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Avoid getting scammed by the fake cPanel email letters

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

"cPanel email scam" removal guide

What is the fake "cPanel" email?

"cPanel email scam" refers to a phishing spam campaign - large-scale operation during which thousands of deceptive emails are sent. These email letters are disguised as notifications from the cPanel company, developers of web hosting control panel software of the same name. At the time of research, there were two variants of this scam. One variant is a notification concerning privacy policy updates; the other - notifies recipients' that their website has been suspended. It must be emphasized that these emails are in no way associated with the genuine cPanel, LLC. This spam campaign aims to extract sensitive information (i.e., cPanel log-in credentials) via HTML file attached to the scam letters.

Variant of the cPanel scam email

The email with the title/subject "[ ******** ] Updates to the cPanel Services Agreement" (may vary) informs the recipient that cPanel is updating their privacy policy in accordance with the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation). The letter then goes a bit more into detail about the necessity of the notification. The recipient is urged to use the attached file - to automatically update to the new privacy policy. Should they disagree with the policy changes, the recipient is alerted that they will no longer be able to use cPanel's products and services, and their account will be deactivated. The letter with the title/subject "Suspension : Removal of ******** from our server" (may vary) states that the recipient's website's deactivation and removal from cPanel's servers have been approved and initiated. The supposed reason is given to be an ignored last warning. If the recipient wishes to stop the process, they are instructed to use the file attachment.

Once the attached HTML file is opened, it requests users to sign-in to their cPanel account with their domain name, panel username and password. Allegedly, doing so will automatically update the account in compliance with the new privacy policy. Instead, by attempting to log-in in this manner - users will expose their log-in credentials to the scammers behind the fake "cPanel" emails. Therefore, by trusting the scam notifications, users can lose their cPanel accounts and unintentionally allow the scammers access/control over it and its content (e.g., websites). To summarize, this can result in severe privacy issues, financial losses, identity theft, and other serious problems. If attempts to sign-in have already been made, it is strongly advised to change the log-in credentials immediately. Furthermore, it is recommended to contact cPanel's official support.

Threat Summary:
Name cPanel Email Scam
Threat Type Phishing, Scam, Social Engineering, Fraud
Fake Claim One variant claims recipients need to update their account; the other - that their account will be deactivated unless they update it.
Disguise Notifications from cPanel
Detection Names (malicious html attachment used for phishing) Ad-Aware (Trojan.GenericKD.36626880), BitDefender (Trojan.GenericKD.36626880), Fortinet (JS/Agent.RA!tr), Emsisoft (Trojan.GenericKD.36626880 (B)), Microsoft (Trojan.GenericKD.36626880), Full List Of Detections (VirusTotal)
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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"Facebook Email Scam", "Fund Release", "Microsoft Teams Email Scam", "INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND (IMF)", and "Email Account Is Almost Full" are some examples of other spam campaigns. Despite the legitimate appearance, this mail's sole purpose is to generate revenue for the scammers/ cyber criminals behind it. Aside from phishing and similar scams, deceptive emails are also used to proliferate malware (e.g., trojans, ransomware, cryptocurrency miners, etc.). Due to how widespread spam mail is, it is highly recommended to exercise caution with incoming emails.

How do spam campaigns infect computers?

Systems are infected via malicious files distributed through spam campaigns. These files can be attached to the emails, and/or the letters can contain download links of such content. Infectious files can be in various formats, e.g., executables, archives, Microsoft Office and PDF documents, JavaScript, etc. When virulent files are opened - the infection chain/process (i.e., malware download/installation) is jumpstarted. 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, which prevents automatic execution of macros. Instead, users are asked to enable editing/content (i.e., macro commands) and warned of the potential risks.

How to avoid installation of malware?

Suspicious and/or 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. Aside from spam campaigns, malware is also commonly spread via untrustworthy download sources (e.g., unofficial and free file-hosting websites, Peer-to-Peer sharing networks, and other third-party downloaders), illegal activation tools ("cracks"), and fake updaters. Therefore, it is important to only use official and verified download channels. Additionally, all programs must be activated and updated with tools/functions provided by legitimate developers. To protect device/user safety, it is crucial to have a reputable anti-virus/anti-spyware suite installed and kept updated. This software has to be used to run regular system scans and remove detected threats and issues. If you've already opened malicious attachments, we recommend running a scan with Malwarebytes for Windows to automatically eliminate infiltrated malware.

Text presented in one variant of the "cPanel" scam emails:

Subject: [ ******** ] Updates to the cPanel Services Agreement

 

"********". We're updating our privacy policy and other documents based on GDPR standards

 

cPanel

 

Updating our privacy policy

 

********  You’re receiving this email because we are updating the cPanel  Services Agreement, which applies to one or more cPanel or services you use. We’re making these updates to clarify our terms and ensure that they remain transparent for you, as well as to cover new cPanel  products, services and features.

 

You can also learn more about these updates on our FAQ page including a summary of the most notable changes.
If you wish to continue to use our products and services we recommend that you find the attachment file that is attached to this email to automatically update to our privacy policy to avoid service interruption, or your ******** account being closed.

 

If you do not agree, you can choose to discontinue using the products and services, and close your cPanel  account  ********  before these terms become effective.

 

Thank you for using cPanel products and services

 

cP

 

Copyright© 2021 cPanel, Inc.

Screenshot of the alternative variant of the "cPanel" scam emails:

cPanel email scam second variant

Text presented in this variant:

Subject: Suspension : Removal of ******** from our server

 

Website  De-activation : "********".

 

De-activation Programmed


Final Notice for Domain : ********


Removal of ********  from our server has been approved and initiated,
Due to ignorance of last verification warning.

 

Removal will occur  exactly at our server programmed time and hour

 

We recommend that you find the attachment file  that is attached to this email and Cancel Removal

 

for your Domain : ********
    
cP

 

Copyright© 2021 cPanel, Inc.

Screenshot of the "cPanel" scam emails' file attachment:

 cPanel email scam phishing attachment

Another cPanel-themed spam email claiming that user has pending messages:

cPanel-themed spam email (2021-04-06)

Text presented within:

Subject: -  WARNING: INCOMING MESSAGES BLOCKED DUE TO SERVER UPGRADE !!!

cPanel
    
Sender Action Required
                
Messages suspended
Dear ********,

Message Failure Delivery Notice.

User: ********

4 Suspended incoming messages

How to Fix and verify it  

CLICK HERE  to view incoming suspended messages.

Created Date:  4/5/2021 8:28:31 p.m.

The information contained in or attached to this communication is intended solely for the use of the individual or entity to whom it is addressed and others authorized to receive it. It may contain confidential or legally privileged information. If you are not the intended recipient you are hereby notified that any disclosure, copying, distribution or taking any action in reliance on the contents of this information is strictly prohibited and may be unlawful. If you have received this communication in error, please notify me immediately by responding to this email and then delete it from your system. We are neither liable for the proper and complete transmission of the information contained in this communication nor for any delay in its receipt.

Screenshot of the promoted phishing website:

cPanel-themed spam email (2021-04-06)

Yet another variant of cPanel-themed spam email:

cPanel-themed spam email (2021-04-13)

Text presented within:

Subject: Inode quota exceeded : ********"


Inode quota notification for : ********".
      
Inode Quota Exceeded!!
Final Notice for Domain : rcservice.lt
The Domain ********"  has reached its inode quota.
Exceeding your inode quota can affect your website, uploads and email.
To avoid service interruption we recommend that you find the attachment file that is attached to this email to
automatically add more inodes to your hosting package now

Copyright© 2021 cPanel, Inc.

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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