HTML smuggling campaigns impersonate well-known brands to deliver malware

Trustwave SpiderLabs researchers have cited an increased prevalence of HTML smuggling activity whereby cybercriminal groups abuse the versatility of HTML in combination with social engineering to distribute malware. The firm has detailed four recent HTML smuggling campaigns attempting to lure users into saving and opening malicious payloads, impersonating well-known brands such as Adobe Acrobat, Google Drive, and the US Postal Service to increase the chances of users falling victim.

HTML smuggling uses HTML5 attributes that can work offline by storing a binary in an immutable blob of data (or embedded payload) within JavaScript code, which is decoded into a file object when opened via a web browser. It is not a new attack method, but it has grown in popularity since Microsoft started blocking macros in documents from the internet by default, Trustwave SpiderLabs wrote. The four malware strains that have recently been detected using HTML smuggling in their infection chain are Cobalt Strike, Qakbot, IcedID, and Xworm RAT, the firm added.

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