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Do not trust fake Microsoft Teams emails notifying of unread messages

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

"Microsoft Teams email scam" removal guide

What is the fake "Microsoft Teams" email?

"Microsoft Teams email scam" refers to a spam campaign. This term defines a mass-scale operation during which thousands of deceptive emails are sent. The scam letters, distributed through this campaign, claim recipients have an unread message in their chat on Microsoft Teams. It must be stressed that these letters are not notifications from the real Microsoft Teams platform. The purpose of the fake emails is to trick users into visiting a phishing/malicious website, visiting and trusting which can result in severe problems.

Microsoft Teams email spam campaign

The "Microsoft Teams" scam emails inform recipients that their teammates have attempted contacting them through the platform in question. Specifically, a message has been sent in a chat on Microsoft Teams. To view it, the letters instruct recipients to click the "Reply, Go to conversatiion" button. However, it does not lead to the recipients' account or their chatroom.

Spam campaigns like "Microsoft Teams" usually promote phishing sites. These webpages operate by recording information entered into them, thereby allowing scammers access to it. The websites are often disguised as sign-in pages of various accounts, platforms, or services (e.g., Microsoft Teams' log-in webpage). By trying to sign-in through such pages, users inadvertently reveal their log-in credentials (i.e., IDs, usernames, and passwords) and can have their accounts stolen by the scammers. Other information of interest targeted by phishing websites includes: names, addresses, emails, telephone numbers, banking account and credit card details, etc. To summarize, by trusting the fake "Microsoft Teams" letters, users can experience system infections, severe privacy issues, financial losses, and even identity theft. If attempts to log-in through any phishing sites have already been made, it is advised to immediately change the accounts' passwords (and those of connected platforms). Additionally, it is recommended to contact the official support of potentially compromised accounts.

Threat Summary:
Name Microsoft Teams Email Scam
Threat Type Phishing, Scam, Social Engineering, Fraud
Fake Claim Emails claim recipients have unread Microsoft Teams messages.
Disguise Emails are presented as notifications from Microsoft Teams.
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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"INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND (IMF)", "Email Account Is Almost Full", "U.S Army Special Operations Command Consignment", and "TIM Email Scam" are some examples of other spam campaigns. These large-scale operations are used for various scams, phishing, and malware (e.g., trojan, ransomware, etc.) proliferation. The deceptive emails are typically presented as "official", "urgent", "important", "priority", and similar. Regardless of what these letters offer, claim, request, or demand, their end-goal is the same - to generate revenue for the scammers/ cyber criminals behind them. Due to how widespread spam mail is, it is strongly recommended to exercise caution with incoming emails.

How do spam campaigns infect computers?

Systems are infected via virulent files spread through spam campaigns. These files can be attached to the emails, and/or the letters contain download links of infectious content. The files can be in various formats, such as: archives (ZIP, RAR, etc.), executables (.exe, .run, etc.), Microsoft Office and PDF documents, JavaScript, and so on. When virulent 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 prior to 2010 - this process begins 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., enable editing/content) and alerted of the risks.

How to avoid installation of malware?

Suspicious and irrelevant emails, especially any attachments and/or links found in them - must not be opened, as that can result in a high-risk system infection. Additionally, it is recommended to use Microsoft Office versions released after 2010. Aside from spam campaigns, malware is also proliferated via dubious 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 updates. Therefore, it is advised to only use official and verified download channels. Furthermore, all programs must be activated and updated using functions/tools provided by legitimate developers. It is crucial to have a reputable anti-virus/anti-spyware suite installed. This software must be kept updated, used to run regular systems scans and 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 "Microsoft Teams" scam email letter:

Subject: Status for ********* at February 8, 2021, 11:50:41 PM


Microsoft Teams

 

Hi, *********

 

Your teammates are trying to reach you in Microsoft  Teams

 

Someone sent a message in chat

 

Reply, Go to conversatiion

 

Regards, Microsoft Teams


[EXTERNAL EMAIL - THE ORIGIN OF THIS EMAIL IS OUTSIDE OF ********* USE CAUTION.]

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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