This example is an email containing the subject of “Companies House secure form” pretending to come from Companies House but actually coming from a look-a-like or typo-squatted domain email@example.com with a malicious word doc attachment is today’s latest spoof of a well-known company, bank or public authority delivering malware. These are normally Trickbot banking trojan, but today’s version looks quite different to usual. Early indications on Virus total are inconclusive, but Hybrid Analysis shows typical network connections that are associated with Trickbot, Dyre or Dridex. This is either a new Trickbot version or some other banking trojan that we haven’t seen before.
Update: I am being very reliably informed that this is definitely Dridex not Trickbot. Which is giving us an indication of a change in malware behaviour if the different malware gangs are stealing or using each others delivery methods.
You can now submit suspicious sites, emails and files via our Submissions system
From: Companies House <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Wed 20/12/2017 13:49
Subject: Companies House secure form
Attachment: Secure Form.doc
This message has been generated by Companies House Secure Form.
(CC01) Secure Form for the above company was accepted on 20/12/2017.
Please check attached documents for more information.
The submission number is id: 412js91js-12f0-3121-9d7c-92ks221qw
Please quote this number in any communications with Companies House.
Note: Attached documents are encrypted with a unique Private Key.
Service Desk tel +44 (0)303 8097 400 or email email@example.com
Note: This email was sent from a notification-only email address which cannot accept incoming email. Please do not reply directly to this message.
EMAIL CONFIDENTIALITY NOTICE This communication contains information which is confidential and may also be privileged. It is for the exclusive use of the intended recipient(s). If you are not the intended recipient(s) please note that any distribution, copying or use of this communication or the information in it is strictly prohibited. If you have received this communication in error please notify us by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or by telephone (+44 (0)20 4323 544) and then delete the email and any copies of it.
Companies House 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. Unusually today, they are only using 1 domain and 1 download location for the Trickbot banking trojan download
Today’s example of the spoofed domains are:
- companieshousedr.com hosted on registered via Eranet as registrar allegedly by a Chinese entity 18.104.22.168 OVH AS16276 with email authentication set to send emails from all these IP ranges 22.214.171.124 | 126.96.36.199/24 | 188.8.131.52 | 184.108.40.206/24 | 220.127.116.11 | 18.104.22.168 | 22.214.171.124 | 126.96.36.199/24 | 188.8.131.52/24 184.108.40.206/24
- mta11.companieshouse.governmentforms.org registered via Todaynic.com as registrar also allegedly by a Chinese entity. The mail server is Hosted on 220.127.116.11 AS16276 OVH SAS. Whereas the Domain is hosted on 18.104.22.168Searches are now showing the governmentforms.org domain showing up with numerous different MTAxx.companieshouse. I can see them spoofing loads of different government departments using this domain. Not just in UK, but in almost every country worldwide.
|22.214.171.124||mta11.companieshouse.governmentforms.org||FR||AS16276 OVH SAS|
Received: from mta11.companieshouse.governmentforms.org ([126.96.36.199]:34587)
by knight.knighthosting.co.uk with esmtps (TLSv1.2:ECDHE-RSA-AES256-GCM-SHA384:256)
for email@example.com; Wed, 20 Dec 2017 13:48:39 +0000
From: “Companies House” <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Companies House secure form
Date: Wed, 20 Dec 2017 05:48:42 -0800
X-Mailer: Microsoft Windows Live Mail 16.4.3528.331
X-MimeOLE: Produced By Microsoft MimeOLE V16.4.3528.331
The criminals might have shot themselves in the foot here and many recipients won’t receive these because of the SPF & DKIM ( DMARC) settings, telling receiving mailservers to reject them.
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 this 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.