Do not trust COVID-19 Solution Announced by WHO spam campaign

Also Known As: GuLoader virus
Type: Trojan
Distribution: Low
Damage level: Severe

"COVID-19 Solution Announced by WHO" removal guide

What is "COVID-19 Solution Announced by WHO"?

It is common that cyber criminals attempt to spread malicious programs through files attached to their emails (spam campaigns). Simply said, they send emails that often are disguised as important, official and seek to deceive recipients into opening/executing a downloaded file. In this case cyber criminals send emails disguised as letters regarding a solution to control COVID-19 (Coronavirus) with a malicious .img (image file) attached to them. That file contains an executable (.exe) designed to install malware downloader called GuLoader. Therefore, this email should be ignored and its contents must be left unopened.

COVID-19 Solution Announced by WHO malware-spreading email spam campaign

As stated in this email, WHO (World Health Organization) has discovered a way to control the COVID-19 disease. Some study has identified antibodies for COVID-19 that could be used to inhibit the virus. Recipients are encouraged to read a full text in the attached document. However, the attached file is not a document but an .img (IMG) file named "covid-19.img" which contains a malicious executable file. If executed, this file installs GuLoader. This malware downloader is being used to distribute Remote Access Trojans (RATs) and information stealers. Installed RATs allow for cyber criminals to take control over infected computers and perform various actions. For example, to log keystrokes, download and execute files, access webcam, microphone, capture screenshots, monitor computing activity, manage files, etc. Typically, cyber criminals use RATs as tools to steal credit card details, login credentials (passwords, logins) of various accounts that could be used to make fraudulent purchases, transactions and/or generate revenue in other ways. Also, quite often RATs are used as tools to spread other malware like ransomware. Moreover, GuLoader can be used to distribute various information stealers. Typically, these malicious programs are designed to credit card details, passwords, logins, data saved on clipboard, and other confidential information. To sum up, by executing a malicious file that is distributed through this spam campaign recipients may suffer financial, data loss, become victims of identity theft, experience problems related to online privacy, and other serious issues. That is why this and other similar emails should never be taken seriously.

Threat Summary:
Name GuLoader virus
Threat Type Trojan, password-stealing virus, banking malware, spyware.
Hoax This spam campaign is disguised as a letter regarding a method to stop COVID-19 virus
Attachment(s) covid-19.img
Detection Names (milieuh.exe) Avast (Win32:DropperX-gen [Drp]), BitDefender (Trojan.GenericKD.42863338), ESET-NOD32 (A Variant Of Win32/Injector.ELDR), Kaspersky (Trojan.Win32.Vebzenpak.jfy), 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 GuLoader
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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More examples of spam campaigns used to proliferate malicious programs are "Coronavirus Face Mask Email Virus", "UNICEF Email Virus" and "COVID-19 Insurance Plan From CIGNA Email Virus". Cyber criminals send such emails with a purpose to deceive recipients into installing some malware that could be used to generate revenue in one or another way. Some names of malicious programs that cyber criminals distributed and/or still distribute through emails are Emotet, TrickBot, Adwind and LokiBot.

How did "COVID-19 Solution Announced by WHO" infect my computer?

GuLoader gets installed only if recipients open/execute a malicious executable (.exe) file which has to be extracted from the covid-19.img IMG file which is attached to the email. Computers are safe as long as the attachment and its contents are left unopened. Some examples of other files that cyber criminals attach to their emails are Microsoft Office, PDF documents, archive files (like ZIP, RAR) that contain malicious files and JavaScript files. It is common hat cyber criminals disguise their emails as important, official, etc.

How to avoid installation of malware?

Installed software must be updated through implemented functions and/or tools that are designed (provided) by official developers. Licensed software that requires activation must be activated properly as well. It is not legal to activate such software with various unofficial activation ('cracking') tools, also, these tools can be designed to install malware. All files and programs should be downloaded from official ant trustworthy websites, and via direct links. Other tools like Peer-to-Peer networks (e.g., torrent clients, eMule), third party downloaders, unofficial pages, etc., can be used to distribute malicious programs. No software should be installed through third party installers. Furthermore, attachments (and/or web links) that are included in irrelevant emails should not be opened. Especially if such emails are received from unknown, suspicious addresses. One more way to keep computers safe is to regularly scan them for threats with a reputable antivirus or anti-spyware suite. If you've already opened "COVID-19 Solution Announced by WHO" attachment, we recommend running a scan with Malwarebytes for Windows to automatically eliminate infiltrated malware.

Text presented in the "COVID-19 Solution Announced by WHO" email letter:

Subject: Breaking!!! COVID-19 Solution Announced by WHO At Last As a total control method is discovered.

Hope This Mail Finds You,

As published in the World Health Organisation newsletter 3/19/2020 7:32:12 a.m..

A new collaborative study has identified and studied COVID-19 Virus antibodies
that could be used to design universal therapeutics that are effective against
many different COVID-19 Virus species. The findings were recently published
in Nature Microbiology.
These are based on natural activities and how heat has helped to inhibit the virus growth.

The COVID-19 Virus  causes a severe illness with high mortality rates in humans.
Several strategies have been developed to treat COVID-19 Virus infection, including ZMapp,
which has been shown to be effective in non-human primates and has been used under
compassionate-treatment protocols in humans...

Please download the full text in the attached document...

Also share with all contacts to ensure rapid control of the epidermic.

regards/Fred


MEGAFORM AG
Rue Haute, 177
4700 EUPEN
Belgium

+32 87 32 17 18

info@megaform.com

Malicious executable ("milieuh.exe" distributed via "COVID-19 Solution Announced by WHO" spam campaign detected as a threat in VirusTotal:

covid 19 solution announced by who email virus virustotal detections

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
GuLoader virus QR code
A QR code (Quick Response Code) is a machine-readable code which stores URLs and other information. This code can be read using a camera on a smartphone or a tablet. Scan this QR code to have an easy access removal guide of GuLoader virus on your mobile device.
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