How to avoid installation of NetWire through the Wacker malspam campaign

Also Known As: Wacker spam
Damage level: Severe

What is "Wacker Email Virus"?

Typically, malspam campaigns are disguised as email messages from legitimate, official companies and organizations and are sent to trick recipients into installing a malicious program.

This malspam campaign is disguised as a message from Wacker Chemie AG - cyber criminals responsible attempt to trick people into installing a Remote Access Trojan (RAT) named NetWire. Note that Wacker Chemie AG is a legitimate company, which has nothing to do with this spam campaign.

Wacker Email Virus malware-spreading email spam campaign

This email is disguised as a message regarding a customer enquiry. It claims that recipients can review it by opening the attached "WACKER - 000160847" Microsoft Excel document (its name might differ in other variants of this malspam campaign).

When opened, this malicious document states that macros commands are disabled and can be enabled by clicking the "Enable Content" button. You are strongly advised not to enable editing/content in documents that are received from unknown, suspicious addresses, and are attached to irrelevant emails, etc.

By enabling macro commands, users allow the documents to install malicious software. This particular document installs the aforementioned NetWire RAT, which functions as a keystroke logger (it records all keyboard input including login credentials, credit card details and other sensitive information).

The obtained details could be misused to steal identities and various accounts, make fraudulent purchases and transactions, etc.

Cyber criminals behind NetWire might sell the data to third parties. Therefore, opening malicious documents attached to this email can lead to monetary loss, problems relating to online privacy and browsing safety, loss of access to personal accounts, identity theft, and other serious issues.

Threat Summary:
Name Wacker spam
Threat Type Remote Administration Trojan.
Hoax This email is disguised as a message from Wacker Chemie AG.
Attachment(s) WACKER - 000160847.xls (its name may vary)
Detection Names AESET-NOD32 (VBA/TrojanDownloader.Agent.TNL), Fortinet (XF/Agent.34C4!tr), Ikarus (Trojan.Office.Doc), K7AntiVirus (Trojan ( 00568efb1 )), Full List Of Detections (VirusTotal)
Symptoms Remote Access 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 NetWire
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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Some examples of other malspam campaigns are "Office Had A Contact With A Coronavirus Infected People Email Virus", "SD BIOSENSOR Email Virus" and "Request For Quotation Email Virus". The cyber criminals behind them attempt to trick recipients into installing high-risk malware, enabling them to generate revenue in various ways.

Some examples of malicious programs that cyber criminals attempt to proliferate in this way are Agent Tesla, TrickBot, Kryptik and Gozi.

How did "Wacker Email Virus" infect my computer?

NetWire can be installed on computers through this malspam campaign only if recipients open the attached malicious MS Excel file and enable macro commands (editing/content).

Note that malicious documents do not need permission to enable macros commands it they are opened with Microsoft Office versions released before 2010, since those versions do not include "Protected View" mode and install the malware automatically.

Examples of other files that cyber criminals attach to their emails are JavaScript files, executable files such as .exe, other Microsoft Office documents (such as Word), PDF documents, archive files such as ZIP, and RAR. None of these files can infect computers without first being opened/executed.

How to avoid installation of malware

Files and programs should be downloaded only from official pages and through direct links. Other channels and tools such as Peer-to-Peer networks, unofficial sites, third party downloaders and installers are often used to distribute malicious software and files. Installed programs must be updated and activated only with implemented functions and tools from the official developers.

It is never safe to use third party updaters or activators. Furthermore, it is illegal to use unofficial activators ('cracking' tools) to activate licensed programs. Attachments and links in irrelevant emails that are received from unknown, suspicious addresses should not be opened.

In most cases, these emails are sent by cyber criminals who attempt to trick recipients into installing malware onto their computers.

Keep your computer safe by regularly scanning it with a reputable antivirus or anti-spyware suite and keep it up to date. If you have already opened "Wacker Email Virus" attachment, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows to automatically eliminate infiltrated malware.

Text presented in the "Wacker Email Virus" email message:

Subject: WACKER - Customer Enquiry 000160847


Dear Sir or Madam,


In the attachment you will receive our customer enquiry 000160847 date 29.06.2020


Please send your official offer to Miss Michela Merlini at michela.merlini@wacker.com or by Fax :+49 511 61085 .

Best regards
Wacker Chemie AG
This communication and any files or attachments transmitted with it may contain information that is copyrighted or confidential and exempt from disclosure under applicable law. It is intended solely for the use of the individual or the entity to which it is addressed.
If you are not intended recipient, you are hereby notified that any use, dissemination, or copying of this communication is strictly prohibited.
If you have received this communication in error, please notify the sender at once so that he may take the appropriate action and avoid troubling you further.
Thank you for your cooperation.

Malicious attachment distributed via "Wacker Email Virus" spam campaign:

Malicious attachment distributed through Wacker Email Virus spam campaign

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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.

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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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