Do not trust malicious "Sincere apologies for this delay" emails

Also Known As: TrickBot trojan
Type: Trojan
Damage level: Severe

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.

Sincere apologies for this delay malware-spreading email spam campaign

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.

Threat Summary:
Name TrickBot trojan
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.
Payload TrickBot
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.
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"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?

Systems are infected via malicious files distributed through spam campaigns. These files can be attached to and/or linked inside the scam emails. Infectious files can be in various formats (e.g. Microsoft Office and PDF documents, archives, executables, JavaScript, etc.) and when they are opened, the infection process/chain is triggered.

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:

Subject: skype/webex/zoom?


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.


Chat soon

Malicious attachment distributed via "Sincere apologies for this delay" spam campaign ("001proj.xls"):

Malicious attachment (001proj.xls) distributed through Sincere apologies for this delay spam campaign

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:
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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 Combo Cleaner Antivirus 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 Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows.

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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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