June 20, 2021

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FIN11: Widespread Email Campaigns as Precursor for Ransomware and Data Theft

FIN11: Widespread Email Campaigns as Precursor for Ransomware and Data Theft

Mandiant Threat Intelligence recently promoted a threat cluster to a
named FIN (or financially motivated) threat group for the first time
since 2017. We have detailed FIN11’s various tactics, techniques and
procedures in a report that is available now by signing up for Mandiant
Advantage Free
.

In some ways, FIN11 is reminiscent of APT1; they are notable not for
their sophistication, but for their sheer volume of activity. There
are significant gaps in FIN11’s phishing operations, but when active,
the group conducts up to five high-volume campaigns a week. While many
financially motivated threat groups are short lived, FIN11 has been
conducting these widespread phishing campaigns since at least 2016.
From 2017 through 2018, the threat group primarily targeted
organizations in the financial, retail, and hospitality sectors.
However, in 2019 FIN11’s targeting expanded to include a diverse set
of sectors and geographic regions. At this point, it would be
difficult to name a client that FIN11 hasn’t targeted.

FIN11: Widespread Email Campaigns as Precursor for Ransomware and Data Theft

Mandiant has also responded to numerous FIN11 intrusions, but we’ve
only observed the group successfully monetize access in few instances.
This could suggest that the actors cast a wide net during their
phishing operations, then choose which victims to further exploit
based on characteristics such as sector, geolocation or perceived
security posture. Recently, FIN11 has deployed CLOP ransomware and
threatened to publish exfiltrated data to pressure victims into paying
ransom demands. The group’s shifting monetization methods—from
point-of-sale (POS) malware in 2018, to ransomware in 2019, and hybrid
extortion in 2020—is part of a larger trend in which criminal actors
have increasingly focused on post-compromise ransomware deployment and
data theft extortion.

Notably, FIN11 includes a subset of the activity security
researchers call TA505
, but we do not attribute TA505’s early
operations to FIN11 and caution against using the names
interchangeably. Attribution of both historic TA505 activity and more
recent FIN11 activity is complicated by the actors’ use of criminal
service providers. Like most financially motivated actors, FIN11
doesn’t operate in a vacuum. We believe that the group has used
services that provide anonymous domain registration, bulletproof
hosting, code signing certificates, and private or semi-private
malware. Outsourcing work to these criminal service providers likely
enables FIN11 to increase the scale and sophistication of their operations.

To learn more about FIN11’s evolving delivery tactics, use of
services, post-compromise TTPs, and monetization methods, register
for Mandiant
Advantage Free
. The full FIN11 report is also available through
our FireEye
Intelligence Portal (FIP)
. Then for even more information,
register for our exclusive
webinar on Oct. 29
where Mandiant threat intelligence experts
will take a deeper dive into FIN11, including its origins, tactics,
and potential for future activity.