Avoid infecting your system through fake "Agenzia entrate" emails

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

"Agenzia entrate" email virus removal guide

What is the fake "Agenzia entrate" email?

"Agenzia entrate" refers to a spam campaign, designed to proliferate malware. The term "spam campaign" is used to describe a large scale operation, during which thousands of deceptive emails are sent. These letters specifically are disguised as mail from Agenzia delle Entrate - the Italian Revenue Agency, a governmental agency that enforces financial code and collects taxes/revenue. It must be emphasized that the "Agenzia entrate" emails are fake and in no way associated with the Italian Revenue Agency. The purpose of these letters is to trick recipients into opening the file attached to them, which will infect their systems with the Ursnif trojan.

Agenzia entrate malware-spreading email spam campaign

The "Agenzia entrate" scam emails are pretty vague, they list various legislative decrees, articles and directions. According to a rough translation, these letters supposedly contain information relating to compliance verification for payments to/from the recipients' public legal entities or companies. Recipients are urged to review the attached Excel spreadsheet - "utente_2410.xlsx" (filename may vary) - without delay. However, when this document is opened and macro commands (i.e. editing/content) are enabled - download/installation of Ursnif is triggered. The main purpose of this trojan is data theft. However, this is a multi-functional malware - hence, it has abilities unrelated to information stealing as well. Ursnif can extract and exfiltrate system information, browsing activity, account log-in credentials (i.e. usernames and passwords) from certain browsers and applications. This trojan also has the ability to record key strokes (keylogging). Cyber criminals, typically target email, social networking, social media, messenger, online data storage, e-commerce, banking and other accounts. Through hijacked communication accounts criminals can ask the owner's contacts for loans or proliferate malicious programs (by sharing infectious files). Banking accounts and financial information (e.g. credit card details, etc.) are of particular interest, as by stealing such - cyber criminals can make fraudulent transactions and/or make online purchases. In summary, trusting the fake "Agenzia entrate" emails can result in system infections, financial losses, serious privacy issues and even identity theft. If it suspected/known that Ursnif (or other malware) has already infected the system - an anti-virus program must be used to eliminate it immediately.

Threat Summary:
Name Ursnif virus
Threat Type Trojan, password-stealing virus, banking malware, spyware.
Hoax Emails are disguised as mail from Agenzia delle Entrate (Italian Revenue Agency)
Attachment(s) utente_2410.xlsx (filenames may vary)
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 Ursnif
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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"Wacker", "Covid-19 Health and Safety Plan", "Office had a contact with a coronavirus infected people" and "Request for quotation" are some examples of other malware-spreading spam campaigns. The scam emails are usually disguised as "official", "important", "urgent", and so on. However, proliferation of malicious software is not the goal of spam campaigns - they are also used for phishing and other scams as well. Regardless of what these letters claim, offer or request, they have but one purpose - to generate profit for the scammers / cyber criminals behind them.

How did "Agenzia entrate Email Virus" infect my computer?

Systems are infected through malicious files, which are distributed via spam campaigns. These files can be attached to the emails or alternatively, the letters can contain download links of such content. Virulent files can be in a wide variety formats, e.g. archives, executables, Microsoft Office and PDF documents, JavaScript, etc. When they are executed, run or otherwise opened - the infection chain/process is initiated (i.e. malware download/installation is triggered). For example, Microsoft Office documents (e.g. Excel spreadsheets, like ones sent in "Agenzia entrate" spam campaign) cause infections by executing malicious macro commands. In MS Office versions released after 2010, users are asked to enable macros (i.e. to enable editing/content), once this is done - the infection process begins. However, in older versions - macros are executed immediately when a document is opened.

How to avoid installation of malware?

It is strongly advised against opening suspicious and/or irrelevant emails, especially any attachments or links found in them. Additionally, it is recommended to only use Microsoft Office versions released after 2010. These versions have "Protected View" mode, which prevents macros from being executed the moment a document is opened. However, spam campaigns is not the sole malware proliferation method. Malicious programs are also spread via untrustworthy download channels (e.g. unofficial and free file-hosting websites, Peer-to-Peer sharing networks and other third party downloaders), illegal activation tools ("cracks") and fake updaters. Therefore, it is crucial to only download from official/verified sources, as well as activate and update programs with tools/functions provided by legitimate developers. To ensure device and user safety, it is paramount to have a dependable anti-virus/anti-spyware suite installed and kept up-to-date. Furthermore, this software must be used to run regular system scans and to remove detected/potential threats. If you've already opened "Agenzia entrate Email Virus" attachment, we recommend running a scan with Malwarebytes for Windows to automatically eliminate infiltrated malware.

Text presented in the "Agenzia entrate" email letter:

Attuazione della formazione di cui all'articolo 1, comma 2.ter del decreto legislativo 18 dicembre 1997, n. 471 relativa alla documentazione gradevole per consentire la verifica della conformità dei pagamenti della vostra persona giuridica pubblica o compagnia .

 

IL DIRETTORE DELL'AGENZIA DELLE ENTRATE

 

In base alle condizioni indicate al paragrafo 7 della clausola 110 del Decreto del Presidente della Repubblica 22 dicembre 1986, n. 917 e parte . 1, comma 2-ter del decreto legislativo 18 dicembre 1997, n. 471 e in base alla direttiva conferitegli all'attenzione dalle norme riportate nel seguito del presente provvedimento;

 

DISPONE:

 

Immediata presa visione dei file xls nell'archivio incluso a questa mail;

 

Questa e-mail è stata generata automaticamente, pertanto si prega di non effettuare l'inoltro a questa mail.

Malicious attachment distributed via "Agenzia entrate" spam campaign ("utente_2410.xlsx"):

Malicious attachment distributed through Agenzia entrate spam campaign (utente_2410.xlsx)

Another variant of "Agenzia Entrate" spam email used to spread an identical MS Excel document:

Agenzia Entrate spam email (2020-11-23)

Text presented within:

Subject: DIREZIONE AGENZIA ENTRATE
 
L'agenzia delle entrate RICHIEDE ai titolari d'impresa e ai privati iscritti al registro tributario consultazione
dell'allegato alla presente email contenente le disposizioni operative delle misure sull' adeguamento energetico delle strutture,
previste dagli articoli 119-121 del decreto-legge del 18/11/2020, n. 35 (DL Rilancio) convertito con modificazioni , dalla legge 17 luglio 2020, n. 81.

Si richiede ai contribuenti di prendere celermente visione della suddetta documentazione scaricabile
da allegato in modo da potersi regolamentare entro le scadenze prestabilite.

Ufficio comunicazioni,
Direzione nazionale Agenzia delle Entrate

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.

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