An email with the subject of “Re: Inquiry” pretending to come from AL SRAIYA HOLDING GROUP, a large consulting group in Qatar but actually coming from “purchase manager <firstname.lastname@example.org>” with a malicious word doc attachment delivers Lokibot
This malware campaign is marginally more interesting for a malware researcher because of the way the malware bad actor has misconfigured the word docs and displays this message in English & Russian.
Decoy document which is opened after successful hit.
Документ для пользователя который открывается после успешного пробива.
These criminal gangs normally display an innocent word doc with genuine data like a list of things wanted, so it looks like the skiddie or apprentice on duty sending these made a big error & forgot to change the default text from the exploit builder kit to a relevant, believable version.
I had several of these arrive overnight that got through the spam filter completely. They pass all email authentication and the attachment was not detected as malicious by Clam Av on the mail server. Luckily these were sent to an email account that I control, not one of my users on the server.
We see hundreds of similar emails on an almost daily basis. At first I thought how can anyone fall for this sort of obvious scam, but when I started hosting a couple of websites and email services for small companies and charities, I was absolutely gobsmacked by the amount of legitimate emails that are very similar to this one. Any company doing any business internationally or even inside the country needs to get work & either buy or sell their products.
The big red flag on this one is the email comes from Brasil but the alleged company requesting the info is in Qatar and doesn’t exist on the web address given, although it does exist and appears to be a major player in the Qatari infrastructure & building. BUT, a busy Secretary/ Admin on a small company ( or even medium size or large company ) probably doesn’t look very closely at the “From” address and would just see “Purchase Manager” and if the content of the email looks like something they deal with, could very easily open the attachment & get infected.
With the Football World Cup being held in Qatar in 2022, there has been a lot of publicity and scandal in the world press, with many allegations about problems in building the needed infrastructure. It is very possible that many companies in the construction or services field would be very interested in becoming involved.
These malware campaigns are using Exploits in RTF files. They tend to use a builder kit available easily on the malware underground markets. this one is using CVE-2017-8570. which involve embedded ole objects. When you open the malicious word doc, it immediately closes and a new copy is displayed. The malware is run silently in the background and an innocent word doc is displayed almost immediately. You think, ” Here we go again, Word is playing up & crashing”. So when you see the innocent doc contents displayed, you are none the wiser. Except in this case due to the idiots messing up, you actually see it is a malicious attack.
They are using email addresses and subjects that will persuade, 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.
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.
Specifications.doc Current Virus total detections: Anyrun App | Hybrid Analysis |
Drops and displays Gondi.doc VirusTotal | Anyrun | despite VT detecting this as malicious ( it does contain embedded ole objects, but I cannot see any obvious malicious content. It just displays the Decoy Document message above. ) Anyrun does show a DNS lookup to a non existent .ru web address (test1.ru )
The dropped Lokibot file VirusTotal |
This malware contacts the C2: http://gavrelssimonskype.su/wp/web-obtain/css/log/Panel/five/fre.php where it will send stolen info & try to download a whole range of other malicious files
You can now submit suspicious sites, emails and files via our Submissions system
AL SRAIYA HOLDING GROUP 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. The web address in the email is not the correct web address but either a typo or something made up to look similar to the genuine company.
The email looks like:
From: purchase manager <email@example.com>
Date: Tue 16/10/2018 00:13
Subject: Re: Inquiry
Good day and Hope everything goes well with you!
Permit me to introduce myself and company I represent. I am Mr. Jairus Miguel, the purchase manager for overseas business unit of AL SRAIYA HOLDING GROUP.
With reference to the attached samples and specifications, We want to make inquiry about your products for a large purchase. We are checking on new suppliers who can constantly supply us the products with competitive prices.
I will send requirements for your perusal and quote upon receiving your feedback that you can sell products to us.
Kindly attach and send us below information to get more familiar with your company for our future cooperation.
- Your Company profile?
- Product Catalogs?
- M.O.Q? (Minimum Order Quantity)
- Price list (if available)?
- Payment Terms?
Please acknowledge this communication and send me feedback upon receipt.
Jairus Miguel/Sales & Purchase Manager
Company: AL SRAIYA HOLDING GROUP
Address: Doha – Qatar
P O Box 3082
Tel:+974 – 44677800
+974 – 44756224
Fax: +974 – 478922
Ibn Seena Street
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 with 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.