Let’s say you’re a fan of DC Comics and visit their webpage frequently. If I were to ask you to recall the IP address of dccomics.com in order to visit the website, chances are you wouldn’t know it. The IP would have no meaning to you. Domain names make surfing the Internet easy for us to get where we want to go. In our security research, domain names play a vital role. Often times, just by seeing a domain name one can easily narrow down the domains that may be malicious, parked, or used for phishing.
For instance, phishing domain names are made to look closely like banking sites or other popular brands in order to lure the user into entering their private credentials.
Ah! A classic Apple phishing page.
We see a lot of domains that are “parked” in our daily research. Parked domains are like placeholders waiting to serve content. You will typically see “Coming Soon” when visiting. At Cisco Umbrella, we may make the decision to block certain parked domains if they’re seen to host malicious links or redirects, or appear to be typo-squatting to phish users.
Recently we had a set of domain names that at first glance, appeared to be a list of parked domain names. We pivoted through our information on these domains in order to learn more about their infrastructure.
GETTING A CLOSER LOOK
The amount of queries as seen on our resolvers to one of these domains was fairly low:
This pattern would usually lead us to the conclusion that it was in fact only a parked domain name. However, things got a little more interesting when we saw the following subdomains:
When a domain is parked and not hosting any content, it’s suspicious to see multiple subdomains with any notable query traffic. Some of these subdomains resemble DGAs.
WHO? WHAT? WHERE?
These domains were all registered to email addresses with usernames consisting of random letters and numbers at the domain qq[.]com. Interestingly, the domains were all registered on the 21st – 26th of a given month. These were registered in September, February and November
We know that qq[.]com is a free hosting provider. Someone may have written a mechanism that creates e-mail accounts with random characters, which were used to register the domain names. The email addresses all differed and appeared random. The company’s name was the same for most.
VIEWING THE CONTENT
The domains all contained content similar to the picture below:
A few domains redirected to other websites with unfinished pages. The top banner image and domain name did not appear to have any relationship to the content displayed. It appears to be a template that isn’t interactive and only hosted as a placeholder.
Among the list of domains registered to these email addresses, we found domain names that appear to be phishing for Apple credentials.
While the content displayed on these pages does not appear to have any relationship to the domain name and is not currently serving a phishing page, we suspect that the registrant is experimenting with page templates on these domains names and getting ready to launch a phishing campaign.
We’re staying vigilant by watching these domains, registrants, and overarching patterns to protect our customers from new badness. We will continue to keep you updated as we find these new threats!