How to avoid installation of malware via Billtrust malspam campaign?

Also Known As: possible malware infections
Type: Trojan
Distribution: Moderate
Damage level: Severe

"Billtrust Email Virus" removal guide

What is "Billtrust Email Virus"?

This malspam campaign is disguised as a letter from Billtrust with some invoice attached to it. Although, cyber criminals sent this email with a purpose to trick recipients into infecting their computers with malicious software. Typically, malware gets installed when recipients execute a malicious file. Therefore, it is strongly recommended not to trust such emails and always leave their contents (attachments and/or website links) unopened.

Billtrust Email Virus malware-spreading email spam campaign

As mentioned in the introduction, cyber criminals disguised this malspam campaign as letter from Billtrust, a legtimate provider of order-to-cash solutions. None of the legitimate companies are involved in such campaigns, neither does Billtrust. The main goal of cyber criminals behind this email is to deceive recipients into believing that they have received some invoice and opening the attached malicious MS Excel (.xls) document. This document cannot install malware without allowing it to disable Protected View mode (enable macros commands). It is unknown what malicious software this document is designed to install, however, it is very likely that enabling macros commands in it results in installation of some ransomware, Trojan, cryptocurrency miner or other malware. In most cases recipients who execute malicious files received via email install malicious software that is designed to encrypt files, steal sensitive information, give cyber criminals a permission to control the computer remotely or mine cryptocurrency. In other words, victims of such malware attacks tend to become victims of identity theft, suffer monetary, data loss, lose access to personal accounts, experience issues related to browsing safety, online privacy and/or other serious issues. Therefore, this email should be ignored/the malicious file attached to it should be left unopened. The same applies to any other malspam campaign.

Threat Summary:
Name possible malware infections
Threat Type Trojan, password-stealing virus, banking malware, spyware.
Hoax This email is disguised as letter from Billtrust
Attachment(s) 23181056-75.xlsm (its name may vary)
Detection Names Arcabit (W97m.Downloader.IWS), BitDefender (W97m.Downloader.IWS), Emsisoft (W97m.Downloader.IWS (B)), Kaspersky (HEUR:Trojan.MSOffice.Alien.gen), Full List Of Detections (VirusTotal)
Symptoms In most cases malicious programs 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 The malicious file attached to this email can be designed to install various malware
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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To use full-featured product, you have to purchase a license for Malwarebytes. 14 days free trial available.

There are various malspam campaigns, some examples are "Universidade De Lisboa Email Virus", "Philippine Overseas Employment Administration Email Virus" and "You Must Go To The Law Court Email Virus". A as rule, such emails contain a malicious attachment or website link. Either way, recipients cannot infect their computers without having to open it first. A couple examples of other malicious programs that are distributed via malspam campaigns are LokiBot, NanoCore, TrickBot and Ursnif.

How did "Billtrust Email Virus" infect my computer?

Malware can be installed through emails only when recipients open a malicious file (attachment or a file downloaded via malicious link). Typically, cyber criminals send emails that contain a malicious Microsoft Office document, PDF document, JavaScript file, archive file like ZIP, RAR, executable file like .exe. It is worthwhile to mention that malicious documents opened with Microsoft Office 2010 or later cannot install malware if users do not enable macros commands (editing/content) in them. The aforementioned versions have the "Protected View" mode which is designed to prevent opened malicious documents from causing installation of malicious software. Although, MS Office versions that were released before year 2010 infect computers automatically.

How to avoid installation of malware?

Software (and files) should be downloaded only from legitimate, official, pages and via direct links. Peer-to-Peer networks (like torrent clients, eMule), unofficial pages, third party downloaders, installers, free file hosting pages, etc., are often used to distribute malicious software. Therefore, it is not safe to use them neither to download or install software or files. Attachments and links in irrelevant emails that are received from unknown, suspicious addresses should not be opened. If there is any reason to suspect that an email is received from cyber criminals, then its contents must be left unopened. All installed programs should be updated and/or activated with tools or functions that are designed by official software developers. It is never safe to use third party, unofficial updaters or activators. Moreover, it is not legal to activate licensed software with various 'cracking' tools. And finally, a computer should be scanned for threats regularly. It is recommended to do that by using a reputable antivirus or anti-spyware software. If you've already opened "Billtrust Email Virus" attachment, we recommend running a scan with Malwarebytes for Windows to automatically eliminate infiltrated malware.

Text presented in the "Billtrust Email Virus" email letter:

Subject: Your Invoice is Attached

 

Attached is your invoice

 

INVOICE NUMBER    PO NUMBER    AMOUNT    
23181056-75        $1,520.00    


Want to save some time and effort? We now can provide your invoice information in an Easy Import file so you can import invoice information directly into your accounting system.


Please Note: We use the industry standard Office/PDF format for storing and displaying bills. This makes it very easy to print or save your bill to your PC. If you're unable to view this attachment, please click here to get the latest version of the free Acrobat Reader.

Thank you for helping the environment by using email billing.

***This is an automated email. Please do not respond directly to it.*** Thank you.

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

Malicious attachment distributed through Billtrust Email Virus 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.

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