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How to avoid installation of Agent Tesla via Tasco malspam

Also Known As: Agent Tesla malware
Type: Trojan
Damage level: Severe

What is Tasco email virus?

Generally, malspam emails are disguised as official messages from legitimate companies and contain an attachment or download link for a malicious file. Cyber criminals send these emails to trick recipients into executing the malicious file, which then installs malware.

In this particular case, they attempt to trick recipients into downloading and executing a file that installs a Remote Access Trojan called Agent Tesla.

Tasco email virus malware-spreading email spam campaign

This malspam email is disguised as a message from the TASCO/EXCEL corporation that supposedly contains shipping documents. The message has the "FINAL SHIPPING DOCS.zip" (its name may vary) archive file attached to it. This archive file contains a malicious file named "FINAL SHIPPING DOCS.exe".

If executed, this installs Agent Tesla. RAT programs allow attackers to access and control infected computers remotely. Agent Tesla is mainly used as a tool to log keystrokes (i.e., record keyboard input).

Typically, cyber criminals use keystroke loggers to collect sensitive information such as credit card details and login credentials (email addresses, usernames, passwords) and then misuse the details to steal various accounts and identities, and to make fraudulent purchases and transactions, or for other malicious purposes. Therefore, never open links or files in these emails.

Threat Summary:
Name Agent Tesla malware
Threat Type Remote Administration Trojan.
Hoax Message from TASCO/EXCEL Chemical Corporation containing shipping documents.
Attachment(s) FINAL SHIPPING DOCS.zip (its name may vary).
Detection Names Avast (Win32:MalwareX-gen [Trj]), BitDefender (Trojan.GenericKDZ.71377), ESET-NOD32 (MSIL/Spy.Agent.AES), Kaspersky (HEUR:Trojan-PSW.MSIL.Stelega.gen), Full List Of Detections (VirusTotal).
Symptoms RATs 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)

To eliminate possible malware infections, scan your computer with legitimate antivirus software. Our security researchers recommend using Combo Cleaner.
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"Transcrop Bank Email Virus", "Print Works Email Virus", and "DUNCAN ENGINEERING LIMITED ORDER Email Virus" are some examples of other malspam emails. Note that these emails can be used to distribute RATs, but also ransomware, cryptocurrency miners, other types of Trojans, etc.

How did "Tasco email virus" infect my computer?

In this case, recipients cause installation of Agent Tesla only if they download the attached file ("FINAL SHIPPING DOCS.zip") and execute its contents (the "FINAL SHIPPING DOCS.exe" executable file). In summary, no damage can be done via malspam emails as long as recipients do not open the malicious files.

Other examples of files that cyber criminals use in their malspam campaigns are PDF documents, Microsoft Office documents (such as Word, Excel), other archive files (ZIP), and JavaScript files. Note that if malicious documents are opened with any Microsoft Office version released before 2010, computers are infected automatically.

Newer versions demand permission to enable content/editing (macros commands) and cannot infect computers without this (i.e., they include Protected View mode, which prevents malicious documents from causing installation of malware).

How to avoid installation of malware

Installed programs must be activated and updated with tools or implemented functions that are provided by the official developers. No other third party, unofficial tools should be used. Note that it is illegal to activate licensed software with ‘cracking’ tools.

Files and programs should be downloaded from official websites and via direct download links. Avoid third party installers and the tools/sources mentioned above. Do not open website links or files in irrelevant emails that are received from unknown, suspicious addresses.

These bogus emails are often disguised as official and important. Regularly, scan your computer with reputable, up-to-date antivirus or anti-spyware software. If you've already opened "Tasco email virus" attachment, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows to automatically eliminate infiltrated malware.

Text presented in the Tasco malspam email:

Subject: RE: FINAL SHIPPING DOCS. / BL 00567

Dear sir / Madam,

 

Kindly  find attached shipping docs if they are in other . the BL is showing different  arriving port. your urgent responds is highly needed ASAP.


Thanks Best Regards,


Howard Lai

TASCO/EXCEL Chemical Corporation

tel: 886 2 2741 5577

fax: 866 2 2741 3450

mobile: 886 (0)938009993

email: kc-lai@tascogroup.com.tw

hxxp://www.tasco.com.tw

Malicious attachment detected as a threat by Virustotal:

tasco email virus virustotal detections list

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.

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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