing email.

The attacker has even gone as far as obtaining a SSL certificate for their fraudulent domain to gain further trust from end users. While the official Cisco certificate is verified by HydrantID, the attacker’s certificate is through Sectigo Limited. Regardless of who verified the attacker’s certificate, the result is the same – a lock to the left of its URL that renders the email legitimate the eyes of many users.

Figure 2:  Initial Phishing Page

The phishing page to which users are redirected is identical to the legitimate Cisco WebEx login page; visually there is no difference. Behavior-wise, there is a deviation between the real site and the fraudulent page. When email addresses are typed into the real Cisco page, the entries are checked to verify if there are associated accounts. With this phishing page, however, any email formatted entry takes the recipient to the next page where they then requested to enter their password.

Figure 3: Secondary Phishing Page

Once credentials are provided, users are redirected to the official Cisco website to download WebEx, which may be enough to convince most users it is a legitimate login process to update their WebEx app.

Figure 4: Legitimate Redirect Page – Official Cisco WebEx Download Page

At the time of writing, this fraudulent domain is still live and active. In fact, when navigating to the main domain, there is an open directory showing files the threat actor has utilized with this attack.

Figure 5: Open Directory

Files of interest include ‘sign-in%3fsurl=https%[…]’ and ‘out.php’.

The file ‘sign-in%3fsurl=https%[…]’ is the phishing page itself. When users click from this directory, they are redirected to the fraudulent WebEx login (Figure 3).

Figure 6: ‘out.php’ File

The ‘out.php’ file, seen in Figure 6, is the mailer the threat actor appears to have used to send this attack to users’ inboxes. The threat actor can manually input any subject they want – in this case, they chose “Critical Update!!”, adding the HTML for the email to the box below and designating an email list to which they wish to mass send this campaign.

With many organizations quickly adopting remote working policies, threat actors are poised to continue to spoof brands that facilitate virtual collaboration and communication, such as teleconferencing tools and cloud solutions. Learn more how phishing awareness training can help your organization defend against changing phishing threats.

Indicators of Compromise:

Network IOC IP
hxxps://globalpagee-prod-webex[.]com/signin 192[.]185[.]214[.]109

 

How Cofense Can Help

Visit Cofense’s Coronavirus Phishing Infocenter to stay up to date as threats evolves. Our site is updated with screenshots and YARA rules as we continue to track campaigns.

Every day, the Cofense Phishing Defense Center (PDC) analyzes phishing emails that bypassed email gateways, 75% of which are credential phish.

Easily consume phishing-specific threat intelligence to proactively defend your organization against evolving threats with Cofense Intelligence. Cofense Intelligence customers received further information about this threat in Active Threat Report (ATR) 37308 and received YARA rule PM_Intel_CredPhish_37308. Cofense Intelligence customers who would like to keep up with the Active Threat Reports and indicators being published, all COVID-19 campaigns are tagged with the “Pandemic” search tag.

 

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.
The Cofense® and PhishMe® names and logos, as well as any other Cofense product or service names or logos displayed on this blog are registered trademarks or trademarks of Cofense Inc.

Threat Actors Evade Proofpoint and Microsoft 365 ATP Protection to Capitalize on COVID-19 Fears

By: Kian Mahdavi, Cofense Phishing Defense Center

The Cofense Phishing Defense Center (PDC) has witnessed a surge in Coronavirus phishing campaigns found in environments protected by Proofpoint and Microsoft Office 365 ATP. While these Secure Email Gateways (SEGs) are designed to safeguard end users from clicking on malicious links and attachments, both failed in a new phishing attack we recently observed.

Figure 1 – Proofpoint SEG within the Email Header

Figure 2 – Extracted Information in Email Header

The extracted header information above in Figure 2 displays fragments of the email from the received path. The threat actor spoofed the domain splashmath[.]com (an online learning game for children) with a spoofed IP address of 167[.]89[.]87[.]104, which is located in the United States. For this reason, the email slipped past basic security checks, such as DKIM and SPF, shown in Figure 2. The threat actor inserted key words, such as “who” and “community” in the sender email address to manipulate the user into thinking it’s from the World Health Organization.

Upon further investigation of the email header, the originating IP address of 88[.]119[.]86[.]63 was found to be from the Lithuanian city of Kaunas, as shown below in Figure 3. The phishing email was sent to different individuals, each with the same originating IP address, indicating the likelihood of a single threat actor carrying out these attacks.

Figure 3 – Originating IP Address

The body of the email in Figure 4, as shown below, urges the user to find out if there are cases of COVID-19 in their local area by clicking on ‘Read on’. When then end-user clicks, they are led to believe that they will be directed to an updated WHO document. However, the user is actually directed to a Microsoft branded credential phish to steal their Microsoft log-in information.

The subject of the email is “HIGH-RISK: New confirmed cases in your city,” followed by the spoofed WHO email address and display name (who[.]int-community[.]spread@ splashmath[.]com), thus making it appear as if the sender is really from the World Health Organization. The sender does not contain any information addressed to the recipient, such as “Good Morning” or “Dear…”, indicating that this is a mass-email attack sent to many individuals. In addition, there is an image that would have usually loaded, however in these stressful circumstances, individuals may overlook this and would click on the “Read on” link.

Figure 4 – Email Body

Network Indicators of Compromise (IOCs):

Users are under the impression that by clicking on the ‘read on’ link, they will be redirected to:

Hosted URL IP Address
hXXp://o[.]splashmath[.]com/ls/click?upn=H2FOwAYY7ZayaWl4grkl1LazPuy6jduhWjWPwf0O2D 167[.]89[.]118[.]52
167[.]89[.]123[.]54

The users are instead forwarded to one of the following malicious redirects:

Credential Phishing Pages URLs IP Address
hXXps://heinrichgrp[.]com/who/files/af1fd55c21fdb935bd71ead7acc353d7[.]php 31[.]193[.]4[.]14
hXXps://coronasdeflores[.]cl/who 186[.]64[.]116[.]135
hXXps://www[.]frufc[.]net/who/files/61fe6624ec1fcc7cac629546fc9f25c3[.]php 87[.]117[.]220[.]232
hXXps://pharmadrugdirect[.]com/who 31[.]193[.]4[.]14
hXXps://ee-cop[.]co[.]uk/who/files/3b9f575dac9cc432873f6165c9bed507[.]php 82[.]166[.]34[.]188

A quick Google search reveals the last phishing page listed above (hXXps://ee-cop[.]co[.]uk/who/files/3b9f575dac9cc432873f6165c9bed507[.]php) was created with “WordPress” within the description (Figure 5), a potential red flag for a savvy end user.

Figure 5 – Google Search of the Phishing Page

As shown in Figure 6 below, recipients are presented with a high-quality, spoofed Microsoft login page. Upon clicking, the user’s email address is attached within the URL of the webpage; therefore, the individual’s username automatically appears in the login box. Upon logging in, the user is under the impression he or she has been authenticated into a legitimate Microsoft website. At this point, the user’s credentials are unfortunately in the hands of the threat actor.

Figure 6 – Final Phishing Page

HOW COFENSE CAN HELP

Cofense has created the Coronavirus Phishing Infocenter with examples of real Coronavirus phishing scams, an infographic illustrating 5 signs of these phish, a publicly available YARA rule, and much more.

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. Tp remove the blind spot, get visibility of attacks with Cofense Reporter.

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

Easily consume phishing-specific threat intelligence to proactively defend your organization against evolving threats with Cofense Intelligence. Cofense Intelligence customers received Yara rule PM_Intel_CredPhish_37315 and further information about this threat in Active Threat Report (ATR) 37315.

Thanks to our unique perspective, no one knows more about providing phishing awareness training and 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.
The Cofense® and PhishMe® names and logos, as well as any other Cofense product or service names or logos displayed on this blog are registered trademarks or trademarks of Cofense Inc.

One, Two, Three Phish: Adversaries Target Mobile Users

By Elmer Hernandez, Cofense Phishing Defense Center

The Cofense Phishing Defense Center (PDC) has spotted a phishing attack directed at mobile users purporting to come from Three, a British telecommunications and internet service provider. The attack relies on a well-spoofed html file, enticing users to provide everything from their password and personal details to their credit card information. 

Users are informed of a bill payment that could not be processed by their bank. They are urged to download the html file “3GUK[.]html” to edit their billing information in order to avoid service suspension. Users should always be wary of requests to download and open html/htm file attachments as opposed to being linked directly from their email client (which also, of course, is no guarantee of a legitimate email).

Figure 1 – Email Body

Spoofed Phish Page

As seen in Figures 2 and 3, The attached 3GUK[.]html file then requests login credentials, personal information and credit card details. The source code indicates this is a clone of actual Three html code, re-appropriated for malicious purposes; for instance, styling elements are pulled from actual Three websites. Additionally, all options in 3GUK[.]html direct to the legitimate relevant Three page so that, for example, if one clicks on “iPhone 11” under the Popular Phones section at the bottom, the end user is redirected to the real Three iPhone 11 page.

Figures 2 and 3 – Cloned Phishing Pages

The smoking gun is in the action attribute of the HTML form element. Figure 4 confirms that any information provided is processed by the “processing[.]php” script, located at hxxp://joaquinmeyer[.]com/wb/processing[.]php, a domain the adversary has compromised. Adversaries need only modify key sections of the cloned html code such as in Figure 4 below in order to turn benign code into a convincing phish.

Figure 4 – Malicious cloned html code

The Devil is in the Metadata

The From field, as seen in Figure 5 below, indicates “online@three[.]co[.]uk” as the apparent source of the email. The SPF check shows this was the address provided in the SMTP MAIL FROM command. We also see a SoftFail result for the originating IP 86.47.56.231; this means the domain of three.co.uk discourages, but does not explicitly rule out, this IP address as a permitted sender.

Figure 5 – SPF check

In other words, the SPF records for the domain of three[.]co[.]uk contain the ~all mechanism, which flags but ultimately lets the email through. Worried that legitimate email will be blocked by a stricter SPF policy, such as a (Hard)Fail with -all, many companies’ SPF records do not dare make an explicit statement regarding who is and is not permitted sender, potentially enabling spoofed emails.

DNS PTR record resolves the originating IP 86.47.56.231 to mail[.]moultondesign[.]com. Although an apparent subdomain of moultondesign[.]com, there is no evident relation between the two. There is no corresponding DNS A record, as confirmed by a Wireshark capture, as seen in Figure 6. The supposed parent domain is hosted by Namesco Ireland at 195.7.226.154, unlike the malicious IP address which is part the ADSL Pool of Irish provider EIR, suggesting a residential use.

Figure 6 – Missing DNS A Record

The email also contains a spoofed Message-ID (Figure 7). Although these do not need to conform to any particular structure, they often contain a timestamp. In this case, the digits on the left of the dot seem to follow the format YYYYMMDDhhhhss, amounting to 2020 February 5th 16:34:08; the digits to the right of the dot could or could not have any significance. Finally, the presence of Three’s Fully Qualified Domain Name adds a further element of credibility that might deceive more tech-savvy users.

Figure 7 – Message-ID

IOCs:

Malicious URLs:
hxxp://joaquinmeyer[.]com/wb/processing[.]php
mail[.]moultondesign[.]com

Associated IPs:
65.60.11.250
86.47.56.231

 

HOW COFENSE CAN HELP

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 Reporter.

Easily consume phishing-specific threat intelligence in real time to proactively defend your organization against evolving threats with Cofense Intelligence. Cofense Intelligence customers were already defended against these threats well before the time of this blog posting and received further information in the Active Threat Report 37144.

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

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.
The Cofense® and PhishMe® names and logos, as well as any other Cofense product or service names or logos displayed on this blog are registered trademarks or trademarks of Cofense Inc.

This Employee Satisfaction Survey is Not so Satisfying… Except for the Credential Phishing Actors Behind It.

By Max Gannon, Dylan Duncan in Cofense Intelligence

Cofense Intelligence has tracked a complex credential phishing operation that evades Microsoft Office 365, Cisco Ironport and Mimecast Secure Email Gateways and has been active since at least December 2019—a very long time for an active credential phishing campaign. The use of a series of convincing tactics suggests that threat actors have taken great effort to create an air of authenticity for targeted recipients. Targeted users receive an email, supposedly from their HR departments, mandating that they complete a SurveyMonkey employee satisfaction survey. The convoluted attack chain uses trusted sources and eventually redirects to a real SurveyMonkey survey, allowing the threat actors to evade detection, and provides recipients with the end results that they expect – a real survey.

This credential phishing chain begins with an email (Figure 1) containing a link to a PDF hosted on the legitimate cloud service provider Hightail. The email itself contains multiple tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) to deceive the end user. These TTPs consist of a seemingly legitimate Hightail spoofed email address ‘delivery @ spaces[.]hightailmail[.]com,’ fronting as a target’s HR department. The email creates a sense of urgency, indicating the survey is mandatory, requires action, only takes a few moments to complete, and will benefit the targeted employee.

Figure 1: Example of one original email sent to targeted recipients

After following the link to Hightail, a PDF is downloaded (Figure 2). Within the PDF, the from, subject, and message fields match the email line-for-line. The URLs for Hightail contain the recipient’s email address encoded in the URL path, and with the page hosted by the threat actor, these collected URLs could be decoded to gather the email address before they access the PDF. Hightail provides a preview of the PDF before downloading (Figure 3), which shows a faded survey and an icon that appears to lead into the survey.

Figure 2: The Hightail web page hosting a PDF that recipients are encouraged to download

Figure 3: A preview of the PDF hosted on Hightail, encouraging the user to participate in the “mandatory” survey

Once the PDF has been downloaded, a ‘Take Survey’ icon links to one of many credential phishing URLs used in this scheme. As displayed in Figure 4 below, the phishing URLs often change with each different PDF, but continue to remain consistent with the theme of an HR Department survey.

Examples include:

  • hxxps://hrsurveyportal[.]work/Start/
  • hxxps://my[.]hr-portalsurvey[.]work/

A complete list of identified URLs was used in different PDFs and is included at the end of this document in Table 2. This kind of differentiation allows the threat actors to maintain an appearance of legitimacy in their phishing URLs, while making it more difficult to defend against these attacks by shunning previously used or shared URLs.

Figure 4: PDF with an embedded link to a credential phishing website

This credential phishing campaign, and its variants, have been operating since at least December 5th, 2019. In most of these identified campaigns, the credential phishing pages were the same spoofed “Norton Secured” page, seen in Figure 5, regardless of the URL or the original target company. Older campaigns, primarily seen in December and January, mostly used appspot[.]com sub-domains rather than HR department themed domains and all led to pages like the one shown in Figure 6.

Figure 5: Spoofed login page where credentials are harvested

Figure 6: A less convincing example of a credential phishing page identified in this broader campaign.

When a recipient enters his or her information in any of the credential phishing websites, the data is sent via an HTTP POST to the URL shown in Figure 7. This is most commonly hxxps://nortonsymantecssl[.]000webhostapp[.]com/vlog/. Much like the hrsurvey[.]work URL variants designed to provide an additional sense of legitimacy, this URL also spoofs “Norton Secured”. Recipients are then immediately sent to the SurveyMonkey survey shown in Figure 8.

Figure 7: Credential phishing page source with the highlighted URL where credentials are posted and recipients are redirected.

Figure 8: The final SurveyMonkey survey

The SurveyMonkey survey shown in Figure 8 is of particular importance. First, this survey link is either legitimate and has been repurposed by threat actors, or threat actors themselves went to the effort to create it. Either way, the detail and effort involved in the survey indicates the possible intent of the threat actors to use the survey as a long-term resource across multiple short-lived credential phishing pages. Secondly, this survey leads targeted recipients to a credible conclusion—ending the attack chain in a way that would not leave recipients suspecting that anything suspicious had happened. Many credential phishing campaigns end by redirecting a user to a generic page or displaying a login error message, which can cause users to stop and consider potentially harmful activity that had occurred, leading them to warn others or report the original email. By avoiding such suspicious signposts, the threat actors can further protect their infrastructure and avoid detection.

This campaign presented a convincing impersonation of an HR department delivering a mandatory survey to its employees. The final destination of the chain was a survey hosted on SurveyMonkey—leading recipients to believe that nothing was wrong. The choice of the campaign endpoint—a survey hosted on a well-known legitimate site, rather than an obvious error message or redirect—indicates a level of attention above and beyond what is usually exhibited by credential phishing adversaries. Additionally, custom domains were used to host the credential phishing infrastructure rather than compromised domains, as is often the case with simple credential phishing. Cofense Intelligence assesses that this campaign was carefully designed with long term capability and minimal detection in mind. This has no doubt allowed for the repeated success of this campaign—also quite unusual when it comes to credential phishing.

Hightail Hosted PDF URLs
hxxp://spaces[.]hightail[.]com/receive/gmaTEP8hhh/
hxxp://spaces[.]hightail[.]com/receive/GvXjcQjRac/
hxxp://spaces[.]hightail[.]com/receive/gWGl9E9QrM/
hxxp://spaces[.]hightail[.]com/receive/hiasiM3Bc4/
hxxp://spaces[.]hightail[.]com/receive/Huh5Kd9ngs/
hxxp://spaces[.]hightail[.]com/receive/N2hZnCrDRr/
hxxp://spaces[.]hightail[.]com/receive/NewA1DfvtL/
hxxp://spaces[.]hightail[.]com/receive/pvHwWmHUxB/
hxxp://spaces[.]hightail[.]com/receive/rlTbN1a1sV/
hxxp://spaces[.]hightail[.]com/receive/wgmOI2E6VF/
hxxp://spaces[.]hightail[.]com/receive/yGDAtZ2Cld/
Credential Phishing Pages URLs
hxxps://hrsurvey[.]work/Home/
hxxps://hrsurvey[.]work/hr/
hxxps://hrsurveyportal[.]work/begin/
hxxps://hrsurveyportal[.]work/secure/
hxxps://hrsurveyportal[.]work/Start/
hxxps://my[.]hr-portalsurvey[.]work/
hxxps://my[.]hrsurveyportal[.]work/
hxxps://my[.]worksurvey[.]work/
hxxps://secure[.]hrsurveyportal[.]work/
hxxps://mwz1552alry[.]appspot[.]com/
Redirect URLs
hxxps://csosun[.]org/administrator/manifests/login[.]php
hxxps://nortonsymantecssl[.]000webhostapp[.]com/vlog/
Hosted Survey URL
hxxps://www[.]surveymonkey[.]com/r/2MHSTQ8
Downloaded PDF Files MD5 Hash
Employee Satisfaction Survey.pdf d61822e79a797356598b6296af360f3e
Employee Satisfaction Survey.pdf b760297ada010198d40f585206e2c769
Description Indicator
Cofense Intelligence ATR ID 36729
Cofense Triage Yara RULE PM_Intel_CredPhish_36729

HOW COFENSE CAN HELP

75% of threats reported to the Cofense Phishing Defense Center are credential phish. Condition users to be resilient to credential harvesting attacks with Cofense PhishMe, plus get visibility of attacks that have bypassed controls with Cofense Reporter.

Easily consume phishing-specific threat intelligence in real time to proactively defend your organization against evolving threats with Cofense Intelligence. Cofense Intelligence customers were already defended against these threats well before the time of this blog posting and received further information in the Active Threat Report 36729.

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.
The Cofense® and PhishMe® names and logos, as well as any other Cofense product or service names or logos displayed on this blog are registered trademarks or trademarks of Cofense Inc.