What is "Ministry of Justice Email Virus"?
"Ministry of Justice Email Virus" is a spam campaign employed to trick users into downloading/installing Predator The Thief malware. The scare tactics employed by this scam urge users into investigating the web link detailed within the email, thereby leading them through certain actions resulting in a system infection.
The term "spam campaign" refers to mass sending of deceptive/scam emails, typically containing infectious attachments or links redirecting to them. This mail is usually disguised as "important", "urgent", "official" or similar. You are strongly advised against opening suspicious or irrelevant emails.
Furthermore, do not open any attached files or web-links found in these messages. Read our article about phishing campaigns that summoner recipients to court, which is also related to "Ministry of Justice Email Virus".
The "Ministry of Justice" email claims to contain an official missive from the Ministry of Justice (United Kingdom). This message supposedly 'issues a subpoena'. I.e., summonsing the person to attend court, requesting documents/evidence to be submitted to the court of law. It lists the case number and court date.
The email states that notice and all necessary documents must be provided within fourteen days. Regardless of whether the necessary information is submitted and/or the summoned person is present, the court hearing will apparently take place. A web link supposedly provides additional details and a file with the list of required documents.
Opening the link triggers the infection chain. The initial URL is benign and leads to Google Docs, however, it has a redirector link included. The web page appears as though the service is conducting security checks. Users are then redirected to OneDrive (a legitimate service).
From here, they can download the aforementioned document. The Microsoft Word document contains malicious macro commands. If this file is opened with an MS Word version released prior to 2010, it automatically downloads/installs Predator The Thief via Windows PowerShell.
If, however, the Word version is later, the document requests macro commands to be enabled (i.e., to enable editing). In this case, the infection occurs after the macros are enabled. Should suspicions arise that Predator The Thief (or similar malware) is already present on the device, use anti-virus/anti-spyware software to detect and immediately remove it.
|Name||Ministry of Justice spam|
|Threat Type||Trojan, password-stealing virus, banking malware, spyware.|
|Hoax||Cyber criminals claim to be representatives of the Ministry of Justice, issuing a subpoena.|
|Attachment(s)||details.doc (downloaded via link within the email).|
|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||Predator The Thief|
|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.
Most spam campaigns employ various scare tactics to urge people to download/install malicious content. "Afdsola Email Virus", "Indofuels Email Virus", and "Transcoal Pacific Email Virus" are some examples of other scams similar to "Ministry of Justice Email Virus".
Malicious software proliferated through infectious email attachments include trojans, ransomware, and other malware. Predator The Thief, proliferates via the "Ministry of Justice" email and shares certain similarities with Tefosteal, TrickBot, PsiXBot, and others.
How did "Ministry of Justice Email" infect my computer?
When these files are executed, run or otherwise opened, they are triggered to initiate the process of downloading malicious programs.
For example, Microsoft Office documents request users to enable macro commands. If enabled, the aforementioned process begins. The infectious files are not always presented as email attachments - they might be hosted elsewhere, and the messages list web links leading to them.
How to avoid installation of malware
Do not open suspicious or irrelevant emails, especially those received from unknown senders (addresses). Do not open any attachments (or links) found in suspicious mail, since this is the origin of a potential system infection.
Use Microsoft Office versions released after 2010, since newer versions have "Protected View" mode, which prevents infectious documents from downloading/installing malware. Use only official and verified download sources, as opposed to Peer-to-Peer sharing networks, free file-hosting websites or other third party downloaders.
The same extends to software activation and updating. Illegal activation ("cracking") tools and third party updaters are classed as high-risk.
Have a reputable anti-virus/anti-spyware suite installed and kept up-to-date. This software can be used for regular system scans and the removal of detected threats/issues. If you have already opened a "Ministry of Justice Email" attachment, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows to automatically eliminate infiltrated malware.
Text presented in the "Ministry of Justice Email" email message:
Subject: Tell me what to do
Ministry of Justice
You are hereby ordered to the law court.
Case No 221154
You can see the details of the charge.
Use this link for additional details.
You should prepare all necessary documents that are listed in the attached file.
You have 14 days to provide notice. If you do not so prepare yourself, the court will take place without you.
United Kingdom DOF
Malicious attachment distributed via "Ministry of Justice Email Virus" spam campaign (the web link leads to the download of this file):
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:
- What is Ministry of Justice spam?
- Types of malicious emails.
- How to spot a malicious email?
- What to do if you fell for an email scam?
Types of malicious 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.
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.
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:
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.