Canadian banks targeted in a massive phishing campaign

December 23, 2019

Introduction

Recently, Check Point engines detected a new phishing campaign impersonating the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC).

The attack starts by sending legitimate-looking e-mails containing a PDF attachment to multiple organizations and victims from Canada:

Figure 1: Phishing e-mail

Looking into the detected artifacts revealed an ongoing phishing attack that has been going after customers of Canadian banks for at least two years. By sending highly convincing e-mails to their targets, constantly registering look-alike domains for popular banking services in Canada and crafting tailor-made documents, the attackers behind this were able to run a large-scale operation and remain under the radar for a long time.

 

Phishing Flow

The PDF attachment uses the Royal Bank’s logo, as well as an authorization code that the victim supposedly needs to renew their digital certificate for the RBC express online banking systems:

Figure 2: PDF attachment

 

When the victim clicks on any of the URLs which appear in the above document, they are led to a phishing page asking them to enter their RBC express credentials.

Although the phishing website looks identical to the login page in the official RBC website, the attackers did not invest a lot of effort into replicating it. They simply took a screenshot of the official website, and added invisible textboxes on top of the input fields to harvest the victim’s credentials:

Figure 3: Phishing page

After the victim tries to sign in, they are taken to a registration page where they are asked to enter the authorization code received via the phishing e-mail:

Figure 4: Victim is asked to insert the authorization code

 

Lastly, the victim is asked to wait while a digital certificate is supposedly being registered for them:

Figure 5: Victim’s registration is being processed

 

Old Documents

There were multiple variants of the PDF attachments, with slight differences between them. However, some of the textual instructions they contained were repetitive, used unique phrasing and appeared in more than one document.

This allowed us to hunt for more samples and find related PDFs dating back to 2017:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Figure 6: Old PDF documents
 

To evade detection, the PDFs were password-protected in some cases, and the password was mentioned in the e-mail’s body:

 

Figure 7: Password-protected attachments

 

Connecting the Dots

The phishing website which appeared in the PDF attachments we investigated at first (royalexpressprofile[.]com) resolved to a Ukrainian IP address: 176.119.1[.]80.

Examining this IP address revealed that it hosted more domains impersonating RBC in addition to other banks:

Figure 8: Domains resolving to 176.119.1[.]80

 

As it turns out, there were many more IP addresses on the same netblock 176.119.1[.]0/24 that were part of a massive infrastructure used to launch phishing attacks that attempt to steal banking credentials from Canadian victims:

Figure 9: Phishing websites resolving to IPs on the same netblock

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Figure 10: Examples of phishing pages from the same netblock

 

Blast from the Past

Some of the domains that we came across by looking up the related IP addresses had WHOIS records:

Figure 11: WHOIS information

 

Although the WHOIS records included fake information about nonexistent individuals, we were able to find other domains registered using the same details,

and we noticed an overlap with the infrastructure of a phishing attack targeting Canadian businesses reported back in 2017.

Figure 12: Old phishing infrastructure

 

Back then, the domains resolved to IP addresses on a different netblock under the same ASN: 176.119.5[.]0/24.

Figure 13: Shared WHOIS Information

 

Overall, we tracked more than 300 look-alike domains that hosted phishing websites for the following banks:

  • The Royal Bank of Canada
  • Scotiabank
  • BMO Bank of Montreal
  • Interac
  • Tangerine
  • Desjardins Bank
  • CIBC Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce
  • TD Canada Trust
  • Simplii Financial
  • ATB Financial
  • American Express
  • Rogers Communications
  • Coast Capital Savings
  • Wells Fargo

 

Indicators of Compromise

IP Addresses

176.119.1[.]76

176.119.1[.]77

176.119.1[.]79

176.119.1[.]80

176.119.1[.]82

176.119.1[.]83

176.119.1[.]84

176.119.1[.]85

176.119.1[.]86

176.119.1[.]121

176.119.1[.]122

176.119.1[.]123

176.119.1[.]124

176.119.1[.]125

176.119.1[.]126

176.119.5[.]122

176.119.5[.]123

176.119.5[.]124

176.119.5[.]125

176.119.5[.]126

176.119.5[.]162

176.119.5[.]163

176.119.5[.]164

176.119.5[.]178

176.119.5[.]179

176.119.5[.]180

176.119.5[.]181

176.119.5[.]226

111.90.151[.]82

111.90.151[.]83

111.90.151[.]84

111.90.151[.]112

 

PDF SHA1

40df19cce707b99b9124ecedbdb37f72a913b9fb

7124d5e9e70a4c0f0c3a38f89cfdd3d105dbf7b9

c80e340770432fda95ab7e2483eb4d98df07b12d

4ad806857676df0e5572d5c5c987817cae400546

9d8d85b48c5b190ffb9d382c1edae4385c6d022a

f8979debd5e682f36c2cf036bb4837969abca0e9

92c1a6fb5b8d79d8de51715fe35608856863dd22

cb80764deff2ee2c7dc5afe041f36fdd21857a8d

c02cf08ad040b659603e8bb7d8d9787183757a79

b5dc6eb53f6c8b0a3880f84449943e3d1e36c272

569c05436c9d24dabb8de6d2354ab625d808f00b

27d8d13743b93507ca26faa5f71b533f3d8019b6

374b7e4d3268db0161b12fb38366b02954b486a6

ae01f57cef03489ae769ffba11e31ec71d585abb

7fe1207c8dddec9b0fc8a9c29d29194a02460d4c

a41e005c11dd9c98a7bdd4e200e044c8b1aa92de

b1be3bb8c7203bdcb89199d5f43dfff9296e62cc

ec51945aa4825c39f9fb39403a11dbf70e1a5a27

64797cd01d01256f356742b3b9df4c564cbb52c1

 

Check Point successfully intercepted these described attacks and was able to block all of the malicious attachments involved in this campaign.

Sandblast technologiesThreat Emulation and zero phishing, automatically recognized the malicious links within the phishing documents and successfully blocked this threat.