Threat Intelligence Blog

Posted October 15, 2009

In recent phishing attacks targeting Cyveillance and numerous other organizations, cyber criminals are exploiting outward facing Microsoft Exchange Mail Servers to customize/personalize emails in order to spoof the address of internal email addresses. Once the email addresses are spoofed, the bogus messages are sent to addresses of the organizations’ personnel. The messages ask the recipients to click on a link in order to update their Microsoft Exchange settings. Once clicked, the user is routed to a fake site that appears to be authentic. If the user clicked on the link to the executable file on the fake site, then malware was downloaded to his or her computer. After the malware is downloaded and installed, the user’s computer becomes part of a larger botnet capable of a multitude of malicious acts.

Email screenshot:

spear phishing email

This attack type was originally reported by SANS earlier this week. The SANS report can be found at Since the time of the report, the attack has become even more dangerous by adding fast flux technology to the attack. Fast flux is a method of phishing where the attacks are moved throughout a group of servers in order to evade detection and takedown.

The malware used in the attack is a Trojan-Spy virus. More information about sample… It is detected by only 4 of the top 41 anti-virus vendors according to VirusTotal.

It appears on the surface that the goal of the attacks is to increase the computing power of botnets by increasing the number of bots that belong to the network. Given the numerous organizations targeted and the methods used, this approach clearly demonstrates the sophistication of modern phishers and their ability to amplify the potential danger of attacks targeted at specific victims. By being more creative in their approach, this mixing of phishing methods increase the likelihood that the phisher’s emails will successfully reach their intended recipients. Users can minimize the potential for falling victim to these types of attacks by never clicking on links within emails and only accessing their online applications through known Web sites and pages.

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