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How to avoid installation of WebMonitor via Empros Lines phishing email?

Also Known As: WebMonitor Remote Administration Tool
Type: Trojan
Distribution: Low
Damage level: Severe

Empros Lines email virus removal guide

What is Empros Lines email virus?

In most cases, cybercriminals behind malspam attempt to trick recipients into providing sensitive information (e.g., credit card details or other banking-related information, login credentials), or installing malicious software on their computers via malicious link or attachment. It is important to remember that cybercriminals disguise their emails as urgent, official letters from legitimate, well-known companies. This particular phishing email is used to trick recipients into installing a Remote Administration Tool (RAT) called WebMonitor.

Empros Lines email virus malware-spreading campaign

This email is disguised as a letter from Empros Lines Shipping Company (break-bulk liner operator), a legitimate company based in Greece. The main purpose of this phishing email is to trick recipients into believing that it is an overdue invoice reminder and opening the attachment (file named "JANUARY OVERDUE INVOICE.arj", its filename may be different in other email variants), which supposedly contains more detailed payment details. The file attached to this email is an ARJ Compressed file. It contains an executable file (.exe file) named "JANUARY OVERDUE INVOICE.pfd.exe" designed to install WebMonitor, a Remote Administration Tool. This RAT is advertised as a legitimate tool that allows users to access and control computers remotely. Although, research shows that this tool is often used by cybercriminals, and this phishing email proves it.

Cybercriminals behind WebMonitor can use it to run commands via Command Prompt, PowerShell, download, upload, execute, modify files, record microphone, webcam input, recover passwords from the mail, messengers, network and the system, log keystrokes (record data entered with the keyboard). Also, this RAT can be used to add, edit or remove registry entries, minimize and maximize windows, and much more. As a rule, cybercriminals use RATs like WebMonitor to steal sensitive information, for example, login credentials (email addresses, usernames, passwords), credit card details, social security numbers. Also, it is common that they use RATs to install unwanted software, malware on computers (e.g., ransomware, Trojans, cryptocurrency miners).

Threat Summary:
Name WebMonitor Remote Administration Tool
Threat Type Remote Administration/Access Tool
Hoax Attached invoice is overdue
Attachment(s) JANUARY OVERDUE INVOICE.arj (its name may vary)
Detection Names Avast (Win32:RATX-gen [Trj]), BitDefender (Trojan.GenericKD.36643385), ESET-NOD32 (A Variant Of MSIL/Kryptik.AAHN), Kaspersky (HEUR:Trojan.MSIL.Taskun.gen), Microsoft (Trojan:MSIL/Stealer.MS!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 WebMonitor
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.
▼ Download Malwarebytes
To use full-featured product, you have to purchase a license for Malwarebytes. 14 days free trial available.

In conclusion, this malspam campaign is used to deliver WebMonitor so that cybercriminals behind it could use accessed computers to obtain sensitive information and use it to steal personal accounts, identities, make unauthorized purchases, transactions, etc., infect computers with other malware, or other malicious activities. Therefore, the file attached to this phishing email (or any other similar email) should not be downloaded opened. A couple of examples of malicious RATs that cybercriminals use to distribute malware, steal sensitive information, and for other purposes are JacksBot, Strigoi Master, and CinaRAT. Examples of phishing emails used to deliver malware are "Employee Retention Credit Email Virus", "I Have Obtained Document You Mailed Me Email Virus", "Federal Ministry Of Health Germany Email Virus".

How did Empros Lines email virus infect my computer?

It is possible that there is more than one phishing email variant used to deliver WebMonitor. In this particular case, the email contains an archive file ("JANUARY OVERDUE INVOICE.arj" which contains another file named "JANUARY OVERDUE INVOICE.pfd.exe". That executable file installs WebMonitor after being opened. It is important to mention that cybercriminals can use other files to deliver malware as well. For instance, malicious Microsoft Office or PDF documents, ZIP, RAR or other archive files, JavaScript files. Usually, users infect computers after they have opened a malicious file. Although, sometimes, for malware installation processes to begin, it is not enough for malicious files to be opened. For example, malicious documents opened with Microsoft Office 2010 or newer cannot install malware unless users enable editing/content (macros commands). It is because the aforementioned MS Office versions have the Protected View mode, which prevents malicious documents from infecting computers after they are opened. Malicious documents opened with older MS versions install malware automatically.

How to avoid installation of malware?

Installed programs have to be updated and activated with tools, functions that their official developers have designed. It should never be done using third-party, unofficial tools. Both third-party updaters and 'cracking' tools (unofficial activation tools) often are bundled with malware. Also, it is against the law to activate licensed software with unofficial tools. Files attached to irrelevant emails received from unknown, suspicious senders should not be opened, unless there is no doubt about its safety. The same applies to website links in emails of this kind. The main reason why such emails should not be trusted is that cybercriminals use emails of this kind (website links and attachments in them) to deliver malware. Programs (and files) should be downloaded from official, trustworthy websites. It is not safe to use other channels, sources for that. Computers should be checked (scanned) for viruses regularly, virus scans should be performed using a reputable antivirus or anti-spyware software. If you've already opened "Empros Lines email virus" attachment, we recommend running a scan with Malwarebytes for Windows to automatically eliminate infiltrated malware.

Text presented in the Empros Lines phishing email:

Subject: RE: OVERDUE INVOICE

Why haven't you remitted the payment for the Invoice in attachment. This  invoice is long overdue.

Brgds/Greg Kontouzoglou

Empros Lines - Liner Dpt

email: gkontouzoglou@emproslines.com

dir: +30 210 8125535

mob: +30 694 898 0698

skype: greg.kontouzoglou


CONFIDENTIALITY. This email and any attachments are confidential and may also be legally privileged. It is intended solely for the stated addressee(s). If you are not the addressee, you must not disclose the contents to another person or use this email for any purpose whatsoever. Instead, please notify the sender by return email and delete this email (including any attachments) from your computer system

------------------------------------------------------

EMPROS LINES SHIPPING COMPANY S.A.

WebMonitor running as "Brett Tech OS" in Task Manager (its name may vary):

empros lines email virus running in task manager as brett tech os

WebMonitor's installer detected as malicious on Virustotal:

empros lines 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.

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
WebMonitor Remote Administration Tool 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 WebMonitor Remote Administration Tool on your mobile device.
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