Do not trust the fake "U.S Department of Labor" emails

Also Known As: TrickBot virus
Type: Trojan
Distribution: Low
Damage level: Severe

"U.S Department of Labor" removal guide

What is "U.S Department of Labor"?

"U.S Department of Labor" is yet another Coronavirus/COVID-19 themed email spam campaign. These letters are disguised as official notices from the "U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division", informing recipients of the newest changes made to the "Employee Request Form under the Family and Medical Leave of Act (FMLA)". The emails advise to carefully analyze the attached document, if recipients wish to request paid leave. However, if the malicious document is opened - it will trigger the infection process of the information-stealing trojan called TrickBot.

U.S Department of Labor malware-spreading email spam campaign

The emails, titled "This is a new Employee Request Form under the Family and Medical Leave of Act (FMLA)" state that such letters have been sent to all qualified workers. The emails are supposedly notifications concerning certain changes made to the "Employee Request Form under the Family and Medical Leave of Act (FMLA)", due to the Coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic. These unspecified modifications to the FMLA must be analyzed and for employee convenience - all the significant corrections have been outlined inside the enclosed document. The letters provide the date when these supposed changes will come into effect. If employees intend to ask for paid leave, they are instructed study the form and complete it, then send it to their HR department - before the given date. It is must be emphasized that these "U.S Department of Labor" emails are scams. The attached files does not contain the information they claim to, instead they serve the purpose of proliferating the TrickBot trojan. The primary functionality of this malicious program is data theft. Therefore, aside from compromising system integrity, TrickBot infections can lead to financial losses, serious privacy issues and identity theft. If it is known or suspected that the TrickBot trojan (or other malware) has already infected the system, it is crucial to use an anti-virus to remove it immediately

Threat Summary:
Name TrickBot virus
Threat Type Trojan, password-stealing virus, banking malware, spyware.
Hoax Emails are diguised as mail from U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division
Attachment(s) FMLA-instr.doc
Detection Names Avast (VBA:Downloader-EUY [Trj]), Fortinet (VBA/Dloader.1B7C!tr), AegisLab (Trojan.MSWord.Generic.4!c), Kaspersky (HEUR:Trojan-Downloader.MSOffice.SLoad), 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 TrickBot
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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Emails like "U.S Department of Labor" are distributed by the thousand in large-scale operations termed "spam campaigns". The letters can have various disguises, typically they are presented as "official", "important" and "urgent", often as mail from legitimate institutions, organizations, companies, service providers and so on. They can even exploit social climates or trends. For example, "COVID-19 test", "COVID-19 Part Time Employment", "COVID-19 Relief" and "COVID-19 Solution Announced by WHO" are other spam campaigns, centering the Coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic. Regardless of what these emails claim, request or demand, their end-goal is the same - to generate revenue to the cyber criminals behind them. Aside from spreading malicious software, spam campaigns are also used for phishing and other scams.

How did "U.S Department of Labor" infect my computer?

Systems are infected through virulent files, distributed via spam campaigns. They can be attached to the emails or the letters can contain download links of such malicious files. These files can be in various formats, e.g. Microsoft Office and PDF documents, archives (ZIP, RAR, etc.), executables (.exe, .run, etc.), JavaScript, and so forth. When infectious files are executed, run or otherwise opened - it initiates the infection process (i.e. triggers malware download/installation). For example, Microsoft Office documents infect systems by executing malicious macro commands. In MS Office versions released before 2010 - this process begins automatically, once the doc is opened. However, the newer versions request users to enable macros (i.e. to enable editing/content). Therefore, the infection is jumpstarted only after the macro commands are manually enabled.

How to avoid installation of malware?

To avoid malware proliferated through spam campaigns, it is advised against opening dubious and/or irrelevant emails, especially any attachments or links found in them. It is recommended to only use Microsoft Office versions released after 2010, as the newer version have "Protected View" mode. Hence, when a virulent document is opened - the infection process is not immediately initiated. Other common distribution methods of malicious programs are via untrustworthy download channels (e.g. unofficial and free file-hosting websites, Peer-to-Peer sharing networks and other third party downloaders), illegal activation ("cracking") tools and illegitimate updates. Therefore, it is important to download only from official/verified sources, as well as activate and update products with tools/functions provided by genuine developers. To ensure device integrity and user safety, it is paramount to have a dependable anti-virus/anti-spyware installed and kept up-to-date. This software is to be used for regular system scans and to remove detected/potential threats. If you've already opened "U.S Department of Labor" attachment, we recommend running a scan with Malwarebytes for Windows to automatically eliminate infiltrated malware.

Text presented in the "U.S Department of Labor" email letter:

Subject: This is a new Employee Request Form under the Family and Medical Leave of Act (FMLA)

 

Dear employees, This message is sent to all qualified workers in order to notify of specific changes which have been made into the existing Family and Medical Leave of Act with regards to the recent COVID-19 Act. We want to inform you of various modifications that have been made in the performance of the FMLA structure, and assume that all that all employees will review and properly understand these changes. All these significant corrections are outlined inside the enclosure along with Family and Medical Leave of Act Employee Request Form under the FMLA and will be in power may. 30st, 2020. In order to ask for paid leave based on the FMLA, remember to analyze the papers carefully, get informed about the adjustments which have been made, complete the form and send to HR until May. 29, 2020. The above is an automatic notice, please don't answer directly to this specific letter. Best Regards, U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division

Malicious attachment ("FMLA-instr.doc") distributed via "U.S Department of Labor" spam campaign:

Malicious attachment distributed through U.S Department of Labor spam campaign

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:
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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 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.

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.

QR Code
TrickBot virus QR code
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