Do not trust "World Health Organization (WHO)" email scams

Also Known As: possible malware infections
Type: Trojan
Distribution: Moderate
Damage level: Severe

"World Health Organization (WHO)" email virus removal guide

What is the "World Health Organization (WHO)" email?

As discovered and researched by hiro_ and BleepingComputer respectively, "World Health Organization (WHO)" are spam campaigns, distributing deceptive emails disguised as mail from officials/representatives of the World Health Organization (WHO). There are several variants of these letters, in summary - they claim to contain important information concerning the Coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic. The purpose of these emails is phishing and malware proliferation. At the time of research, they have been used to spread GuLoader, HawkEye, Agent Tesla and FormBook malicious programs. However, these letters may be used to proliferate other malware.

World Health Organization (WHO) Email Virus malware-spreading email spam campaign

There are four variants of the "World Health Organization (WHO)" email, however it is likely that there may be more versions. Therefore, the text and subject of these letters can differ or be reused for other spam campaigns. Likewise this model can potentially be used in other phishing scams and/or to proliferate different malware. To give a short summary, the email with the subject "COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund for WHO - DONATE NOW" requests recipients to donate to aid with efforts against the Coronavirus. This letter provides a brief explanation of what World Health Organization is and what measures it is taking to battle the pandemic. The donations are to be made in Bitcoin cryptocurrency, which in fact are transferred to cryptowallets in possession of cyber criminals. The second variant with the subject "W.H.O."CORONAVIRUS(COV,19) SAFETY&PREVENTIVE MEASURES" states that the attached file contains recommendations and everyday health and virus infection prevention steps. Instead, the attachment is the executable file of HawkEye - an information-stealing malware. The third variant, subject "RE: Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak prevention and cure update", claims that the attached file is a list of simple instructions and common, affordable medication to take as preventive measures for Coronavirus. This malicious file is used to infect systems with Agent Tesla RAT. The email with the subject "Latest on corona-virus" states that the archived file in it - contains an E-Book called "My-health". The supposed electronic book contains important information concerning COVID-19, such as: the origins and research of the virus, transmission scenarios, protection and prevention guidelines, as well as adaptation instructions and emergency plans for national and local authorities. However, rather than containing the promised information - it contains GuLoader downloader malware. It can be used to download/install additional malicious programs, at the of research it was used infect systems with FormBook information stealer. It must be emphasized that all these emails are illegitimate and their claims are untrue. Therefore, it is expressly advised against trusting these "World Health Organization (WHO)" letters and others similar to them.

Threat Summary:
Name possible malware infections
Threat Type Trojan, password-stealing virus, banking malware, spyware.
Hoax The emails are disguised as mail from the World Health Organization (WHO), concerning important information about the Coronavirus/COVID-19.
Detection Names (second variant attachment)
Avast (Script:SNH-gen [Trj]), BitDefender (Trojan.GenericKD.33548953), ESET-NOD32 (A Variant Of Win32/Injector.Autoit.FDW), Kaspersky (Trojan-Spy.MSIL.Heye.ln), Full List Of Detections (VirusTotal)
Detection Names (fourth variant attachment)
Avast (Win32:Trojan-gen), BitDefender (Trojan.GenericKD.33550406), ESET-NOD32 (A Variant Of Win32/Injector.ELDS), Kaspersky ( Trojan-Spy.Win32.Noon.awjt), 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 HawkEye, Agent TeslaGuLoader, FormBook and possibly other malicious programs.
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.
Removal

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Deceptive/Scam emails are sent by the thousand, during operations termed "spam campaigns". This mail is usually disguised as "official", "important", "urgent", "priority" or otherwise abuses the current social climate. With rising public concern over the Coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic, cyber criminals have taken to incorporating it into their schemes. The "World Health Organization (WHO)" emails are but one example of this; "COVID-19 Solution Announced by WHO", "Coronavirus Face Mask", "COVID-19 Insurance Plan From CIGNA" are others, amongst dozens. All deceptive/scam emails are designed for one purpose - to generate revenue for the scammers / cyber criminals behind them.

How did "World Health Organization (WHO) Email Virus" infect my computer?

Systems are infected via malicious files in deceptive emails. This content can be attached to the letters or be linked in them (i.e. download links). Infectious files can be in various formats, e.g. Microsoft Office and PDF documents, archive (ZIP, RAR, etc.) and executable (.exe, .run, etc.) files, JavaScript, etc. When these files are opened (executed, run, etc.) - it initiates the infection process. In other words, opening them triggers the download/installation of malware. For example, Microsoft Office documents infect systems by executing malicious macro commands. Upon being opened, the docs requests users to enable macro commands (i.e. to enable editing) and once that is done - the infection begins. However, in MS Office programs releases prior to 2010 - this process is started the moment an infectious document is opened.

How to avoid installation of malware?

Suspicious and/or irrelevant emails should not be opened, especially ones received from suspect/unknown senders. Any attachments or links found in such mail - must never be opened, as that can result in a high-risk infection. Additionally, it is recommended to use Microsoft Office versions released after 2010. Since the newer releases have "Protected View" mode, which prevents macro commands from being executed the moment a document is opened. Aside from spam campaigns, malware is also commonly proliferated through untrustworthy download channels (e.g. unofficial and free file-hosting websites, Peer-to-Peer sharing networks and other third party downloaders), as well as via illegal activation ("cracking") tools and fake updates. Therefore, it is advised to always download products from official and verified sources. Furthermore, all software should be activated and updated only with tools/functions, provided by legitimate developers. To ensure device integrity and user safety, it is crucial to have a reputable anti-virus/anti-spyware suite installed. These programs must be kept up-to-date, used to perform regular system scans and removal of detected threats/issues. If you've already opened "World Health Organization (WHO) Email Virus" attachment, we recommend running a scan with Spyhunter for Windows to automatically eliminate infiltrated malware.

Text presented in the first variant of the "World Health Organization (WHO)" email letter:

Subject: COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund for WHO - DONATE NOW

 

World Health Organization

We are all affected by the growing COVID-19 pandemic.
It's an unprecedented health challenge and we know people and organizations everywhere want to help.
The World Health Organization is leading and coordinating the global effort,
supporting countries to prevent, detect, and respond to the pandemic.

The greatest need right now is to help ensure all countries are prepared,
especially those with the weakest health systems.
Donations support WHOs work to track and understand the spread of the virus;
to ensure patients get the care they need and frontline workers get essential supplies and information;
and to accelerate efforts to develop vaccines, tests, and treatments.

See below for information on other ways to give, tax-deductibility and corporate and foundation giving options.

Now you can help us by donating any amount what you want help with the
BITCOIN NETWORK

Donate Now with Bitcoin payment.

World Health Organization bitcoin address(BTC Wallet) for
donations:
16gmYrbqMr4SZeA7SqNVmirhnhDG3maYPK
Online donations made via bitcoin are tax deductible in the U.S. and Europe.
To the extent allowable by law.

The World Health Organization accepts checks or wire transfers from
anywhere in the world.
World Health Organization doesn't may to provide tax benefits to donors
to these payments.

Contact to email if you have any questions.

Screenshot of the second variant of "World Health Organization (WHO)" email, used to distribute HawkEye malware:

World Health Organization (WHO) email second variant

Text presented in this letter:

Subject: W.H.O."CORONAVIRUS(COV,19) SAFETY&PREVENTIVE MEASURES

Good Day!
 
With regards to the ‘Medical Outbreak’ in the World due to Coronavirus (CoV) threatening to run riot  all over the world; we know, this is a stressful time and we all want to know what we can do right now to protect ourselves and our families to prevent from getting exposed to this disease.  
 
We at W.H.O(WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION), really care about the health & safety  of all the people in the world, that is why we have highlighted/recommended in the attachment some everyday health and preparedness steps that the whole world can follow and be safe:
 
WHO Headquarters
Hands and stones
The World Bank/Alejandro Lipszyc

For more information regarding Healthy Settings, please contact:

Interventions for Healthy Environments Unit (IHE)
Public Health and Environment Department (PHE)
World Health Organization
20 Avenue Appia
1211 Geneva 27
Switzerland
Fax No.: +41 22 791 13 83 Attention: Healthy Settings
E-mail: phedoc@who.int 

Screenshot of detections on VirusTotal of the malicious attachment distributed through this variant:

Second variant of the World Health Organization (WHO) email malicious attachment (containing HawkEye)

Appearance of the third variant of "World Health Organization (WHO)" email, used to distribute Agent Tesla RAT (GIF):

Third variant of World Health Organization (WHO) email (distributing Agent Tesla) GIF

Text presented in this letter:

Subject: RE: Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak prevention and cure update.

 

Dear ******

Please find the attached file with the instructions on comon drugs to take for prevention and fase cure to this deadly virus called
Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19).

This is an instruction from WHO (World Health Organization) to help fight agaisnt coronavirus.
NOTE : once received this mail review the attached file and follow the instructions .
please forward to your family members and friends to help us reach every one on how to fight
this virus , and the instructions are very simple and affordable.

 

Thanks
Best regard
Director  WHO (World Health Organization)
Dr. Tedros Adhanom W.H.O

Veriforce and PEC Safety have merge.  Learn more.

This e-mail is confidential and is intended solely for the use of the recipient. If you are not the intended recipient, be advised that you have received this e-mail in error and that any use, dissemination, forwarding, printing, or copying of this e-mail is strictly prohibited.

Screenshot of the fourth variant of "World Health Organization (WHO)" email, used to distribute GuLoader (which injects FormBook malware):

Fourth variant of World Health Organization (WHO) email

Text presented in this letter:

Subject: Latest on corona-virus

 

Corona-virus updates
Concerning Corona-virus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, the World Health Organization brings you the Corona-virus E-Book and Guide.

Inside this E-Book (My-health), you shall find out the complete research/origin of corona-virus and the recommended guide to follow to protect yourself and others.

Guidance to protect children and business centre;

This guidance provides critical considerations and practical checklists to keep Kids and business centre safe. It also advises national and local authorities on how to adapt and implement emergency plans for educational facilities.

Critical preparedness, readiness and response actions for COVID-19;

WHO has defined four transmission scenarios for COVID-19. My Health E-book describes the preparedness, readiness and response for each transmission scenario.

Basic protective measures against the new corona-virus;

1. Stay aware with the most contented information on the COVID-19 outbreak, available on the E-Book attached to this mail and through your national and local public health authority.

2. Avoid touching Eyes, Nose and mouth
Why? Hands touch many surfaces and can pick up viruses. Once contaminated, hands can transfer the virus to your eyes, nose or mouth.

3. Practice respiratory hygiene
This will also protect you and help prevent the spread of viruses and other infections.

You can now download and access the attached My Health Zip file from a Windows Computer only.

You are receiving this email because your life count as everyone lives count.  Sign up for more updates at the WHO website (www.who[.]int).

Thanks for helping to make the world a little healthier.

Screenshot of detections on VirusTotal of the malicious attachment distributed through this variant:

World Health Organization (WHO) email malicious attachment (containing GuLoader which injects FormBook) of the fourth variant

Yet another variant of a Coronavirus-related spam email (which is supposedly sent by World Health Organization) designed to spread FormBook trojan:

Fake World Health Organization spam email spreading FormBook trojan

Text presented within this email:

Subject: Latest vaccine release for Corona-virus(COVID-19)


To whom it may concern,

Go through the attached document on the latest news on Corona-virus(COVID-19),Common vaccine release.Specialist wuhan-virus-advisory

Regards.

Dr. -

Specialist wuhan-virus-advisory

Coronavirus-related phishing email that pretends to be World Health Organization (WHO) asking for monetary support in Bitcoins:

World Health Organization (WHO) money scam

Text presented within this email:

Subject: COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund for WHO - DONATE NOW

Dear Sir/Madam,

To whom it may concern.

We are still affected by the growing covid-19 pandermic. It's an unpracadented challenge and we know people and organizations everywhere wants to help. The World Health Organization is leading and coordinating the global effort, supporting countries to prevent, detect and respond to te pandemic.

The greatest read right now is to help ensure all countries are prepared, especially those with the weakest health systems.

Donations support WHO's work to track and understand the spread of the virus, to ensure patients get the care they need and frontline workers get the essential supplies and informations , and to accelerate efforts to develop vaccines, tests and treatments.

Now you can help us to save the world by donating any amount you want with help of BITCOIN NETWORK.

DONATE NOW WITH BITCOIN PAYMENT THROUGH

World Health Organization bitcoin address(BTC WALLET) for donation is: 12mBn9eV8QicZqhHjP7RZ1eV4dwB2Q5QuQ


Your contribution will matter!


©2020 WHO

WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION COMMITTEE.

Instant automatic malware removal: 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 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 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 malware activity level today:

Medium threat activity

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

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