ASEC Weekly Phishing Email Threat Trends (December 18th, 2022 – December 24th, 2022)

The ASEC analysis team monitors phishing email threats with the ASEC automatic sample analysis system (RAPIT) and honeypot. This post will cover the cases of distribution of phishing emails during the week from December 18th, 2022 to December 24th, 2022 and provide statistical information on each type. Generally, phishing is cited as an attack that leaks users’ login account credentials by disguising as or impersonating an institute, company, or individual through social engineering methods. On a broader note, the act is a technical subterfuge that enables the threat actor to perform attacks such as information leaks, malware distribution, and fraud against various targets. The focus of this post will be on the fact that phishing attacks mainly occur through emails. We will also provide a detailed classification of various attack methods that are based on phishing emails. Furthermore, we will make an effort to minimize user damage by introducing new attack types that have never been found before and emails that require users’ caution, along with their keywords. The phishing emails covered in this post will only be those that have attachments. Emails that have malicious links in the body without attachments will be excluded.

Phishing Emails

During this week, the most prevalent threat type seen in phishing email attachments was Infostealer, taking up 35%. Infostealer includes malware such as AgentTesla and FormBook, and they leak user credentials saved in web browsers, emails, and FTP clients.

It was then followed by FakePage, which took up 34%. FakePages are web pages where the threat actor has imitated the screen layout, logo, and font of the real login pages or advertising pages, leading users to enter their account and password information. The input information is sent to the threat actor’s C2 server or used to induce users to access other fake websites. See <FakePage C2> below

The third-in-line was Worm Malware with 11%. Worm is a type of malware that has a feature to spread, where it uses various methods for spreading, with one of them being using the SMTP protocol to send emails in mass quantity.

Aside from these, Downloader (10%), Trojan (6%), and Dropper (4%) types were detected.

The threat types using phishing email attachments and their order of prevalence are similar to the order of malware distribution published weekly in the <ASEC Weekly Malware Statistics>.

File Extensions in Phishing Emails

We have identified which file extensions were used by the threats above for the distribution of email attachments. FakePages were distributed with PDF documents or web pages scripts (HTML, HTM) that must be executed with a web browser. Other malware, including Infostealer and downloader, came attached to emails with various file extensions including compressed files (RAR, GZ, TAR, Z, etc.), IMG disk image files, and DOCX document files. With the exception of FakePages that are distributed through web pages script files and PDFs, other malware types were distributed with a variety of file extensions regardless of the threat type. Among the phishing email attachment types, the compressed file variant showed a particularly showed a high percentage with 29%.

Cases of Distribution

The following are distribution cases that occurred during the week from December 18th, 2022 to December 24th, 2022. The cases will be classified into fake login pages and malware types, including Infostealer, Downloader, Exploit, and Backdoor. The numbers in email subjects and attachment filenames are unique IDs and may vary depending on the email recipient. Distribution cases with Korean subjects were also found. These are cases that specifically targeted Korean users instead of propagating themselves globally using the identical English subject and text.

Case: FakePage

Email Subject Attachment
FW: RE: FW: FW: B/L Notice – SWA0259760 AWB-87466784.html
Incoming Call For ****@****.com -: Caller ID Received Ref# Voice 230 (455763).html
Incoming Mail Error 6_Suspended_Messages-01.html
sin asunto (283304)
Factura_F_2690_F548FD90-ECC4-41FA-8F60-8ECDB27DFA07.html
TT USD $20,080.49 SWIFT.html
USD Payment COPY USD-INVOICES.shtml
WIRE USD $33,242.31 SWIFT.html
Ahoj Harrison Family Foundation Newsletter.pdf
Atencion! ultima advertencia (160568)
CFEG380213QM5_Factura_B_43609_BA8FE438-D923-4772-BA1-166ED8359417.pdf
Aviso de Factura – REF (129397)
CFEG380213QM5_Factura_B_43609_BA8FE438-D923.pdf
Buenas Noches, para para solicitarle la factura S58023046299758 – adjunto Detalles (233574) Archivos-F2654.pdf
Comprobante Fiscal Digital No. – (984647)
01_365896d-a55z-7lkj-lamshd-36598e32mb0101.pdf
FW: [SP-22-288938] **** **** Sales Portal : Regarding your Spiff claim Document_19_dec_81054642.pdf
LAS FACTURAS PARA TRAMITE DE PAGO (773046)
FACTURA ST146_VANGUARDIA ENERGIA_1988532.pdf
POR FAVOR CONFIRMAR Y CORREO. REALIZO EL PAGO DE LA COTIZACIËN T597517902 (422191) Fichero-H1332.pdf
RV: Saludos, envio facturas 15 Diciembre 2022 – REF – (941489) factura.pdf

Case: Malware (Infostealer, Downloader, etc.)

Email Subject Attachment
RE: Shipping PI CS/2022-23/024 Documents & Shipment advise Est. E.T.D 28 DEC
SHIPPING_DOC_BLBNTHCM22120020_20221221_PDF.rar
Payment copy payment copy.gz
PO#3006376 Chile Orders PO#3006376 Chile Orders.PDF.Z
Fwd: Zaplata Zaplata.jpeg.img
nice pics coolphotos.pif
Re[2]: very nice pics greatpic.gif.exe
wonderful pics superact.gif.exe
ORDER ENQUIRY ORDER ENQIRY #093727664.rar
DHL Shipment Notification dhl dd.rar
Payment copy payment copy.gz
Buchung für neues Jahr Dokumentieren.docx
Re[5]: cool pics great_imgs.gif.exe
New Inquiry/22-0567 Euro industriel New Inquiry 221219.tar
Re[4]: very wonderful pics only for you great__photos.exe
INV. & PL FOR COMERCIAL ECCSA S.A. SEA SHIPMENT Payment Invoice.rar
Sistema New Order – 221221-2009 Sistema-221221-2009.img
T.HALK BANKASI A.S. 22.12.2022 Hesap Ekstresi
Halkbank_Ekstre_20221222_073809_405251-PDF.tar
Due Invoice Payments Nvoices status.rar
beautiful pics thephotos.pif
Re: Payment (URGENT BANK ACCOUNT) INVOICE_VM220200200305.IMG
Re:Payment Advice
INWARDREMITANCE48990021337565990_pdf.img
Re:Transfer Confirmation Payment Confirmation 789001_pdf.img
order ORDER 19-12-22.IMG
ASUNTO: Asesoramiento de Standard Chartered Bank Pago_Aviso.img
Re: Payment (URGENT BANK ACCOUNT) INVOICE_VM220200200204.IMG
The ASEC analysis team has selected keywords that users must look out for, based on the distribution cases above. If these keywords are included in the subject of the email, or if the same characteristics are found, users must exercise strict caution as they may be phishing emails from threat actors.

Keywords to Beware of: ‘RAR Compressed File

The keywords for this week are’RAR Compressed File.’ The RAR file extension took up the highest percentage in the Compress type out of all phishing attachments. The subject of emails attached with RAR compressed files included various order delivery-related keywords such as ‘shipping,’ ‘payment,’ ‘invoice,’ and ‘order.’ Some emails also used actual delivery companies’ names in their subjects. Below is an email attached with such RAR compressed file, and when the file is decompressed, it reveals an Infostealer in the EXE format.

FakePage C2 URL 

When users enter their IDs and passwords on the login pages among the FakePages created by the threat actor, their information is sent to the attacker’s server. The list below shows the threat actor’s C2 addresses of fake login pages distributed during the week.

  • hxxps://gojobs.in/xzx/dhl.php
  • hxxps://formspree.io/f/mayzwypz
  • hxxps://formspree.io/f/xvonpqea

Preventing Phishing Email Attacks

Attacks using phishing emails are disguised with content that can easily deceive users, such as invoices and tax payments, to induce users to access fake login pages or execute malware. Fake login pages are evolving by the second to closely resemble the original pages. The attackers pack malware in compressed file formats to escape the attachment scans of users’ security products. Users must practice strict caution and refer to recent cases of distribution to avoid being exposed to infection by malicious phishing emails. The ASEC analysis team recommends users follow the email security guidelines below.

  • Do not execute links and attachments in emails from unverified senders until they are proven to be credible.
  • Do not enter sensitive information such as login account credentials until the site is found to be reliable.
  • Do not execute attachments with unfamiliar file extensions until they are found to be reliable.
  • Use security products such as antimalware software.

According to the MITRE ATT&CK framework, phishing email attacks correspond to the following techniques.

  • Phishing for Information (Reconnaissance, ID: T1598[1])
  • Phishing (Initial Access, ID: TI1566[2])
  • Internal Spearphishing (Lateral Movement, ID: T1534[3])

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Categories:Statistics

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