Avoid installing trojans spread by the Ministry of Justice email scam

Also Known As: Ministry of Justice email spam virus
Type: Trojan
Distribution: Low
Damage level: Severe

"Ministry of Justice Email" Virus removal guide

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".

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.

Threat Summary:
Name Ministry of Justice email spam virus
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)

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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 TefostealTrickBotPsiXBot, and others.

How did "Ministry of Justice Email" infect my computer?

Systems are infected through dangerous attachments, found within deceptive emails. This mail is usually presented as "official", "important", "urgent" or similar. The attached files can be in various formats, such as Microsoft Office and PDF documents, executable (.exe, .run) and archive (ZIP, RAR) files, JavaScript, etc. 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 Malwarebytes 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
Your Subpoena
You are hereby ordered to the law court.

Case No 221154
Date: 10/15/19

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):

Malicious attachment distributed through Ministry of Justice 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 - usually it is 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 1Download 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 "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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Ministry of Justice email spam virus QR code
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