How to prevent installation of Agent Tesla via the DHL Relief email

Also Known As: DHL Relief spam
Damage level: Severe

What is "DHL Relief Email Virus"?

A popular way to spread malware is by sending emails that contain malicious attachments and/or website links that download rogue files. In most cases, these emails are disguised as important, official messages from well-known companies.

In this case, the scam is disguised as a message from DHL regarding 'relief materials' to organizations from the World Health Organization (WHO). Scammers behind this email attempt to trick recipients into opening an attached file, which is designed to spread Agent Tesla, a remote administration tool (RAT).

DHL Relief Email Virus malware-spreading email spam campaign

The email states that DHL is donating relief materials to organizations from the WHO. Recipients supposedly receive relief packages by providing a delivery address in the attached form. At the time of research, a file attached to this email was an archive named "Information.rar" containing an executable file called "Information.exe".

The executable file installs Agent Tesla, a remote access/administration tool. This malware can log keystrokes, steal credentials saved on browsers, emails and messaging clients, VPN, FTP clients, download managers and the system registry.

Cyber criminals can also use it to prevent victims from accessing Task Manager, Registry, executing commands via Command Prompt and other operating system features.

Typically, malware such as Agent Tesla is used to steal sensitive information such as personal credentials, credit card details and other data that can be misused to steal identities, make fraudulent purchases and transactions, spread malware and spam, trick other people into transferring money, and so on.

Commonly, victims of these attacks become become vulnerable to identity theft, suffer monetary loss, experience serious online privacy, browsing safety issues, and other problems. These emails can never be trusted - ignore them and leave the contents (attachments/links) unopened.

Threat Summary:
Name DHL Relief spam
Threat Type Trojan, password-stealing virus, banking malware, spyware.
Hoax This email is disguised as a message regarding 'relief packages' from DHL
Attachment(s) Information.rar
Detection Names (Information.rar) Arcabit (Arcabit), BitDefender (Gen:Variant.Barys.884), ESET-NOD32 (A Variant Of MSIL/GenKryptik.EIFK), Microsoft (Trojan:Win32/Wacatac.D!ml), 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 Agent Tesla
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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There are many email scams (spam campaigns) that are used to distribute malware. Some examples are "COVID-19 Stimulus Email Virus", "COVID-19 Pandemic Email Virus", and "COVID-19 Relief Email Virus".

These scam emails contain a malicious attachment or website link that is designed to download it. They are sent simply to trick recipients into executing a malicious file, which then infects computers with high-risk malware such as Agent Tesla or other software of this kind (e.g., FormBook, ZLoader, TrickBot, LokiBot).

How did "DHL Relief Email Virus" infect my computer?

In this case, Agent Tesla is distributed through a malicious executable file ("Information.exe"), which can be extracted from the attached "Information.rar" archive file. More examples of files that cyber criminals attach to their emails are Microsoft Office, PDF documents, other archive files (ZIP) and JavaScript files.

Computers become infected only when people open (execute) the malicious file. Note that MS Office documents infect systems only when people try to open the file and actively enable macros commands (editing/content). This applies only to documents that are opened with Microsoft Office 2010 or later, which prompt to enable macros.

Older versions do not have "Protected View" mode and install malware without asking any permission at all.

How to avoid installation of malware

Do not open attachments or web links in irrelevant emails, especially if those emails are received from unknown, suspicious addresses. Email contents should be opened only when you are sure it will not install malware or cause other damage. Installed software must be activated and updated only through implemented functions and using tools designed by official developers.

Other tools can install malicious software. Furthermore, it is illegal to activate licensed software with third party, unofficial tools. All files should be downloaded from official websites and via direct links. Third party downloaders, installers, Peer-to-Peer networks (torrent clients, eMule), unofficial pages and other channels should not be trusted.

Commonly, they are used to proliferate malicious software. Regularly scan the computer with s reputable antivirus or anti-spyware suite. Remove any detected threats immediately. If you have already opened "DHL Relief Email Virus" attachment, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows to automatically eliminate infiltrated malware.

Text presented in the "DHL Relief Email Virus" email message:

Subject: DHL Commitment During Covid-19 (Check file)


These are unprecedented times that have dramatically changed our daily lives. While the uncertainty can be unsettling, we believe we will get through this together and emerge stronger. We recognize there is great responsibility in delivering relief materials to our nearly 900 million users across the globe. That's why we are doubling down on our focus to support our communities and have a positive impact on society during this challenging time. we are donating relief materials to organizations from World Health Organization (WHO) to help amplify their message. Find attached form and fill in your delivery address to receive your package. These are no doubt stressful times, but we hope through a sense of community we can not only survive but come out of this with more connection and support for each other. It reminds me of a great African proverb: "If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together." Be well and stay safe. DHL Express Pty Ltd www.dhl.com If you have any issues or questions, please do not hesitate to contact our local Customer Service team on 92000 3450 assistance. Thank you for shipping with DHL Express! Deutsche Post DHL - The Mail & Logistics Group. 2020 © DHL International GmbH. All rights reserved. Terms & Conditions | Privacy Statement

Malicious attachment ("Information.rar") detected as a threat by multiple antivirus engines:

dhl relief email virus information.rar detected as a threat in virustotal

Instant automatic malware removal: Manual threat removal might be a lengthy and complicated process that requires advanced IT skills. Combo Cleaner 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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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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