How to avoid installation of Agent Tesla via PO Copy malspam campaign?

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

PO Copy email virus removal guide

What is PO Copy email virus?

As a rule, malspam campaigns are used with a purpose to trick recipients into opening a malicious attachment or a file downloaded via malicious website that is designed to infect computers with a certain malware. In this particular case cyber criminals send emails with attached 7z archive file which contains a malicious Microsoft Office document designed to install Agent Tesla.

PO Copy Email Virus malware-spreading email spam campaign

This email is disguised as a letter from Shyamsree Infrastructure PVT LTD, a non-government real estate company. It contains an attachment (the "PO Copy.7z" archive file) which supposedly is a purchase order (PO) copy. Although, that archive file contains a malicious MS Office document which is designed to install Agent Tesla. This malware is capable of functioning as a keylogger - it can record keyboard input, which means cyber criminals behind it may steal information such as credit card details, login credentials (usernames, passwords), and other sensitive, confidential data that could be misused to steal accounts, identities, make fraudulent purchases, transactions, etc. It is known that this Agent Tesla is capable of stealing information from a number of web browsers, email clients, messaging clients, VPN and FPT clients, various download managers. Also, newer Agent Tesla version can prevent victims from accessing Task manager, System Registry, launching Command Prompt and some of the other Windows features. Cyber criminals can use it to take screenshots of victim's computer screen, and steal Wi-Fi profiles and passwords as well. Any of the possible damage that can be caused by this malware can be avoided by leaving the attachment in this malspam campaign unopened.

Threat Summary:
Name Agent Tesla RAT
Threat Type Trojan, password-stealing virus, banking malware, spyware.
Hoax Email disguised as letter regarding some purchase order
Attachment(s) PO Copy.7z
Detection Names Cybereason (Malicious.0709ee), ESET-NOD32 (A Variant Of MSIL/Kryptik.XTY), Kaspersky (UDS:DangerousObject.Multi.Generic), Microsoft (Trojan:Win32/Wacatac.C!ml), 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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A couple of examples of other malspam campaigns are "Atlas Home Products Email Virus", "Talkline Communications Email Virus" and "Nico International Email Virus". It is worthwhile to mention that most of the times such emails are disguised official, important letters from legitimate companies, organizations. Other examples of malware that is distributed this way are Adwind, TrickBot, and Ursnif.

How did "PO Copy Email Virus" infect my computer?

In this case Agent Tesla gets installed when users extract the attached "PO Copy.7z" archive file, open the Microsoft Office document (named "PO Copy.exe") and enable macros commands (enable editing/content) in that document. It is worthwhile to mention that when users open malicious documents with MS Office version that were released before year 2010 infect computers without having to enable macros commands. The aforementioned versions do not include the "Protected View" feature and infect computers automatically. Some examples of other files that cyber criminals attach to their emails when they use malspam campaigns to distribute malware are PDF documents, JavaScript files, Microsoft Office documents, executables (like .exe).

How to avoid installation of malware?

Software should not be downloaded (or installed) through third party downloaders, installers, unofficial sites, Peer-to-Peer networks like torrent clients, eMule, or other tools, sources of this kind. The safest way to download files and programs is by using official websites and direct links. Irrelevant emails that contain attachments, web links and are received from unknown, suspicious addresses should not be trusted. It is advised not to open contents of such emails without being sure that it is completely safe. Installed software must be activated and/or updated through tools that are provided by its official developers. No third party, unofficial tool should be used neither to update or activate software. Moreover, it is not legal to use such tools to activate any licensed software. Operating system should be regularly scanned for threats with a reputable antivirus or anti-spyware suite. If you've already opened "PO Copy Email Virus" attachment, we recommend running a scan with Malwarebytes for Windows to automatically eliminate infiltrated malware.

Text in this email letter:

Subject: PO Copy

Dear Concern,

 Please find the attached file of PO copy for your reference for Load-out

Conveyor System.

 Please arrange too send the PI on immediate basis for process the payment.


Thanks & Regards
Tamal Chakraborty
Sr.Engineer-Mechanical
Shyamsree Infrastructure Pvt. Ltd
(SHYAM STEEL group)
EN-32,SaltLake,Sector-5
Kolkata-700091
Mobile-7029600423

Detections of the malicious attachment in VirusTotal:

PO Copy Email Virus malware-spreading email spam campaign

Malicious Agent Tesla process running in Task Manager as "VLC Media Player":

po copy email virus malicious vlc media player process

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
Agent Tesla RAT QR code
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