Here is a pretty funny and / or really serious
(depending on your frame of reference) utility that exploits a low
level SMTP vulnerability by design. In effect, this allows one to send an email FROM ANY
ADRESS, as long as the domain doesn't actually exist. That may sound
like a tough restriction but I can testify that anything from a
realistic sounding new division name, theoretically something like
has a very high potential of being opened.
Note: One more limitation I've discovered
just recently while testing this out is that some large technically
mature companies (not naming names) block these messages, but I'm not
sure if that's because of the non-existent domain or some other
filtering mechanism. Thus the screenshots of the tool in
action below show the use of a newly created gmail account:
Ready: Double-click to Launch. Set: Fill in the details. Sp00f.
Email Received (Malicious file left out...for my own benefit)
Obviously the hacker joy would come not
from merely spoofing an email, however, most of the infamous hacks of
2011 initial attack vectors were simple emails or instant messages:
From a New York Times article on the RSA HACK: "In the attack on RSA, the attacker sent “phishing” e-mails with the
subject line “2011 Recruitment Plan” to two small groups of employees
over the course of two days. Unfortunately, one was interested enough to
retrieve one of these messages from his or her junk mail and open the
attached Excel file. The spreadsheet contained malware that used a
previously unknown, or “zero-day,” flaw in Adobe’s Flash software to
install a backdoor. "
From the Wired article on the Google Hack : " Alperovitch said researchers are still trying to determine if this
occurred through a URL sent to employees by e-mail or instant messaging
or through some other method, such as Facebook or other social
Although a new term has arisen to classify these in-depth penetrations and multiple execution of privilege escalation exploits to acquire the proper access, APT - Advanced Persistent Threat, but that seems to be more of a politically correct acronym to refer to China's Highly Trained Teams of Attacker's Techniques.
Regardless of the motivations behind these attacks, the infiltrations were textbook cases
(granted the book came out after the attacks) of chained exploits
utilizing targeted reconnaissance and then, of special significance
in this context, Spearphishing, as detailed in just a couple of the many many attacks that occurred in 2011 - which has since been dubbed "The Year of The Hacker".
For more information and a nice timeline on the most prominent 2011 'Cyber Attacks', see Hackmageddon