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The Birth of the Royal Baby Blackhole Exploit Kit Run

24
Jul
2013

Since the first official announcement in early December last year, the world has eagerly awaited for the birth of the firstborn child of Prince William and Kate Middleton. After months of anticipation, the Duchess of Cambridge has given birth to a son, the new Prince of Cambridge, a couple of days ago.

But amid the celebrations, an old threat resurfaced. We spotted spammed messages related to the royal baby birth. The speed of these messages is remarkable, considering the official announcement was given July 22nd at 4:24pm (BST).


Figure 1. Sample spam email about the royal baby


Figure 2. “Royal Baby” related threats started appearing half a day after the official announcement

These messages appear to be from ScribbleLive, a service that provides real-time engagement platforms. The offer, of course, is false, and clicking on links in the email will only trigger multiple redirections that are typical among Blackhole exploit kit (BHEK) spam runs. BHEK is a page that cybercriminals use to determine what software versions are used by a victim so that the page can deliver the “correct” exploit.

In this case, the script that triggers the redirections is detected as JS_OBFUSC.BEB. Based on initial reports, US, Japan, and Australia were the top countries that accessed the final URL in the infection chain. As more users from the UK go online during their morning, looking for news about the royal baby, we can expect to see more infection hits from this area.


Figure 3. More than half of the hits came from the US

Exploit kits such as the Blackhole Exploit Kit offers cybercriminals great convenience in terms of deploying spam runs. It becomes much easier for them to modify the different aspects of a spam run: its social engineering lure, the exploits it uses, and its payloads.

These social engineering lures often come in the form of recent events, such as the Boston Marathon incident and the election of Pope Francis.

This particular BHEK run is not limited to the royal baby alone. Other spammed messages took advantage of the controversy surrounding the upcoming sci-fi film Ender’s Game. While these messages are made to look like an article from CNN, clicking on links will trigger the same redirections as that of the royal baby spam.


Figure 4. Sample spam email about Ender’s Game

Additional analysis by Maela Angeles and Ruby Santos

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