The discovery was made by researchers at security firm PhishMe that found the names of show characters and other references into the source code of the Visual Basic script used by the crooks.
The Visual Basic script is included in the ZIP or RAR archive attached to email spam used in the ransomware campaign. When the victims open the archive and run the VB script contained within, it would download and install the Locky ransomware.
“Lightweight script applications designed to deliver malware often use rotating or pseudorandom variable names to ensure that the malware delivery tools look unique. In this case, many of the variables (some misspelled) referred to characters and events from the globally-popular television fantasy epic Game of Thrones.” states Phishme.
Experts discovered in the VB script reference to the TV show such as “Aria,” “SansaStark,” “RobertBaration,” “JohnSnow,” or “HoldTheDoor” .
“The runtime for this script is indifferent to the variable names. The variable names could be anything, including completely random combinations of letters and numbers. However, the criminals responsible for this attack chose a distinctive theme for their variables, thereby revealing their interest in this pop culture phenomenon.” continues PhishMe.
Pierluigi Paganini is member of the ENISA (European Union Agency for Network and Information Security) Threat Landscape Stakeholder Group and Cyber G7 Group, he is also a Security Evangelist, Security Analyst and Freelance Writer.
Editor-in-Chief at "Cyber Defense Magazine", Pierluigi is a cyber security expert with over 20 years experience in the field, he is Certified Ethical Hacker at EC Council in London. The passion for writing and a strong belief that security is founded on sharing and awareness led Pierluigi to find the security blog "Security Affairs" recently named a Top National Security Resource for US.
Pierluigi is a member of the "The Hacker News" team and he is a writer for some major publications in the field such as Cyber War Zone, ICTTF, Infosec Island, Infosec Institute, The Hacker News Magazine and for many other Security magazines.
Author of the Books "The Deep Dark Web" and “Digital Virtual Currency and Bitcoin”.