I am seeing the start of what looks like a new malware campaign. The initial email with a subject of Scanned image 18.01-022029 ( random numbers after the date) at first looked like the sort of bait that Locky, Necurs, Globeimposter have been using, but both copies I have received today ( so far) have come from the same IP address. They pretend to come from random names.random firstname.lastname@example.org . Examples are email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org
I don’t know what malware this is actually delivering as the eventual payload. Online sandboxes are giving some indications it could be Dridex banking trojan
Update: now getting a steady slow trickle of these coming in to multiple email addresses. All are coming from IP 18.104.22.168
There are no attachments with a link in the email body to download something from a google drive account. This downloads a word doc that appears to be using the DDE “exploit”
The word doc contains embedded links that use the DDE exploit to contact a remote server & get a base64 encoded string and then downloads the main malware binary. 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.
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.
You do need to click yes several times on the alerts to actually get infected
They are using email addresses and subjects that will 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.
You can now submit suspicious sites, emails and files via our Submissions system
One of the emails looks like:
From: Jeanie Bloomfield <Jeanie.email@example.com>
Date: Thu 18/01/2018 10:57
Subject: Scanned image 18.01-022029
(copy & paste link into your browser)
There are several different Google drive links in these emails. Some of the links are:
This malware doc first contacts http://22.214.171.124/download/s/Hufv and downloads or runs an encoded powershell script file which I can’t work out what it does. Then there is a download from http:///www.verdantcocktails.co.uk/kjhy876g or http://www.takagari.com/kjhy876g ( VirusTotal) AnyrunBeta | Hybrid Analysis |
The url and file naming convention smells of Locky, Globeimposter, Dridex etc but these are not any of them as far as I can see. It could be a small test run, before the main Necurs mass spam run to see if the different distribution system is working, but my gut feeling is a different malware gang are copying various parts of the Necurs distribution system and malware payloads for their own purposes.
The word doc looks like:
Received: from [126.96.36.199] (port=61003 helo=rokutov.95.2cloud.eu)
by knight.knighthosting.co.uk with esmtps (TLSv1.2:ECDHE-RSA-AES256-GCM-SHA384:256)
for firstname.lastname@example.org; Thu, 18 Jan 2018 10:57:09 +0000
Reply-To: “Jeanie Bloomfield” <Jeanie.email@example.com>
From: “Jeanie Bloomfield” <Jeanie.firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Scanned image 18.01-022029
Date: Thu, 18 Jan 2018 02:57:05 -0800
Content-Type: multipart/alternative; boundary=”c0874ec0cac1aecf2cb963868520″
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 email@example.com.
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.