Avoid cyber attacks from an Iran Government email

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

"Cyber attack from Iran Government" email removal guide

What is "Cyber attack from Iran Government" email?

Discovered by Michael Gillett, "Cyber attack from Iran Government" is the title of an email scam that steals the log-in credentials of users' Microsoft accounts. This phishing scam claims that Microsoft servers have experienced a cyber attack, and therefore users' accounts have been locked to protect their email accounts and data integrity. This fake cyber attack supposedly originated from Iran, which the designers of this scheme have chosen due to tensions present between the United States and Iran. The "Cyber attack from Iran Government" email scam was devised following warnings issued by the US government concerning potential cyber attacks from Iran.

Cyber attack from Iran Government email spam campaign

The "Cyber attack from Iran Government" message states that, on this day, Microsoft servers have been hit with a cyber attack from the Iranian government. To ensure users' security, additional safety measures have been implemented: their email accounts and associated files have been made inaccessible. To regain access, users must sign-in again via the link ("Restore Data" button) present at the bottom of the text. The email states that if users continue experiencing email-related issues, they must be patient, as the Microsoft support team is currently working on resolving and removing them immediately. The link in the message redirects to a phishing site, which contains the legitimate fields to provide log-in details. This email is a scam and is in no way related to Microsoft. All information presented in this message is false. Trusting "Cyber attack from Iran Government" (i.e., entering account credentials) can lead to serious issues and endanger users' privacy and safety.

Threat Summary:
Name Cyber attack from Iran Government Email Scam.
Threat Type Phishing, Scam, Social Engineering, Fraud.
Fake Claim The email claims that Microsoft servers have been attacked and users' accounts have been locked.
Disguise The email is disguised as a message from Microsoft.
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.
Malware Removal (Windows)

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Various models are used for email scams. Social engineering and scare-tactics are used to trick users into performing specific actions. "Final Warning", "TOYOTA LOTTERY ORGANIZATION", "You will find a trojan" are a number examples of schemes furthered via email. The purpose can be to trick users into revealing private and sensitive information, make monetary transactions (e.g. blackmail, fees and fines, payments for "services rendered", etc.), download/install/purchase untrustworthy and/or malicious software to name just a few. The underlying goal of these deceptive messages is to generate revenue for the designers at the expense of innocent users. Spelling and grammatical errors are common in these scams, and "Cyber attack from Iran Government" is no exception. Messages allegedly from official sources, and yet riddled with mistakes and inconsistencies, are highly likely to be scam attempts. Therefore, you are advised to treat them with extreme caution.

How do spam campaigns infect computers?

Large-scale spam campaigns are used to send thousands of deceptive emails, which infect systems via malicious files attached (or linked). These messages are usually presented as "official", "important", "urgent" and "priority" mail. The dangerous attachments can be in various formats. For example, archive (RAR, ZIP) and executable (.exe, .run) files, Microsoft Office and PDF documents, JavaScript and many others. When an infectious file is executed, run or otherwise opened, it initiates the infection process. Therefore, opening an email attachment can trigger it to begin downloading/installing malware. For example, MS Office documents cause infections by executing malicious macro commands. When these files are opened, they urge users to enable macros (i.e., enable editing). If this is done, installation of malicious content begins. Furthermore, be aware that versions of Microsoft Office released prior to 2010 do not have "Protected Mode", therefore macros are enabled automatically once the document is opened.

How to avoid installation of malware

You are strongly advised not to open dubious and/or irrelevant emails, especially those received from unknown senders (addresses). Do not open any attachments or links present in suspicious messages. Opening malicious files will trigger them to begin downloading/installing malware. Use Microsoft Office versions released after 2010. The newer versions have "Protected Mode", which prevents malicious macros from infecting systems when a dangerous document is opened. If you have already opened malicious attachments, we recommend running a scan with Malwarebytes for Windows to automatically eliminate infiltrated malware.

Text presented in the "Cyber attack from Iran Government" email message:

Cyber Attack


Microsoft servers have been hit today with an Cyber Attack from Iran Government

For your seifty and security we had to take extra mesures to protect your account and your personal data.

Some emails and files might still be locked on our servers, in order to get full access to your emails and files you have to signin again.

If you still have problems receiveing emails please be patient, our support team is working on this issue and we will fix this as soon as possible.
Restore Data

Screenshot of the website redirected to by the link ("Restore Data") within the "Cyber attack from Iran Government" email:

website the Cyber attack from Iran Government scam redirects to

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:
▼ DOWNLOAD Malwarebytes By downloading any software listed on this website you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. To use full-featured product, you have to purchase a license for Malwarebytes. 14 days free trial available.

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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.

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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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