Do not open a file attached to the SALAMA email?

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

SALAMA email virus removal guide

What is SALAMA email virus?

Typically, cybercriminals behind malspam impersonate legitimate companies, organizations, or other entities when they send emails with a malicious attachment (or attachments) or download links for a malicious file. Their goal is to trick recipients into downloading and opening a malicious file designed to infect a computer with malware. It is noteworthy that cybercriminals disguise their emails as important, urgent letters regarding some invoice, shipment, purchase order, etc. This email is used to deliver a remote access trojan (RAT) called Agent Tesla.

SALAMA email virus malware-spreading email spam campaign

This email is disguised as a letter from Salama, a Spanish company operating in the maritime sector and providing services in the main Spanish ports. It claims that the "New_#P042221_pdf.gz" (its name may vary) file attached to it is a copy of a purchase order. This archive file contains an executable file named "#P042221_pdf.exe" (its name may vary). If executed, the file mentioned above starts the installer for Agent Tesla, a remote access trojan. RATs allow cybercriminals to remotely access and control infected machines. In most cases, they can log keystrokes (record keyboard input), manage files (e.g., move, rename, copy, delete files), run commands via PowerShell, Command Prompt, download and execute files, capture screenshots, access microphone, webcam. It is known that the Agent Tesla RAT can log keystrokes, steal login credentials from web browsers, email clients, VPN, and FTP clients, disable certain Windows features, capture screenshots, and steal Wi-Fi credentials. Therefore, cybercriminals behind Agent Tesla target mainly login credentials that could be used to steal a variety of personal accounts. In most cases, threat actors use stolen accounts to commit identity fraud, make unauthorized purchases, transactions, deliver malware or spam to other users. Since Agent Tesla can record keystrokes, cybercriminals can use this feature to steal any data that victims enter with their keyboard. It means that this RAT can be used to steal not only login credentials but also credit card details like CVV number, cardholder name, surname, expiry date, and other sensitive information.

Threat Summary:
Name Agent Tesla RAT
Threat Type Remote Administration Trojan, password-stealing virus, banking malware, spyware.
Hoax Email is sent by Salama company and the file attached to it is a purchased order
Attachment(s) New_#P042221_pdf.gz (its name may vary)
Detection Names (Agent Tesla)
Avast (Win32:PWSX-gen [Trj]), BitDefender (Trojan.GenericKD.36768158), ESET-NOD32 (A Variant Of MSIL/Kryptik.AAOX), Kaspersky (HEUR:Trojan-PSW.MSIL.Coins.gen), Microsoft (Trojan:MSIL/AgentTesla.OH!MTB), Full List Of Detections (VirusTotal)
Symptoms Remote Access 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 Combo Cleaner.
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In conclusion, Agent Tesla attack victims are likely to become victims of identity theft, lose access to personal accounts, suffer monetary loss, and encounter other problems related to online privacy, browsing safety. It is important to mention that RATs often are used not only to steal sensitive personal information but also to distribute malware (install additional malware on the already infected computers, for example, ransomware or some cryptocurrency miner). A couple of examples of other RATs are HabitsRAT, DarkCrystal, and Strigoi Master.

How did "SALAMA email virus" infect my computer?

Cybercriminals behind this malspam campaign distribute Agent Tesla by sending emails that contain a malicious GZ file (archive file) that contains a malicious EXE file (executable) file. Installation of the Agent Tesla RAT starts after executing the executable file named "#P042221_pdf.exe" (its name may vary in other email variants). It is important to mention that there are other malspam campaigns used to deliver Agent Tesla via malicious Microsoft Word and Excel documents. Malicious MS Office documents install malware only if they get permission to enable macros commands (editing/content). It is because newer Microsoft Office versions have the "Protected View" mode, which prevents malicious documents from installing malware without additional user interference. However, MS Office versions released before the year 2010 do not have this feature. Therefore, malicious documents opened with those versions install malware once they are opened. A couple of examples of other files that can be used to deliver malware via email are JavaScript files and PDF documents.

How to avoid installation of malware?

Files attached to irrelevant emails should not be opened. Especially if such emails are sent from suspicious or unknown addresses The same applies to website links in emails of this kind. Very often, cybercriminals use email as as channel to trick users into dowloading and opening a malicious file (e.g., MS Office document, executable file, PDF document). Installed programs have to be updated and activated using tools or functions that their official developers have designed. It is not legal to activate licensed software with 'cracking' tools. Also, both third-party updaters and 'cracking' tools often are bundled with malware (used to distribute malicious software). Files and programs should be downloaded from official, trustworthy websites. Files downloaded from unofficial pages or through other channels like Peer-to-Peer networks, freeware download websites, third party downloaders, etc., can be malicious. It is common that those files are disguised as legitimate, regular. The operating system should be scanned for malware or any other threats regularly. It is advisable to do it using a reputable antivirus or anti-spyware software. If you've already opened "SALAMA email virus" attachment, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows to automatically eliminate infiltrated malware.

Text presented in the SALAMA email:

Subject: new po#042221

Good Morning,

Please find the attached copy of new po#042221.
Kindly acknowledge the same and send the proforma invoice for payment.

51001 - CEUTA
Tel: +34 956 51 46 44 / +34 956 51 19 09 / +34 956 51 96 88
Fax: +34 956 51 62 04
Mobile: +34-608 54 77 04

Agent Tesla detected as a threat by Virustotal:

salama email virus virustotal detected attachment as malicious

Agent Tesla running in Task Manager:

salama email virus agent tesla running in task manager

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.

QR Code
Agent Tesla RAT QR code
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