This example is an email containing the subject of “Critical Notice: Statement of Liabilities” pretending to come from HMRC but actually coming from “firstname.lastname@example.org” which is a look-a-like, typo-squatted or other domain that can easily be misidentified, mistaken or confused with the genuine site, with a malicious word doc attachment is today’s latest spoof of a well-known company, bank or public authority delivering Trickbot banking Trojan.
The email is a typical spoofed HMRC email delivering Trickbot banking trojan, that we see very frequently, saying you owe large sums of money and see the details in the attached document.
The delivery chain for the Trickbot banking trojan payload is somewhat different to usual though. We first saw some changes last week, now today has changed a bit again with a very heavily obfuscated, encrypted, encoded macro that uses a very long winded way to run cmd.exe & bits service to download the Trickbot banking trojan malware payload from a single location with no fall back download location, unlike previous versions, which normally used 2 locations to deliver the Trickbot banking trojan.
You can now submit suspicious sites, emails and files via our Submissions system
From: HMRC <email@example.com>
Date: Mon 13/08/2018 13:49
Subject: Critical Notice: Statement of Liabilities
Date 13 August 2018
Our ref 738981:0009283441:022
You do not appear to have paid the full amount due as shown on the attached Statement of Liabilities.
Kindly refer to the attached documents for more details.
About this notice
If you agree the amount is due , then you need to pay in full now. Go to www.hmrc.gov.uk/payert/index.htm
It is possible that this E-mail has been received by you in error. If so, please note that it may contain confidential information, and we ask that you notify the author by replying to it, then delete it immediately, and take no further action as a result of receiving it. Although we take care by ensuring that any files attached to E-mails sent from our office have been checked with up-to-date virus detection software, you should carry out your own virus check before opening any attachment. We accept no liability for any loss or damage which may be caused by software viruses.
All content is available under the Open Government Licence v3.0.
HMRC 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 genuine Company, Bank, Government or message sending services. Normally there is only newly registered domain that imitate Companies House, HMRC, another Government department, a Bank, file hosting service or a message sending service that can easily be confused with the genuine organisation in some way, that are hosted on & sending emails from 3 or 4 different servers. Some days however we do see dozens or even hundreds of fake domains.
Today’s example of the spoofed domain is, as usual, registered via Godaddy as registrar. Because of new GDPR rules we cannot easily find the registrants name or any further details.
- hmrcemail.co.uk hosted on & sending emails via 188.8.131.52| 184.108.40.206 |220.127.116.11| 18.104.22.168|
The folder for the files & configs is: C:\Users\[User]\AppData\Roaming\vcmsd
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