Chinese Hackers Using 42,000 Phishing Domains To Drop Malware On Victims Systems

An extensive phishing campaign targeting businesses in numerous upright markets, including retail, was discovered by Cyjax recently in which the attackers exploited the reputation of renowned brands, and this includes the following business sectors:-

  • Banking
  • Travel
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Travel
  • Energy
  • Transport

Fangxiao is a group classified as a financially motivated threat actor suspected of being based in China and is alleged to be behind this campaign. 

It has been estimated that more than 42,000 unique domains have been registered by the group since 2019 and the numbers are growing on a daily basis.

All these domains mimic famous brands through which they trick users and redirect them to sites that promote the following things:-

  • Adware apps
  • Dating sites
  • Free giveaways

Since the beginning of 2017, threat actors have been operating around the globe, with more than 400 renowned brands being spoofed.

Companies Affected

There are a number of companies that have been affected by this issue, which we have outlined below:-

  • Emirates
  • Singapore’s Shopee
  • Unilever
  • Indonesia’s Indomie
  • Coca-Cola
  • McDonald’s
  • Knorr

Sometimes the victims are redirected by the Fangxiao threat actors to malicious websites where they were infected with Triada or other malware. Recently, there have been reports of Triada spreading through fake WhatsApp apps that are propagating the malware, Researchers said.

In spite of this, Fangxiao has yet to establish a direct connection with the operators of these websites.

Technical Analysis

There are approximately 300 newly registered domain names that Fangxiao registers every day that imitate brands. Malicious operators have used a total of 24,000 landing pages and survey domains to promote their fake prizes since the beginning of March 2022.

In general, operators use the following TLDs for the majority of their websites:

  • .top
  • .cn
  • .cyou
  • .xyz
  • .work
  • .tech

It is important to note that the websites are secured behind Cloudflare and they have been registered through the following platforms:-

  • GoDaddy
  • Namecheap
  • Wix

In most cases, users are directed to these websites through mobile ads or WhatsApp messages that include a link with an offer or an announcement about winning something.

Google and Facebook have marked the landing pages for “ylliX” ads as suspicious, as clicking on these ads will lead to a different redirection chain within the landing sites.

Several indications were found during Cyjax’s investigation into Fangxiao that indicate the operator to be Chinese. A control panel that was exposed was found to be displaying Mandarin characters.

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BALAJI is a Former Security Researcher (Threat Research Labs) at Comodo Cybersecurity. Editor-in-Chief & Co-Founder - Cyber Security News & GBHackers On Security.

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