Red Sky Alliance regularly queries our backend databases, identifying all new data containing Motor Vessel (MV) and Motor Tanker (MT) in the subject line of malicious emails.  Malicious actors use emails with Motor Vessel (MV) or Motor Tanker (MT) in the subject line as a lure to entice users in the maritime industry to open emails containing malicious attachments.  Red Sky Alliance is providing this list of Motor Vessels in which we directly observed the vessel being impersonated, with associated malicious emails.  The identified emails attempted to deliver malware or phishing links to compromise the vessels, parent companies, and ports.  Users should be aware of the subject lines used and the email addresses that are attempting to deliver the messages.



Significant Vessel Keys Words:










Figure 1. Map displaying location of attacker domains



Figure 2. Map displaying location of victim domains



Figure 3. Distribution of attacker and target domains



Table 1: List of dates, subject lines, malware detections, and sender data seen in Red Sky Alliance’s malicious email collection from last 30 days. Information extrapolated from the Subject Line. Full table attached.



The five most common subject lines seen in our recent query are as follows:

  • invoice 80022# - international offshore services jsc
  • Port Info + PDA for discharging 26000Mt fertilizer



There are several themes represented by the subject lines seen.  Specifically, we can see document notifications, invoices, expense estimates for deliveries, along with shipping notifications and requests.  These emails are seen to utilize common terminology to establish credibility.  This credibility can make for a solid lure.  In terms of the sending emails themselves, we can see impersonations of companies in many industries.  Notably, we see logistics companies, maritime project management companies, shipping companies, warehousing providers, water desalination companies, and even a Japanese toy company that focuses on emotional support products.

In addition to impersonating these companies and various types of communication, these emails are also seen to be impersonating specific vessels.  Some of the vessels being impersonated by these emails include the following:


  • DS Prosperity 7 (pictured at the beginning of this report), a general cargo ship, currently en route to Ho Chi Minh City and is sailing under the flag of Panama.
  • Amal II (pictured above), a general cargo ship, currently en route to Massawa and is sailing under the flag of Palau.
  • Joyful Resource, a general cargo ship, currently located at Bangkok and is sailing under the flag of Panama.
  • Trawind Wisdom, a bulk carrier, recently departed from Fangcheng and is sailing under the flag of Panama.
  • Nordic Oslo, a bulk carrier, current located at Portland and is sailing under the flag of Liberia.

As one might expect, fabricating a vessel name is not difficult, but using a real ship’s name does not take much effort and could result in an increase of credibility.

The top five most prevalent malware detections associated with these emails are as follows:

  • UDS:Trojan-Spy.MSIL.Noon.gen - ZoneAlarm
  • HEUR:Trojan-Spy.MSIL.Noon.gen – Kaspersky
  • Gen:Variant.Lazy.260788 – VIPRE
  • Mal/DrodRar-AIC - Sophos
  • Gen:Mail.Smite.65 - BitDefender

The MSIL class of trojans we have been seeing since 2018.  Each of the variants listed experienced some growth starting in April of 2020 and have remained relatively consistent in their detection rate.  This family of trojans tends to manifest as software meant for stealing passwords from web browsers or logging keystrokes.  As noted in previous reports, these emails are commonly seen attempting to propagate generic trojans like Gen:Variant.Lazy.260788.  Trojans marked with the Gen:Variant.Lazy indicator we have been seeing for approximately one year, with a heavy detection rate during July of 2022.  Mal/DrodRar-AIC is a return detection from the previous month’s report, but with a lowered detection rate.  Mal/DrodRar-AIC is a file infector that we have been seeing since late 2020.  File infector malware is a type of malware that is capable of infecting files for the sake of spreading to other systems.  Malicious code is attached to a variety of files (.exe, .dll, .sys, etc.) and this type of malware is often used for delivering payloads of downloading other malware.

These analytical results illustrate how a recipient could be fooled into opening an infected email and what sorts of dangers can accompany these emails.  It is common for attackers to specifically target pieces of a company’s supply chain to build up to cyber-attacks on the larger companies.   Doing so could cause the 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 and associated transportation supply line.   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.  

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 important 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.


About Red Sky Alliance





Red Sky Alliance strongly recommends ongoing monitoring from both internal and external perspectives.  Internal monitoring is common practice.  However, external threats are often overlooked and can represent an early warning of impending cyber-attacks.  Red Sky Alliance can provide both internal monitoring in tandem with RedXray notifications on external threats to include, botnet activity, public data breaches, phishing, fraud, and general targeting.

Red Sky Alliance is in New Boston, NH USA. 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 feedback@wapacklabs.com


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