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

Also Known As: COVID-19 Solution Announced By WHO spam
Damage level: Severe

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

Cyber criminals commonly attempt to spread malicious programs through files attached to their emails (spam campaigns). In summary, they send emails that are disguised as important, official and seek to deceive recipients into opening/executing the downloaded file.

In this case, cyber criminals send emails disguised as messages regarding a solution to control COVID-19 (coronavirus) with a malicious .img (image file) attached to them. In fact, the file contains an executable (.exe) designed to install a malware downloader called GuLoader. Therefore, ignore this email and do not open the contents.

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

The email states that the WHO (World Health Organization) has discovered a way to control the COVID-19 virus. A study has apparently identified antibodies for COVID-19, which could be used to inhibit the virus. Recipients are encouraged to read the full text in the attached document.

In fact, 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 used to distribute Remote Access Trojans (RATs) and information stealers. Installed RATs allow cyber criminals to take control over infected computers and perform various actions.

For example, to log keystrokes, download and execute files, access webcams, microphones, capture screenshots, monitor computing activity, manage files, etc.

Typically, cyber criminals use RATs to steal credit card details, login credentials (passwords, logins) of various accounts that can be used to make fraudulent purchases, transactions and generate revenue in other ways. RATs are often used to spread other malware such as ransomware.

Furthermore, GuLoader can distribute various information stealers. Typically, these malicious programs access and record credit card details, passwords, logins, data saved on the clipboard, and other confidential information.

In summary, by executing a malicious file distributed through this spam campaign, recipients could suffer financial/data loss, become victims of identity theft, experience problems relating to online privacy, and other serious issues. Therefore, do not trust these or other, similar emails.

Threat Summary:
Name COVID-19 Solution Announced By WHO spam
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)

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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 these emails to deceive recipients into installing malware, which is then used to generate revenue in various ways.

Some names of malicious programs that cyber criminals distribute through emails include Emotet, TrickBot, Adwind and LokiBot.

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

GuLoader is installed only if recipients open/execute a malicious executable (.exe) file, which must first be extracted from the covid-19.img attached to the email. Computers are safe as long as the attachment and its contents remain unopened.

Some examples of other files that cyber criminals attach to their emails are Microsoft Office, PDF documents, archive files (ZIP, RAR) that contain malicious files and JavaScript files. Cyber criminals often disguise their bogus emails as important, official, etc.

How to avoid installation of malware

Installed software must be updated through implemented functions and tools provided by official developers. Licensed software that requires activation must be activated properly. It is illegal to activate this software with unofficial activation ('cracking') tools. Furthermore, these can install malware.

All files and programs should be downloaded from official, trustworthy websites, and via direct links. Other tools such as Peer-to-Peer networks (e.g., torrent clients, eMule), third party downloaders, unofficial pages, etc., can distribute malicious programs. No software should be installed through third party installers.

Furthermore, do not open attachments and/or web links that are included in irrelevant emails, especially if these emails are received from unknown, suspicious addresses. Keep computers safe by regularly scanning them for threats with a reputable antivirus or anti-spyware suite.

If you have already opened "COVID-19 Solution Announced by WHO" attachment, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows to automatically eliminate infiltrated malware.

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

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.


Rue Haute, 177
4700 EUPEN

+32 87 32 17 18


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

covid 19 solution announced by who email virus virustotal detections

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Quick menu:

Types of malicious emails:

Phishing email icon Phishing Emails

Most commonly, cybercriminals use deceptive emails to trick Internet users into giving away their sensitive private information, for example, login information for various online services, email accounts, or online banking information.

Such attacks are called phishing. In a phishing attack, cybercriminals usually send an email message with some popular service logo (for example, Microsoft, DHL, Amazon, Netflix), create urgency (wrong shipping address, expired password, etc.), and place a link which they hope their potential victims will click on.

After clicking the link presented in such email message, victims are redirected to a fake website that looks identical or extremely similar to the original one. Victims are then asked to enter their password, credit card details, or some other information that gets stolen by cybercriminals.

Email-virus icon Emails with Malicious Attachments

Another popular attack vector is email spam with malicious attachments that infect users' computers with malware. Malicious attachments usually carry trojans that are capable of stealing passwords, banking information, and other sensitive information.

In such attacks, cybercriminals' main goal is to trick their potential victims into opening an infected email attachment. To achieve this goal, email messages usually talk about recently received invoices, faxes, or voice messages.

If a potential victim falls for the lure and opens the attachment, their computers get infected, and cybercriminals can collect a lot of sensitive information.

While it's a more complicated method to steal personal information (spam filters and antivirus programs usually detect such attempts), if successful, cybercriminals can get a much wider array of data and can collect information for a long period of time.

Sextortion email icon Sextortion Emails

This is a type of phishing. In this case, users receive an email claiming that a cybercriminal could access the webcam of the potential victim and has a video recording of one's masturbation.

To get rid of the video, victims are asked to pay a ransom (usually using Bitcoin or another cryptocurrency). Nevertheless, all of these claims are false - users who receive such emails should ignore and delete them.

How to spot a malicious email?

While cyber criminals try to make their lure emails look trustworthy, here are some things that you should look for when trying to spot a phishing email:

  • Check the sender's ("from") email address: Hover your mouse over the "from" address and check if it's legitimate. For example, if you received an email from Microsoft, be sure to check if the email address is @microsoft.com and not something suspicious like @m1crosoft.com, @microsfot.com, @account-security-noreply.com, etc.
  • Check for generic greetings: If the greeting in the email is "Dear user", "Dear @youremail.com", "Dear valued customer", this should raise suspiciousness. Most commonly, companies call you by your name. Lack of this information could signal a phishing attempt.
  • Check the links in the email: Hover your mouse over the link presented in the email, if the link that appears seems suspicious, don't click it. For example, if you received an email from Microsoft and the link in the email shows that it will go to firebasestorage.googleapis.com/v0... you shouldn't trust it. It's best not to click any links in the emails but to visit the company website that sent you the email in the first place.
  • Don't blindly trust email attachments: Most commonly, legitimate companies will ask you to log in to their website and to view any documents there; if you received an email with an attachment, it's a good idea to scan it with an antivirus application. Infected email attachments are a common attack vector used by cybercriminals.

To minimise the risk of opening phishing and malicious emails we recommend using Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows

Example of a spam email:

Example of an email spam

What to do if you fell for an email scam?

  • If you clicked on a link in a phishing email and entered your password - be sure to change your password as soon as possible. Usually, cybercriminals collect stolen credentials and then sell them to other groups that use them for malicious purposes. If you change your password in a timely manner, there's a chance that criminals won't have enough time to do any damage.
  • If you entered your credit card information - contact your bank as soon as possible and explain the situation. There's a good chance that you will need to cancel your compromised credit card and get a new one.
  • If you see any signs of identity theft - you should immediately contact the Federal Trade Commission. This institution will collect information about your situation and create a personal recovery plan.
  • If you opened a malicious attachment - your computer is probably infected, you should scan it with a reputable antivirus application. For this purpose, we recommend using Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows.
  • Help other Internet users - report phishing emails to Anti-Phishing Working Group, FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, National Fraud Information Center and U.S. Department of Justice.

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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.

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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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