Red Sky Alliance, perform weekly queries of backend databases, identifying all new data containing Motor Vessel (MV) and Motor Tanker (MT) in the subject line of malicious emails. Email subject line Motor Vessel (MV) or Motor Tanker (MT) keyword usage is a common lure to entice users in the maritime industry to open emails containing malicious attachments.
With our cyber security partner we are providing a weekly list of Motor Vessels where it is observed that the vessel is being impersonated, with associated malicious emails.
The identified emails attempted to deliver malware or phishing links to compromise the vessels and/or parent companies. Users should be aware of the subject lines used and the email addresses that are attempting to deliver the messages.
In the above collection, we see malicious actors attempting to use vessel names to try to spoof companies in the maritime supply chain. This week we observed a large percentage of these malicious emails attempting to deliver Windows trojan malware. Some of the new vessel names used this week include “MV EVER IMPERIAL” and “MV SEA CHAMPION” among others. Notably, we observed “Maersk Kleven” again in our malicious emails index.
Analysts observed another malicious email containing the subject line used last week, “WG: RE : URGENT!!! SHIPPING DOC BL,SI,INV#462345 // MAERSK KLEVEN V.949E.” However, this week the email sender and recipients are different. Last week, the emails were being sent from “A.P. Moller – Maersk.(Shanghai, Head Office),” whereas “Babel Markus (Gechter GmbH)” is the sender in this case. Gechter is identified as a German “(Machine) press specialist.”
The email was sent from one employee (Markus) to another employee at the company (Sven). Malicious emails sent within the company tend to be more successful as they are less likely to get caught in mail filters. Many variants of malware use contact lists to propagate across company networks.
It appears that the email originating from last week’s Shanghai Maersk sender targeted Markus Babel, a Sales Manager at Gechter GmbH. The email data was then forwarded from Markus’ email address, in .dat format, to Sven Dresel. It is unclear if this was done intentionally as a security notification or if this is part of the malware infection process. There was no message body observed in the forwarded version of the email which is suspicious.
In a separate malicious email, with subject line “M/V Amir Joy PDA REQUESTb” analysts observed attackers impersonating the “procurement” division of a company. As with many malicious emails, the salutation is generic – “Dear sirs,.”
The email attachments, when opened, immediately trigger an alert from a Windows AV engine. The malware is identified as a phishing attempt “Trojan:HTML/Phish.” When each file is opened (“vsl partl Amir1.doc” & “Vssl Picture.xlsm”), it activates a Microsoft sign-in prompt. Notably, the Excel file is .xlsm indicating that macros are enabled.
The email in this case targets a recipient at naver[.]com. Naver is a South Korean online news/search portal. Once the employee enters their credentials into the MS prompt, they would be captured and sent back to the attacker. The attacker can then commit supply chain attacks and target other employees at the company.
The message body of the email mentions the Motor Vessel Amir Joy and the discharge of 18,000 MT of potatoes. As with many malicious emails, there are grammatic and spelling issues. Also noticeable is the lack of professional signature from “Ms. Alma Jones.” Many professionals sign their vessel documentation emails with their contact information and/or a company logo. It is unclear which “office” Alma Jones is coordinating, as the sending domain does not appear to be registered to any legitimate company, let alone one in the maritime industry.
Weekly Maritime Watchlist
Top 5 Malicious Maritime Subject Lines
The more convincing an email appears, the greater the chance employees will fall for a scam. To address this residual risk, software-based protection should be treated as one constituent of a wider strategy that also encompasses the human-element as well as organizational workflows and procedures.
Source: Dryad Global