Dridex Malware alert issued by US-CERT

In a recent US-CERT/CISA alert on Dridex malware and its various iterations, information is confirmed that this malware has the capability to impact confidentiality of customer data and availability of data and systems for business processes. According to industry reporting, the original version of Dridex first appeared in 2012, and by 2015 had become one of the most prevalent financial Trojans. We expect actors using Dridex malware and its derivatives to continue targeting the financial services sector, including both financial institutions and customers.

Actors typically distribute Dridex malware through phishing e-mail spam campaigns. Phishing messages employ a combination of legitimate business names and domains, professional terminology, and language implying urgency to persuade victims to activate open attachments. Sender e-mail addresses can simulate individuals (name@domain.com), administrative (admin@domain.com, support@domain.com), or common “do not reply” local parts (noreply@domain.com). Subject and attachment titles can include typical terms such as “invoice”, “order”, “scan”, “receipt”, “debit note”, “itinerary”, and others.

The e-mail messages vary widely. The e-mail body may contain no text at all, except to include attachments with names that are strings of numbers, apparently relying on the subject line and victim curiosity to coerce the opening of the malicious file. Where there is a message body, the body may specifically state that the contents of the e-mail underwent virus scanning or simply directs the victim toward the link or attachment. In other cases, the body may include a long, substantive message, providing multiple points of contact and context for the malicious attachment. Attachment and hyperlink names vary from random sets of numbers or imitation automatic filenames from scanners to filenames purporting to reference financial records. Attachments may or may not have direct references using the same file name or strings of numbers in the bodies of the e-mails.

Example Links and Filenames (Note: link information is representative. Italicized statements are automatically generated by the cloud storage provider. # represents a random number.):

  • Link: HTTPS://WWW.GOOGLE[.]COM/URL?Q=HTTPS://WWW.(Cloud Services Provider)[.]COM/S/(Cloud Account Value) /RECENT%20WIRE%20PAYMENT %######.SCR?(Cloud Provided Sequence)
  • Link: HTTPS://WWW.GOOGLE[.]COM/URL?Q=HTTPS://WWW.(Cloud Services Provider) [.]COM/S/ Cloud Account Value/AUTOMATEDCLEARINGHOUSE%20 PAYMENT####.DOC? (Cloud Provided Sequence)
  • Link: Malicious File: ID201NLD0012192016.DOC

Attachments or eventual downloads can take a variety of formats. In some instances, malware downloaders are concealed in compressed files using the ZIP or RAR file formats.  Occasionally compressed files within compressed files (double zipped) are used. The compressed files can include extensible markup language (.xml), Microsoft Office (.doc, .xls), Visual Basic (.vbs), JavaScript (.jar), or portable document format (.pdf) files. Many of the files, rather than containing the actual malware, contain hidden or obfuscated macros. Upon activation, the macros reach to a command and control server, FTP server, or cloud storage site to download the actual Dridex malware. In other cases, macros launch scripts that extract executables imbedded in the document as opposed to downloading the payload.

By default, software generally prevents execution of macros without user permission. Attached files, particularly .doc and .xls files, contain instructions on how a user should enable content and specifically macros, effectively using social engineering to facilitate the download. Malicious files sometimes even include screenshots of the necessary actions to enable macros.

For further details, please refer to the original US-CERT/CISA alert on Dridex malware.