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Maritime Cyber Security & Threats November 2019 Week Three

By November 25, 2019Intelligence 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 Seen Subject Line Used Malware DetectionsSending email Targets
Nov 16, 2019MV DA TONG YUN VOY 40 WILL CALL/Request of PDAExploit:O97M/CVE-2017-8570.APK!MTB - Microsoft
Ops Vandamarine

info@gicom.nl
Nov 18, 2019MT PROVIDENCE - Dry Docking & Repairs - Request for Quotation from TEREM- SHIPYARDTrojan:Win32/Wacatac.B!ml - Microsoft
info@zaboplant.nl
Nov 18, 2019Re: MV UBC TARRAGONA - CREW CHANGE REF NO: C19-2251-012Trojan:Win32/Dynamer!rfn - Microsoftlsabella Papavasiliou

info@gicom.nl
Nov 19, 2019REQUEST QUOTATION - MT ORIENTAL GLORYHEUR:Exploit.RTF.CVE-2017-11882.gen - KasperskyNova Marine Carriers SA Targets not reported
Nov 19, 2019MV TBN // PDA REQUESTTroj/DownLnk-AK - Sophos AVChun An International Logistics Co Ltd Targets not reported

In the above collections for MV Da Tong, MT Providence, MV UBC Tarragona and others, we see malicious actors using these vessel names to try and spoof companies in the maritime supply chain.

MV Da Tong is a general cargo ship operating under the flag of Panama. Analysis reveals that a malicious email was sent to the domain Gicom.nl which registers to the GICOM Composting Systems & Metaalbewerking company. This is a Metal Processing company located in the Netherlands. The malware that was attempted to be sent is Exploit:O97M/CVE-2017-8570.APK!MTB1. The subject line of the malicious email is: “MV DA TONG YUN VOY 40 WILL CALL/Request of PDA”.

An unsuspecting employee at the GICOM metal processing company would see an email with this Subject Line, possibly tempting them to open the email to see the details of an apparent PDA request. If this malware is delivered, with any of these exploits, any recipient could become an infected member of the maritime supply chain and thus possibly infect victim vessels, port facilities and/or shore companies in the marine / oil and gas supply chain with additional malware.

In the next example, we see a subject line of: “MT PROVIDENCE – Dry Docking & Repairs – Request for Quotation from TEREM- SHIPYARD” The intended target of this malicious email is a domain which also appears to be obfuscated. The MT Providence is a real oil and chemical tanker ship sailing under the flag of Greece, currently sailing, in the Sea of Marmara north of Turkey. At first glance by any recipient of this email, a gas carrier vessel is appearing to request shipping documents. To any employee of a shipping or logistics company that may be expecting the arrival of the MT Providence, this would appear to be a legitimate email and would likely entice them to click on the email and thus download malware like the listed Trojan:Win32/Wacatac.B!ml malware detected by Microsoft.

Our Experts Say

Dryad Assessment

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

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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