Do not open fake "Ministero dello Sviluppo Economico" emails

Also Known As: Ursnif virus
Type: Trojan
Distribution: Low
Damage level: Severe

"Ministero dello Sviluppo Economico email virus" removal guide

What is "Ministero dello Sviluppo Economico email virus"?

"Ministero dello Sviluppo Economico email virus" refers to a spam campaign designed to proliferate the Ursnif trojan. The term "spam campaign" defines a mass-scale operation during which thousands of deceptive emails are sent. The scam letters distributed through this campaign are disguised as messages from the Italian Ministry of Economic Development (Ministero dello Sviluppo Economico). The emails claim to contain information relating to tax and social security benefits for companies. Instead, upon opening, the attached file initiates download/installation of the Ursnif malware.

Ministero dello Sviluppo Economico malware-spreading email spam campaign

According to a rough translation, the fake "Ministero dello Sviluppo Economico" emails (subjects/titles "Circolare 10/02/2021 , informazione aiuti per le ditte"; may vary) claim to contain clarifications concerning tax and social security benefits for eligible companies. Supposedly, the information details types, conditions, terms, duration, and implementation procedures of the aid package. It must be empathized that these scam letters are in no way associated with the Italian Ministry of Economic Development. Instead of containing the alleged information, the attached file ("conten_6166927.doc"; filename may vary) initiates Ursnif trojan's infection chain - upon opening.

The main functionality of Ursnif is data theft. This malware can extract information from the infected system, applications installed on it, record key-strokes (keylogging), take screenshots, and perform other actions on the compromised device. Data of interest includes (but is not limited to): system/user information, browsing activity (URLs visited, pages viewed, search queries typed, etc.), IP addresses, geolocations, account log-in credentials (i.e., IDs, usernames, and passwords), banking account and credit card details, etc.

To elaborate on how the exfiltrated information can be misused, cyber criminals can pretend to be the users and ask their friends/contact for loans or spread malware - via stolen communication accounts (e.g., social media/networking, emails, messengers, etc.). Accounts that directly or indirectly deal with finances (e.g., bank, digital wallet, e-commerce, online money transferring, and similar accounts) are particularly targeted by criminals. By hijacking such accounts, cyber criminals can make fraudulent transactions and/or online purchases. To summarize, trusting the "Ministero dello Sviluppo Economico email virus" scam letters can result in system infections, severe privacy issues, financial losses, and even identity theft. If it is suspected/known that Ursnif (or other malware) has already infected the system - an anti-virus must be used to remove it immediately.

Threat Summary:
Name Ursnif virus
Threat Type Trojan, password-stealing virus, banking malware, spyware.
Hoax Scam emails claim to contain information concerning potential taxes/benefits for companies.
Disguise Scam emails are presented as mail from Ministero dello Sviluppo Economico (Ministry of Economic Development).
Attachment(s) conten_6166927.doc (filename may vary)
Detection Names Arcabit (HEUR.VBA.Trojan.d), Avira (no cloud) (HEUR/Macro.Downloader.MRABV.Gen), ESET-NOD32 (VBA/TrojanDownloader.Agent.VMH), McAfee-GW-Edition (BehavesLike.Downloader.dc), TACHYON (Suspicious/WOX.Downloader.Gen), 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 Ursnif
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 Malwarebytes.
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"C.H. Robinson", "Zoho Email Virus", "Coca Cola Email Virus", "Advance Payment Received", and "Enel Email Virus" are some examples of other malware-spreading spam campaigns. The deceptive emails are usually disguised as "official", "important", "urgent", "priority", and so on. Aside from malicious software proliferation, spam campaigns are also used for phishing and other scams. Regardless of how these letters are presented, their goal is the same - to generate revenue for the scammers/ cyber criminals behind them. Due to spam mail's relative prevalence, it is strongly recommended to exercise caution with incoming emails.

How did "Ministero dello Sviluppo Economico email virus" infect my computer?

Spam campaigns are employed to distribute malicious files, which are intended to infect the recipients' devices. Virulent files can be attached to the scam emails and/or the letters contain download links of such files. They can be in various formats, e.g., Microsoft Office and PDF documents, archives (RAR, ZIP, etc.), executables (.exe, .run, etc.), JavaScript, and so on. When these files are executed, run, or otherwise opened - the infection chain (i.e., malware download/installation) is triggered. For example, Microsoft Office documents cause infections by executing malicious macro commands. In Microsoft Office versions released prior to 2010 - this process starts the moment a document is opened. Newer versions have "Protected View" mode that prevents automatic execution of macros. Instead, users are asked to enable macro commands (i.e., to enable editing/content) and are warned of the potential risks.

How to avoid installation of malware?

Suspect and irrelevant emails must not be opened, especially any attachments or links found in them. It is recommended to use Microsoft Office versions released after 2010. Malware is also 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 updates. Therefore, it is important to only download from official and verified sources. Additionally, all programs must be activated and updated with tools/functions provided by genuine developers. To ensure device and user safety, 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 remove detected/potential threats. If you've already opened "Ministero dello Sviluppo Economico email virus" attachment, we recommend running a scan with Malwarebytes for Windows to automatically eliminate infiltrated malware.

Text presented in the "Ministero dello Sviluppo Economico" scam email letter:

Subject: Circolare 10/02/2021 , informazione aiuti per le ditte


Il Ministero dello Sviluppo Economico, dipartimento per lo sviluppo dell'economia,
reparto per la promozione delle attivita
imprenditoriali, Dispone:
La presente missiva dispensa chiarimenti in merito alla
tipologia, alle condizioni, ai termini, alla durata e alle modalita di fruizione delle
agevolazioni fiscali e contributive previste per il pacchetto di aiuti alle
imprese ,al fine di portare a conoscenza di tutti i soggetti interessati, anteriormente.
In allegato l'archivio contenente i dettagli riguardanti le singole
tipologie di attivita e l'elenco delle varie modalita di fruizione.
Via Giorgione, 2b - 00147 Roma
mise.gov.it

Malicious attachment distributed via "Ministero dello Sviluppo Economico" spam campaign ("conten_6166927.doc"):

Malicious attachment distributed through Ministero dello Sviluppo Economico spam campaign (conten_6166927.doc filename)

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.

QR Code
Ursnif virus QR code
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