This example is today’s latest spoof or imitation of a well-known company, bank or public authority delivering Trickbot banking Trojan. The email with the subject of “FW: Updated Account Transactions ” pretends to come from somebody named Michael L. Lucia at Bank of America Merrill Lync but actually comes from “email@example.com” which is a look-a-like, typo-squatted or other domain that can easily be misidentified, mistaken or confused with the genuine site. These have a malicious office file attachment, this one has an XLS (Excel Spreadsheet) file attachment.
Bank of America Merrill Lync 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 email in this case is pretty bland and does not contain any branding that would easily identify it as a Bank of America email. Sometimes this lack of branding and sending in plain text actually works better than an HTML email with lots of branding and identifying marks.
The criminals behind these Trickbot campaigns are masters at Social Engineering. They create very believable look-a-like, typo-squatted domains to make the email look realistic. For some strange reason when we see a plain text email with little or no branding, we tend to be less aware of the possibility of it being fraudulent and do tend to actually open attachments to this sort of email. I suppose it might be because we see so many similar emails that we just don’t bother to read it properly, only see the name & subject & just mechanically deal with it. Whereas when there is an image or branding in the email, we are more likely to look at it a bit more closely, but a very high proportion of recipients of HTML emails imitating a company or brand do also believe them & fall for the Social Engineering tricks and open them.
What has happened is that the criminals sending these have registered various domains that look like the genuine Company, Bank, Government Department or message sending service. Normally there is only one newly registered domain that imitates a well known Company, Government Department, Bank or other organisation that can easily be confused with the genuine body or website in some way. These are hosted on & send the emails from 3 or 4 different servers. Some days however we do see dozens or even hundreds of fake domains.
Today’s example of the spoofed domain is, as usual, registered via Godaddy as registrar. Because of new GDPR rules we cannot easily find the registrants name or any further details.
This is the 3rd Trickbot campaign on Monday 19 November 2018. This one targets USA / Canada. I received numerous copies of the UK targeted one, but didn’t receive any emails about the 2nd USA campaign. The only Information I have about that one is via these Tweets  . However you should be aware that there are also several different Trickbot versions currently being distributed via the Emotet malspam campaigns as a follow up malware to the initial Emotet banking trojan.
The criminals behind this and other similar Trickbot campaigns have changed the way they are registering & hosting the domains a bit recently. They used to set up the DNS to match the SPF / DMARC email authentication records. They still do that in some cases but we are seeing the actual domain hosted on a legitimate hosting company and the DNS pointed to that hosting company’s server, in this example it is Godaddy. A couple of days ago it was Microsoft, but setting Email Authentication to send from a range of servers that are hosted in a less scrupulous hosting environment. These hosting companies and servers are well known for being involved in spreading malware. All the IP numbers and ranges appear regularly in Trickbot & other mass spam & malware campaigns.
- secmail-bofa.com hosted on 188.8.131.52 p-184-168-221-50.ip.secureserver.net ( Godaddy) But sending emails via 184.108.40.206 | 220.127.116.11 | 18.104.22.168 ( all on LeaseWeb Netherlands B.V) | 22.214.171.124 (free.ptr1.ru ) but belonging to an offshore hosting registered in Seychelles but actually hosted in a data centre in Netherlands again |
You can now submit suspicious sites, emails and files via our Submissions system
From:Michael Lucia <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Mon 19/11/2018 20:10
Subject: FW: Updated Account Transactions
Updated Account Transactions
Michael L. Lucia
Assistant Vice President
Bank of America Merrill Lync
300 Broadhollow Road
Melville, NY 11747
(O) 631-547-7496 (M) 516-582-8093
This message, and any attachments, is for the intended recipient(s) only, may contain information that is privileged, confidential and/or proprietary and subject to important terms and conditions available at http://www.bankofamerica.com/emaildisclaimer. If you are not the intended recipient, please delete this message.
The alternate Download location is http://flavorcrisp.net/pig.piggy
The folder for the files & configs is: C:\Users\[User]\AppData\Roaming\vrssit
The persistence is via a scheduled task called SystemNetSafe at C:\Windows\System32\Tasks\Sysnetsf
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 DDE “exploit /Feature” and embedded ole objects 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.
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.