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Tuesday, November 21, 2023

New Phishing Assault Hijacks Electronic mail Thread to Inject Malicious URL

Researchers found a brand new marketing campaign delivering DarkGate and PikaBot that employs methods much like these employed in QakBot phishing makes an attempt.

This operation sends out a lot of emails to a wide range of industries, and since the malware transmitted has loader capabilities, recipients could also be weak to extra complicated threats corresponding to reconnaissance malware and ransomware.

“These embrace hijacked electronic mail threads because the preliminary an infection, URLs with distinctive patterns that restrict consumer entry, and an an infection chain almost equivalent to what we have now seen with QakBot supply,” Cofense Intelligence acknowledged in a report shared with Cyber Safety Information.

An infection Chain 

The techniques, strategies, and procedures (TTPs) used on this marketing campaign make it a high-level risk as a result of they permit phishing emails to achieve their focused targets, and the malware they distribute has subtle capabilities.

A hijacked electronic mail thread is used firstly of the marketing campaign to trick prospects into visiting a malicious URL with additional layers. This restricts entry to the malicious payload to customers who match sure standards supplied by the risk actors (location and net browser).

This URL downloads a ZIP archive containing a JS file often known as a JS Dropper, a JavaScript program that connects to a different URL to obtain and execute malware. At this level, the DarkGate or PikaBot malware has efficiently contaminated a sufferer.

An infection chain used within the marketing campaign

Essentially the most distinguished characteristic of those malware households is their skill to ship further payloads as soon as they’re efficiently planted on a consumer’s PC.

Superior crypto mining software program, reconnaissance instruments, ransomware, or some other malicious file the risk actors select to put in on a sufferer’s laptop is likely to be delivered by way of a profitable DarkGate or PikaBot an infection.


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“Menace actors disseminate the phishing emails via hijacked electronic mail threads that could be obtained from Microsoft ProxyLogon assaults (CVE-2021-26855). That is vulnerability on the Microsoft Alternate Server that permits risk actors to bypass authentication and impersonate admins”, researchers clarify.

Figure 3: Real hijacked email thread example that delivered PikaBot (ATR 351964).
Actual hijacked electronic mail thread that delivered PikaBot

The e-mail’s malicious URL has a definite sample much like these present in QakBot phishing assaults. Menace actors have added layers to those URLs to limit entry to the malicious file they’re delivering, making them extra subtle than your typical phishing URL.

Therefore, workers must be conscious that this sort of risk exists, because the marketing campaign’s risk actors have abilities that transcend these of a typical phisher.

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