A very slightly strange and less usual malware campaign this morning that does eventually deliver Formbook. The email is nothing special, very terse & bland that just says ” Kindly find the attachment”. It has 2 Microsoft Word Doc attachments, both very small. the first is 4kb, the second 6kb. Both are actually malformed RTF files that contain CVE2017-11882 Microsoft Equation Editor exploits. These exploits have been fixed in all currently supported versions of Microsoft Office, so in theory, should not affect anybody. But we do see hundreds of victims from these exploits, where lax security patching or the use of out of date and unsupported software is still in use. These were caught by the spam filter on my server and quarantined.
The alleged sending domain hillconmining.com has not been actually 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.
But a misconfiguration of that domain’s DNS settings has allowed the criminals sending these to effectively hijack their email service to make it appear that it does actually come from hillconmining.com. Who ever set up the DNS settings has used an allow “all” on the SPF records so that allows anybody to spoof hillconmining.com and send email on their behalf & it will pass authentication. The criminals have set up an account on a different server to send the emails & made it look like hillconmining.com is hosted on that server. This dodgy server is hosted on AS46664 VolumeDrive who seem to have a very high number of spam and malware senders on their network.
We have been seeing hillconmining.com abused as an email sender for months now & a quick Google search shows scams & malware allegedly sent via that domain for a couple of years. The criminals and scammers switch sending servers frequently & use multiple hosting companies, either setting up fraudulent accounts or compromising existing accounts and adding the details to the account.
It is very difficult to stop this sort of criminal. There is frequently no actual website or fraudulent user account to close. They log in to a compromised account, change host & sending details, blast out the spam, sometimes they reverse all changes, sometimes they leave them hoping to re-use them later, if not discovered and cleaned up and then disappear.
DNS records for Hillconmining.com
Mailscanner report showing passes SPF authentication
Payment.doc Current Virus total detections: Anyrun |
This malware downloads from http://secured.icbegypt.com/davu.123 VirusTotal URL | File | Domain report |URLhaus report on domain | It looks like this compromised or fraudulent site has slipped under the radar somewhat, but has been spewing out malware since at least 28 March 2021.
The C2 is http://www.saibez.com/nu/ which is quite well known as a Formbook C2
Swift.doc Current Virus total detections: Anyrun | I could not get any malware or network content from this one. Using Frank Boldwin’s RTF scanner to examine it I get this message and a malicious warning “!!! This file contains overlay data, which is unusual for legitimate rtf-files !!!” IRIS-H scanner also could not find any url or download site, so it is highly probable the bad actor messed up with this one
They are using email addresses and subjects that will scare or entice a user to read the email and open the attachment. A very high proportion are being targeted at small and medium size businesses, with the hope of getting a better response than they do from consumers.
You can now submit suspicious sites, emails and files via our Submissions system
The email looks like:
From: Accounts <email@example.com>
Date: Mon 15/04/2021 19:25
Subject: FW: Fw: Incoming20414
Attachment: Payment.doc and Swift.doc
Kindly find the attachment.
*****This is an auto-generated email and reply to this mail id is not monitored._____
|126.96.36.199||South Abington Township||Pennsylvania||US||AS46664 VolumeDrive|
Received: from [188.8.131.52] (port=49954 helo=hillconmining.com)
by my email server with esmtp (Exim 4.91)
for firstname.lastname@example.org; Mon, 15 Apr 2021 19:25:31 +0100
From: Accounts <email@example.com>
Subject: FW: Fw: Incoming20414
Date: 15 Apr 2021 14:25:29 -0400
All the alleged senders, companies, names of employees, phone numbers, amounts, reference numbers etc. mentioned in the emails are all innocent and are just picked at random. Some of these companies will exist and some won’t. Don’t try to respond by phone or email, all you will do is end up with an innocent person or company who have had their details spoofed and picked at random from a long list that the bad guys have previously found . The bad guys choose companies, Government departments and other organisations with subjects that are designed to entice you or alarm you into blindly opening the attachment or clicking the link in the email to see what is happening.
This email attachment contains what appears to be a genuine word doc or Excel XLS spreadsheet with either a macro script or an embedded OLE object that when run will infect you.
Modern versions of Microsoft office, that is Office 2010, 2013, 2016 and Office 365 should be automatically set to higher security to protect you.
By default protected view is enabled and macros are disabled, UNLESS you or your company have enabled them. If protected view mode is turned off and macros are enabled then opening this malicious word document will infect you, and simply previewing it in windows explorer or your email client might well be enough to infect you. Definitely DO NOT follow the advice they give to enable macros or enable editing to see the content.
Most of these malicious word documents either appear to be totally blank or look something like these images when opened in protected view mode, which should be the default in Office 2010, 2013, 2016 and 365. Some versions pretend to have a digital RSA key and say you need to enable editing and Macros to see the content. Do NOT enable Macros or editing under any circumstances.
What Can Be Infected By This
At this time, these malicious macros only infect windows computers. They do not affect a Mac, IPhone, IPad, Blackberry, Windows phone or Android phone.
The malicious word or excel file can open on any device with an office program installed, and potentially the macro will run on Windows or Mac or any other device with Microsoft Office installed. BUT the downloaded malware that the macro tries to download is windows specific, so will not harm, install or infect any other computer except a windows computer. You will not be infected if you do not have macros enabled in Excel or Word. These Macros do not run in “Office Online” Open Office, Libre Office, Word Perfect or any other office program that can read Word or Excel files.
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
Be very careful with email attachments. All of these emails use Social engineering tricks to persuade you to open the attachments that come with the email. It might be a simple message saying “look at this picture of me I took last night” that appears to come from a friend. It might be a scare ware message that will make you open the attachment to see what you are accused of doing. Frequently it is more targeted at somebody ( small companies etc.) who regularly receive PDF attachments or Word .doc attachments or any other common file that you use every day, for example an invoice addressed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The basic rule is NEVER open any attachment to an email, unless you are expecting it. Now that is very easy to say but quite hard to put into practice, because we all get emails with files attached to them. Our friends and family love to send us pictures of them doing silly things, or even cute pictures of the children or pets. Many of us routinely get Word, Excel or PowerPoint attachments in the course of work or from companies that we already have a relationship with.
Never just blindly click on the file in your email program. Always save the file to your downloads folder, so you can check it first. A lot of malicious files that are attached to emails will have a faked extension. That is the 3 letters at the end of the file name.
Unfortunately windows by default hides the file extensions so you need to Set your folder options to “show known file types. Then when you unzip the zip file that is supposed to contain the pictures of “Sally’s dog catching a ball”, an invoice or receipt from some company for a product or service or receive a Word doc or Excel file report that work has supposedly sent you to finish working on at the weekend, you can easily see if it is a picture or document & not a malicious program. If you see JS or .EXE or .COM or .PIF or .SCR or .HTA .vbs, .wsf , .jse .jar at the end of the file name DO NOT click on it or try to open it, it will infect you.
With these malformed infected word, excel and other office documents that normally contain a vba macro virus, the vital thing is do not open any office document direct from your email client or the web. Always save the document to a safe location on your computer, normally your downloads folder or your documents folder and scan it with your antivirus.
Many Antiviruses do not natively detect vba macro-viruses in real time protection and you need to enable document or office protection in the settings. Do not rely on your Anti-Virus to immediately detect the malware or malicious content. DO NOT enable editing mode or enable macros
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 files and PowerPoint etc that are downloaded from the web or received in an email automatically in “protected view” that stops any embedded malware or macros 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 until you are 100% sure that it is a safe document. If the protected mode bar appears when opening the document DO NOT enable editing mode or enable macros the document will look blank or have a warning message, but will be safe.
Be aware that there are a lot of 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 starting to outweigh the convenience, benefits and cost of keeping an old version going.
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.
Main object- “Payment.doc”
Dropped executable file
sha256 C:\Users\admin\AppData\Local\Temp\Aalr\certmgrp0x.exe a0e0090ab6a39d7f3dba9a28824855371c9e20ec2811beacf71eeb8095171eb7
sha256 C:\Users\admin\AppData\Local\Temp\sqlite3.dll 16574f51785b0e2fc29c2c61477eb47bb39f714829999511dc8952b43ab17660
Main object- “Swift.doc”