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 14, 2019 to November 21, 2019.
Subject Line Used
Nov 16, 2019
MV DA TONG YUN VOY 40 WILL CALL/Request of PDA
Exploit:O97M/CVE-2017-8570.APK!MTB - Microsoft
Nov 18, 2019
MT PROVIDENCE - Dry Docking & Repairs - Request for Quotation from TEREM- SHIPYARD
Trojan:Win32/Wacatac.B!ml - Microsoft
Nov 18, 2019
Re: MV UBC TARRAGONA - CREW CHANGE REF NO: C19-2251-012
Trojan:Win32/Dynamer!rfn - Microsoft
Nov 19, 2019
REQUEST QUOTATION - MT ORIENTAL GLORY
HEUR:Exploit.RTF.CVE-2017-11882.gen - Kaspersky
Nova Marine Carriers SA <email@example.com>
Targets not reported
Nov 19, 2019
MV TBN // PDA REQUEST
Troj/DownLnk-AK - Sophos AV
Chun An International Logistics Co Ltd <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Targets not reported
Figure 3. Marine Traffic results for the Da Tong Vessel
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 an actual 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!MTB. 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.
Figure 4. MT Providence info from Marinetraffic.com
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.
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 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.
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 in New Boston, NH. We are a Cyber Threat Analysis and Intelligence Service organization. For questions, comments or direct assistance, please contact Red Sky directly at 1-844-492-7225, or email@example.com
Link to full Vessel Impersonation report: Vessel_Impersonation_TR-19-326-001a.pdf