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Maritime Cyber Security & Threats February 2020 Week Three

By February 23, 2020Intelligence Insights
The case for pre-emptive defence

Vessel Impersonation Report

Dryad Global’s cyber security partners, 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.

Tactical Cyber Intelligence Reporting

First SeenSubject Line UsedMalware DetectionsSending EmailTargets
Feb 14, 2020MV OCEAN HERO : CTM DELIVERYTrojan:Win32/AutoitInject.BH!MTB"Remittance Dept" [email protected]adsale-hk.com
Feb 14, 2020CORONA VIRUS / AFFECTED VESSEL TO AVOIDVBS/Agent.VT!trWorld health organization [email protected]ntu.edu.sg, portauthority.com
Feb 14, 2020MV Ivy Ocean - agency appointmentTrojan:VBS/Sonbokli.A!clFAIRWIND INTERNATIONAL SHIPPING CO., LTD [email protected]Target not disclosed
Feb 14, 2020OCEAN BREEZE CHARTERING ORDER LIST P.O #345267Trojan:Win32/Wacatac.C!ml"Mamunul Hoque" [email protected]mozadom.ml
Feb 16, 2020MV WAF PASSIONTrojan:Win32/Wacatac.D!ml"[email protected]" [email protected]e1.co.kr
Feb 17, 2020M.V. GLORY WISDOM discharging about 5,000mt of H-BEAM.Trojan:Win32/Wacatac.D!ml"Glory shipping Co., Ltd." [email protected]Target not disclosed
Feb 17, 2020VSL \"Mt Rainbow \" ETA. & PDA.Trojan:Win32/Wacatac.D!mlLeon z-Well Line [email protected]lsnikko.com
Feb 17, 2020RE: M.T. SWAN BALIC Q060005531 - 0610126MSWord/Agent.BUH!trHUA SHIPPING
TRADING GROUP [email protected]
Feb 18, 2020NOTICE OF ARRIVAL VSL M/T HANYU GLORYExploit:O97M/CVE-2017-11882.ARJ!MTBHK Marine - OPS-ADMIN [email protected]yamatosingapore.com
Feb 18, 2020Port agency appointment for M/V OCEANIATrojan:Win32/Wacatac.D!ml"Alvin Yew"[email protected]kraeber.de
Feb 18, 2020MV GOODLUCK berthing Call/PDA RequestTrojan:Win32/Wacatac.C!ml"Shinsung Shipping CO. LTD" [email protected]Target not disclosed.
Feb 18, 2020Fw: RE : RE : URGENT!!! SHIPPING DOCUMENTS // MAERSK KLEVEN V.949E // CLGQOE191781 //MSOffice/Agent.SS!exploitA.P. Moller - Maersk. [mailto:[email protected]]lottechem.my

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 see a large percentage of these malicious emails attempting to deliver Wacatac, with the D variant showing up for the first time. Vessel names seen include “MV WAF PASSION”, and “MV OCEAN HERO” among others. One malicious email included in our report this week does not attempt to impersonate a vessel. However, it attempts to impersonate a Corona Virus advisory from the World Health Organization warning of vessels with infected crew.

An email was observed attempting to impersonate “MV OCEAN HERO” using a subject line of “MV OCEAN HERO : CTM DELIVERY”. According to maritimetraffic.com, this name is shared by a Singaporean Oil/Chemical tanker, a Panamanian general cargo carrier, and another general cargo ship sailing under the Hong Kong flag. It is unclear which, if any, the attackers were attempting to impersonate. Or, if they were simply trying to increase their chances of success with a recipient being familiar with the vessel name and opening the email.

Analysis reveals that the malicious email was sent to a recipient at the adsale-hk.com domain. Although this domain holds only a parking page hosted by Texas ISP Confluence Networks, it could be that the attackers were attempting to target adsale.hk.com, a Chinese trade media group.

The message contains an attached Excel spreadsheet identified by Microsoft as the Trojan:Win32/AutoitInject.BH!MTB malware.[1] The message body contains a request Cash To Master services in the amount of $60,000 USD referencing an attached document for details. However, opening the attachment could activate the malware. The malware exploits the Auto-IT IT automation suite to perform actions on target. Historical Trojan:Win32/AutoitInject.BH!MTB samples have delivered ransomware and credential stealing payloads.

In another example, we see an email attempting to impersonate the vessel “MV WAF PASSION” using the subject line “MV WAF PASSION – PDA”.

The vessel name belonged to a Sri Lankan General Cargo vessel until October 5, 2019 when the name was changed to ZEA PASSION and then changed again to MERCS PASSION at an unknown time.

Analysis of the email headers show it was sent from a Chicago, Illinois IP address hosted by Unreal Servers to a recipient at the e1.co.kr domain hosted by South Korean ISP LG DACOM Corporation. E1 is a South Korean liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) importer that claims to control 50% of the country’s LPG imports.[2] Interestingly, the message has a suspicious Reply-To email address ([email protected]) that is not affiliated with the impersonated sender.

An attachment titled “MV WAF PASSION.rar” is identified by Microsoft as “Trojan:Win32/Wacatac.C!ml”. This malware can “perform a number of actions of a malicious hacker’s choice on your PC.”[3]

The subject line “CORONA VIRUS / AFFECTED VESSEL TO AVOID” suggests the message contains a list of vessels with infected crew. However, the message body provides guidelines and procedures for ships Masters to avoid crew infection. There are also numerous calls to action in the message body enticing recipients to open, fill out, and return the attached forms by email. The attached document, an Excel spreadsheet named “”CORONA VIRUS AFFECTED CREW AND VESSEL.xlsm” echoes the subject line in its promise to reveal affected (infected) crew and vessels. With the Corona Virus being a hot topic globally, this tactic could evoke an emotional response in the recipient causing them to open the message without looking closely for indications of a spoofed message, which could trigger the malware.Lastly, A malicious email was observed impersonating the World Health Organization (WHO), specifically Monika Kosinska, Project Manager at the WHO Regional Office for Europe.[4] The email was sent from a Coventry, United Kingdom IP address hosted by Fat Shark, Ltd. (sharkservers.co.uk) to recipients at the ntu.edu.sg and portauthority.com domains. The domain ntu.edu.sg is owned by Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. The portauthority.com domain redirects to www.ports.com and resolves to a London, United Kingdom based IP address hosted by World News PTE. LTD.

Typically, the use of language is a good indicator of a spoofed message. Errors in grammar and punctuation can indicate a non-native English speaker originated a message. This is especially indicative when the attacker is trying to impersonate a sender who is expected to fluently speak and write the language. Overall, the use of language in this message is good, but on close inspection there are punctuation errors, capitalization errors, and slight phrasing issues throughout. These are errors that a former resident of the UK, Kings College graduate, and fluent English language speaker like Ms. Kosinska is unlikely to make.[5]


[2] http://e1.co.kr/Eng/CO/Company/CO_eIntro.aspx

[3] https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/wdsi/threats/malware-encyclopedia-description?Name=Trojan:Win32/Wacatac.D!ml&ThreatID=2147749373

[4] https://www.ehfg.org/about-us/advisory-committee/monika-kosinska


Our Experts Say

Dryad Assessment

These analyses illustrate how opening any infected email, could cause a recipient to become an infected member of the maritime supply chain and thus possibly infect victim vessels, port facilities and/or shore companies in the marine, agricultural, and other industries with additional malware.

Fraudulent emails designed to make recipients hand over sensitive information, extort money or trigger malware installation on shore-based or vessel IT networks remains one of the biggest day-to-day cyber threats facing the maritime industry. These threats often carry a financial liability to one or all those involved in the maritime transportation supply chain.

Pre-empt, don’t just defend

Preventative cyber protection offers a strong first-line defense by preventing deceptive messages from ever reaching staff inboxes, but malicious hackers are developing new techniques to evade current detection daily. Using preemptive information from Red Sky Alliance RedXray diagnostic tool, our Vessel Impersonation reports and Maritime Blacklists offer a proactive solution to stopping cyber-attacks. Recent studies suggest cyber-criminals are researching their targets and tailoring emails for staff in specific roles. Another tactic is to spoof emails from the chief executive or other high-ranking maritime contemporaries in the hope staff lower down the supply chain will drop their awareness and follow the spoofed email obediently. Analysts across the industry are beginning to see maritime-specific examples of these attacks.

Global Dryad

Weekly Maritime Watchlist

Top 5 Malicious Maritime Email Senders

SenderMalware Sent
[email protected]Exploit:O97M/CVE-2017-0199.ARJ!MTB
[email protected]Trojan:Win32/Wacatac.D!ml, Trojan:Win32/Occamy.C
[email protected]Trojan:Win32/Wacatac.C!ml, JS/Phish.AB38!tr, Trojan:Win32/Predator.BC!MTB
[email protected]Trojan:VBS/Sonbokli.A!cl
[email protected]JS/Phish.AB38!tr

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.

It is imperative to:

  • Train all levels of the marine supply chain to realize they are under constant cyber-attack.
  • Stress maintaining constant attention to real-world cyber consequences of careless cyber practices or general inattentiveness.
  • Provide practical guidance on how to look for a potential phishing attempt.
  • Use direct communication to verify emails and supply chain email communication.
  • Use Red Sky Alliance RedXray proactive support, our Vessel impersonation information and use the Maritime Black Lists to proactively block cyber attacks from identified malicious actors.

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