Microsoft is warning of a new phishing campaign that involves using Teams messages as lures to infiltrate corporate networks. The threat group behind this campaign, tracked as Storm-0324 (aka TA543 and Sagrid), is a financially motivated group known to gain initial access using email-based initial infection vectors and then hand off access to compromised networks to other threat actors, which frequently lead to ransomware deployment. They are known to have deployed Sage and GandCrab ransomware in the past. Additionally, Storm-0324 has also provided the well-known FIN7 (aka Sangria Tempest) cybercrime gang access to corporate networks after compromising them using JSSLoader, Gozi, and Nymaim.
Storm-0324’s methods have changed over the years. As of July 2023, the phishing lures are sent over Teams with malicious links leading to a malicious ZIP file hosted on SharePoint. To accomplish this activity, the group leverages an open-source tool called TeamsPhisher, which is a Python-language program that enables Teams tenant users to attach files to messages sent to external tenants, which can be abused by attackers to deliver phishing attachments. The phishing lures used by threat actors are identified by the Teams platform as “EXTERNAL” users if external access is enabled in the organization. This issue was also previously exploited by APT29 in attacks against dozens of organizations, including government agencies worldwide. Details regarding the end goal of Storm-0324’s attacks have not been provided at this time, however, APT29’s attacks are aimed to steal the targets’ credentials after tricking them into approving MFA prompts.
Microsoft says they are taking these phishing campaigns seriously and have rolled out several improvements to better defend against these threats. They have suspended identified accounts and tenants associated with inauthentic or fraudulent behavior. Microsoft has rolled out enhancements to the Accept/Block experience in one-on-one chats within Teams, to emphasize the externality of a user and their email address so Teams users can better exercise caution by not interacting with unknown or malicious senders. In addition to this, they’ve implemented new restrictions on the creation of domains within tenants and improved notifications to tenant admins when new domains are created within their tenant.
SecurIT360 SOC Managed Services
If you utilize our SOC Managed Services for MDR and/or EDR, we are actively monitoring the release of IoCs related to this threat actor. Along with standard vendor threat feed and signature updates, we will proactively upload these to our SOC tools if applicable.
As always, if we detect activity related to this campaign, we will alert you if warranted.
Please feel free to contact the SOC via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or telephone (844-474-1244) if you have any questions or concerns.
Ongoing Storm-0324 and Sangria Tempest JSSLoader email-based infection chain
As per Microsoft, to harden networks against Storm-0324 attacks, defenders are advised to implement the following:
- Pilot and start deploying phishing-resistant authentication methods for users.
- Implement Conditional Access authentication strength to require phishing-resistant authentication for employees and external users for critical apps.
- Specify trusted Microsoft 365 organizations to define which external domains are allowed or blocked to chat and meet.
- Keep Microsoft 365 auditing enabled so that audit records could be investigated if required.
- Understand and select the best access settings for external collaboration for your organization.
- Allow only known devices that adhere to Microsoft’s recommended security baselines.
- Educate users about social engineering and credential phishing attacks, including refraining from entering MFA codes sent via any form of unsolicited messages.
- Educate Microsoft Teams users to verify ‘External’ tagging on communication attempts from external entities, be cautious about what they share, and never share their account information or authorize sign-in requests over chat.
- Educate users to review sign-in activity and mark suspicious sign-in attempts as “This wasn’t me”.
- Implement Conditional Access App Control in Microsoft Defender for Cloud Apps for users connecting from unmanaged devices.
- Configure Microsoft Defender for Office 365 to recheck links on click. Safe Links provides URL scanning and rewriting of inbound email messages in mail flow, and time-of-click verification of URLs and links in email messages, other Microsoft Office applications such as Teams, and other locations such as SharePoint Online. Safe Links scanning occurs in addition to the regular anti-spam and anti-malware protection in inbound email messages in Microsoft Exchange Online Protection (EOP). Safe Links scanning can help protect your organization from malicious links that are used in phishing and other attacks.
- Enable Zero-hour auto purge (ZAP) in Microsoft Office 365 to quarantine sent mail in response to newly acquired threat intelligence and retroactively neutralize malicious phishing, spam, or malware messages that have already been delivered to mailboxes.
- Practice the principle of least privilege and maintain credential hygiene. Avoid the use of domain-wide, administrator-level service accounts. Restricting local administrative privileges can help limit installation of RATs and other unwanted applications.
- Turn on cloud-delivered protection and automatic sample submission on Microsoft Defender Antivirus. These capabilities use artificial intelligence and machine learning to quickly identify and stop new and unknown threats.
- For additional recommendations on hardening your organization against ransomware attacks, refer to threat overview on human-operated ransomware.
Microsoft customers can turn on attack surface reduction rules to prevent common attack techniques:
- Block executable files from running unless they meet a prevalence, age, or trusted list criterion
- Use advanced protection against ransomware
Resources & Related Articles
- Malware distributor Storm-0324 facilitates ransomware access
- Microsoft Warns of New Phishing Campaign Targeting…
- Ransomware access broker steals accounts via Microsoft Teams phishing
- Storm-0324 gathers over Microsoft Teams | Computer Weekly