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Phish Found in Proofpoint-Protected Environments – Week Ending September 20, 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 analyzed and dispositioned by Cofense Triage.

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

Are phishing emails evading your Proofpoint Secure Email Gateway? The following are examples of phishing emails seen by the PDC in environments protected by Proofpoint. This week we see examples that are part of complex polymorphic campaigns. They use varying tactics to confuse perimeter defenses and increase the workload on security teams. Without a powerful phishing analysis platform, chances are high that at least one of these attacks will succeed.

sample phish uses a document theme with either link or xls attachment to deliver trickbot

TYPE: Malware – TrickBot

DESCRIPTION: This first example comes in a couple of flavors – links and attachments. Both use a project theme to lure the recipient into accessing a macro-laden Microsoft Office spreadsheet to deliver TrickBot first and then BazarBackdoor.

sample phish uses invoice theme to deliver a link to hentai onichan ransomware

TYPE: Malware – Hentai OniChan

DESCRIPTION: Another example highlights the variations an attacker will use within the same campaign. This finance-themed phish delivers links to either directly, or via a .html file, download the Hentai OniChan ransomware.

sample phish uses a link to install a reconnaissance tool

TYPE: Malware – Reconnaissance Tool

DESCRIPTION: This campaign uses a mix of themes to deliver a reconnaissance tool. The example shown uses an illness theme, while others use a report theme. Either way, the result leaves us feeling a bit sickened.

sample phish uses a proposal theme to deliver links to a credential harvesting site

TYPE: Credential Theft

DESCRIPTION: Finally someone cares about security! This email promises a secure invitation and a business proposal. How can you resist? We recommend you keep from clicking the embedded links, since they lead to a credential harvesting site.

sample phish spoofs sharepoint with a fax notification that will lead to a credential harvesting site

TYPE: Credential Theft

DESCRIPTION: That’s an awfully legit-looking SharePoint logo you got there. That must mean the linked fax document is also legit. It’s not, of course, as the link will take the recipient to a site designed to steal credentials.

sample phish uses an invoice theme to deliver an encrypted doc attachment that will install trickbot

TYPE: Malware – TrickBot

DESCRIPTION: Shipping an invoice with a password is a sure sign it can be trusted, right? Must be really important. In this case, the most important thing is not to fall for the phish, as the attached Microsoft Office document uses macros to deliver a set of VBS scripts to install TrickBot.

sample phish with a purchase order theme uses a linked image to install nanocore remote access trojan

TYPE: Malware – NanoCore RAT

DESCRIPTION: This phish comes with all the charm of a truck stop breakfast diner. A friendly greeting and a nasty ending thanks to a link that leads to a NanoCore Remote Access Trojan installer. Better get the biscuit to go.

Malicious emails continue to reach user inboxes, increasing the risk of account compromise, data breach, and ransomware attack. The same patterns and techniques are used week after week.


Cofense recommends that organizations train their personnel to identify and empower them to 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.

Interested in seeing more? Search our Real Phishing Threats Database.

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.

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