Malware delivery methods change on a regular basis. Over the last couple of weeks loads of the criminal gangs have switched from using Macros or Embedded Ole Objects in Word docs or Excel spreadsheets to using the DDE exploit in Word Docs to perform their malware campaigns. The Trickbot gangs are amongst the criminal gangs using this method. Yesterday we saw 1 set of Trickbot malspam campaign emails switch back to word docs using Embedded OLE objects. This other criminal gang have stayed with DDE for now
I actually overlooked this campaign yesterday so am posting it a bit late. However the malware download site is still live, although most of the email sending domains (rbsservice***.ml) appear to be down.
You can now submit suspicious sites, emails and files via our Submissions system
This example is an email containing the subject of “New Secure Message Royal Bank of Scotland” pretending to come from RBS bank line secure email but actually coming from a series of look-a-like domains <noreply@rbsservice***.ml> (*** = 1 to 599) with a malicious word doc attachment is today’s latest spoof of a well-known company, bank or public authority delivering Trickbot banking Trojan
From: RBS bank line secure email <email@example.com>
Date: Tue 31/10/2017 12:31
Subject: New Secure Message Royal Bank of Scotland
Royal Bank of Scotland Online
You have received a secure message.
Please download and view Microsoft Word attachment,
The secure message expires on
If you have concerns about the validity of this message, please contact the sender directly. For questions please contact the RBS bank line Secure Email Help Desk at 0132 234 4532.
Royal Bank of Scotland
Online Customer Servic
RBS 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 are between 2 and 4 newly registered domains that imitate Companies House, HMRC, another Government department, a Bank or a message sending service that can easily be confused with the genuine organisation in some way. Some days however we do see dozens or even hundreds of fake domains.
Today’s example of the spoofed domains are all using the free .ml domains that are administered and run by freenom.com.
I am seeing all sorts of rbsservice***.ml domains all being hosted on different IP numbers & ranges all appearing to be compromised ISP IP numbers from major ISPs in UK, Europe & USA. In previous phishing and malware scams by this criminal gang they used a range of domain numbers between 1 and 600 over several days.
The word doc contains embedded links that use the DDE exploit to contact a remote server to download a malware file via PowerShell. What makes these much worse than normal Macros or embedded ole objects to deal with are the rather innocuous warnings that Word gives when the Word doc is opened, which unwitting recipients are possibly more likely to click through, because they don’t understand it.
This particular version is not as creative in using Social Engineering to persuade the recipient to click yes to “update links” as a previous Lloyds Bank Version was.
Asking somebody to update links seems innocent enough and many recipients will click yes, just because they have no idea what it means. Clicking NO will stop this exploit. If you click yes, you should then get a second alert saying something like ” The remote data is not accessible do you want to start the application C:\windows\sytem32\program.exe?” However we believe it is possible for the malware author to hide or bypass the second message and automatically script the file to run.
This malware doc file downloads using PowerShell from http://reiseprofi4u.de/picture_library/molarod.png which of course is not an image file but a renamed .exe file that gets renamed to zxcx.exe ( VirusTotal)
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 Ole embedded objects including the DDE “exploit” / “feature” 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.[amazon_link asins=’B01NCOV3GC,B072R63CH7,B00DRP537A,B01EZU2GZW,B00JLPEL2I,B01EZU2RLA’ template=’ProductGrid’ store=’myonlinesecurity-21′ marketplace=’UK’ link_id=’6b07b5e0-8bb8-11e7-b516-fbffc7761b18′]
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.