The Waledac gang continues to improve on Storm’s tried and tested spamming technique. Fake news and alarming headlines are standard Storm email contents since the botnet’s most notorious variant, NUWAR, started sending out messages warning users of looming nuclear wars.
Waledac recently started a new spamming operation using that same old social engineering technique:
Figures 1, 2, and 3. Sample spammed messages.
The links in these messages lead to malicious websites where Waledac variants are eventually downloaded. What’s new here is that these websites are engineered to vary according to the location of the email recipient. Users are explicitly told that an explosion happened in their respective cities:
Figure 4. A user in the Philippines would see this localized malicious website.
Trend Micro Advanced Threats Researcher Paul Ferguson explains that this is done by using GeoIP to determine the location of the victims who surf to a booby-trapped server hosting the bogus news website. The spammed messages themselves have generic content, but the sites they point to modify the city names in the headline depending on the IP location of the user. This serves as an effective social engineering technique in an attempt to sow fear and paranoia.
However, this is not the first time Waledac attempted to use this localization technique, according to Advanced Threats Researcher Joey Costoya, Waledac has been using this GeoIP functionality back in February, when the botnet sent fake coupons. A user from Manila would see the following:
Figure 4. Malicious website.
Users from other regions would see another. Because the threat is localized and is made to look more personal, the possibility of users actually believing the content of the sites is increased.
The Smart Protection Network also blocks Waledac websites. Our engineers are analyzing this threat further. We will update this post as soon as more information becomes available.
Other Waledac entries: