Do not trust the "Covid-19 Health and Safety Plan" emails

Also Known As: Agent Tesla RAT
Type: Trojan
Distribution: Moderate
Damage level: Severe

"Covid-19 Health and Safety Plan" email virus removal guide

What is the "Covid-19 Health and Safety Plan" email?

"Covid-19 Health and Safety Plan" is yet another Coronavirus/COVID-19 themed spam campaign. The term "spam campaign" is used to define a large scale operation, during which thousands of deceptive/scam emails are sent. The "Covid-19 Health and Safety Plan" letters claim to contain an invoice for a "Health and Safety Plan Package". However, the attached file is designed to initiate the Agent Tesla RAT (Remote Access Trojan). Malware of this type enables remote access and control over the infected device.

Covid-19 Health and Safety Plan malware-spreading email spam campaign

The scam emails with the subject/title "Diederik Health and Safety Consultant - Covid-19 Safety Plan Package Invoice", state that as discussed with the recipients' company - the letters have the invoice of for the "Covid-19 Health and Safety Plan Package". Instead of containing the alleged information, the attached executable file - "invoice - OP234156.exe" (which is disguised as a PDF document) - upon opening, initiates the infection process (i.e. download/installation) of Agent Tesla RAT. As mentioned in the introduction, remote access trojans operate by allowing access and control over the infected machine. This type of malicious programs can have a wide variety of functionalities that can enable likewise varied misuse. The primary purpose of Agent Tesla is stealing information, its main functionality is keylogging. To elaborate, it can record key strokes. Thereby, the safety and privacy of any typed information on an infected device - is compromised. Typically, cyber criminals use keylogging to obtain account log-in credentials (i.e. usernames and passwords). Accounts of interest include: emails, social networking, social media, messengers, data storage, e-commerce, online money transferring, banking, and so on. Through hijacked communication accounts (e.g. emails, messengers, etc.), criminals can ask for loans from contacts/friends and/or proliferate malware - by pretending to be the genuine owner. Stolen accounts that deal with and/or store financial information (e.g. bank account or credit card details) can be used by cyber criminals to make fraudulent transactions, online purchases, etc. To summarize, trusting the "Covid-19 Health and Safety Plan" emails can lead to system infections, financial losses, severe privacy issues and identity theft. If it is known or suspected that Agent Tesla RAT (or other malware) has already infected the system - an anti-virus software must be used to eliminate it immediately.

Threat Summary:
Name Agent Tesla RAT
Threat Type Trojan, password-stealing virus, banking malware, spyware.
Hoax The emails claim to contain an invoice for a COVID-19 Health and Safety Plan Package.
Attachment(s) invoice - OP234156.exe
Detection Names Fortinet (MSIL/Kryptik.ALK!tr), BitDefender (Trojan.GenericKDZ.68299), ESET-NOD32 (A Variant Of MSIL/Kryptik.WPI), Kaspersky (HEUR:Trojan-PSW.MSIL.Coins.gen), 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
Rogue Process Name BeheerApp (process name may vary)
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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"SD BIOSENSOR", "Institut za zdravstvo Srbije" and "COVID-19 test" are a few examples of other Coronavirus/COVID-19 centered spam campaigns. Scam emails are usually presented as "official", "important", "urgent" and similar; they may even be disguised as mail from legitimate organizations, companies, service providers, etc. Malware proliferation is but one purpose of spam campaigns, they are also used for phishing and other scams. Regardless of what these letters claim, offer, request or demand, the end-goal is identical - to generate profit for their designers. Therefore, it is strongly advised to exercise caution with received mail.

How did "Covid-19 Health and Safety Plan Email Virus" infect my computer?

Systems are infected through virulent files attached to and/or linked inside them. Malicious files can be in various formats, such as archives (ZIP, RAR, etc.), executables (.exe, .run, etc.), Microsoft Office and PDF documents, JavaScript, etc. When an infectious files is executed, run or otherwise opened - the infection process is triggered. In other words, when a malicious file is opened - it begins downloading/installing malware (e.g. trojans, ransomware, cryptominers, etc.). For example, Microsoft Office documents infect systems by executing malicious macro commands. In MS Office versions released before 2010, this process begins automatically when a document is opened. However, the newer versions request users to enable macro commands (i.e. to enable editing/content); hence, the infection process is only initiated after the macros are enabled manually.

How to avoid installation of malware?

Suspect and/or irrelevant emails must not be opened, especially any attachments or links present in them - as that can result in a high-risk infection. Additionally, it is recommended to only use Microsoft Office versions released after 2010. However, malware is also proliferated 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 fake updaters. Therefore, it is advised to always use official and verified download sources, as well as activate and update programs with tools/functions provided by legitimate developers. To ensure device integrity and user safety, it is crucial to have a dependable anti-virus/anti-spyware installed. This software must be kept updated, used to run regular system scans and to remove detected/potential threats. If you've already opened "Covid-19 Health and Safety Plan Email Virus" attachment, we recommend running a scan with Malwarebytes for Windows to automatically eliminate infiltrated malware.

Text presented in the "Covid-19 Health and Safety Plan" email letter:

Subject: Diederik Health and Safety Consultant - Covid-19 Safety Plan Package Invoice


Good morning, Attached, please find the invoice for the Covid-19 Health and Safety Plan Package, as discussed with your company. Thank you for your support. Kind regards Karoaskl213kl Sent from my iphone

VirusTotal detections of the malicious attachment distributed via "Covid-19 Health and Safety Plan" spam campaign ("invoice - OP234156.exe"):

Covid-19 Health and Safety Plan email malicious attachment detections (invoice - OP234156.exe)

Agent Tesla's process on Windows Task Manager ("BeheerApp"; process name may vary):

Agent Tesla malware process on Task Manager (BeheerApp)

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
Agent Tesla RAT QR code
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