Avoid being scammed through the "A file was shared with you" phishing email

Also Known As: possible malware infections
Distribution: Low
Damage level: Medium

"A file was shared with you" removal guide

What is "A file was shared with you"?

This is one of many phishing emails and is sent by cyber criminals who attempt to steal sensitive information from unsuspecting users. Note that cyber criminals behind phishing emails disguise them as messages from legitimate companies or individuals. In this case, recipients are notified that files regarding bonuses were shared with them. They are encouraged to review the files by logging into their Microsoft accounts through an 'official' Microsoft sign-in website. The purpose of this scam is to trick recipients into granting permission to a rogue application, which then allows cyber criminals to steal various data from recipients' Microsoft accounts. Neither this, nor other similar emails, can be trusted.

A file was shared with you email spam campaign

Cyber criminals behind this phishing email ask recipients to download a file, which is disguised as document regarding a bonus payment. Recipients supposedly download it through the provided website link, which apparently leads to an official Microsoft sign-in website. The problem with the opened URL is its parameters: "response_time", "redirect uri" and "scope". The first parameter indicates which type of access is requested. In this particular case, an ID token and an authorization code are requested. The rogue application exchanges them into an access token which it uses for data access. The second parameter specifies the location to which tokens and authorization codes are sent. In this case, to a domain mimicking the legitimate Office 365 entity, which is located in Bulgaria. The third parameter contains permissions that the user gives to the aforementioned rogue application. Essentially, the main purpose of this phishing attack is to deceive recipients into entering their Microsoft account credentials so that they authenticate through OAuth2 and OIDC protocols. After authentication, these protocols authorize access for the rogue application, which can then be used by cyber criminals to access Microsoft products and services such as Office, Skype, Outlook, OneDrive, and so on (i.e., to access hosted files, photos, contacts, and other content). Cyber criminals can use the accessed information to make fraudulent purchases, spread phishing emails (including this one), scam emails or even malware, steal identities, etc. These actions depend on the documents and other data, which the rogue application are able to access on users' Microsoft products or services. Therefore, this situation can be avoided simply by ignoring these phishing emails and not approving malicious access to data.

Threat Summary:
Name A file was shared with you Email Scam.
Threat Type Phishing, Email Scam, Social Engineering, Fraud.
Disguise This email is disguised as a message regarding a Q1 bonus.
Symptoms Unauthorized online purchases, changed online account passwords, identity theft, illegal access of the computer.
Distribution methods Deceptive emails, rogue online pop-up ads, search engine poisoning techniques, misspelled domains.
Damage Loss of sensitive private information, monetary loss, identity theft.
Malware Removal (Windows)

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Other examples of email scams are "Your Google Ads Account Has Been Suspended", "ShareFile Attachment" and "Attn Lucky Winner". In most cases, cyber criminals behind them attempt to deceive recipients into providing sensitive information (such as login credentials and credit card details) or transferring money to them. The emails are often used to trick recipients into installing malware (e.g., ransomware, Trojans) as well. Never provide sensitive, personal information through emails or unknown websites or open files/links within them.

How do spam campaigns infect computers?

Malware is installed through emails when users open malicious attachments, or files that were downloaded through website links within the messages. Some examples of files that cyber criminals often attach to their emails are malicious Microsoft Office documents, PDF documents, executable files (.exe), archive files (ZIP, RAR), and JavaScript files. Note that malicious MS Office documents infect computers only if users give them permission to enable editing/content (macros commands). Note that malicious documents opened with versions older than Microsoft Office 2010 will install malware without asking any permissions (since those versions do not include Protected View mode).

How to avoid installation of malware

Do not trust or open emails that are irrelevant, received from suspicious, unknown addresses, or contain attachments and/or website links. Software should be downloaded only from official web pages and via direct download links. Peer-to-Peer networks, third party downloaders, unofficial pages, etc., should not be trusted and could be used to proliferate malicious files and programs. Third party installers are also used to distribute malware. Installed software must be updated and activated (if necessary) through implemented functions and tools designed by official developers. Note that it is illegal to activate licensed software with third party tools, and they often infect computers with malware. Finally, it is important to regularly scan the computer for threats with a reputable antivirus or anti-spyware suite and keep it up to date. If you have already opened malicious attachments, we recommend running a scan with Malwarebytes for Windows to automatically eliminate infiltrated malware.

Official Microsoft sign-in page used to provide access for the rogue application:

microsoft sign in page used to give rogue application a permission to access data

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.

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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.

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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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