Sochi Olympics Terrorism Fears Used as Bait for Targeted Darkmoon Campaigns

While the Sochi Winter Olympics may now be over without incident, considering all of the media attention and fears surrounding a potential terrorist attack at the event, it should come as no surprise that cyberattackers were preying on these uncertainties to target potential victims of interest.

During the games, Symantec saw multiple targeted email campaigns that used Sochi Olympics themes to bait potential victims. These observed email campaigns were blocked by our Symantec.Cloud service. In one such campaign, we saw that targets were being sent the following email.


Figure 1. Email purporting to relate to a terrorist threat at the Sochi Olympics

In this campaign, attackers were using the social engineering ploy of a terrorist threat at the Sochi Olympics to lure in their victims. While the email does not look professional, the curiosity for the content can still be enough to persuade an individual to open the attachment. If a victim fell prey to opening the attachment, their computer became infected with Backdoor.Darkmoon. Darkmoon is a popular remote access Trojan (RAT) which is often used in targeted attacks, as seen in a recent Symantec blog about how the G20 Summit was used as bait in targeted emails and in the 2011 Symantec whitepaper, The Nitro Attacks.  

In another targeted campaign using the Sochi Olympics theme, we observed the following email that was being sent by an attacker to targets of interest.

Figure 2.
Email purporting to relate to military co-operation at the Sochi Olympics

Again, as seen in the email, the attackers used the social engineering ploy of military co-operation around the Sochi Olympics. This time, the payload was Trojan.Wipbot. This Trojan is associated with another similar targeted attack campaign, which included an attack that used a Windows zero-day elevation of privilege vulnerability.

These attacks highlight the ongoing need for vigilance when receiving any unsolicited emails. They also reinforce what is already known — targeted attackers are quick to make use of the latest news or events to enhance the chances of success for their social engineering ploy. The campaigns also highlight how targeted email attacks are showing no sign of dissipating anytime soon.

As always, we advise customers to use the latest Symantec technologies and incorporate the latest Symantec consumer and enterprise solutions to best protect against attacks of any kind.