Avoid infecting your system via fake "Swedish Energy Agency" emails

Also Known As: Agent Tesla RAT
Type: Trojan
Distribution: Low
Damage level: Severe

"Swedish Energy Agency Email Virus" removal guide

What are the fake "Swedish Energy Agency" emails?

"Swedish Energy Agency Email Virus" refers to a spam campaign, spreading the Agent Tesla RAT (Remote Access Trojan). The term "spam campaign" is used to define a mass-scale operation, during which thousands of deceptive emails are sent. The emails distributed through this spam campaign are disguised as letters from the Swedish Energy Agency. The aforementioned agency is a legitimate governmental entity, dealing in sustainable energy systems. It must be emphasized that these fake emails are in no way connected to the genuine Swedish Energy Agency.

Swedish Energy Agency malware-spreading email spam campaign

According to a rough translation from Swedish, the "Swedish Energy Agency" scam emails (subject/title "Väntande lista"; may vary) inform recipients that they must confirm the provided invoices to resume an unspecified process. The fake letters are concluded with real details of the legitimate Swedish Energy Agency. The infectious file ("Väntande fakturor.exe ") attached to the emails - is designed to infect systems with the Agent Tesla RAT upon execution (i.e. opening). Remote Access Trojans are malicious programs with a wide variety of heinous abilities that can be used to facilitate varied misuse of the infected machine. In general terms, RATs operate by enabling remote access and control over a compromised device. The primary purpose of Agent Tesla is exfiltration of information (i.e. data theft). This malware has keylogging abilities, which means that it can record key strokes. Cyber criminals typically use such features to obtain log-in credentials (i.e. IDS, usernames and passwords) of various accounts. Accounts of interest include (but are not limited to): emails, social networking, social media, messengers, data storage, data sharing, e-commerce, online money transferring, and banking. To summarize, trusting the fraudulent "Swedish Energy Agency" emails can lead to system infections, financial losses, severe privacy issues and identity theft.

Threat Summary:
Name Agent Tesla RAT
Threat Type Trojan, password-stealing virus, banking malware, spyware.
Hoax Emails are disguised as mail from the Swedish Energy Agency
Attachment(s) Väntande fakturor.exe
Detection Names AVG (FileRepMalware), BitDefender (Gen:Variant.MSILPerseus.230692), ESET-NOD32 (A Variant Of MSIL/Kryptik.XJJ), Kaspersky (HEUR:Trojan.MSIL.Agent.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 Agent Tesla
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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"INPS Email Virus", "COELECSA Email Virus", "Sincere Apologies For This Delay", "Ptt Email Virus" and "Philippine Overseas Employment Administration" are some examples of other malware-proliferating spam campaigns. Scam emails are usually disguised as "official", "important", "urgent", "priority" and similar. They spread trojans, ransomware, cryptominers and other malicious programs. However, such deceptive letters are also used for phishing and other scams. Regardless of what these emails offer, claim, request or demand, the end-goal is the same - to generate revenue for the scammers / cyber criminals behind them. Therefore, it is strongly advised to exercise caution with incoming mail.

How did "Swedish Energy Agency Email Virus" infect my computer?

Systems are infected via malicious files distributed in spam campaigns. These files can be attached to the scam emails and/or the letters can contain download links of infectious content. Virulent files can be in various formats, such as: executables (.exe, .run, etc.), archives (ZIP, RAR, etc.), Microsoft Office and PDF documents, JavaScript, etc.). When the files are executed, run or otherwise opened - the infection chain (i.e. download/installation of malware) is initiated. For example, Microsoft Office documents cause infections by executing malicious macro commands. This process is triggered the moment a documents in opened in Microsoft Office versions released before 2010. However, the newer versions have "Protected View" mode, which prevents macros from being executed upon a document's opening. In the newer versions, users are asked to enable macro commands (i.e. to enable editing/content); hence, infection processes can only be triggered if macros are enabled manually.

How to avoid installation of malware?

To avoid malware spread through spam mail, it is advised not to open suspicious and/or irrelevant emails, especially ones received from unknown/suspect senders. Any attachments or links found in dubious letters must not be opened - as they are the origins of potential system infections. Additionally, it is recommended to use Microsoft Office versions released after 2010. However, malicious programs are not proliferated exclusively via spam campaigns; malware is also commonly spread through untrustworthy download channels (e.g. unofficial and freeware websites, Peer-to-Peer sharing networks and other third party downloaders), illegal activation ("cracking") tools and fake updaters. Therefore, it is important to only download from official/verified sources and activate/update programs with tools or functions provided by genuine developers. To ensure system health and user safety, it is paramount to have a reputable anti-virus/anti-spyware suite installed and kept up-to-date. Furthermore, this software is to be used to run regular system scans and to remove detected/potential threats. If you've already opened "Swedish Energy Agency Email Virus" attachment, we recommend running a scan with Malwarebytes for Windows to automatically eliminate infiltrated malware.

Text presented in the fake "Swedish Energy Agency" email letter:

Subject: Väntande lista

 

God morgon,
Benkräfta att de väntade fakturorna är korekta så att vi kan fortsätta.


Svensson Lars

 

Gredbyvägen 10 Eskilstuna
Rosenlundsgatan 9 Stockholm
P.O. Box 310 SE - 631 04 Eskilstuna

 

Phone +46 16 544 20 00

 

Fax +46 16 544 20 99

Screenshot of VirusTotal detections of the malicious attachment ("Väntande fakturor.exe") distributed via "Swedish Energy Agency" spam campaign:

Swedish Energy Agency email malicious attachment detections on VirusTotal

Screenshot of the malicious attachment's process on Windows Task Manager ("Age Calculator"; process name may vary):

Swedish Energy Agency email malicious attachment process on task manager (Age Calculator)

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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Agent Tesla RAT QR code
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