Finally I Saw One!

Update: F-Secure posted in their blog the complete description on how the patient 0 was found: And here it is the infamous “2011 recruitment plan message”.

Have a look to the fake sender: a message from beyond…

Original Post follows:

I am working hard for the August 2011 Cyber Attacks Timeline (stay tuned it is almost ready! Meanwhile you may check the previous ones) while I stumbled upon this very interesting article. Yes, I may say that finally I saw one of the Emails used for spear phishing attacks against RSA customers, using compromised seeds.

As you will probably know everything started on March 17, 2011, when RSA admitted to have been targeted by a sophisticated attack which led to certain information specifically related to RSA’s SecurID two-factor authentication products being subtracted from RSA’s systems.

Of course the sole seed and serial number of the token (the alleged information subtracted) is not enough to carry on a successful attack, so the attacker (whose possible target were presumably RSA customers) had to find a way to get the missing pieces of the puzzle, that is the username and the PIN. And which is the best way? Of course Spear Phishing!

And here the example of a fake spear phishing E-mail targeting one of the One of America’s Most Secret (and Important) Agencies and in the same Time RSA customers:

Likely the same attack vector was utilized against three Contractors (RSA Customers) which were targeted by attacks based on compromised SecurID seeds between April and May (Lockheed Martin, L-3, and Northrop Grumman). What a terrible year for Contractors and DHS related agencies!

By chance today F-Secure revealed to have discovered the patient zero, that is the mail (“2011 Recruitment Plan”) used to convey the APT inside RSA. Someone (who decided to follow the best practices for anomalous e-mails) submitted it to Virus Total, a cloud based service for scanning files, and it looks like that F-Secure antimalware analyst Timo Hirvonen discovered the e-mail message  buried in the millions of submissions stored in this crowd-sourced database of malicious or potentially malicious files.

Original Source of Spear Phishing E-mail:, Kudos to @yo9fah for reporting me the link.

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