Do not download the file from the Qel phishing email

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

Qel email virus removal guide

What is Qel email virus?

Phishing emails are used either to extract sensitive information (like credit card details, usernames, and passwords, social security numbers, etc.), or to deliver malicious software. Usually, those emails ask to send personal information or provide it on some website. Or they encourage recipients to click a malicious link or open a malicious attachment. This particular phishing campaign uses a malicious attachment to deliver Agent Tesla, a Remote Administration Trojan (RAT).

qel email virus malspam email

Typically, cybercriminals behind phishing campaigns pretend to be legitimate companies, organizations, or other entities. However, they do not have anything to do with the companies they pretend to be. They disguise their emails as urgent, official letters to trick users into believing that the attached file is some important document (e.g., invoice, financial report). If downloaded and opened, such an attachment infects a computer with malware. This phishing email is pretending to be a letter from Q Express Line. It has a ZIP archive file attached to it, which supposedly contains an invoice. However, that archive file actually contains an executable file (with an icon of a PDF document) which is designed to install a RAT called Agent Tesla. Remote Access Trojans are malicious programs that allow cybercriminals to monitor and control infected computers.

This RAT (Agent Tesla) can be used to steal login credentials, and other sensitive information via screenshots recorded keyboard input, and stolen clipboard data. Therefore, Agent Tesla can be used to hijack personal accounts, email clients, messaging clients, certain FTP and VPN clients, download managers. Typically, cybercriminals use hijacked accounts to steal identities, make fraudulent purchases, transactions, distribute malware (including Agent Tesla) via email and other clients. Additionally, Agent Tesla can be used to prevent victims from accessing the Task Manager, system registry and executing commands via the Command Prompt. This allows cybercriminals can use to Agent Tesla as a tool to install other malware on the infected machine, disable or even uninstall security solutions, and perform other tasks.

Threat Summary:
Name Agent Tesla RAT
Threat Type Trojan, password-stealing virus, banking malware, spyware.
Hoax Email attachment is an invoice from Q Express Line Sdn Bhd
Attachment(s) ZIP archive file containing malicious executable (.exe) file
Detection Names (YjwA0c9b67A6tff.exe) Avast (Win32:PWSX-gen [Trj]), AVG (Win32:PWSX-gen [Trj]), ESET-NOD32 (A Variant Of MSIL/Kryptik.ZVU), Kaspersky (HEUR:Trojan-Spy.MSIL.Noon.gen), Microsoft (Trojan:Win32/Woreflint.A!cl), 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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In conclusion, phishing campaigns can be used as channels to deliver malicious software or as tools to extract personal information. In one way or another, emails that are part of such a campaign are disguised as official letters from legitimate companies. More examples of malspam campaigns that were or still are used to trick recipients into installing malware on their computers are "Federal Ministry Of Health Germany Email Virus", "Consignment Was Booked Via DHL Express Email Virus", and "International Air & Sea Freight Forwarder Email Virus".

How did "Qel email virus" infect my computer?

Emails that contain malicious links or attachments cannot cause any harm unless users download and open a malicious file/attachment. Once opened, that file installs malicious software. In this particular case, the email a malicious ZIP archive file attached to it. That archive file contains an executable file (EXE/.exe) file that has an icon of a PDF document. It installs Agent Tesla once it is opened/executed. More examples of files that often are used to distribute malware via email are Microsoft Office documents like Word, Excel, other archive files like RAR, JavaScript files, PDF documents, and executable files (like .exe files). It is important to remember that malicious documents opened with Microsoft Office do not install malware unless users enable macros commands (enable editing or content). In other words, Microsoft Office 2010 and newer versions have the "Protected View" mode, which prevents malicious documents from installing malware. Although, older versions do not have this feature.

How to avoid installation of malware?

Email attachments and links in irrelevant emails sent from unknown, suspicious addresses should not be opened. They should be opened only when a sender is someone who can be trusted, is known. Files and programs should be downloaded from official websites and via direct download links. Other sources could be used to distribute unwanted, malicious programs. Some examples of unreliable channels for downloading programs, files are Peer-to-Peer networks, unofficial sites, free file hosting pages, third party downloaders. Furthermore, Installed software (and operating system) has to be updated properly: it should be done using tools or implemented functions that official developers provide. Other tools can be bundled with malware. Moreover, various third-party activation tools are not legal (it is not legal to use them to activate licensed programs). And finally, it is advisable to scan the operating systems for threats with a reputable antivirus or anti-spyware suite and do it regularly. If you've already opened "Qel email virus" attachment, we recommend running a scan with Malwarebytes for Windows to automatically eliminate infiltrated malware.

Text presented in the Qel malspam email letter:

Hi Sir,,

Confirmed receipt of your new order.

Kindly find the attached Proforma invoice for your further action.

Please update us once payment is made for delivery arrangement

Q Express Line Sdn Bhd
(a Subsidiary of LKC Holdings)
20C, Jalan Anggerik Vanilla Y31/Y,
Kota Kemuning, 40460 Shah Alam,
Selangor Darul Ehsan, Malaysia

Telephone +60 3 5623 6210
Direct Line +60 3 5623 6373
Fax +60 3 5623

Email ryan.chong@gel.com.my
Website www.gel.com.my

Malicious Agent Tesla process running as "Restaurant" in Task Manager (its name may vary):

qel email virus malicious restaurant process in task manager

Executable file ("YjwA0c9b67A6tff.exe") detected as a threat by multiple detection engines:

qel email virus virustotal detections list

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
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