Avoid installation of Agent Tesla via the COVID-19 Part Time Employment email

Also Known As: COVID-19 Part Time Employment spam
Damage level: Severe

What is the "COVID-19 Part Time Employment Email Virus"?

There are many cases whereby cyber criminals attempt to take advantage of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis by sending fraudulent emails. In this case, they spread an email with a file attached, which supposedly contains a list of employees who violated quarantine orders.

Scammers encourage recipients to open the attached file and check if they are on the list. If they do this, however, the file will install Agent Tesla, a Remote Access Tool (RAT), which is used to steal sensitive information. Therefore, whoever receives this email is strongly advised to leave the contents unopened.

COVID-19 Part Time Employment Email Virus malware-spreading email spam campaign

According to this email, the attached file is a document proving that some of the employees are engaging in part-time jobs outside the company and, by doing so, they violate quarantine orders. It is stated that all of those individuals are to be penalized by terminating their employment without any exceptions.

Recipients are encouraged to check the attached file and see if their names are on the list of employees who violated the employment contract. The attached file is a malicious disc image (IMG) used to distribute the aforementioned RAT called Agent Tesla.

This malicious software can log keystrokes, steal credentials from various browsers, messaging and email clients, VPN, FTP clients, system registry, capture screen, prevent victims from using Task Manager, Command Prompt and other operating system features.

In most cases, cyber criminals attempt to trick people into installing malware such as Agent Tesla so that they can steal credit card details, various login credentials and other sensitive information, which is then misused to steal identities, make fraudulent purchases and transactions, spread malware and spam (scam emails), and so on.

Users who are tricked into installing programs such as Agent Tesla can become victims of identity theft, experience serious online privacy issues, suffer monetary loss, lose access to personal accounts, etc. Therefore, you are strongly advised not to open website links and/or attachments that are included in emails such as this.

Note that most cyber criminals disguise their emails as important, official messages sent from legitimate companies.

Threat Summary:
Name COVID-19 Part Time Employment spam
Threat Type Trojan, password-stealing virus, banking malware, spyware.
Hoax This email is disguised as a message regarding misconduct.
Attachment(s) Document 13042020-245784672009856905957758598.img (its name may vary)
Detection Names Arcabit (Trojan.Generic.D2019E47), BitDefender (Trojan.GenericKD.33660487), ESET-NOD32 (A Variant Of Win32/GenKryptik.EIIN), Kaspersky (Trojan-PSW.MSIL.Agensla.pej), 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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More examples of email scams used to distribute malware are "DHL Relief Email Virus", "COVID-19 Stimulus Email Virus" and "COVID-19 Pandemic Email Virus". Generally, these emails contain a website link that downloads a malicious file, or a malicious attachment.

In any case, they are sent to trick recipients into executing (opening) a file that installs malicious software. FormBook, TrickBot, LokiBot and Adwind are some examples of programs that cyber criminals attempt to spread via email.

How did "COVID-19 Part Time Employment Email Virus" infect my computer?

At the time of research, cyber criminals sent emails that contained an IMG (.img) file, which, if executed, started Agent Tesla's installation process, however, they might also use other file formats to spread this RAT. For example, Microsoft Office, PDF documents, executable files (.exe), JavaScript files, archive files such as ZIP, RAR.

In any case, none of the attached malicious files can install malware without first being executed (opened). Note that when opened, malicious MS Office documents demand permission to enable editing/content (macros commands). By giving such permission, users allow the documents to infect computers with malware.

This applies to documents opened with MS Office 2010 and later - older versions do not include "Protected View" mode and infect computers immediately, without asking any permission.

How to avoid installation of malware

Installed programs must be updated and activated through implemented tools and/or functions that are designed by official developers. Other third party tools should never be used, as they can install malware. Furthermore, it is illegal to activate any licensed software with unofficial ('cracking) tools.

Email contents should be opened only when it is safe to do so. Attachments and/or web links in irrelevant emails that are received from unknown, suspicious email addresses should never be opened. All software should be downloaded from official web pages and via direct links.

Unofficial pages, third party downloaders, installers, Peer-to-Peer networks (e.g., torrent clients, eMule) and other channels of this kind can host malicious files. Finally, you are advised to regularly scan the operating system for threats using reputable antivirus or anti-spyware software.

If you have already opened "COVID-19 Part Time Employment Email Virus" attachment, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows to automatically eliminate infiltrated malware.

Text presented in the "COVID-19 Part Time Employment Email Virus" email message:

Subject: Evidence Document Containing Staff Misconduct During This Period Of COVID-19 Pandemic 13-04-2020


Attached document dated 13th April 2020, has proved, confirmed and found that some  of our staff in different departments, are engaging in part time employment outside our company during this period of corona virus COVID-19 pandemic. Recently the Public Authority of Man Power has identified some such individuals and they will be penalized immediately. We all should understand that this is not just a violation of the employment contract, but also will lead to our company's reputation being damaged as well.

Our management will not tolerate such offenses and any of the individual that his or her name has been found in the attached evidence document found to be engaged in part time employment shall be terminated from work with immediate effect. He/ she whose name appeared in the attached evidence document, shall not be entitled for any claims from the company including indemnity settlement.

We insist all staffs to adhere to the company policies and abide by the country's  labor law without any exceptions. Engaging in part time activities is an offense, is prohibited to all company staffs and if found breached, will be dealt with strictly.


Best regards


Managing Director

Malicious attachment detected as a threat by multiple antivirus engines:

covid-19 part time employment email attachment detected as malicious in virustotal

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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.

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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