It's better to call ahead before sending malware, Symantec finds

French-speaking organizations are receiving bogus calls asking them to check an invoice, which is actually malware

Hackers are finding it pays to call ahead before sending malware-laden email.

Symantec has seen what it describes as a sophisticated social engineering campaign aimed at French-speaking accounting and finance department employees. The victim is called and asked in French if they can process an invoice sent by email.

The style of attack, known as "spear phishing," has been used against French organizations, including subsidiaries in Romania and Luxembourg.

"There is evidence to suggest that these attacks began as early as February 2013, however, it was only more recently in April that phone calls were being placed prior to sending the victim the phishing email," Symantec wrote on its blog.

The attackers obtain the victim's phone number and email -- both pieces of information that are generally easy to find. Their targets would have access to sensitive financial information, and handling invoices would be part of their normal course of business.

"Since handling invoices is something they would do on a regular basis, this lure has the potential to be quite convincing," Symantec wrote. "Each element of this attack requires careful planning and contributes to the overall success rate of the attack."

The email contains either a malicious link or an attachment, which is malware. Symantec said the attached program is a variant of "W32.Shadesrat," which is a remote access Trojan that hackers use to steal information from a computer.

Shadesrat can steal passwords and conduct distributed denial-of-service attacks, according to a writeup from Symantec from 2011.

Shadesrat can be licensed for US$40 to $100 a year, Symantec said.

The company said the attackers may have just limited information on their targets and recommended those receiving a call ask additional questions to verify the caller is legitimate. Sensitive information should also be encrypted.

"Organizations also need to be aware that personally identifiable employee information that exists outside of your enterprise, even in the form of an invoice, can be used against you if a business associate becomes compromised," Symantec wrote.

Send news tips and comments to jeremy_kirk@idg.com. Follow me on Twitter: @jeremy_kirk

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jeremy Kirk

IDG News Service
Topics: symantec, security, Exploits / vulnerabilities, malware
Comments are now closed.

Latest News Articles

Most Popular Articles

Follow Us

GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Resources

Best Deals on GoodGearGuide

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?