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Avoid getting scammed by fake "Maersk" emails

Also Known As: Maersk spam
Damage level: Severe

What is "Maersk Email Virus"?

"Maersk Email Virus" is categorized as a spam campaign and a scam. Like most spam campaigns of this type, cyber criminals (scammers) use it to infect people's computers. To achieve this, they attach a malicious file (or include a website link leading to it) and hope that someone will open it.

In this case, "Maersk Email Virus" is used to distribute a malicious program called Pony. This spam (email) campaign is a typical scam that should not be trusted. More importantly, the included website link should not be opened.

Maersk Email Virus

"Maersk" email virus overview

This scam is presented as an email (invoice) from Maersk, a Danish business conglomerate. It states that an invoice and documents are ready and asks recipients to check them by clicking the "click the attach to View, download and print your invoices and statements" link. Note that Maersk has nothing to do with this.

Scammers often disguise themselves by using names of well-known companies. If clicked, the link will trigger download of the "maersk line invoice.ace" compressed file. This file will download and install Pony, a malicious program that steals personal data.

It records information such as logins and passwords and then sends the details to a remote server controlled by cyber criminals. They use this information to gain access to bank accounts. Therefore, having this program installed can lead to financial loss. To avoid this, we strongly recommend that you ignore the "Maersk Email Virus" email and other similar emails.

Threat Summary:
Name Maersk spam
Threat Type Trojan, password-stealing virus, banking malware, spyware, phishing, scam, social engineering, fraud.
Disguise Emails are disguised as letters from the Maersk business conglomerate.
Attachment(s) "maersk line Invoice.ace", "Bill_of_Landing.html"; "Bill_of_Lading_969812227.html","S H I P P I N GDOCUMENTS.html" (filenames may vary)
Detection Names (malicious attachment) Avast (Win32:Trojan-gen), Combo Cleaner (Trojan.GenericKD.48870153), ESET-NOD32 (A Variant Of MSIL/Kryptik.AEUM), Kaspersky (HEUR:Trojan.MSIL.Injects.gen), Microsoft (Trojan:MSIL/AgentTesla.EQF!MTB), Full List Of Detections (VirusTotal)
Payload Pony, and other malware
Distribution methods Infected email attachments, malicious online advertisements, social engineering, software 'cracks'.
Damage Stolen passwords and banking information, identity theft, the 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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Malspam campaign examples

Similar spam campaigns are "Confirm Bank Account Email Virus", "Paychex Email Virus", and "DSKD Email Virus". These are just some examples from many similar scams. All are proliferated to infect computers with malicious programs. Pony is one of many possible infections.

These emails can also be used to infect computers with other high-risk viruses such as Adwind, TrickBot, FormBook, LokiBot, and so on. Cyber criminals generally use them to steal sensitive information that can be used to generate revenue. This can cause financial loss and other problems.

How did "Maersk Email Virus" infect my computer?

In this case, Pony infects computers when the "click the attach to View, download and print your invoices and statements" link is clicked and the downloaded "maersk line invoice.ace" file is opened. It cannot be installed without first clicking the aforementioned link.

The same applies to other spam campaigns: they contain malicious attachments that must first be opened. Typically, cyber criminals attach Microsoft Office or PDF documents, JavaScript files, executables (.exe files), or archives (ZIP, RAR and so on). They cannot cause infections if they remain opened.

How to avoid installation of malware?

Do not open attachments or links included in irrelevant emails received from suspicious, unknown addresses. These emails are usually presented as legitimate (and official), however, they cannot be trusted. Furthermore, do not download software from unofficial websites or using Peer-to-Peer networks (torrent clients, eMule, or other such tools), third party downloaders, etc.

Download from official websites and use direct links. Software (or operating systems) should not be activated using third party "cracking" tools. These allow people to illegally bypass paid activations, however, they are used by cyber criminals to cause computer infections. Have reputable anti-spyware or anti-virus software installed and enabled.

These tools prevent computer infections by malware or other threats. If you have already opened "Maersk Email Virus" attachment, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows to automatically eliminate infiltrated malware.

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

Subject: Maersk line Invoice
Dear Customer,
Original copies of your invoice and documents has been sent through us.
click the attach to View, download and print your invoices and statements
view updates on the status of your shipment
Maersk Line is available online 24/7, offering you the freedom and flexibility to manage your transactions whenever you need to.

Sincerely,
Maersk Line

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

Malicious attachment distributed through Maersk Email Virus spam campaign

Screenshot of a malicious Pony process running in Task Manager under the name "maersk line Invoice.exe (32-bit)":

Pony process running in Task Manager by the name maersk line Invoice.exe (32-bit)

Another variant of "Maersk" email spam campaign which is used for phishing purposes - crooks attempt to trick user into entering their account credentials (into the attached HTML file) in order to prove that he/she is not a "robot". Entered credentials are then saved in a remote server:

Maersk email spam campaign used for phishing purposes

Text presented within this email:

Subject: Bill of Lading

 

Dear Consignee,
Please find attached your Bill of Lading for the current shipment headin= to your port.
Shipping customer advised us to contact your email ********* as the&n=sp;
consignee/receiver of the goods in transit.
ETA of cargo also included in the attached file.

 

Thank you for your support.


Best regards,
Maersk Line
The Integrated Container Logistics & Supply Chain Services

Screenshot of the HTML attachment ("Bill_of_Lading.html"):

Maersk email spam campaign used deceptive attachment - Bill_of_Lading.html

Another variant of Maersk spam email used for phishing:

Maersk spam email used for phishing

Text presented within this email:

Subject: Maersk : Arrival Notice ready for Bill of Lading 969812227.

 

Attached you will find the Arrival Notice for Bill of Lading - 969812227.
Should you wish to unsubscribe from receiving electronic arrival notices= we encourage you to update your notification preferences online at M=Maersk
Sincerely,
Maersk
Transport Document Number: 969812227
Booking Number: 969812227

Vessel: JETTE
Voyage: 002E
Place of Receipt:&nbs=;NANSHA,CHINA, China
Port of Loading: NANSHA,CHINA, China
Port o= Discharge: Undisclosed
Place of Delivery: Undisclosed
Shipper N=me: SHENZHEN LONG SAIL INTL LOGISTICS CO
Consignee Email: -
Quick tip
This document can be used to plan your impo=t transport chain, such as arranging customs clearance And/or planning hau=age.
Please note this is an automated operation.
The information contained in this message is privileged and intended=only for the recipients named. If the reader is not the intended recipient=or a representative of the intended recipient, any review, dissemination o= copying of this message or the information it contains is prohibited. If =ou have received this message by error, please notify the sender immediate=y, and delete the original message and attachments. Please consider the en=ironment before printing this email.|Privacy policy|
Disclaimer:While we aim for complete accuracy, we cannot hold the=information provided abov e to be, nor should it be taken to be guaranteed=complete, accurate or timely and we are unable to provide you with a warra=ty, representation or undertaking in respect of this information.
_______
©Maersk A/S
All Rights Reserved
_______
The information contained in this message is privileged and intended on=y for the recipients named. If the reader is not a representative of the i=tended recipient, any review, dissemination or copying of this message or =he information it contains is prohibited. If you have received this messag= in error, please immediately notify the sender, and delete the original m=ssage and attachments.

Maersk will as part of our communication=and interaction with you collect and process your personal data. You can r=ad more about Maersk’s collection and processing of your personal da=a and your rights as a data subject in our privacy policy

Please consider the environment before printing this email.

Screenshot of the attached html file ("Bill_of_Lading_969812227.html"):

Maersk spam email distributing a phishing attachment

Another example of Maersk-themed spam email proliferating an HTML file used for phishing purposes:

Maersk-themed spam email promoting a phishing HTML file

Text presented within:

Subject: B OF L

 

MAERSK

 

Dear customer,

Please be informed that your goods are loaded to be shipped.

Kindly view attached BL, Packing List and Commercial Invoice To confirm the ETA.


Container Number - view the attached document for more details

Shipment Number - view the attached document for more details

Reference Number - view the attached document for more details

This information has been securely addressed to you by Maersk Line.

====

Sincerely,
Maersk

Screenshot of the attached HTML file ("S H I P P I N GDOCUMENTS.html"):

Maersk-themed HTML file used for phishing purposes

Another example of Maersk-themed spam email spreading malware:

Maersk-themed spam email spreading malware (2022-04-15)

Text presented within:

Subject: FACTURA CFDI 11512

 

Dear Customer,

Good day!

Please find the attached payment proof for your reference.

Juan Pacheco

Landside Execution Agent

Transportation & CHB

Maersk Kanoo (Emirates) LLC

Burj Al Salam Building, 39th Floor

P.O. Box 50720, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Mobile: +971 54 3064173

Desk phone: +971 43045309

www.maersk.com

Unless otherwise agreed in writing, all business is subject to the Maersk Standard Trading Conditions available at terms.maersk.com/STC  or on request.

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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.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Why did I receive this email?

Spam emails are not personal. Cyber criminals send these emails by the thousand with the hopes that at least some of the recipients will fall for their scams.

I have provided my personal information when tricked by a spam email, what should I do?

If you have provided account credentials - immediately change the passwords of all potentially compromised accounts and contact their official support. And if you have disclosed other private data (e.g., ID card details, credit card numbers, etc.) - contact relevant authorities without delay.

I have read a spam email but didn't open the attachment, is my computer infected?

No, reading a spam email will not initiate any system infection processes. Malware download/installation is triggered when the attachments or links present in such emails - are opened/clicked.

I have downloaded and opened a file attached to a spam email, is my computer infected?

Whether an infection was jumpstarted may depend on the opened file's format. If it was an executable (.exe, .run, etc.) - most likely, yes. However, you might have avoided having your system infected if it was a document (.doc, .xls, .pdf, etc.). Since these formats may require additional user interaction (e.g., enabling macro commands) - to initiate malware download/installation.

Will Combo Cleaner remove malware infections present in email attachments?

Yes, Combo Cleaner can detect and eliminate nearly all known malware infections. However, it must be stressed that sophisticated malicious software usually hides deep within systems - therefore, running a complete system scan is crucial.

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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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