We are back to a slightly more complicated or involved Trickbot download campaign today with links in the email to download the XLS file instead of attachments. This malware campaign delivery method was first mentioned on 22 October 2018 when I missed the onslaught. These do tend to have a much shorter “shelf life” or campaign duration than the more usual office file attachment version, sometimes only between a few minutes and 2 or 3 hours, but in that very short period of time hundreds if not thousands of victims can still be infected. This is because it is much easier for a registrar to block, delete or null route the DNS entries to remove access to the fake sites from the internet. It is much harder when compromised legitimate servers are spreading the payload and can take much longer to persuade a hosting company to block access. We frequently see the payload still active weeks after the initial campaign and reports to the hosting company or companies.
This example is today’s latest spoof or imitation of a well-known company, bank or public authority delivering Trickbot banking Trojan. The email with the subject of “Company Report ” pretends to come from Companies House , saying charges are missing from the September Invoice, but actually comes from “email@example.com” which is a look-a-like, typo-squatted or other domain that can easily be misidentified, mistaken or confused with the genuine site. These all have a link to download the malicious office XLS file from a remote website.
Companies House has not been hacked or had their email or other servers compromised. They are not sending the emails to you. They are just innocent victims in exactly the same way as every recipient of these emails.
What has happened is that the criminals sending these have registered various domains that look like the genuine Company, Bank, Government Department or message sending service. There are either one or two newly registered domain that imitates a well known Company, Government Department, Bank or other organisation that can easily be confused with the genuine body or website in some way. These are hosted on & send the emails from 3 or 4 different servers. Some days however we do see dozens or even hundreds of fake domains sending emails. Today we have 2 very similar domains, one sending the emails with the second domain hosting the Malicious Office files. Unlike earlier attempts at this method the Trickbot payload is hosted on 2 separate compromised servers ( which is the usual method for them) .
Today’s example of the spoofed domains are, as usual, registered via Godaddy as registrar. Because of new GDPR rules we cannot easily find the registrants name or any further details.
- cp-docs.co.uk Hosted on, sending emails via 188.8.131.52| 184.108.40.206 |220.127.116.11|
- cpdocs.co.uk downloading the xls doc from 18.104.22.168
You can now submit suspicious sites, emails and files via our Submissions system
From: Companies House <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Wed 31/10/2018 11:02
Subject: Company Report
This message has been generated automatically by Companies House eBilling service.
We are aware that some of the charges that you may have been expecting on September’s invoice are missing. A full investigation is taking place internally to discover the cause of this error. It is expected that these charges will be shown on your next company report.
We have uploaded invoices/documents related to your account, please check the link below for more information.
Please accept our apologies for the inconvenience that this has caused you.
Note: reference to company may also include Limited Liability Partnership(s).
Thank you for using the Companies House WebFiling service.
Service Desk tel +44 (0)303 8097 476 or email email@example.com
Note: This email was sent from a notification-only email address which cannot accept incoming email. Please do not reply directly to this message
If you’re unsure an email is from Companies House:
• Do not reply to it or click on any links
• Report the suspicious email to Companies House
All content is available under the Open Government Licence v3.0, except where otherwise stated
The link in the email goes to https://cpdocs.co.uk/cpdocs3265685_x-r-secure_documents_layout-fdc3eb56-5123-489c-8ca7-a87ecaff5876_7D_action=default_uid=_7BFDC3EB56-5123-489C-8CA7-A87ECAFF5876_7D_ListItemId=86_ListId=_7B1B27C90C-AB59-481D-AA20-8DEEE8D07AD7_7D_odsp=1_env=prod/ Where an Excel spreadsheet containing macros is downloaded.
You first get sent to this webpage with a warning saying online preview not available and you need to open in Excel
Then when you press the open in Excel button you get sent to this page which downloads the Excel spreadsheet.
The Alternative download location is http://embassygarmentindustries.com/ap.ples
The folder for the files & configs is: C:\Users\[User]\AppData\Roaming\WSIGE
All modern versions of word and other office programs, that is 2010, 2013, 2016 and 365, should open all Microsoft office documents that is Word docs, Excel spreadsheet files and PowerPoint etc that are downloaded from the web or received in an email automatically in “protected view” that stops any embedded malware, macros and DDE “exploit /Feature” and embedded ole objects from being displayed and running. Make sure protected view is set in all office programs to protect you and your company from these sorts of attacks and do not over ride it to edit the document. If the protected mode bar appears when opening the document DO NOT follow the advice they give to enable macros or enable editing to see the content. The document will have a warning message, but you will be safe.
Be aware that there are a lot of other dodgy word docs spreading that WILL infect you with no action from you, if you are still using an out dated or vulnerable version of word. This is a good reason to update your office programs to a recent version and stop using office 2003 and 2007. Many of us have continued to use older versions of word and other office programs, because they are convenient, have the functions and settings we are used to and have never seen a need to update to the latest super-duper version.
The risks in using older version are now seriously outweighing the convenience, benefits and cost of keeping an old version going.
Please read our How to protect yourselves page for simple, sensible advice on how to avoid being infected by this sort of socially engineered malware. Also please read our post about word macro malware and how to avoid being infected by them
I strongly urge you to update your office software to the latest version and stop putting yourself at risk, using old out of date software.
Email from: firstname.lastname@example.org