IRS Online Email Virus

Also Known As: IRS Online spam
Damage level: Severe

What is "IRS Online Email Virus"?

"IRS Online Email Virus" is categorized as a spam email campaign that is used by cyber criminals to spread the Emotet high-risk virus. The cyber criminals responsible for this campaign send an email to many users that contains a malicious attachment. The main goal of "IRS Online Email Virus" is to trick people into opening the attachment, which then infects computers with a virus.

IRS Online Email Virus malware

Cyber criminals behind this campaign claim to be representatives of a federal agency, the IRS (Internal Revenue Service). Little other information regarding the email is provided, just that it contains a "Verification of Non-filling Letter.doc" document, which was supposedly sent by the 'Department of Treasure'.

Cyber criminals often use spam campaigns and claim to be representatives of well-known companies (in this case, a federal agency).

Using familiar company/organization names increases the probability of a successful scam and makes it easier for criminals to trick people into downloading and opening the malicious attachments (in this case, presented by the "IRS Online Email Virus" email). Note that the IRS agency has nothing to do with this scam and the attachment should never be opened.

As mentioned above, this email attachment proliferates Emotet, a high-risk virus that records personal data and proliferates other viruses.

This virus gathers information such as logins, passwords, and browsing activity. Having a computer infected with this virus might thus lead to privacy issues and financial loss. Furthermore, Emotet opens "backdoors" for other high-risk viruses, such as ransomware. In this way, Emotet causes chain infections.

Threat Summary:
Name IRS Online spam
Threat Type Trojan, Password stealing virus, Banking malware, Spyware
Symptoms Trojans are designed to stealthily infiltrate victim's computer and remain silent thus no particular symptoms are clearly visible on an infected machine.
Distribution methods Infected email attachments, malicious online advertisements, social engineering, software cracks.
Damage Stolen 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 Combo Cleaner.
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Emotet is just one of many other trojan viruses. Other examples of similar viruses are FormBook, Adwind, TrickBot, and AZORult. These are designed to cause as much damage as possible and can lead to serious privacy (and other) issues. If any of these infections are present, we strongly recommend that you eliminate them immediately.

How did "IRS Online Email Virus" infect my computer?

Cyber criminals use many different spam campaigns. Some examples are "Pricewaterhouse Coopers", "Ernst & Young", and "BMO account report". All are very similar and are used to proliferate malicious attachments. The "IRS Online Email Virus" email contains a malicious Word (.doc) document that, once opened, requests permission to enable macros commands.

Do not comply, since the attachment then downloads and installs the Emotet virus. If, however, the Word document is opened using a software other than Microsoft Office, the virus cannot proliferate. This malicious attachment targets Microsoft Windows Operating Systems only.

How to avoid installation of malware?

Be careful when browsing the web and think twice before opening any email attachment, especially if the attached file is irrelevant or the sender seems suspicious or not recognized. Having a reputable anti-virus/anti-spyware suite installed and running is also important.

Trustworthy anti-spyware/anti-virus software is usually capable of detecting and eliminating malicious files before they can do any harm. If you have already opened "IRS Online Email Virus" attachment, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows to automatically eliminate infiltrated malware.

Text presented in the "IRS Online Email Virus" email message:

Subject: IRS Online
Certification of Non-filling Letter.doc
Department of Treasure
If you need assistance, please contact me at 1-866-591

Malicious attachment distributed via "IRS Online Email Virus" spam campaign:

IRS Online spam campaign malicious attachment

Instant automatic malware removal: Manual threat removal might be a lengthy and complicated process that requires advanced IT skills. Combo Cleaner 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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Quick menu:

Types of malicious emails:

Phishing email icon Phishing Emails

Most commonly, cybercriminals use deceptive emails to trick Internet users into giving away their sensitive private information, for example, login information for various online services, email accounts, or online banking information.

Such attacks are called phishing. In a phishing attack, cybercriminals usually send an email message with some popular service logo (for example, Microsoft, DHL, Amazon, Netflix), create urgency (wrong shipping address, expired password, etc.), and place a link which they hope their potential victims will click on.

After clicking the link presented in such email message, victims are redirected to a fake website that looks identical or extremely similar to the original one. Victims are then asked to enter their password, credit card details, or some other information that gets stolen by cybercriminals.

Email-virus icon Emails with Malicious Attachments

Another popular attack vector is email spam with malicious attachments that infect users' computers with malware. Malicious attachments usually carry trojans that are capable of stealing passwords, banking information, and other sensitive information.

In such attacks, cybercriminals' main goal is to trick their potential victims into opening an infected email attachment. To achieve this goal, email messages usually talk about recently received invoices, faxes, or voice messages.

If a potential victim falls for the lure and opens the attachment, their computers get infected, and cybercriminals can collect a lot of sensitive information.

While it's a more complicated method to steal personal information (spam filters and antivirus programs usually detect such attempts), if successful, cybercriminals can get a much wider array of data and can collect information for a long period of time.

Sextortion email icon Sextortion Emails

This is a type of phishing. In this case, users receive an email claiming that a cybercriminal could access the webcam of the potential victim and has a video recording of one's masturbation.

To get rid of the video, victims are asked to pay a ransom (usually using Bitcoin or another cryptocurrency). Nevertheless, all of these claims are false - users who receive such emails should ignore and delete them.

How to spot a malicious email?

While cyber criminals try to make their lure emails look trustworthy, here are some things that you should look for when trying to spot a phishing email:

  • Check the sender's ("from") email address: Hover your mouse over the "from" address and check if it's legitimate. For example, if you received an email from Microsoft, be sure to check if the email address is @microsoft.com and not something suspicious like @m1crosoft.com, @microsfot.com, @account-security-noreply.com, etc.
  • Check for generic greetings: If the greeting in the email is "Dear user", "Dear @youremail.com", "Dear valued customer", this should raise suspiciousness. Most commonly, companies call you by your name. Lack of this information could signal a phishing attempt.
  • Check the links in the email: Hover your mouse over the link presented in the email, if the link that appears seems suspicious, don't click it. For example, if you received an email from Microsoft and the link in the email shows that it will go to firebasestorage.googleapis.com/v0... you shouldn't trust it. It's best not to click any links in the emails but to visit the company website that sent you the email in the first place.
  • Don't blindly trust email attachments: Most commonly, legitimate companies will ask you to log in to their website and to view any documents there; if you received an email with an attachment, it's a good idea to scan it with an antivirus application. Infected email attachments are a common attack vector used by cybercriminals.

To minimise the risk of opening phishing and malicious emails we recommend using Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows

Example of a spam email:

Example of an email spam

What to do if you fell for an email scam?

  • If you clicked on a link in a phishing email and entered your password - be sure to change your password as soon as possible. Usually, cybercriminals collect stolen credentials and then sell them to other groups that use them for malicious purposes. If you change your password in a timely manner, there's a chance that criminals won't have enough time to do any damage.
  • If you entered your credit card information - contact your bank as soon as possible and explain the situation. There's a good chance that you will need to cancel your compromised credit card and get a new one.
  • If you see any signs of identity theft - you should immediately contact the Federal Trade Commission. This institution will collect information about your situation and create a personal recovery plan.
  • If you opened a malicious attachment - your computer is probably infected, you should scan it with a reputable antivirus application. For this purpose, we recommend using Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows.
  • Help other Internet users - report phishing emails to Anti-Phishing Working Group, FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, National Fraud Information Center and U.S. Department of Justice.

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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 pcrisk.com since 2010. Follow me on Twitter and LinkedIn to stay informed about the latest online security threats. Contact Tomas Meskauskas.

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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.

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