AZORult Malware: How HTML Smuggling Reinvents Phishing

3 min read
AZORult Malware: How HTML Smuggling Reinvents Phishing

In the ever-evolving landscape of cyber threats, malicious actors continually seek innovative ways to exploit vulnerabilities and compromise digital security. Recently, cybersecurity researchers have uncovered a sophisticated malware campaign leveraging HTML smuggling techniques to distribute AZORult, a notorious information stealer. This blog aims to dissect the intricacies of this campaign, shedding light on the modus operandi of cybercriminals and offering insights into safeguarding against such threats.

The Rise of HTML Smuggling

HTML smuggling has emerged as a sophisticated method employed by cybercriminals to circumvent conventional security measures. By embedding malicious payloads within legitimate HTML5 and JavaScript features, attackers can covertly deliver malware to unsuspecting victims. This technique has seen a notable rise due to its effectiveness in evading detection by traditional security solutions.

In recent instances, HTML smuggling has been utilized in malware campaigns such as the distribution of AZORult, a notorious information stealer. The proliferation of counterfeit web pages, often hosted on reputable platforms like Google Sites, serves as a facade to lure victims into clicking malicious links. To further obscure their activities, threat actors integrate CAPTCHA barriers, adding an additional layer of protection against detection.

As HTML smuggling continues to evolve, it poses a significant challenge to cybersecurity professionals tasked with defending against malicious cyber activities. Mitigating the threat requires a multi-faceted approach, including robust email security protocols, user education on phishing threats, and the deployment of advanced endpoint protection solutions. By remaining vigilant and adapting to emerging cyber threats, organizations can bolster their resilience against HTML smuggling and safeguard their digital assets effectively.

Understanding AZORult: A Stealthy Information Stealer

AZORult, also known as PuffStealer and Ruzalto, is a potent information stealer notorious for its ability to harvest sensitive data from infected systems. Once installed, AZORult exhibits a wide range of capabilities, including gathering credentials, cookies, browsing history, and even data from cryptocurrency wallets. Its stealthy nature and versatility make it a preferred tool for cybercriminals engaged in data theft and espionage.

The AZORult campaign orchestrates a complex attack chain, starting with phishing emails containing links to counterfeit Google Docs pages. These pages employ HTML smuggling techniques to deliver the AZORult payload, bypassing traditional security measures such as email gateways. To further obfuscate their activities, threat actors incorporate CAPTCHA barriers, adding an additional layer of protection against detection.

The Role of PowerShell and Fileless Execution

PowerShell scripts play a crucial role in the execution of AZORult malware. Through reflective code loading and bypassing disk-based detection mechanisms, attackers can deploy AZORult stealthily, minimizing the risk of detection by traditional antivirus solutions. Additionally, the campaign leverages legitimate domains like Google Sites to enhance the illusion of legitimacy, further deceiving unsuspecting victims.

Mitigating the Threat: Strategies for Defense

In light of the escalating threat posed by malware campaigns like AZORult, it's imperative for organizations and individuals to bolster their defenses against such attacks. Implementing robust email security protocols, educating users about phishing threats, and deploying advanced endpoint protection solutions are essential steps in mitigating the risk of infection. Furthermore, maintaining vigilance and staying abreast of emerging cyber threats is crucial in the ongoing battle against cybercrime.


The emergence of HTML smuggling as a vehicle for malware distribution underscores the need for proactive cybersecurity measures. By understanding the intricacies of these techniques and adopting a multi-layered defense approach, organizations can fortify their resilience against evolving cyber threats. As threat actors continue to innovate, staying one step ahead remains paramount in safeguarding digital assets and preserving the integrity of online ecosystems.

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