Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Attacks/Breaches

New Email Campaign Employs Malicious URLs

A new attack dropping the Quant Loader Trojan bypasses scanners and sandboxes.

When it comes to malware, email still reigns supreme as the delivery mechanism of choice. The reasoning is simple: It's cheap, it's easily spoofed, and recipients are accustomed to getting messages from various sources. That means when a new attack is found, there's a good possibility that it will spread successfully.

Researchers at Barracuda Networks found, through analyzing attacks on its customer network, a new Quant Loader Trojan campaign using Samba shares as a mechanism - rather than the more common http:// protocol. The result could be a new wave of ransomware attempts, a new round of keystroke loggers, or worse.

The new campaign has similarities to the FlawedAmmyy RAT campaign identified by Proofpoint several weeks ago. In both campaigns, the file:// URL prefix is used to trigger a file download via either SMB protocol or Samba. According to Fleming Shi, senior vice president of advanced technology at Barracuda, this mechanism has several benefits to the attacker when compared to traditional Web downloads.

First, because the URL is malformed and doesn't involve the http:// prefix, it isn't flagged by many defense systems as malicious. "So when they actually analyzed the file, analyzed the behavior, they found it not malicious because the URL was not active," Shi says. "At a later date they'll activate the URL, do the secondary download, and launch the attack."

Quant Loader itself is a Trojan that can be used to distribute a variety of malware payloads, including ransomware and password stealers. It is sold on underground forums and allows the user to configure the payload(s) upon infection using a management panel.

Stephen Boyer, CTO and co-founder of Bitsight, says that it's no wonder that criminals are still using email as a primary attack vector for malware. "I can send you a message without any previous relationship, or knowledge, or authentication scheme," he says. "So that's that's why it's been so effective."

In spite of the potential danger, email is still the most critical messaging form used by business, so there's no real option that includes simply not looking at, opening, or responding to email.

This latest campaign has not limited itself to a single malware payload, Shi says, so it can't be assumed to all be from a single source. In addition, he says there's a characteristic of this campaign that made it especially interesting to researchers.

"We believe the sophistication in this is the ability to alter the packaging at a pretty rapid pace," Shi says. "And also, this wasn't just one day and they went away - they actually kept going."

He says he and his team saw the campaign repeated over more than three weeks, with evidence of its evolution within that timeframe.

Unlike some recent malware outbreaks that have been geographically targeted, Shi says that this latest campaign has had targets all over the UK and North America. The one constant, he says, is English used as the language in the email, though that could easily be changed in future attacks.

Related Content:

Interop ITX 2018

Join Dark Reading LIVE for an intensive Security Pro Summit at Interop IT X and learn from the industry’s most knowledgeable IT security experts. Check out the agenda here.Register with Promo Code DR200 and save $200.

Curtis Franklin Jr. is Senior Editor at Dark Reading. In this role he focuses on product and technology coverage for the publication. In addition he works on audio and video programming for Dark Reading and contributes to activities at Interop ITX, Black Hat, INsecurity, and ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Aviation Faces Increasing Cybersecurity Scrutiny
Kelly Jackson Higgins, Executive Editor at Dark Reading,  8/22/2019
Microsoft Tops Phishers' Favorite Brands as Facebook Spikes
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  8/22/2019
Capital One Breach: What Security Teams Can Do Now
Dr. Richard Gold, Head of Security Engineering at Digital Shadows,  8/23/2019
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
7 Threats & Disruptive Forces Changing the Face of Cybersecurity
This Dark Reading Tech Digest gives an in-depth look at the biggest emerging threats and disruptive forces that are changing the face of cybersecurity today.
Flash Poll
The State of IT Operations and Cybersecurity Operations
The State of IT Operations and Cybersecurity Operations
Your enterprise's cyber risk may depend upon the relationship between the IT team and the security team. Heres some insight on what's working and what isn't in the data center.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2016-6154
PUBLISHED: 2019-08-23
The authentication applet in Watchguard Fireware 11.11 Operating System has reflected XSS (this can also cause an open redirect).
CVE-2019-5594
PUBLISHED: 2019-08-23
An Improper Neutralization of Input During Web Page Generation ("Cross-site Scripting") in Fortinet FortiNAC 8.3.0 to 8.3.6 and 8.5.0 admin webUI may allow an unauthenticated attacker to perform a reflected XSS attack via the search field in the webUI.
CVE-2019-6695
PUBLISHED: 2019-08-23
Lack of root file system integrity checking in Fortinet FortiManager VM application images of all versions below 6.2.1 may allow an attacker to implant third-party programs by recreating the image through specific methods.
CVE-2019-12400
PUBLISHED: 2019-08-23
In version 2.0.3 Apache Santuario XML Security for Java, a caching mechanism was introduced to speed up creating new XML documents using a static pool of DocumentBuilders. However, if some untrusted code can register a malicious implementation with the thread context class loader first, then this im...
CVE-2019-15092
PUBLISHED: 2019-08-23
The webtoffee "WordPress Users & WooCommerce Customers Import Export" plugin 1.3.0 for WordPress allows CSV injection in the user_url, display_name, first_name, and last_name columns in an exported CSV file created by the WF_CustomerImpExpCsv_Exporter class.