CEO subpoena phishing attacks

July 22, 2008

On April 14, 2008 hundreds of CEOs received an official looking subpoena via email requesting to appear in San Diego in front of a grand jury. This was a targeted attack known as "whaling". The emails were only sent to CEOs and they looked legitimate, including personalized name, phone number, and company for each recipient.

The email contained a link to http://CACD-USCOURTS.COM to view the details of the "subpoena". This domain was registered by an individual in UK 2 days prior to the attack and the web server was hosted in China. The link actually went to a Trojan file, which pretended to be Adobe Acrobat PDF Reader ActiveX Control. Here is a screenshot of the subpoena email.

SonicWALL released a GAV signature to protect against web downloads of malware exploiting the fake subpoena social engineering. The initial Trojan was first seen in the wild on April 14, 2008. Since April 15, 2008, users of SonicWALL’s Unified Threat Management technology have been protected against this threat with the GAV: Small.BSL (Trojan) signature.