Last night we received several emails to various email addresses on this server using a template we first saw back in Early December 2018. They are still using Rosie L. Ashton as the sender. Then it delivered Ursnif banking trojan. Today it is delivering Gandcrab 5.1 ransomware.

This might be a new / updated version of Gandcrab because I haven’t seen this particular ransomware note before ( but I don’t follow Gandcrab closely) or the file extension for the encrypted files “.IOAHHZNEW ” which contains a key & PC data in an encrypted format, although the Tor address is well known I have partially obfuscated the keys in the screenshot, although they should be individual & totally unique to each victim, I don’t want to take a chance on a victim trying to copy & submit a wrong key.

After looking a bit more closely at the different reports, it looks like the encrypted extension is random & unique for each infection.

There might be decoders for some versions of Gandcrab but I don’t think at this time 5.1 can be decoded by them.

Gandcrab 5.1 Ransomware note

These are coming from several different email addresses and IP addresses all from 1 hosting company using the IP range of 194.58.61.* This appears to be a server based in Russia, AS197695 Domain names registrar REG.RU, Ltd. All the email addresses pass authentication and the majority of the sending domains have been registered for several years.

All the domains are using name servers on DOMAINCONTROL.COM which suggests that there has either been a compromise on the name server system to redirect the legitimate domains to the Russian hosting servers and consequently involve them in this & other malware distribution campaigns or the criminals have purchased or obtained expired domains & kept them under the original registrants details, using the same original registrar and changed dns to Godaddy DNS. The second option seems unlikely in my opinion. I did post at the time back in December that I was very suspicious of a compromise on Godaddy’s DNS server system. I still feel that is the most likely reason.

Update I was pointed to these posts by Brian Krebs and ArsTechnica .that confirms my suspicions about the DNS compromise

Note: So far I have only received from 2 domains But last time there were dozens of domains that were redirected to the malicious server.

Remember many email clients, especially on a mobile phone or tablet, only show the Name in the From: and not the bit in < >. That is why these scams and phishes work so well.

I have received 2 different versions of this malware campaign. One with links in the email body that is supposed to download a word doc but the site hosting the word doc does not respond. The links in the emails were different but all tried to download from (еnсyеxitmар.doc ) Note the criminals have used partial url encoding to try to bypass some web filters and detection systems.

Update: after some more investigation it looks like the url encoded sections also happen on the attached doc file name. It appears that the criminals might have tried to use Cyrillic or other foreign language characters instead of western characters & used url encoding to make them display as western characters. However I have not previously seen double url encoded entities that together make up a standard Western character. Each individual entity should display a “foreign” character or special character. I can’t find any documentation that describes using 2 or more url encoded entities together to display standard characters.

The 2 different links I saw are in the IOC section

The second version has the word doc attached.

Emergеnсyеxitmар.doc Current Virus total detections: Hybrid Analysis | Anyrun |

This malware downloads from ( VirusTotal) Anyrun | This shows a post submission to which doesn’t appear in the doc run. The submission appears to be base64 encoded but it doesn’t decode to anything useful that I can easily interpret.

You can now submit suspicious sites, emails and files via our Submissions system

The email looks like:

From: Rosie L. Ashton <[email protected]>

Date: Wed 23/01/2019 03:34

Subject: Uр to date emergenсy exit maр

Attachment: Emergеnсyеxitmар.doc

Body content:

Hi All,
Please find bеlow the Uр tо date еmеrgency exit maр.

Please see Emergency exit map in the attachment..

Rоsie L. Ashton,
Еstаtе Mаnаgemеnt

The alternative version with links looks like:

Hi All,
Pleаsе find below the Uр tо date emergеnсy еxit mар.

Emergency exit map.

Rosiе L. Ashtоn,
Estatе Mаnagemеnt


Uр to date emergenсy exit maр email delivering Gandcrab ransomware



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 has 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 organizations 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 [email protected].

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 a protected view is set in all office programs to protect you and your company from these sorts of attacks and do not override 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 outdated or vulnerable version of the 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 of using an 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, by using old date software.


Main object- “Emergеnсyеxitmар.doc”
sha256 c69b49de3046c74b69da1cf8af7c065430292340ce1959b1af973a329f585251
sha1 0fdc67e6804997047a2ff884a368968f6ce3bbeb
md5 d489e42e0aac01a5d4c07e2976414559
Dropped executable file
DNS requests
HTTP/HTTPS requests