ASEC Weekly Phishing Email Threat Trends (April 30th, 2023 – May 6th, 2023)

AhnLab Security Emergency response Center (ASEC) 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 April 30th, 2023 to May 6th, 2023 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 FakePage with 44%. 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 second in line were infostealers like AgentTesla and FormBook that leaks user credentials saved in web browsers, emails, and FTP clients (40%). It was then followed by Worm, which took up 6%. 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 those mentioned above, Trojan (5%) and Downloader (4%) 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 web page scripts (HTM and HTML) that must be executed with a web browser. Other malware, including infostealer and downloader, came attached to emails with file extensions including compressed files (RAR, ZIP, 7Z, GZ, etc.).

Cases of Distribution

The following are distribution cases that occurred during the week from April 30th, 2023 to May 6th, 2023. The cases will be classified into FakePage 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 identical English subject and texts.

Case: FakePage

Email Subject Attachment
✈DHL Shipment Arrival Notice [AWB#*****378004]? DocParcalAWB4521DHLShipment.html
[FedEx] Notice on Import License.? FedEx – kcy***- AWB.pdf.htm
Clearance of original invoices and packing lists Original-invoice_s10320.htm
[FedEx] Import tariffs payment deadline notice (INV and AWB) AWB#989345874598.htm
Flight payment successful Check before going to airport See received file (please print)..html
Re: Fwd: Quotation Order PO# 175.htm
Re : PO#20836 Order-inquiry#02836.htm
DHL Shipping Document / Invoice Receipt DHL Shippingdoc.htm
Re:Извещение. Подробное описание проекта в файле с инструкциями и указаниями-aQvBzAZy731359.pdf
Nota Fiscal para ******.****@***.com NFE01052023br.pdf
Transaction Details Report : Contact Email : *******79@*****.com . Transaction Details(DOC).html
New Order Inquiry (Davis $ Shirtliff Co,. Ltd). confirm_order_ inquiry.html
Email account ji*h.*** will be closed , Update account to stay connected today Office 365 validation form.htm.
Re: RE: ET Info M396692 ProjectFunding-438574643-Apr28.pdf
[HDEC] RFQ_Qatar NOC Ruya Project. REQUEST_FOR_QUOTATION_HDEC_80701125254.htm
Notification of shipment for ********.in@****** AWB-Ref_#310479442.html
RFQ. Purchase-request_pdf.shtml
Lee Stiles Roofing Ltd Invoice Fixing Pricelist & Invoice #1939-doc.x.html
RIMINDER islee Confirm Your Delivery Address AWB-Ref_#310479442.HTML
Re:(Scanned) Doc~Original Copy – FYI Confirm Shipment.html

Case: Malware (Infostealer, Downloader, etc.)

Email Subject Attachment
[DHL] Acceptance of Import Declaration (Express Delivery Post Payment-Collection 18) Notice – 5039268570 Import_Declaration_5039268570_1235623437131M.rar
Re[4]: smart photos fuckimg.jpg.scr
smart photos coolimg.pif
Re[4]: very cool images PRIVATE fuck-scene.gif.pif
Inquiry 110690531TEZ_S Quote.r09
Re[2]: very nice pics fuckimages.jpg.exe
Re[5]: smart pictures private prv-scene.exe
Purchase Order 5909121522 PO no. 5909121522.arj
Re[3]: smart pictures very important fuck-imgs.exe
Invoice and packing list # TX/LO/3931/23-24 AIR SHIPMENT INVOICE TX 3931 2023 LO.xz
RE: Holiday Tours Package Booking_0256_0762pdf.7z
new order inquiry Doc_7780_0614520pdf.7z
urgent new orders packaging and delivery. Doc_7780_061161pdf.7z
Re[3]: sexy pics greatimg.gif.scr
sexy photo theimg.jpg.pif
Re[3]: beautiful photos fuckact.jpg.pif
Re: Booking Package Booking_0026_062pdf (1).7z
Re[3]: beautiful pictures private prv__photos.gif.scr
re: Adtours travel, inc Booking_5136_05842pdf.7z
Re: sexy photo just for you best_phot.gif.pif
Shipping Docs – CI & PL Cl & PL.docx
PAYMENTS – 5th May 2023 20230505_MT103_0198236541001.gz
smart photo just for you privatepctrs.jpg.pif
Re[3]: very smart images only for you wild-plp.gif.exe
smart picture superimgs.jpg.exe
beautiful pictures coolphot.gif.scr
Re[5]: super cool picture FOR YOU ONLY priv_photos.jpg.pif
Terelease- 100% Down payment Usd217,000 made to your account!!! UDB TRANSFER
beautiful picture superimgs.gif.scr
Re[4]: nice picture private best_pic.jpg.exe
Custom Leather for Mining H&M Style PS MARILN JACKET S.8 PS MARILN JACKET S.8 and Sticker Series.docx
Purchase Order #PO2300109 PO.xls
New Purchase Order May-PO_3852118 PO_3852118.r09
T.HALK BANKASI A.S. 04.05.2023 Hesap Ekstresi Halkbank_Ekstre_04052023_073379_6158824-PDF.tar
RE: [EXTERNAL] Order confirmation New order list
Purchase Order – [68048-2023031801] 68048-2023031801.001
RE: Confirmación del pedido Adjunto factura
New purchase order teams New purchase order
Fw: SOA Reminder #300536
DBS Transfer status on hold DBS.IMG
Re: New Offer 56009214 Offerr POA
order Quote_4400001478.r09
TRANSFER ORDER/Payment 50% order OV PRETEC 50% FORM.rar
RE: [EXTERNAL] Confirmación del pedido, Se adjunta nueva lista de
Quotation QUO21256.001
AW: PO-000001306 1300690531TEZ_S Quote.gz
New enquiry 31TEZ_S Quote.r09
HSBC – EXPORT BILL PROCEEDS PAID BACKTG783686CCC – Ref:[TRDAB0429159461] HSA771942-T01.rar

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. 

Keyword to Beware of: ‘Plane Ticket’   

The keyword for this week is ‘Plane Ticket.’ Attackers distributed phishing emails disguised as plane tickets, hoping to take advantage of the increase in overseas travelers during the holiday season. The emails contain the payment statement for the plane ticket. They prompt users to enter their email account credentials by requiring them to confirm the ticket. Once you enter the account credentials, they will be leaked to the attacker’s phishing server address. As such, users should always take caution when opening attachments and check the sender if the email asks to enter ID and password to prevent their personal information from being leaked. Phishing URL: https[:]//unitedmerchantbank[.]com/resources/views/email/post.php

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.

  • https[:]//formspree[.]io/f/myyazkbv
  • https[:]//www[.]cncorporation[.]co[.]th/new/1drv[.]php
  • https[:]//press[.]genesis[.]ru/cv/xlss[.]php
  • https[:]//formspree[.]io/f/myyazkbv
  • https[:]//submit-form[.]com/igEYNa0o
  • https[:]//unitedmerchantbank[.]com/resources/views/email/post[.]php
  • https[:]//submit-form[.]com/fqlAV3x1
  • https[:]//submit-form[.]com/4X38L2pE
  • https[:]//dkglobaljobs[.]com/static/js/will/exee[.]php
  • https[:]//submit-form[.]com/YSQ2tHeA

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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The post ASEC Weekly Phishing Email Threat Trends (April 30th, 2023 – May 6th, 2023) appeared first on ASEC BLOG.

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