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

Also Known As: KIO KOREA spam
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 KIO KOREA spam
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)

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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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