Do not trust Delayed payment confirmation caused by the COVID-19 email scam

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

"Delayed payment confirmation caused by COVID-19" removal guide

What is "Delayed payment confirmation caused by COVID-19"?

There is a has been a huge increase in malicious email scams during the current pandemic, most of which are coronavirus-themed. The cyber criminals behind them usually attempt to deceive visitors into transferring money, providing sensitive information, or installing malware. This particular scam is sent to trick recipients into opening a malicious document, which then downloads a malicious file designed to install GuLoader.

Delayed payment confirmation caused by COVID-19 malware-spreading email spam campaign

This email is disguised as a message regarding a payment, which was apparently delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Recipients are encouraged to check the payment details that are provided in the attached document ("Payment_SWIFT.doc"). The file attached to this email is a malicious MS Office document, which, if allowed to enable macros commands (editing), downloads an executable file designed to infect the computer with GuLoader. GuLoader is malware employed to distribute various Remote Access Trojans (RATs) and stealers. In most cases, RATs are used to download and install programs, manage files, read data from the keyboard (logging keystrokes), and hijack webcams and microphone. Typically, cyber criminals use these programs to infect computers with additional malware like ransomware, or access information, which could be used to generate revenue. For example, credit card details, credentials (passwords, logins) of accounts, and other sensitive details. The data might be used to steal accounts and identities, make fraudulent purchases and transactions, etc. Usually, information stealers target banking-related details, passwords, logins, data saved onto the clipboard, and other information of this kind. In this way, people are tricked into installing GuLoader and might have their computers infected with other malware, become victims of identity theft, suffer monetary loss, experience problems relating to online privacy, and other serious issues. Therefore, you are strongly advised to ignore this and other similar emails (keep files attached to them or presented website links unopened).

Threat Summary:
Name GuLoader malware
Threat Type Trojan, password-stealing virus, banking malware, spyware.
Hoax This email disguised as a message regarding a delayed payment confirmation.
Attachment(s) Payment_SWIFT.doc 
Detection Names (malicious executable downloaded by the malicious attachment) Avast (FileRepMalware), BitDefenderTheta (Gen:NN.ZevbaF.34106.nm0@aK7Vz8hi), ESET-NOD32 (A Variant Of Win32/Injector.ELOQ), Kaspersky (Backdoor.Win32.Androm.tzfh), 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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To use full-featured product, you have to purchase a license for Malwarebytes. 14 days free trial available.

Some more examples of spam campaigns used to distribute malware are "HSBC Bank Covid-19 Update Email Virus", "COVID-19 Part Time Employment Email Virus" and "COVID 19 HELP DESK Email Virus". Typically, these emails contain a malicious attachment or link designed to download a malicious file that, when opened, installs malicious software. Note that such emails are often disguised as important, official. Examples of malware that is distributed via spam campaigns are Agent Tesla, Tefosteal, TrickBot and PsiXBot.

How did "Delayed payment confirmation caused by COVID-19" infect my computer?

Installation of GuLoader is allowed when recipients open a malicious document named "Payment_SWIFT.doc" (its name might vary), enable macro commands/editing within it, and download a malicious executable file. Other examples of files that cyber criminals use to distribute malware via emails include PDF documents, executables (.exe), archives (RAR, ZIP), and JavaScript files. None of these files can do any damage (install malware) if they remain unopened. The same applies to files downloaded from malicious pages via malicious links.

How to avoid installation of malware

Software and files should not be downloaded through third party downloaders, Peer-to-Peer networks (e.g., torrent clients, eMule), freeware download pages, unofficial sites or other channels of this kind. The same applies to installation through third party installers. These channels can distribute malware. Software should be downloaded from official websites and via direct links. Attachments and website links in irrelevant emails that are received from unknown, suspicious addresses should not be opened. Installed software should be updated and activated (if necessary) with tools that are provided by official software developers. Avoid third party tools. Furthermore, it is illegal to use 'cracking' to activate any licensed software. Scan your computer for threats regularly using reputable antivirus or anti-spyware software. If you have already opened "Delayed payment confirmation caused by COVID-19" attachment, we recommend running a scan with Malwarebytes for Windows to automatically eliminate infiltrated malware.

Text presented in the "Delayed payment confirmation caused by the COVID-19" email message:

Subject: Delayed payment confirmation caused by COVID-19

Hello Dear,

I trust you are good!

About the payment for the last order,find attached payment confirmation document for your review.

We sincerely apologize for this delay as it was caused due to the current situation in our country caused by COVID-19.

Please kindly let us know once your receive the same amount in your bank.

Thank you for your understanding.

Best regards,
Lisa Brown
Account Office

Malicious executable downloaded through a malicious document detected as a threat in VirusTotal:

delayed payment confirmation caused by covid 19 email virus malicious executable downloaded by malicious attachment

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:
▼ DOWNLOAD Malwarebytes By downloading any software listed on this website you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. To use full-featured product, you have to purchase a license for Malwarebytes. 14 days free trial available.

Quick menu:

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.

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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.

QR Code
GuLoader malware 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 malware on your mobile device.
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