Avoid installation of Emotet through Spark Email Virus

Also Known As: Spark email spam virus
Type: Trojan
Distribution: Low
Damage level: Severe

"Spark Email Virus" removal guide

What is "Spark Email Virus"?

Spark is the name of New Zealand's leading digital services company, however, some scammers use the name within their email scams to trick people into opening an attachment that installs malicious software called Emotet. Note, Spark has nothing to do with this scam and we strongly recommend that you ignore it and do not open the attached file.

Spark Email Virus

Scammers present this email as a message regarding a monthly bill. They inform recipients that they must pay $767.64 for services provided by Spark. More detailed information is supposedly provided in the "2413610029_25_09_2019.doc" file attached to the email. In fact, this is a malicious document that proliferates Emotet malware. Cyber criminals use this software to steal sensitive information such as logins, passwords and details relating to victims' browsing activities. Stolen information could be used to access various accounts (including banking, email, and others) and make transactions, purchases, proliferate emails that contain malicious attachments, and so on. Furthermore, Emotet is a trojan-type program, and thus can open "backdoors" for other high-risk malicious software. Therefore, it could be used to infect computers with additional malware. In summary, opening a file attached to this scam email could lead to serious problems: victims might experience data/financial loss, identity theft, problems with privacy, and other issues. You are strongly advised to leave this attachment unopened and ignore emails of this type in the future.

Threat Summary:
Name Spark email spam virus
Threat Type Trojan, password-stealing virus, Banking malware, Spyware.
Hoax Scammers present this email as a letter regarding a monthly payment for Spark's services.
Attachment(s) 2413610029_25_09_2019.doc (its name may vary)
Detection Names Avast (VBA:Downloader-BLN [Trj]), AVG (VBA:Downloader-BLN [Trj]), Microsoft (Trojan:O97M/Sonbokli.A!cl), Symantec (ISB.Downloader!gen279), Full List Of Detections (VirusTotal)
Symptoms Trojans are designed to stealthily infiltrate the victim's computer and remain silent, and thus no particular symptoms are clearly visible on an infected machine.
Payload Emotet
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 Malwarebytes.
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"Pipeline Supplies & Services CO.WLL Email Virus", "Indofuels Email Virus", and "Transcoal Pacific Email Virus" are just some examples of other scams that cyber criminals use to proliferate malicious programs. Typically, computers are infected when recipients open included attachments or web links. Some examples of malware that cyber criminals spread through emails are Adwind, Pony, FormBook, and AZORult. There are many other malicious programs that can be distributed in this way.

How did "Spark Email Virus" infect my computer?

In this particular case, cyber criminals attach a Microsoft Office document (2413610029_25_09_2019.doc, which could be named differently). If opened, the document asks for permission to enable editing/enable macros commands. Giving malicious documents this permission allows them to install malware, in this case, Emotet. Note, however, MS Office files are not the only files that can be used to proliferate malicious software. Other examples are JavaScript files, archives such as ZIP, RAR, executable (.exe) files, and so on. In any case, attached files cannot cause damage (install malware) without first being opened.

How to avoid installation of malware

To keep your computer safe from malware attacks, avoid opening email attachments that are presented in irrelevant emails, especially when they are sent from unknown/suspicious addresses. Web links in emails of this type should not be opened. Download software from official, trustworthy websites and direct download links only. Third party software downloaders, installers, Peer-to-Peer networks such as torrent clients, eMule and other such tools can be used to distribute malware. Therefore, do not download files of programs through/from them. Do not use third party software updaters. Installed software should be updated via implemented functions or tools provided by official developers. If activation of installed software is not free, it should not be bypassed using unofficial activation ('cracking') tools. These are illegal and can be used to trick people into installing malware. Finally, have reputable anti-spyware or anti-virus software installed and regularly scan the system for threats. If you have already opened "Spark Email Virus" attachment, we recommend running a scan with Malwarebytes for Windows to automatically eliminate infiltrated malware.

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

Subject: Here's this month's Spark bill

Attachment: 2413610029_25_09_2019.doc

This month your services come to $767.64. This amount is due to on 25 Sep 2019

Account # 2413610029

Thanks for being with Spark.

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

Malicious attachment distributed through Spark Email Virus 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 to 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 autoruns.zip 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 wish to remove, right click your 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, be sure to remove it.

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. If you do not 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 best to prevent infection than try to remove malware later. 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 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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Spark email spam virus QR code
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