Avoid getting your account credentials stolen by this email

Also Known As: possible malware infections
Distribution: Low
Damage level: Medium

"Email credentials phishing" removal guide

What is "Email credentials phishing"?

Email credentials phishing - describes a deceptive letter, pretending to be an official notification of the recipient's email service provider. It alerts users of a new security measure in an attempt to steal the user's email credentials. This scam tactic is called "phishing" and it is a form of social engineering. Users should note that most deceptive/scam emails are disguised as "official", "important", "priority" and similar. It is expressly advised against opening suspicious mail and/or opening attachments/links present therein.

Email credentials phishing spam campaign

This letter is supposedly from the "Email Administrator", an automatically generated message from the "E-mail security server". It states that keep their email account safe, users are recommended to add a recovery mobile number. This is allegedly a newly added security measure. It alarms users by specifying that if a recovery number is not added, their account will be deactivated and all associated data will be permanently lost. If users are tricked into "updating" their email account security, the link in this letter redirects them to a hijacked website, built using the WordPress template system. In it users can type their email credentials (log-in and password). However, instead of it being an account confirmation, allowing users to add a recovery number, the inputted information is stolen. While this is not a malware infection attempt, it is nonetheless a potentially harmful scam. In case users have already trusted such an email and attempted to log-in with their account details into a third party site - they are strongly advised to immediately change their password within their email service of use.

Threat Summary:
Name Email Credentials Phishing
Threat Type Phishing, Scam, Social Engineering, Fraud
Fake Claim Scam claims that user's email security requires to be updated with a recovery mobile number.
Symptoms Unauthorized online purchases, changed online account passwords, identity theft, illegal access of the computer.
Distribution methods Deceptive emails, rogue online pop-up ads, search engine poisoning techniques, misspelled domains.
Damage Loss of sensitive private information, monetary loss, identity theft.
Removal

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Deceptive/scam emails are a frequent occurrence and they serve various purposes. This mail can be employed to extract users' private data ("phishing"), infect their device (via virulent file attachments and/or links leading to such) or to generate profit for cyber criminals in some other way. Frequent email users should routinely scan their systems to ensure their safety. "HARASSMENT COMPLAINT", "On This Day I Hacked Your OS", "Ministry of Justice", "TOYOTA LOTTERY ORGANIZATION" are a few examples of other email scams.

How do spam campaigns infect computers?

"Spam campaign" is a term used to refer to the act of sending thousands of deceptive emails. These letter cause infections through malicious files or links leading to them. The emails are typically marked as "official", "important", "urgent" or otherwise highlighted as priority mail. The attachments come in a variety of formats, such as archive (RAR, ZIP) and executable (.exe, .run) files, Microsoft Office and PDF documents, JavaScript and many others. When these infectious files are opened (executed, run, etc.) - it triggers them to initiate the infection. In other words, they begin downloading/installing malware. To elaborate, for example Microsoft Office documents request to enable macro commands (i.e. to enable editing). If the macro commands are enabled that starts the infection process. However, in Microsoft Office versions released prior to 2010 - this process begins immediately after the document is opened.

How to avoid installation of malware?

It is highly recommended not to open suspicious and/or irrelevant emails, especially ones received form unknown senders (addresses). Any attachments or links found in suspect mail must never be opened - as they are the source of a potential system infection. Users who get a large influx of emails are advised to regularly run system scans to ensure that none of the received letters have infiltrated something into the device. To prevent Microsoft Office documents from downloading/installing malware, users are urged to use Microsoft Office versions released after year 2010. The newer versions have a "Protected View" mode, which stops virulent documents from automatically enabling macro commands. Thereby, preventing them from infecting the system with malicious content. If you've already opened malicious attachments, we recommend running a scan with Spyhunter for Windows to automatically eliminate infiltrated malware.

Text presented in the "Email credentials phishing" email letter:

Server Notification

To keep your Email account safe, we recommend you add a recovery mobile number.
This is our new security measure.
Email:
Password: ******* (Hidden for safety)
Recovery No: none yet
 
ADD RECOVERY NUMBER NOW
 
However, if you do not add your NUMBER, Your account will be
de-activated shortly and all your email data will be lost permanently.
Regards.
Email Administrator
 
This message is auto-generated from E-mail security server, and replies sent to this email can not be delivered. This email is meant for: **********

 Screenshots of the website "Email credential phishing" redirects to:

Email credential sphishing website 1 Email credential sphishing website 2

Appearance of the website "Email credential phishing" redirects to (GIF):

Email credentials phishing site appearance gif

Another variant of email credentials phishing spam campaign, which contains an attachment - an HTML file ("email_verification_processor.html"). This file imitates an email login page and contains two input fields - login and password. Once entered, this data is saved in a remote server controlled by cyber criminals.

Screenshot of this email spam campaign:

Email credentials phishing spam campaign delivering HTML attachment

Text presented within this email:

Subject: Notification: Scheduled mail server upgrade


Scheduled Mail Server Upgrade For Our Hosting Ser=ice And Email Users!

Dear ******** User,

In an effort to continuously bett=r serve our clients, We will be undergoing a major mail server upgrade.
Why are We Performing this Upgrade?
Moving to newer infrastructure allows us greater flexibility to work with e=ch clients' unique mail requirements and will increase our ability to supp=rt and customize your needs.  Features include improved spam filtrati=n, anti-virus, anti-phishing, enhanced webmail services, upgraded calendar=features, and superior reliability.

How will this Impact Y=ur Services?
We do not anticipate any major interruptions to your services. Upgrade is a=tomatic.  There will be no loss of email messages.

Whe= Will this Maintenance Period Occur?
Please be advised that th= mail server will automatically upgrade after you have verified your email=account.

How do I verify my email account?
Download the attached ******** email account verification processor to&nbs=;verify your email account.

Note: Users who do not verify their em=il accounts will be tagged as inactive, and the company reserves the right=to close all “inactive” email accounts.

Please disregar= if you have already received this notice and you have verified your email=account.


Thanks,
******** Hosting Service Provider

sale=********

Screenshot of the attached HTML file ("email_verification_processor.html"):

Email credentials phishing deceptive HTML attachment

Text presented within this file:

Tue Dec 03 2019 09:50:59 GMT+0200 (Eastern European Standard Time)
******** verification server
 

IMPORTANT
*This is a general notification for all individuals and organizations email accounts hosted on our server*
**Please verify your email account to avoid shutdown**
(Email account not verified will be deleted from our server and the email contents cannot be retrieved)
Confirm your password and click "Verify My Account" for verification after which you will be redirected to
your domain/email which proves your email has been verified automatically and nothing else is needed
********
Password
|    Email Verification and Validation for        ********    |

Instant automatic removal of possible malware infections: Manual threat removal might be a lengthy and complicated process that requires advanced computer skills. Spyhunter is a professional automatic malware removal tool that is recommended to get rid of possible malware infections. 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 Spyhunter 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 Spyhunter 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 virus and spyware activity level today:

Medium threat activity
Medium

Increased attack rate of infections detected within the last 24 hours.

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