Payslip Email SPAM

Also Known As: TrickBot trojan
Type: Trojan
Distribution: Low
Damage level: Severe

Payslip virus removal guide

What is Payslip?

"Payslip" is an email spam campaign discovered by My Online Security. Cyber criminals use this campaign to spread a trojan-type virus called TrickBot. The email contains text informing users of a 'payment' and encourages them to open an attached MS Office document for more details. This document is malicious - it downloads and installs the aforementioned malware.

Payslip malware

The email states that users have received their "payslip". The message also states that the attachment contains detailed information. Bear in mind that this "Payslip" spam campaign is designed to proliferate malware. The email addresses that send this spam typically contain text relating to government and/or taxes (e.g., one discovered email was from Research shows that cyber criminals continually register dozens of deceptive email addresses and domains containing names of legitimate companies and government departments. This is done to trick users into opening email attachments - emails received from known companies are more convincing. As mentioned, "Payslip" is used to spread TrickBot - a trojan designed to hijack Internet browsers to collect various logins/passwords. Cyber criminals might gain access to victims' personal accounts (bank, PayPal, social networks, etc.) and misuse them to generate revenue (via money transfers, identity theft, etc.) Therefore, the presence of the TrickBot trojan can lead to serious privacy issues and financial loss. Unfortunately, detecting TrickBot manually is virtually impossible - this malware is extremely good at hiding its tracks. Fortunately, most legitimate anti-virus/anti-spyware suites are capable of detecting and eliminating this virus. If you have already opened "Payslip" attachments, immediately perform a full system scan and remove all detected threats.

Threat Summary:
NameTrickBot trojan
Threat TypeTrojan, Password stealing virus, Banking malware, Spyware
SymptomsTrojans are designed to stealthily infiltrate victim's computer and remain silent thus no particular symptoms are clearly visible on an infected machine.
Distribution methodsInfected email attachments, malicious online advertisements, social engineering, software cracks.
DamageStolen banking information, passwords, identity theft, victim's computer added to a botnet.
Malware Removal (Windows)

To eliminate possible malware infections, scan your computer with legitimate antivirus software. Our security researchers recommend using Malwarebytes.
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TrickBot is virtually identical to FormBook, Pony, Adwind, and a number of other trojan-type viruses. Most are distributed using spam campaigns and are also designed to gather information. Furthermore, some trojans proliferate other viruses, such as ransomware. In doing so, they pose a direct threat to your privacy and Internet browsing safety.

How did Payslip infect my computer?

As mentioned above, malicious attachments are distributed using the "Payslip" campaign download and install malware. Once opened, these MS Office documents immediately ask users to enable macro commands. This triggers the malicious attachments to execute scripts that stealthily download and install TrickBot. Note that that these scripts will only work if the attachment is opened using MS Office. Therefore, users who use other applications capable of reading MS Office formats will not be affected. The malware only targets the Windows Operating System - users who run other platforms are safe.

How to avoid installation of malware?

Lack of knowledge and careless behavior are the main reasons for computer infections. The key to safety is caution. Therefore, pay close attention when browsing the Internet. Carefully analyze received email attachments. Files that seem irrelevant or have been received from a suspicious/unrecognizable email address should never be opened - these emails should be deleted immediately without reading. Furthermore, new versions (2010 and above) of MS Office open downloaded documents in "Protected Mode", thereby preventing malware download/installation. Using older versions is risky. Cyber criminals are also likely to promote rogue applications using the "bundling" method (stealth installation of rogue apps with regular software) and fake software updaters. Therefore, carefully analyze each window of the download/installation process and opt-out of all additionally-included programs. You are strongly advised to download your applications from official sources only, using direct download links. Third party downloaders/installers are monetized by promoting rogue apps, and thus should never be used. The same rule should be followed when updating software. Keep installed applications up-to-date, however, this should be achieved only through implemented functions or tools provided by the official developer. Having a legitimate anti-virus/anti-spyware suite installed and running is also essential. If you have already opened a "Payslip" attachment, we recommend running a scan with Malwarebytes for Windows to automatically eliminate infiltrated malware.

Text presented in the "Payslip" email letter:

Hi there,
Please find attached payslips

Malicious attachment distributed via "Payslip" spam campaign:

Malicious attachment distributed through Payslip spam campaign

Instant automatic malware removal: Manual threat removal might be a lengthy and complicated process that requires advanced computer skills. Malwarebytes is a professional automatic malware removal tool that is recommended to get rid of malware. Download it by clicking the button below:
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How to remove malware manually?

Manual malware removal is a complicated task - it is usually best to allow antivirus or anti-malware programs do this automatically. To remove this malware, we recommend using Malwarebytes for Windows. If you wish to remove malware manually, the first step is to identify the name of the malware that you are trying to remove. Here is an example of a suspicious program running on a user's computer:

malicious process running on user's computer sample

If you checked the list of programs running on your computer, for example using task manager, and identified a program that looks suspicious, you should continue with these steps:

manual malware removal step 1 Download a program called Autoruns. This program shows auto-start applications, Registry, and file system locations:

screenshot of autoruns application

manual malware removal step 2Restart your computer into Safe Mode:

Windows XP and Windows 7 users: Start your computer in Safe Mode. Click Start, click Shut Down, click Restart, click OK. During your computer start process, press the F8 key on your keyboard multiple times until you see the Windows Advanced Option menu, and then select Safe Mode with Networking from the list.

Safe Mode with Networking

Video showing how to start Windows 7 in "Safe Mode with Networking":

Windows 8 users: Start Windows 8 is Safe Mode with Networking - Go to Windows 8 Start Screen, type Advanced, in the search results select Settings. Click Advanced startup options, in the opened "General PC Settings" window, select Advanced startup. Click the "Restart now" button. Your computer will now restart into the "Advanced Startup options menu". Click the "Troubleshoot" button, and then click the "Advanced options" button. In the advanced option screen, click "Startup settings". Click the "Restart" button. Your PC will restart into the Startup Settings screen. Press F5 to boot in Safe Mode with Networking.

Windows 8 Safe Mode with networking

Video showing how to start Windows 8 in "Safe Mode with Networking":

Windows 10 users: Click the Windows logo and select the Power icon. In the opened menu click "Restart" while holding "Shift" button on your keyboard. In the "choose an option" window click on the "Troubleshoot", next select "Advanced options". In the advanced options menu select "Startup Settings" and click on the "Restart" button. In the following window you should click the "F5" button on your keyboard. This will restart your operating system in safe mode with networking.

windows 10 safe mode with networking

Video showing how to start Windows 10 in "Safe Mode with Networking":


manual malware removal step 3Extract the downloaded archive and run the Autoruns.exe file.

extract and run autoruns.exe

manual malware removal step 4In the Autoruns application, click "Options" at the top and uncheck the "Hide Empty Locations" and "Hide Windows Entries" options. After this procedure, click the "Refresh" icon.

Click 'Options' at the top and uncheck 'Hide Empty Locations' and 'Hide Windows Entries' options

manual malware removal step 5Check the list provided by the Autoruns application and locate the malware file that you want to eliminate.

You should write down its full path and name. Note that some malware hides process names under legitimate Windows process names. At this stage, it is very important to avoid removing system files. After you locate the suspicious program you want to remove, right click the mouse over its name and choose "Delete"

locate the malware file you want to remove

After removing the malware through the Autoruns application (this ensures that the malware will not run automatically on the next system startup) you should search for the malware name on your computer. Be sure to enable hidden files and folders before proceeding. If you find the filename of the malware, remove it immediately.

searching for malware file on your computer

Reboot your computer in normal mode. Following these steps should remove any malware from your computer. Note that manual threat removal requires advanced computer skills. Unless you have these skills, leave malware removal to antivirus and anti-malware programs. These steps might not work with advanced malware infections. As always it is better to avoid becoming infected than try to remove malware after infection. To keep your computer safe, install the latest operating system updates and use antivirus software.

To be sure your computer is free of malware infections we recommend scanning it with Malwarebytes for Windows.

About the author:

Tomas Meskauskas

Tomas Meskauskas - expert security researcher, professional malware analyst.

I am passionate about computer security and technology. I have an experience of over 10 years working in various companies related to computer technical issue solving and Internet security. I have been working as an author and editor for since 2010. Follow me on Twitter and LinkedIn to stay informed about the latest online security threats. Contact Tomas Meskauskas.

PCrisk security portal is brought by a company RCS LT. Joined forces of security researchers help educate computer users about the latest online security threats. More information about the company RCS LT.

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Malware activity

Global malware activity level today:

Medium threat activity

Increased attack rate of infections detected within the last 24 hours.

QR Code
TrickBot trojan QR code
A QR code (Quick Response Code) is a machine-readable code which stores URLs and other information. This code can be read using a camera on a smartphone or a tablet. Scan this QR code to have an easy access removal guide of TrickBot trojan on your mobile device.
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