How to avoid installation of WebMonitor via Empros Lines phishing emails

Also Known As: Empros Lines spam
Damage level: Severe

What is Empros Lines email virus?

In most cases, cyber criminals 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 onto their computers via malicious links or attachments.

Note that cyber criminals disguise their emails as urgent, official messages 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 message from the 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 an invoice is overdue and opening the attachment (file named "JANUARY OVERDUE INVOICE.arj" - its filename differ 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.

In fact, research shows that this tool is often used by cyber criminals, and the phishing email proves this.

Cyber criminals 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).

This RAT can also be used to add, edit or remove registry entries, minimize and maximize windows, and much more.

Cyber criminals use RATs like WebMonitor to steal sensitive information. For example, login credentials (email addresses, usernames, passwords), credit card details, social security numbers.

RATs are also used to install unwanted software, malware onto computers (e.g., ransomware, Trojans, cryptocurrency miners).

Threat Summary:
Name Empros Lines spam
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)

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In summary, this malspam campaign is used to deliver WebMonitor so that cyber criminals responsible can 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, and perform other malicious activities.

Therefore, the file attached to this phishing email (and other similar email) should not be downloaded or opened. Some examples of malicious RATs that cyber criminals 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", and "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. Note that cyber criminals can use other files to deliver malware as well. For example, malicious Microsoft Office or PDF documents, ZIP, RAR or other archive files, JavaScript files.

Systems are often infected via malicious files distributed through spam campaigns. These files can be attached and/or linked inside the emails. Infectious files can be in various formats (e.g. Microsoft Office and PDF documents, archive and executable files, JavaScript, etc.).

When these files are executed, run or otherwise opened, the infection process (i.e. malware download/installation) is triggered. For example, Microsoft Office documents (e.g. "Invoice_24077.xlsb") cause infections by executing malicious macro commands.

In Microsoft Office versions released prior to 2010, malware download/installation begins when an infectious document is opened, however, newer versions have "Protected View" mode that prevents automatic execution of macros. Instead, users are asked to enable macro commands (i.e., to enable editing/content) and hence infection processes can only be started by manually enabling macros.

How to avoid installation of malware?

You are advised to research all software before download/installation or purchase. All downloads must be done from official and verified sources, since dubious channels such as unofficial and free file-hosting websites, Peer-to-Peer sharing networks and other third party downloaders commonly offer deceptive or bundled content.

When downloading/installing, read the terms, explore all possible options, use the "Custom/Advanced" settings and opt-out of supplementary apps, tools, features, etc. Intrusive ads may seem normal and harmless, however, they can redirect to various dubious web pages (e.g. gambling, pornography, adult-dating, and many others).

If you encounter ads or redirects of this kind, inspect the system and remove any suspicious applications and browser extensions/plug-ins immediately.

If you have already opened "Empros Lines email virus" attachment, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows to automatically eliminate infiltrated malware.

Text presented in the Empros Lines phishing email:


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



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 installer detected as malicious on Virustotal:

empros lines email virus virustotal detections list

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Quick menu:

Types of malicious emails:

Phishing email icon Phishing Emails

Most commonly, cybercriminals use deceptive emails to trick Internet users into giving away their sensitive private information, for example, login information for various online services, email accounts, or online banking information.

Such attacks are called phishing. In a phishing attack, cybercriminals usually send an email message with some popular service logo (for example, Microsoft, DHL, Amazon, Netflix), create urgency (wrong shipping address, expired password, etc.), and place a link which they hope their potential victims will click on.

After clicking the link presented in such email message, victims are redirected to a fake website that looks identical or extremely similar to the original one. Victims are then asked to enter their password, credit card details, or some other information that gets stolen by cybercriminals.

Email-virus icon Emails with Malicious Attachments

Another popular attack vector is email spam with malicious attachments that infect users' computers with malware. Malicious attachments usually carry trojans that are capable of stealing passwords, banking information, and other sensitive information.

In such attacks, cybercriminals' main goal is to trick their potential victims into opening an infected email attachment. To achieve this goal, email messages usually talk about recently received invoices, faxes, or voice messages.

If a potential victim falls for the lure and opens the attachment, their computers get infected, and cybercriminals can collect a lot of sensitive information.

While it's a more complicated method to steal personal information (spam filters and antivirus programs usually detect such attempts), if successful, cybercriminals can get a much wider array of data and can collect information for a long period of time.

Sextortion email icon Sextortion Emails

This is a type of phishing. In this case, users receive an email claiming that a cybercriminal could access the webcam of the potential victim and has a video recording of one's masturbation.

To get rid of the video, victims are asked to pay a ransom (usually using Bitcoin or another cryptocurrency). Nevertheless, all of these claims are false - users who receive such emails should ignore and delete them.

How to spot a malicious email?

While cyber criminals try to make their lure emails look trustworthy, here are some things that you should look for when trying to spot a phishing email:

  • Check the sender's ("from") email address: Hover your mouse over the "from" address and check if it's legitimate. For example, if you received an email from Microsoft, be sure to check if the email address is @microsoft.com and not something suspicious like @m1crosoft.com, @microsfot.com, @account-security-noreply.com, etc.
  • Check for generic greetings: If the greeting in the email is "Dear user", "Dear @youremail.com", "Dear valued customer", this should raise suspiciousness. Most commonly, companies call you by your name. Lack of this information could signal a phishing attempt.
  • Check the links in the email: Hover your mouse over the link presented in the email, if the link that appears seems suspicious, don't click it. For example, if you received an email from Microsoft and the link in the email shows that it will go to firebasestorage.googleapis.com/v0... you shouldn't trust it. It's best not to click any links in the emails but to visit the company website that sent you the email in the first place.
  • Don't blindly trust email attachments: Most commonly, legitimate companies will ask you to log in to their website and to view any documents there; if you received an email with an attachment, it's a good idea to scan it with an antivirus application. Infected email attachments are a common attack vector used by cybercriminals.

To minimise the risk of opening phishing and malicious emails we recommend using Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows

Example of a spam email:

Example of an email spam

What to do if you fell for an email scam?

  • If you clicked on a link in a phishing email and entered your password - be sure to change your password as soon as possible. Usually, cybercriminals collect stolen credentials and then sell them to other groups that use them for malicious purposes. If you change your password in a timely manner, there's a chance that criminals won't have enough time to do any damage.
  • If you entered your credit card information - contact your bank as soon as possible and explain the situation. There's a good chance that you will need to cancel your compromised credit card and get a new one.
  • If you see any signs of identity theft - you should immediately contact the Federal Trade Commission. This institution will collect information about your situation and create a personal recovery plan.
  • If you opened a malicious attachment - your computer is probably infected, you should scan it with a reputable antivirus application. For this purpose, we recommend using Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows.
  • Help other Internet users - report phishing emails to Anti-Phishing Working Group, FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, National Fraud Information Center and U.S. Department of Justice.

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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.

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