Red Sky Alliance performs weekly queries of our 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. Red Sky Alliance is providing this weekly list of Motor Vessels in which Red Sky Alliance directly observed the vessel 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.
Significant Vessel Keys Words:
very large crude carrier
ultra large crude carrier
floating production storage & offloading
Table 1: List of subject lines, motor vessel, type of malware sent and sender data that was seen in Red Sky Alliance’s malicious email collection from November 7, 2019 to November 13, 2019.
Subject Line Used
Nov 8, 2019
MV LE MIN VOY1793 CALLING FOR DISCHARGING
Trojan:Script/Oneeva.A!ml - Microsoft
Mr.YANG Hao Lin
Nov 8, 2019
MV HAESUNG TBN EPDA REQUEST
HEUR:Trojan-Downloader.VBS.Agent.gen - Kaspersky
Nov 9, 2019
AGENT NOMINATION - MV. COLUMBA / SEA NET - LDG 50,000MT 12% MOLOO OF LIME STONE IN BULK
HEUR:TrojanDownloader.VBS.Agent.gen - Kaspersky
SEA NET SHIPPING CO., LTD. <email@example.com>
Figure 3. Marine Traffic results for the Le Min Vessel
In the above collections for MV Le Min, MV Haesung and MV Columba we see malicious actors using these vessel names to try and spoof companies in the maritime supply chain.
MV Le Min is an actual general cargo ship operating under the flag of China. Analysis reveals that a malicious email was sent to at least one domain that appears to be obfuscated. The malware that was attempted to be sent is Trojan:Script/Oneeva.A!ml. The subject line of the malicious email is: “MV LE MIN VOY1793 CALLING FOR DISCHARGING”.
An unsuspecting employee at any company receiving this email address would see an email with this Subject Line, possibly tempting them to open the email to see the details of an apparent call for discharge. 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.
Figure 4. Haesung info from Marinetraffic.com
In another example, we see a subject line of: “MV HAESUNG TBN EPDA REQUEST” The intended target of this malicious email is a domain which also appears to be obfuscated. The MV Haesung is a real gas carrier ship sailing under the flag of Korea, currently docked near Seoul, South Korea. 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 MV Haesung, 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 HEUR:Trojan-Downloader.VBS.Agent.gen malware detected by Kaspersky.
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. 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 AllianceRedXray 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.
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.
- Emphasize maintaining constant attention to real-world cyber consequences of careless cyber practices or general inattentiveness.
- Provide practical guidance on how to identify 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 Blacklists to proactively block cyber attacks from identified malicious actors.
About Red Sky Alliance
Red Sky Alliance is located in New Boston, NH. We are a Cyber Threat Analysis and Intelligence Service organization. For questions, comments or assistance, please contact the lab directly at 1-844-492-7225, or firstname.lastname@example.org.