Do not trust fake Zoom emails about a video conferencing invitation

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

"Zoom email scam" removal guide

What is the fake "Zoom" email?

"Zoom email scam" refers to an email spam campaign. The term "spam campaign" is used to describe a mass-scale operation, during which thousands of deceptive emails are sent. The letters, distributed through this spam campaign, claim recipients have received a video conferencing invitation on the Zoom (Zoom Video Communications, Inc.) videotelephony and online chat service platform. It must be emphasized that these scam emails are in no way associated with the actual Zoom service. The letters are used to promote a phishing website, which is designed to record information entered into it.

Zoom scam email spam campaign

The title/subject of these scam emails - "You received a video conferencing invitation" - contains the essence of the letters. The body of the letters simply greets the email recipient and informs them that they have been invited to a Zoom video conference. However, when the "Review invitation" button is clicked - recipients are redirected to a phishing webpage. This page requests users to sign-in using their Microsoft accounts. As mentioned in the introduction, phishing sites are designed to record all data provided to them. Therefore, instead of accessing the fake Zoom conference invite - users unintentionally expose their Microsoft account log-in credentials (i.e. usernames and passwords) to the scammers behind this spam campaign. However, phishing websites do not only target log-in credentials, they may request a wide variety of data. Commonly, information of interest includes (but is not limited to): names, surnames, addresses, telephone numbers, email addresses, banking account and/or credit card details. Furthermore, phishing may be used in tandem with other scams (e.g. ones that request bogus payments). In summary, by trusting the "Zoom email scam" users may experience system infections, serious privacy issues, financial losses and even identity theft.

Threat Summary:
Name Zoom Email Scam
Threat Type Phishing, Scam, Social Engineering, Fraud
Fake Claim Scam emails claim that recipients have been sent an invitation to a Zoom video conference.
Disguise Zoom Video Communications, Inc.
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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"Deactivating All Inactive Accounts", "Google Forms Email Scam", "SharePoint Email Scam" and "Account Access Disabled" are some examples of other phishing spam campaigns. The deceptive emails are usually presented as "official", "priority", "important", "urgent" or otherwise attempt to trick recipients into trusting/investigating them. Aside from being used for phishing, spam campaigns can also proliferate malware (e.g. trojans, ransomware, etc.). Regardless of what scam letters claim, offer, request or demand, the end-goal is always the same - to generate revenue for the scammers / cyber criminals behind them. Due to the relative prevalence of such mail, it is strongly advised to exercise caution with incoming emails.

How do spam campaigns infect computers?

Systems are infected through virulent files, which are distributed via spam campaigns. The files can be attached to the deceptive emails and/or the letters contain download links of such content. Infectious files can be in various formats, e.g. archives (RAR, ZIP, etc.), executable (.exe, .run, etc.), PDF and Microsoft Office documents, JavaScript, and so on. When these files are executed, run or otherwise opened - the infection process (i.e. malware download/installation) is initiated. For example, Microsoft Office documents cause infections by executing malicious macro commands. In Microsoft Office versions released before 2010 - this process begins automatically upon the document's opening. However, the newer versions have "Protected View" mode; hence, users are asked to enable macros (i.e. to enable editing/content). Therefore, in these versions infection can only be triggered if macro commands are enabled manually.

How to avoid installation of malware?

Suspicious and irrelevant emails must not be opened, especially any attachments or links found in them - as that can result in a high-risk system infection. It is also recommended to use Microsoft Office versions released after 2010. However, malware is also proliferated via dubious 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 always use official/trustworthy download sources, as well as activate and update programs with tools/functions provided by legitimate providers. To protect device integrity and user privacy, it is paramount to have a dependable anti-virus/anti-spyware suite installed and kept updated. Furthermore, this software has to be used for regular system scans and removal of detected/potential threats. 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 "Zoom" scam email letter:

Subject: You received a video conferencing invitation. Thursday, 26, 2020 10:55:20 AM ********


Zoom
Dear ********
You received a video conferencing invitation.
Review invitation

Screenshot of the phishing website, promoted by "Zoom" scam emails:

Zoom email scam promoted phishing website

A German variant of Zoom-themed spam email used to promote a phishing website (fake Microsoft login page):

German variant of Zoom-themed spam email

Text presented within:

Subject: Freitag, 4. Dezember 2020

 

Zoom

Sie haben eine Einladung zu einer videokonferenz erhalten.

Für: victim@domain.tld

Sitzungsdetails Ansehen

Screenshot of the promoted phishing site:

Phishing site promoted via Zoom-themed spam emails

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.

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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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