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