Do not trust malicious "Sincere apologies for this delay" emails
Written by Tomas Meskauskas on (updated)
What is the "Sincere apologies for this delay" email?
"Sincere apologies for this delay" is a spam campaign proliferating the TrickBot trojan. The term "spam campaign" defines a large-scale operation, during which thousands of deceptive emails are sent. The "Sincere apologies for this delay" messages concern an unspecified proposal to a likewise indeterminate process.
Recipients are asked to review the attached document and provide corrections to proceed, however, rather than containing such information, the attachment infects systems with TrickBot.
The "Sincere apologies for this delay" emails are named "skype/webex/zoom?" (the subject might vary) and offer apologies for the late response to a colleague's 'proposal' (however, the word "colleague" is misspelled as "college"). It is suggested that this delay might be due the colleague of the recipient being absent from the office.
The messages reassure that this is not a serious issue and state that hopefully the unspecified process can continue in a timely manner. Recipients are asked to address the attached document and indicate any necessary changes. If the attached Microsoft Excel file is opened and the macro commands enabled, download/installation of the TrickBot Trojan is initiated.
The primary function of this malicious program is to steal information. TrickBot mainly targets credentials (i.e. IDs, usernames and passwords) of email, social media, social networking, e-commerce, online money transfers, cryptocurrency wallet, banking, and various other accounts.
To summarize, trusting the "Sincere apologies for this delay" scam emails will result in system infection and can lead to financial loss, serious privacy issues and identity theft. If it is suspected or known that TrickBot Trojan (or other malware) has already infected the system, use an anti-virus software to remove it without delay.
|Name||Sincere Apologies For This Delay spam|
|Threat Type||Trojan, password-stealing virus, banking malware, spyware.|
|Hoax||Scam emails offer apologies for the late response and urge recipients to review the attached document.|
|Attachment(s)||001proj.xls (title may vary)|
|Detection Names||BitDefender (XLM.Trojan.Abracadabra.15.Gen), Fortinet (MSExcel/Agent.BWC!tr), McAfee (W97M/Downloader.czq), Kaspersky (HEUR:Trojan.Script.Generic), 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.|
|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 Combo Cleaner.
"Salesforce Email Virus", "Universidade De Lisboa", and "Philippine Overseas Employment Administration" are some examples of other malware-proliferating spam campaigns. Scam mail is typically presented as "official", "urgent", "important" or similar.
Additionally, due to the subject of the "Sincere apologies for this delay" emails being "skype/webex/zoom?", it might be the case that these messages are related to "Cisco WebEx virus" or "Zoom virus".
Note that scammers/cyber criminals often attempt to trick people into downloading/installing malicious programs disguised as content related to WebEx, Zoom or other communication platforms. As well as malware distribution, spam campaigns are also used for phishing and other scams.
Regardless of what the deceptive messages claim, offer, request or demand, the purpose is the same: to generate revenue for the designers.
How did "Sincere apologies for this delay Email Virus" infect my computer?
For example, Microsoft Office files cause infections by executing malicious macro commands. In MS Office versions released prior to 2010, macros are executed when a document is opened, however, newer versions have "Protected View" mode, whereby users are prompted to enable macro commands (i.e. to enable editing/content).
Therefore, malware download/installation is started only if the macros are manually enabled.
How to avoid installation of malware
Suspicious or irrelevant emails must not be opened, especially those with any attachments or links found in them, as doing so can result in high-risk infection.
You are advised to use Microsoft Office versions released after 2010, however, malicious content is also proliferated via untrusted download channels (e.g. unofficial and free file-hosting sites, Peer-to-Peer sharing networks and other third party downloaders), illegal activation ("cracking") tools and fake updaters.
Therefore, use official, verified sources and update/activate programs with tools or functions provided by genuine developers. To protect device and user safety, it is crucial to have reputable anti-virus/anti-spyware installed. This software must be kept up to date, used to run regular system scans and to remove detected threats/issues.
If you have already opened "Sincere apologies for this delay Email Virus" attachment, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows to automatically eliminate infiltrated malware.
Text presented in the "Sincere apologies for this delay" email message:
Sincere apologies for this delay in responding to your colleges proposal. He must be out of the office!
Nothing to worry about, the summer's here, I hope you're enjoying the sun too.
I really hope this time you'll agree with the changes and we can proceed with the process further on.
The document is attached to this email. If you make any changes please mark them accordingly.
Malicious attachment distributed via "Sincere apologies for this delay" spam campaign ("001proj.xls"):
Instant automatic malware removal:
Manual threat removal might be a lengthy and complicated process that requires advanced computer skills. Combo Cleaner is a professional automatic malware removal tool that is recommended to get rid of malware. Download it by clicking the button below:
- What is Sincere Apologies For This Delay spam?
- Types of malicious emails.
- How to spot a malicious email?
- What to do if you fell for an email scam?
Types of malicious 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.
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.
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:
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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