Leveraging COVID-19 themes for malicious purposes. [Research Saturday]

Guest Joe Slowik joins us from DomainTools to discuss his team’s research “COVID-19 Phishing With a Side of Cobalt Strike.” Multiple adversaries, from criminal groups to state-directed entities, engaged in malicious cyber activity using COVID-19 pandemic themes since March 2020. Adversaries continue to leverage the pandemic, arguably the most significant issue globally as of this writing, in various ways. Yet the most persistent avenue remains using COVID-19 themes for building malicious document files. Examples include lures associated with Cloud Atlas-linked activity and broader targeting of health authorities.

Given the continued significance of the pandemic and persistent use of pandemic themes by adversaries, DomainTools researchers continuously monitor for items leveraging COVID-19 content for malicious purposes. While conducting this research, DomainTools analysts identified an interesting malicious document with what appeared to be unique staging and execution mechanisms.

Research can be found here:

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