This morning we began seeing a large volume of messages that ultimately lead to the install of the “Asasin” ransomware, aptly named after the naming convention used when encrypting the user’s files. We have been seeing this Ransomware type for about a week now but it is now relying on a new infection technique.


While in the past we have seen the majority of payload carrying malicious Office Documents relying heavily on embedded VBA Macro’s, these are using a different approach that appears to be having some success evading AV engines.

USERS BEWARE – Watch where you click

The message theme is straightforward and simple, claiming to be an invoice and spoofed to appear to come from the same domain of the recipient. They all carry a .doc attachment that uses the DDE “feature” to call PowerShell. It then reaches out to an infected web page to pull down more malicious code.

This is very similar to the DDE exploit campaign that we wrote about last week here, just this time it is being used on a much larger scale. The infection process relies on some clicking by the end user but a percentage of folks would not hesitate to do so.

You can see below how the attackers are using DDE to call PowerShell and to envoke System.Net.WebClient. This is then downloading the malicious payload from the infected web page alexandradickman[dot]com.

Here’s a look at the XML the attacker is using to deliver this payload and prompts the end user will see:


After opening the attachment the user must click past the two following prompts:


Once the user has clicked “yes” twice, the attack chain is complete. The ransomware then goes to work doing its normal routine of encrypting files and demanding ransom from the user.

The email campaign we saw utilizing the DDE funtion last week was very targeted and much lower volume. But, today’s campaign is being pumped out in large quantities. Thus far we have quaratined over 4 million of these messages.

Network administrators should take notice to this attack vector and disable PowerShell for ALL non-essential personnel. This can be done rather easily via Group Policy in Active Directory. If you have not done this, go and do it now… we’ll wait here.


Are you following AppRiver’s social media? Like us today on FACEBOOKTWITTER, YOUTUBE and LINKEDIN.

What is KRACK?

Welcome to another manic Monday! Some might say, “welcome to the next dumpster fire.” In any case, if you follow InfoSec security news feeds, you have probably heard of a newly released set of vulnerabilities in the WPA2 wireless authentication protocol. These collectively are know as the Key Reinstallation Attack vulnerabilities or KRACK vulnerabilities. Steve Ragan (@SteveD3) broke the details this morning in his CSO Online post which describes the vulnerabilities. This type of attack has been “branded” with the name Krack Attacks and the latest details can be found here.

Read More

Move over macros, Office DDE exploits arrive!

Office macros have been the primary choice of attacks by malicious actors for years.  IT administrators and users have learned to be cautious before running macros. The Dynamic Data Exchange (DDE) protocol has been around much longer but hadn’t been used for attacks.  It’s a communication protocol that allows programs to share data with each other.

In 2016, Sensepost researchers authored an article describing how DDE exploits may be used with Microsoft Excel formulas. It allows specially crafted formulas to run applications on the machine and return data from web requests.  Unlike macros, the formulas don’t currently execute with an option to display a security warning to the user.  Excel isn’t the only application that offers these formulas, Word includes the option as well.  Macros, OLE objects, and RTF exploits have been the main attack Office vectors, however, we expect DDE will gain traction since it is lesser known.

Read More