Avoid infecting your system via "Google Pay" scam emails

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

"Google Pay" email virus removal guide

What is the "Google Pay" email?

"Google Pay" is the name of an email spam campaign, designed to proliferate the Taurus stealer - an information stealing malware. The deceptive emails distributed in this campaign are presented as payment confirmation notices. The letters have DocuSign-themed attachments, which open opening (and macro command enablement) initiate download/installation of the Taurus stealer.

Google Pay malware-spreading email spam campaign

The "Google Pay" emails with subject/title "Payment Confirmation" (may vary) are vague and provide no specific information. This is not an uncommon tactic in scam mail, as the less details are provided - the more likely are users to misattribute the letters to real purchases, orders, deals, etc. and/or investigate them due to confusion/curiosity. The "Google Pay" emails are in no way associated with Google LLC, this title is assigned due to the name of the infectious attachment being "google_pay_invoice-0161585.doc" and the deceptive letters containing a Google Maps image. These emails also list an address, date of purchase, transaction ID, item price and quantity (the product itself is not specified in any way). The attachment is DocuSign-themed and supposedly contain the purchase receipt. Once this Microsoft Office document is opened and macros (editing/content) enabled - the infection process of Taurus stealer is triggered. The primary purpose of this malicious program is data-theft. Taurus can extract and exfiltrate a variety of sensitive information from certain browsers, email clients, cryptocurrency wallets (cryptowallets), FTP (File Transfer Protocol) applications and other software, as well as the system itself. This malware can also cause chain infections, i.e. download/install additional malware (e.g. trojans, ransomware, cryptominers, etc.). In summary, trusting the "Google Pay" scam emails can result in high-risk system infections, financial losses, severe privacy issues and identity theft.

Threat Summary:
Name Taurus malware
Threat Type Trojan, password-stealing virus, banking malware, spyware.
Hoax Emails are disguised as purchase confirmations, containing purchase invoices.
Attachment(s) google_pay_invoice-0161585.doc
Detection Names DrWeb (Trojan.DownLoader34.9302), Fortinet (VBA/Agent.50B9!tr), ESET-NOD32 (VBA/TrojanDownloader.Agent.MUV), Kaspersky (HEUR:Trojan.MSOffice.SAgent.gen), 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 Taurus
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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"Sincere Apologies For This Delay", "Salesforce Email Virus", "Universidade De Lisboa" and "Philippine Overseas Employment Administration" are some examples of other malware-spreading emails. They are distributed by the thousand, during mass-scale operations called "spam campaigns". The letters are typically presented as "important", "urgent", "priority" and similar; they may even be disguised as mail from legitimate institutions, organizations, companies and other entities. However, proliferation of malicious software is not the only purpose of spam campaigns, they are used for phishing and other scams as well. Regardless of what these emails claim or offer, the end-goal is the same - to generate revenue to the scammers / cyber criminals behind them.

How did "Google Pay Email Virus" infect my computer?

Systems are infected by virulent files sent in spam campaigns. Malicious files can be in various formats (e.g. archives, executables, PDF and Microsoft Office documents, JavaScript, etc.) and when they are executed, run or otherwise opened - the infection process/chain (i.e. download/installation) of malware is jumpstarted. For example, Microsoft Office files infect systems by executing malicious macro commands. In Microsoft Office programs released prior to 2010 - macros are executed the moment a document is opened. However, in later releases, users are asked to enable macro commands (i.e. to enable editing/content); hence, infection processes are only initiated if macros are manually enabled.

How to avoid installation of malware?

It is strongly advised against opening suspect and/or irrelevant emails, especially any attachments or links present in them - as that can lead to a serious system infection. Additionally, it is recommended to use Microsoft Office versions released after 2010. The newer programs have "Protected View" mode, which prevents automatic execution of macro commands. However, spam campaigns is not the only distribution technique of malware. Other common methods include proliferation 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 important to only download from official/verified sources, as well as activate and update programs with tools/functions provided by genuine developers. It is paramount to have a reputable anti-virus/anti-spyware suite installed and kept up-to-date. Furthermore, this software must be used to perform regular system scans and to remove detected/potential threats. If you've already opened "Google Pay Email Virus" attachment, we recommend running a scan with Malwarebytes for Windows to automatically eliminate infiltrated malware.

Text presented in the "Google Pay" email letter:

Subject: Payment Confirmation

 

Century House
2592 Carolina Avenue
Hartford, 6103
2020-07-27    Transaction Id:  605AA5
$137.26
Item 1
Quantity: 1    Price: $137.26
Receipt is attached
SubTotal
Total
$137.26
$137.26

DocuSign-themed malicious attachment, designed to infect systems with the Taurus stealer, distributed via "Google Pay" spam campaign ("google_pay_invoice-0161585.doc"):

Malicious attachment distributed through Google Pay spam campaign (google_pay_invoice-0161585.doc)

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.

QR Code
Taurus malware QR code
A QR code (Quick Response Code) is a machine-readable code which stores URLs and other information. This code can be read using a camera on a smartphone or a tablet. Scan this QR code to have an easy access removal guide of Taurus malware on your mobile device.
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