Disguised executable files in spear-phishing emails: Detecting the point of entry in advanced persistent threat


In recent years, cyber attacks have caused substantial financial losses and been able to stop fundamental public services. Among the serious attacks, Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) has emerged as a big challenge to the cyber security hitting selected companies and organisations. The main objectives of APT are data exfiltration and intelligence appropriation. As part of the APT life cycle, an attacker creates a Point of Entry (PoE) to the target network. This is usually achieved by installing malware on the targeted machine to leave a back-door open for future access. A common technique employed to breach into the network, which involves the use of social engineering, is the spear phishing email. These phishing emails may contain disguised executable fi les. This paper presents the disguised executable le detection (DeFD) module, which aims at detecting disguised exe files transferred over the network connections. The detection is based on a comparison between the MIME type of the transferred fi le and the fi le name extension. This module was experimentally evaluated and the results show a successful detection of disguised executable files.


The file attached to this record is the author's final peer reviewed version. The Publisher's final version can be found by following the DOI link.


Security and privacy, Intrusion detection systems, Network Security, Advanced Persistent Threat


Ghafir, I., Prenosil, V., Hammoudeh, M., Aparicio-Navarro, F.J., Rabie, K., Jabban, A. (2018) Disguised executable files in spear-phishing emails. Proceedings of the 2nd International Conference on Future Networks and Distributed Systems - ICFNDS ’18, Article 44, Amman, Jordan, June 2018.


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