Do not trust the "Account Access Disabled" phishing emails

Also Known As: possible malware infections
Distribution: Low
Damage level: Medium

"Account Access Disabled" email scam removal guide

What is the "Account Access Disabled" email?

"Account Access Disabled" refers to an email spam campaign. The term "spam campaign" is used to describe a mass-scale operation, during which thousands of scam emails are distributed. The deceptive letters sent through this campaign state that the access to recipients' email accounts has supposedly been disabled and to recover it - the verification process must be completed. Should users attempt to access their account via button in these emails - they will be redirected to a phishing website, designed to collect data (i.e. log-in credentials) entered into it.

Account Access Disabled email spam campaign

The "Account Access Disabled" scam emails claim that the access to recipients' mail accounts has been blocked and verification is required. Hence, users' will not longer receive incoming emails and be unable to send letters from their accounts. Allegedly, if recipients fail to carry out the verification process they will lose their mail account and will be responsible for it. Should recipients click the "Verify my Account Status" button, they will be redirected to a phishing site. It must be emphasized that all of the information provided by the "Account Access Disabled" emails - is false. Websites promoted through this kind of spam campaign are presented as account/service sign-in pages. Despite often appearing legitimate or identical/similar to those of the supposed service (e.g. specific email service provider), they are malicious and instead of allowing users to access their accounts - simply collect (i.e. steal) the log-in information. Therefore, by entering their usernames and passwords - users unintentionally reveal them to the individuals behind the phishing website. However, the threat posed by such sites is more than the loss of an email account. Scammers are particularly interested in emails as they are commonly connected with other accounts/services; hence, through a stolen mail - associated platforms can be likewise hijacked. Accounts of interest include (but are not limited to): social media, social networking, messaging, data storage/sharing, e-commerce, online money transferring, e-wallet, banking, and so on. To summarize, by trusting "Account Access Disabled" scam emails - users risk experiencing severe privacy issues, financial losses and even identity theft. Should users have already attempted to sign-in through the phishing webpages promoted via "Account Access Disabled" scam letters - it is strongly advised to change the passwords to the mail and other accounts connected to it. Additionally, it is recommended to contact the official support of all potentially compromised accounts.

Threat Summary:
Name Account Access Disabled Email Scam
Threat Type Phishing, Scam, Social Engineering, Fraud
Fake Claim Scam emails claim access to users' mail accounts has been disabled and the status must be verified - to recover access.
Symptoms Unauthorized online purchases, changed online account passwords, identity theft, illegal access of the computer.
Distribution methods Deceptive emails, rogue online pop-up ads, search engine poisoning techniques, misspelled domains.
Damage Loss of sensitive private information, monetary loss, identity theft.
Malware Removal (Windows)

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"Email Quarantine", "Last Warning: Upgrade your email to avoid Shutting Down", "Your account has encountered an error 505" - are some examples of other spam campaigns similar to "Account Access Disabled". Phishing is not used exclusively to target email accounts, such pages can target various accounts/services and even personal information (e.g. names, surnames, addresses, emails, telephone numbers, banking account and/or credit card details, etc.) What is more, spam campaigns are also used to proliferate malware (e.g. trojans, ransomware and other malicious programs). Scam emails can have a variety of themes, disguises (e.g. presented as notifications from genuine entities) and appeal to different emotions (e.g. fear, curiosity, excitement, etc.). Due to the relative prevalence of spam mail, it is highly recommended to exercise caution with incoming emails.

How do spam campaigns infect computers?

Spam campaigns infect systems via virulent files, distributed during them. The files can be attached to the emails and/or the letters contain download links of such content. Infectious files can be in a wide variety of formats, such as: Microsoft Office and PDF documents, archives (RAR, ZIP, etc.), executables (.exe, .run, etc.), JavaScript, and so forth. When these files are executed, run or otherwise opened - the infection process/chain (i.e. malware download/installation) is initiated. For example, Microsoft Office documents infect systems by executing malicious macro commands. In Microsoft Office versions released before 2010, once a document is opened - macros are enabled. However, newer versions have "Protected View" mode, so users are asked to enable macro commands (i.e. enable editing/content). Hence, in these versions, infection can only be triggered after macros are enabled manually.

How to avoid installation of malware?

Suspicious and/or irrelevant emails must not be opened, especially any attachments or links present in them - as they are a source of potential system infections. Additionally, it is important to use Microsoft Office versions released after 2010. Aside from spam campaigns, malware are also commonly proliferated via untrustworthy download channels (e.g. unofficial and free file-hosting websites, Peer-to-Peer sharing networks and other third party downloaders), illegal activation ("cracking") tools and fake updaters. Therefore, it is advised to only download from official/verified sources, as well as activate and update programs with tools/functions provided by legitimate developers. To ensure device integrity and user privacy, it is paramount to have a reputable anti-virus/anti-spyware suite installed. This software must be kept updated, used to run regular system scans and to remove detected threats and issues. If you've already opened malicious attachments, we recommend running a scan with Malwarebytes for Windows to automatically eliminate infiltrated malware.

Text presented in the "Account Access Disabled" scam email letter:

Subject: ACCOUNT-DISABLED

 

******
Account Access Disabled
Verification Required
********
Access to your account will be denied and you will not be allowed to receive incoming messages or deliver outgoing messages shortly.

 

Also, please note that you will be responsible for the loss of your account, if you do not agree to complete the verification of your ******** mailbox.

 

Verify my Account Status
You received this email to let you know about important changes to your ****** Account and services.
© 2020 ****** LLC - for ********

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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