This generic email with the subject of “Invoice Due” coming from firstname.lastname@example.org with a malicious password protected word doc attachment does eventually deliver some sort of malware. Recently password protected word docs have been delivering some sort of Ransomware frequently Hermes Ransomware via Azorult intermediate download. This is probably Azorult on the first stage, based on the file name azo.exe but I can’t see any encryption happening using the online sandboxes. It probably is Hermes ransomware based on the file names. These criminals don’t tend to be very original.
The details in this campaign do match the details shown in this Sans diary posting so it is highly likely to be Azorult downloading Hermes Ransomware.
They are using email addresses and subjects that will scare, persuade, entice, shock or scare 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.
Remember many email clients, especially on a mobile phone or tablet, only show the Name in the From: and not the bit in <domain.com >. That is why these scams and phishes work so well.
You can now submit suspicious sites, emails and files via our Submissions system
The sending email address looks like it should be a compromised or hacked one. It passes all authentication checks. It has been registered for a long time, since 2009, but I can find almost nothing in a Google search about the company. Because the IP address allocated to the website is based in Russia and there is just a ” It Worked” Vesta server message on the domain, I am guessing that criminals have purchased, stolen or otherwise obtained access to an expired or non renewed domain and are using it in this malware campaign. While I am sure the Vesta Control Panel is a legitimate control panel for servers, I do see it appear far too frequently as an indicator of malware campaigns. Almost any website that has the default Control Panel showing will be either hacked, compromised or set up deliberately to be used in malware campaigns.
I can find some very limited details about a US based company Simplex Healthcare that closed several years ago. Obviously the company details in the email body are fake and while that company or street address might exist, they are not involved in any way in this malware campaign scam.
What has made this email more compelling is that it was sent to an organisation that does deal with medical products, albeit animal medicines and medical products, whether this was a more targeted approach from these criminals or just a coincidence, I will leave open. These campaigns tend to be fairly low volume to try to stay somewhat under the radar.
The email looks like:
From: Magali Avila <email@example.com>
Date: Thu 16/08/2018 16:18 ( arrived (0059 UTC+1 17/08/2018)
Subject: Invoice Due
This is to inform you that there is still an outstanding payment of $12,340 USD. We would appriciate it if this could be settled no later than the 20th.
I have attached the current invoice and the password for the document is: 1234
1815 Rollins Road,
Burlingame, CA 94010
This in turn posts some encrypted data to http://briancobert.com/index.php and then downloads another file from http://184.108.40.206/hrms.exe VirusTotal | AnyrunApp | Hybrid Analysis | This is detected generically as pony stealer, but I am not entirely convinced that is a correct detection.
It should be noted that it looks like the sandboxes were blocked from downloading the malware files.
Received: from simplexhealthcare.info ([220.127.116.11]:38474)
by my email server with esmtp (Exim 4.91)
for firstname.lastname@example.org; Fri, 17 Aug 2018 00:58:44 +0100
DKIM-Signature: v=1; a=rsa-sha256; c=relaxed/relaxed; s=mail; d=simplexhealthcare.info;
From: Magali Avila =?UTF-8?B?wqA=?= <email@example.com>
Subject: Invoice Due
Date: Thu, 16 Aug 2018 17:18:06 +0200
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.
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.
fixed ( password removed) invoice.doc
Email from: email@example.com