Avoid infecting your device with malware via "KIO KOREA" scam emails

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

What is the "KIO KOREA" scam email?

"KIO KOREA Email Virus" refers to a malware-spreading spam campaign - a mass-scale operation during which deceptive emails are sent by the thousand. The scam letters sent through this campaign - request recipients to provide a product quote in accordance with the provided order list.

It must be emphasized that all of the information provided by these emails - is false. The campaign's aim is to distribute an infectious file attachment, which upon opening - initiates download/installation of the Agent Tesla RAT (Remote Access Trojan).

This malware is designed to enable remote access and control over an infected device. RATs can have a variety of heinous functionalities, and they can be used to cause various severe problems.

KIO KOREA malware-spreading email spam campaign

The "KIO KOREA" scam emails (subject/title "Re: ORDER CONFIRMATION-4423sG.KIO KOREA CO.,LTD"; may vary) greet recipients by stating that it has been two years since the sender last requested a product quote. These letters inform that a new order list has been prepared and attached.

Recipients are asked to review the fake list and provide a quote in response. Additionally, the emails state that another order will be sent shortly. As mentioned in the introduction, none of the claims made by these letters are true.

Therefore, instead of containing the promised information, Agent Tesla RAT's infection process is triggered - when the attached file is opened. As a remote access trojan, Agent Tesla is able to enable stealthy remote access and control over compromised machines.

The primary functionality of this malicious program is data theft. Agent Tesla can extract information from Internet browsers, email and messaging clients, VPN (Virtual Private Network) applications, FTP (File Transfer Protocol) clients, and download managers.

Targeted information includes (but is not limited to): log-in credentials (i.e., IDs, usernames, and passwords) of various accounts, platforms, and services; browsing and search engine histories; Internet cookies; autofill data; Wi-Fi credentials (i.e., profiles and passwords); saved credit card details, etc.

Another one of this trojan's information stealing abilities is keylogging - keystroke recording. Through this feature - cyber criminals using the malicious program can obtain any and all typed information.

To summarize, by trusting the "KIO KOREA" scam emails, users can experience system infections, severe privacy issues, financial losses, and identity theft. If it is suspected or known that Agent Tesla (or other malware) has already infected the system - an anti-virus must be used to remove it immediately.

Threat Summary:
Name Agent Tesla RAT
Threat Type Trojan, password-stealing virus, banking malware, spyware.
Hoax Scam emails request recipients to provide a product quote in accordance with the provided list.
Attachment(s) ORDER CONFIRMATION-4423sG.exe (filename may vary)
Detection Names Avast (FileRepMetagen [Malware]), BitDefender (Gen:Variant.Strictor.94570), ESET-NOD32 (A Variant Of MSIL/Kryptik.AAMD), Kaspersky (HEUR:Trojan.MSIL.Taskun.gen), Microsoft (Trojan:Win32/AgentTesla!ml), 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
Rogue Process Name Sprint Core (process name may vary)
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 Combo Cleaner.
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"Socar Email Virus", "Empros Lines Email Virus", "Employee Retention Credit", "FedEx Express Email Virus", and "I Have Obtained Document You Mailed Me" are some examples of malware-proliferating spam campaigns.

The emails distributed through these large-scale operations - are usually presented as "urgent", "important", "priority", and similar; they may even be disguised as mail from legitimate companies, organizations, institutions, authorities, service providers, and other entities.

Spam campaigns are not used exclusively to proliferate malicious software, they are also employed to facilitate phishing and other scams. Due to the relative prevalence of spam mail, it is advised to exercise caution with incoming emails.

How did "KIO KOREA Email Virus" infect my computer?

Systems are infected via virulent files spread through spam campaigns. The files can be attached to the emails, and/or the letters can contain download links of malicious content.

Infectious files can be in various formats, e.g., archives (ZIP, RAR, etc.), executables (.exe, .run, etc.), Microsoft Office and PDF documents, JavaScript, and so forth. When the files are executed, run, or otherwise opened - the infection chain (i.e., malware download/installation) is initiated.

For example, Microsoft Office documents cause infections by executing malicious macro commands. This process is triggered the moment a document is opened - in Microsoft Office versions released before 2010.

Later versions have "Protected View" mode that prevents automatic execution of macros. Instead, users are asked to enable editing/content (i.e., macro commands) and warned of the potential threats.

How to avoid installation of malware?

To avoid infecting the system via spam mail, it is advised against opening suspicious and irrelevant emails - especially any attachments or links present in them. It is recommended to use Microsoft Office versions released after 2010.

Aside from spam campaigns, malware is also proliferated through untrustworthy download channels (e.g., unofficial and free file-hosting websites, Peer-to-Peer sharing networks, etc.), illegal activation tools ("cracks"), and fake updates. Therefore, it is important to download only from official and verified sources.

Additionally, all programs must be activated and updated with tools/functions provided by legitimate developers. To ensure device integrity and user privacy, it is paramount to have a reputable anti-virus/anti-spyware suite installed and updated.

This software has to be used to run regular system scans and remove detected/potential threats. If you've already opened "KIO KOREA Email Virus" attachment, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows to automatically eliminate infiltrated malware.

Text presented in the "KIO KOREA" scam email letter:



 Dear customer,

How are you?.


It had been long since last two years you quoted us.


We just finished our order list , please check my attached file, and please try to do your best on this order.  And i'll send new order soon as additional to this order.


Await your order confirmation.


I am waiting your reply.


Best Regards


Mr.Brian Kim / KIO KOREA CO.,LTD



Head Office
#507, 2-Dong [Western Tower, 868 Janghang-dong] 24 Joengbalsan-ro,
Ilsandong-gu, Goyang-si, Gyeonggi-do, KOREA. [Zip Code: 10403]
42, Nocheom-gil 56beon-gil (621-17 Janghang-dong), Ilsandong-gu,
Goyang-si, Gyeonggi-do, KOREA. [Zip Code: 10432]
T: +82-70-4454-6231 | F: +82-31-901-6065
E-MAIL: briankim@kiokorea.com
WEBSITE : www.kiokorea.com

Screenshot of VirusTotal detections of the malicious attachment distributed via "KIO KOREA" spam campaign ("ORDER CONFIRMATION-4423sG.exe"):

KIO KOREA email virus attachment detections (ORDER CONFIRMATION-4423sG.exe)

Screenshot of the malicious executable's process on Windows Task Manager ("Sprint Core" process name):

KIO KOREA email virus process on Task Manager (Sprint Core - process name)

Instant automatic malware removal: Manual threat removal might be a lengthy and complicated process that requires advanced computer skills. Combo Cleaner 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 Combo Cleaner Antivirus 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 Combo Cleaner Antivirus 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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