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Thanksgiving Email Virus

Also Known As: Thanksgiving spam
Damage level: Severe

What is "Thanksgiving Email Virus"?

There are many spam email campaigns (such as CitiBank Email Virus, IRS Online Email Virus, Pricewaterhouse Coopers, etc.). Scammers use them to trick people into opening attachments that spread viruses. In this case, the "Thanksgiving Email Virus" spam campaign is used to proliferate the Emotet trojan, a high-risk virus.

Thanksgiving Email Virus

Cyber criminals send this email to hundreds (or even thousands) of people. They present it as a Thanksgiving greeting message that includes a Thanksgiving Day eCard. There is no explanation for the eCard, however, it should be not opened, since it is a malicious attachment that will install the aforementioned Emotet trojan.

Emotet is used to modify system settings and to use the computer to proliferate itself even further. This virus is categorized as high-risk. It can cause privacy issues, financial loss, and so on, by stealing personal data such as logins, passwords, browsing-related data, etc.

Furthermore, these infections might cause other infections including, for example, ransomware-type viruses. Do not download or open the "Greeting-Card-2018.doc" attachment presented in the "Thanksgiving Email Virus" spam campaign.

If, however, if you have already downloaded or opened it, immediately scan the system with a reputable anti-virus/anti-spyware suite and eliminate all detected threats.

Threat Summary:
Name Thanksgiving 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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As mentioned in our introduction, there are many spam campaigns that spread viruses. Some examples of other viruses are FormBook, Adwind, TrickBot, and AZORult. These are often used to gather sensitive information (which is later used to generate revenue) and proliferate other malware.

The developers may be different, and the behavior of the infections might also differ slightly, but all pose a direct threat to your privacy and browsing safety. Therefore, you should eliminate these threats immediately.

How did "Thanksgiving Email Virus" infect my computer?

Typically, spam campaigns are used to proliferate infections through email attachments. "Thanksgiving Email Virus" is used to proliferate a virus using a malicious Microsoft Office Word document. Once opened, this document asks permission to enable macros commands.

Enabling them allows the Emotet virus to be downloaded and installed. If, however, the attachment is opened using a product other than Microsoft Office, it will not be able to proliferate the virus. Emotet targets the Microsoft Windows Operating Systems only and, thus, users of other platforms are safe.

How to avoid installation of malware?

To avoid computer infections that are proliferated through spam campaigns, do not download or open attachments presented in emails received from unknown/suspicious addresses. If the email seems irrelevant, do not download/open the attachment. Have a reputable anti-virus or anti-spyware suite installed and enabled at all times.

This software can detect viruses before they can do any harm. Note that newer versions (2010 and later) of MS Office are implemented with "Protected View" mode, which prevents malicious documents from automatically downloading malware. Therefore, using older versions of this software suite is not recommended and risky.

If you have already opened "Thanksgiving Email Virus" attachment, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows to automatically eliminate infiltrated malware.

Text presented in the "Thanksgiving Email Virus" email message:

Morning,

"Hope this season is filled with lots of happiness and joy, wealth, and prosperity. Mayor home be filled with love on this wonderful occasion. Happy Thanksgiving."

Thanksgiving Day eCard is attached.

"We have is much to be thankful for. One day a year hardly seems adequate..." - Anonymous

Malicious attachment distributed via "Thanksgiving Email Virus" spam campaign:

Malicious attachment distributed using Thanksgiving email spam campaign

Instant automatic malware removal: Manual threat removal might be a lengthy and complicated process that requires advanced computer 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.

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.

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