Prevent installation of the Emotet through Greta Thunberg email scam

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

"Greta Thunberg Email Virus" removal guide

What is "Greta Thunberg Email Virus"?

This spam campaign is disguised as an invitation to "the biggest climate protest". Cyber criminals behind it seek to trick recipients into opening the attached document or website link, and then installing Emotet. Note that Emotet is a malicious program categorized as Trojan. It is designed to steal sensitive information. We strongly recommend that you ignore this email. Do not click the included link or open the attached file (document).

Greta Thunberg Email Virus

Recipients are encouraged to support Greta Thunberg by joining a climate protest. They are also encouraged to forward this message to all colleagues, friends and relatives. The scam states that details regarding time and date of the protest are provided in the attached document (or a website). Cyber criminals behind this spam campaign proliferate templates in different languages - they send emails in English, Spanish, German and French. Some people have also received this email in Japanese. In any case, their main goal is to infect systems with Emotet. For this to happen, recipients must open the attached Microsoft Office (or other) document, and then enable editing and content by opening or executing a file, which is downloaded through the included link. Emotet is a Trojan, which steals sensitive information. For example, logins, passwords, details relating to browsing activity, and other data. It can also be used to proliferate other malware. I.e., to infect systems with other malicious software (e.g., ransomware). In any case, having a computer infected with Emotet could lead to identity theft, financial, data loss, problems with browsing safety, online privacy, and other serious issues. In this particular case, it can be avoided by not opening the website link or attachment that is included in the email.

Threat Summary:
Name Greta Thunberg email spam virus
Threat Type Trojan, password-stealing virus, banking malware, spyware.
Hoax This email is disguised as an invitation to the biggest climate protest.
Attachment(s) Support Greta Thunberg - Time Person of the Year 2019.doc (its name may vary).
Detection Names Avira (W97M/Agent.39307107), BitDefender (W97m.Downloader.ITD), ESET-NOD32 (VBA/TrojanDownloader.Agent.QXY), Kaspersky (HEUR:Trojan.MSOffice.SAgent.gen), 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 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 Malwarebytes.
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Other examples of similar spam campaigns, and malicious programs proliferated through them, are "Christmas Party Email", "HARASSMENT COMPLAINT", "Ministry of Justice", and Nymeria, FormBook, Adwind, and TrickBot. Generally, these emails are disguised as legitimate, official, important, and so on. Cyber criminals send them to trick recipients into infecting their systems with high-risk malware to generate revenue in various ways.

How did "Greta Thunberg Email Virus" infect my computer?

In this case, cyber criminals proliferate Emotet through a malicious Microsoft Office document or website link that downloads a malicious file. They seek to trick people into opening the document and giving it permission to enable editing and content. Once this is done, the document installs Emotet. They could also use other MS Office documents or archive files (such as ZIP, RAR), executable files (.exe), JavaScript files, and PDF documents. Note that computers can become infected only if the recipient opens the malicious file. MS Office 2010 and later versions demand permission to enable editing and content (i.e., they open documents in Protected View mode) - previous versions do not have this protection and thus automatically allow malicious documents to infect systems with malware.

How to avoid installation of malware

Never open files that are attached to suspicious, irrelevant emails - especially if they are received from unknown addresses. The same applies to website links. These emails are often disguised as important, official, and so on. Software and files should be downloaded only from official websites and via direct links. Do not trust other channels/tools such as third party downloaders, Peer-to-Peer networks (e.g., torrent clients, eMule), unofficial pages, etc. Installed software should not be updated using unofficial, fake updating tools. The only proper and safe way to update programs is using tools or implemented functions provided by official software developers. Licensed/paid software should not be activated using unofficial activation/'cracking' tools. These are often designed to infect systems with malicious software. Furthermore, it is illegal to activate licensed software with tools designed by third parties. Keep systems safe by regularly scanning them with reputable antivirus or anti-spyware software. Remove detected threats as soon possible. If you have already opened "Greta Thunberg Email Virus" attachment, we recommend running a scan with Malwarebytes for Windows to automatically eliminate infiltrated malware.

Text presented in the "Greta Thunberg Email Virus" email message (English version):

Subject: Support Greta Thunberg - Time Person of the Year 2019

*******
MERRY CHRISTMAS

You can spend Christmas Eve looking for gifts for children. They will tell you Thank you only that day.
But the children will thank you all their lives if you come out for the biggest demonstration in the protest against the inaction of the government in connection with the climate crisis.
Support Greta Thunberg - Time Person of the Year 2019

I invite you. Time and address are attached in the attached file.

FORWARD this letter to all colleagues, friends and relatives RIGHT NOW, until you forget!

Many thanks.

Screenshot of "Greta Thunberg Email Virus" variant in Spanish:

greta thunberg email virus spanish variant

Text in this version:

Subject: Apoye a Greta Thunberg - Persona de tiempo del año

*******
FELIZ NAVIDAD

Puedes pasar la Nochebuena buscando regalos para niños. Te dirán Gracias solo ese día.
Pero los niños te lo agradecerán toda su vida si vienes a la manifestación más grande en protesta por la inacción del gobierno en relación con la crisis climática.
Apoye a Greta Thunberg - Persona de tiempo del año 2019

Te invito. La hora y la dirección se adjuntan en el archivo adjunto.

¡ENVÍE esta carta a todos sus colegas, amigos y familiares AHORA MISMO, hasta que se olvide!

Muchas gracias.

Screenshot of "Greta Thunberg Email Virus" variant in German:

greta thunberg email virus german variant

Text in this version:

Subject: Unterstützen Sie Greta Thunberg - Zeitmensch des Jahres 2019

*******
FRÖHLICHE WEIHNACHTEN

Sie können Heiligabend auf der Suche nach Geschenken für Kinder verbringen. Sie werden dir nur an diesem Tag danken.
Aber die Kinder werden Ihnen ihr ganzes Leben lang danken, wenn Sie sich für die großte Demonstration gegen die Untätigkeit Unterstützen Sie Greta Thunberg - Zeitmensch des Jahres 2019

Ich lade Sie ein. Zeit und Adresse sind in der angehängten Datei angefügt.

Leiten Sie diesen Brief an alle Kollegen, Freunde und Verwandten weiter, bis Sie ihn vergessen!

Danke vielmals.

Malicious attachment distributed via "Greta Thunberg Email Virus" spam campaign:

Malicious attachment distributed through Greta Thunberg 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.

QR Code
Greta Thunberg email spam virus QR code
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