Do not click the link in Here's your PayPal invoice malspam email

Also Known As: Agent Tesla RAT
Type: Trojan
Distribution: Low
Damage level: Severe

Here's your PayPal invoice email virus removal guide

What is Here's your PayPal invoice email virus?

Phishing emails (malspam campaigns) are one of the most popular malware delivery channels. Usually, they are disguised as important or urgent letters from legitimate companies, organizations, institutions of other entities. Cybercriminals send them with the purpose to trick recipients into clicking a malicious link and opening a malicious file, or opening a malicious attachment that is designed to infect computers with malicious software. This phishing email is used to deliver Agent Tesla, a remote administration/access trojan (RAT).

Here's your PayPal invoice email virus malware-spreading email spam campaign

This email is disguised as a letter from GQH Co., Ltd regarding an invoice for $3,590.00. It contains the "View and Pay Invoice" button, a hyperlink that downloads RAR archive file, which contains a malicious executable file named "Invoice from GHQ CO.LTD (683814).exe" (its name may vary). The main purpose of this phishing email is to trick recipients into executing that executable file. If executed, it installs Agent Tesla. It is common for this RAT to be used by cybercriminals as a tool to steal credentials and other sensitive information via screenshots, keyboard logging (keyboard input recording), and clipboard capture. They can use it to hijack (steal) personal accounts, email clients, messaging clients, FTP and VPN clients, download managers, etc., and use them for malicious purposes, for example: to steal identities, make fraudulent purchases and transactions, spread Agent Tesla or other malware further (trick other users into installing it). It is known that this RAT is capable of blocking access to Task Manager and system registry and executing commands via the Command Prompt too. It means that cybercriminals can use to Agent Tesla to install additional malware, disable or even uninstall security solutions, and do many other things.

Threat Summary:
Name Agent Tesla RAT
Threat Type Trojan, password-stealing virus, banking malware, spyware.
Hoax Email attachment is an invoice from a company named GHQ CO.LTD
Attachment(s) Malicious RAR file
Detection Names Avast (Win32:PWSX-gen [Trj]), BitDefender (Trojan.GenericKD.36384422), ESET-NOD32 (A Variant Of MSIL/Kryptik.ZTA), Kaspersky (HEUR:Trojan-Spy.MSIL.Noon.gen), Microsoft (Trojan:MSIL/AgentTesla.AL!MTB), 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 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 Malwarebytes.
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"International Air & Sea Freight Forwarder", "KROHNE Email Virus", and "Cobra Industrial Machines Email Virus" are a couple of examples of other malspam campaigns that cybercriminals use to deliver malware via malicious email attachments (or website links). It is extremely important to be sure that it is safe to open email attachments or website links in emails - a couple of clicks can lead to serious problems (typically, installation of malware). More examples of malware that cybercriminals deliver using emails are LokiBot, Emotet, Ursnif, and Mekotio.

How did "Here's your PayPal invoice email virus" infect my computer?

Cybercriminals behind this malspam campaign achieve their goal when recipients download the attached archive file, extract its contents and execute the extracted malicious executable file (at the time of the research, it was the file named "Invoice from GHQ CO.LTD (683814).exe"). Usually, users infect their computers via emails when they open a downloaded malicious attachment (or when they open a malicious file downloaded via the website link in the received email). Typically, phishing emails have an executable file (like .exe), RAR, ZIP (or other) archive file, PDF document, JavaScript file, or a Microsoft Office document (like Word, Excel) attached to them. Malicious documents opened with MS Office 2010 or newer cannot install malware unless users enable macros (editing or content). It is because newer MS Office versions have the "Protected View" mode, which prevents malicious documents from causing damage. Although, older versions do not have this feature.

How to avoid installation of malware?

Files and programs should not be downloaded from unofficial websites, through Peer-to-Peer networks, free file hosting sits, and so on. It is strongly recommended to open downloads that cam from official pages and direct download links only. Irrelevant emails received from unknown, suspicious senders should not be trusted. Especially if they contain attachments or website links. It is common for emails of this kind to be used as channels to deliver malicious programs. Installed software has to be updated or activated via implemented functions or tools that its official developers provide. Third-party, unofficial tools often are designed to infect computers infected with malware. Besides, it is not legal to use 'cracking' tools to activate any licensed software. If there is no reputable antivirus or anti-spyware software installed on a computer, then it is strongly advisable to install one as soon as possible and run virus scans with it regularly. Besides, it is important to always keep such software up to date. If you've already opened "Here's your PayPal invoice email virus" attachment, we recommend running a scan with Malwarebytes for Windows to automatically eliminate infiltrated malware.

Appearance of the phishing email (GIF):

here is your paypal invoice email virus appearance

Text in the email letter:

Subject: Invoice from GQH CO.,LTD (683814)

Here's your invoice

GQH CO.,LTD sent you an invoice for $3,590.00 USD

Due date: February 16, 2020

View and Pay Invoice

Buy now Pay over time.

Help & Contact | Security | Apps

Agent Tesla running in Task Manager as "Thesis Nana" (its name may vary):

here is your paypal invoice email virus thesis nana malicious process in task manager

Malicious executable used to distribute Agent Tesla detected as a threat in Virustotal:

here is your paypal invoice email virus virustotal detected attachment as malicious

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:
▼ DOWNLOAD Malwarebytes By downloading any software listed on this website you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. To use full-featured product, you have to purchase a license for Malwarebytes. 14 days free trial available.

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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.

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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
Agent Tesla RAT QR code
A QR code (Quick Response Code) is a machine-readable code which stores URLs and other information. This code can be read using a camera on a smartphone or a tablet. Scan this QR code to have an easy access removal guide of Agent Tesla RAT on your mobile device.
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