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Same Operation, Diversification of Targets Being Spoofed: Current Black Hole Exploit Kit Spam Runs


As a continuation of our efforts to protect customers as outlined in our previous post, this post is an update on the current Black Hole Exploit Kit spam run activity. We’ve been identifying Black Hole Exploit Kit spam runs for a while and so far, it continues to have high activity. These spam runs remain a concern for organizations spoofed by spammers, owners of compromised websites, and the number of users receiving these phishing emails. The solutions we’ve released for these spam runs with unique insight from big data analysis and the power of Trend Micro Smart Protection Network are still effectively detecting and addressing email sent by spammers.

Changes in Black Hole Exploit Kit Spam Runs

We’ve noticed recently that while the same strategy is still being used, the spammers have now added new legitimate organizations to spoof. Specifically, they mimic legitimate emails from these entities in phishing email to lure users into clicking the URL in the message. The attack starts with spam containing a link to a compromised website which redirects users to the website where malware is hosted. As mentioned, the difference is that the organizations that are spoofed in the attack have diversified.

Recent Activity with Diversified Organizations

The following table includes the dates of recent activity, which also includes some of the new organizations being spoofed by Black Hole Exploit Kit spammers:

Date Organizations
May 29 Bank of America
May 30 PayPal
May 31 Monster
June 1 Century Link
Detroit Basketball
The HoneyBaked Ham Company
June 3 The Federal Reserve System
June 4 Verizon
June 5 Amazon
June 6 AT&T
June 7 LinkedIn

Sample Infection Chain

Below is the infection chain for the Black Hole Exploit Kit spam run that spoofed Amazon, AT&T, and PayPal which is just an example of the massive spam runs our experts track and release solutions for as the attacks occur:

As this activity continues, we will continue to track and ensure that solutions for these runs remain effective and release updated solutions as necessary. Also, we’ve mentioned in our previous post of a better way to handle the black hole exploit kit than focusing at the infection point. Since the email is the initial entry point, detecting these phishing mails is an effective way to combat this threat. We will talk more about the effectiveness of our solution in an upcoming blog post.

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