Do not trust "Zero day security vulnerability on Zoom app" scam email

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

"Zero day security vulnerability on Zoom app" email scam removal guide

What is the "Zero day security vulnerability on Zoom app" scam email?

"Zero day security vulnerability on Zoom app" is the name of a spam campaign that uses the sextortion scam model. The term "spam campaign" defines a mass-scale operation during which thousands of deceptive emails are sent. The letters, distributed through this campaign, claim that the sender has obtained highly compromising video footage of the recipient. The nonexistent recordings were supposedly made via an exploit of a vulnerability found in the Zoom application - that is a legitimate conferencing service. These scam emails aim to trick recipients into paying a ransom to avoid having the fake videos being publicized. It must be emphasized that all of the claims made by the "Zero day security vulnerability on Zoom app" letters - are false.

Zero day security vulnerability on Zoom app email spam campaign

The scam emails (subject/title "Regarding Zoom Conference call"; may vary) state knowledge of the recipient having recently used the Zoom conferencing service. Due to an alleged weakness in the application's security, the sender proclaims to have infiltrated the recipient's device. Specifically, the scammers claim to have gained access to the device's camera and data relating to the recipient's email account. Through the hijacked camera, compromising footage (of a sexual nature) has been recorded. The letters threaten to send the nonexistent video to the recipient's contacts (e.g., friends, family and colleagues). To prevent this from happening, a ransom worth 2000 USD in Bitcoin cryptocurrency - must be paid within two days. The emails alert that the sender cannot be located and warn against contacting the authorities or taking other ill-advised actions.

As mentioned in the introduction, none of the information provided by the "Zero day security vulnerability on Zoom app" scam emails - is true. Hence, the recipients' devices have not been infiltrated, nor was any compromising footage recorded. The purpose of these deceptive letters is to trick recipients into paying the scammers. Therefore, the scam emails must be ignored.

Threat Summary:
Name Zero Day Security Vulnerability On Zoom App Email Scam
Threat Type Phishing, Scam, Social Engineering, Fraud
Fake Claim Scam emails claim a compromising video of the recipient will be publicized, unless they pay a ransom.
Ransom Amount 2000 USD in Bitcoin cryptocurrency
Cyber Criminal Cryptowallet Address 15y6ADpqBDvxNovWxeWEBXRGiPdj14vaKb (Bitcoin)
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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"I know that you visit 18+ content", "Your local network has been compromised", "I infected your computer with my private trojan", and "You have 46 Hours in order to make the payment" are some examples of other sextortion spam campaigns. Deceptive emails are usually presented as "urgent", "important", "priority", and similar; they may even be disguised as mail from legitimate institutions, organizations, companies, businesses, service providers, and other entities. Spam campaigns are used for various scams, phishing, and malware proliferation. Due to the relative prevalence of spam mail, it is strongly recommended to exercise caution with incoming emails.

How do spam campaigns infect computers?

Spam campaigns infect systems via virulent files that are distributed through them. Infectious files can be attached to the emails and/or the letters contain download links of such content. Malicious files can be in various formats, e.g., archives (RAR, ZIP, etc.), executables (.exe, .run, etc.), Microsoft Office and PDF documents, JavaScript, and so on. When these files are executed, run or otherwise opened - the infection process (i.e., malware download/installation) is jumpstarted. For example, Microsoft Office documents infect systems by executing malicious macro commands. In Microsoft Office versions released prior to 2010 - macros are executed the moment a document is opened. The newer versions have "Protected View" mode that prevents automatic execution of macro commands. Instead, users are asked to enable macros (i.e., to enable editing/content) and warned of the risks.

How to avoid installation of malware?

To avoid malware spread via spam mail, it is strongly advised not to open suspicious and/or irrelevant emails - especially any attachments or links found in them. It is also recommended to use Microsoft Office versions released after 2010. Aside from spam campaigns, malicious programs are distributed through untrustworthy download sources (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 important to only use official download channels and tools/functions provided by legitimate developers to activate and update programs. To ensure device and user safety, it is paramount to have a dependable anti-virus/anti-spyware suite installed and kept updated. This software is to be used to run regular system scans and to remove 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 "Zero day security vulnerability on Zoom app" scam email letter:

Subject: Regarding Zoom Conference call


Hello. I'll need your attention now. This is the last warning.
You have used Zoom recently, like most of us during these bad COVID times. And I have very unfortunate news for you.
I'll give you some background on what happened.

 

There was a zero day security vulnerability on Zoom app, that allowed me a full time access to your camera and some other metadata on your account.
You were just unlucky to be targeted.
And as you can imagine in your worst dreams, I have made a footage with you as a main actor.
You work on yourself (perform sex act to be clear). Having fun is ok with me, but is not ok with your reputation.

 

Please dont blame me or yourself for this. You couldn't know that the camera was working.
I'm sure you don't want to be the next Jeffrey Toobin and get embarrassed in front of all your friends, family and colleagues.
You should get this very clear, I will send this video to all your contacts if I dont get paid.
Are you wondering how I got your contacts? Through the same exploit, zoom app allowed me to extract all sensitive info from your device.

 

So here is what we will do. You pay me $2000 in bitcoin, and nothing of this will happen. You have 2 days to make the payment.
After I get the money, I will delete the footage and information about you. The amount is not negotiable.
Send 0.07 Bitcoin (about 2k USD at the current exchange rate) to my wallet 15y6ADpqBDvxNovWxeWEBXRGiPdj14vaKb
Having trouble with buying bitcoin? Just google on how to buy it, it's very easy to use and anonymous.
P.S. Don't try to report this to the police, I use TOR and bitcoin can't be traced. Do not email me back. If you do something stupid, I will distribute the video.
Good luck. Don’t stress.

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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