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Do not trust the "System Administrator Quota Update" scam emails

Also Known As: possible malware infections
Distribution: Low
Damage level: Medium

"System Administrator Quota Update" email scam removal guide

What is the "System Administrator Quota Update" scam email?

"System Administrator Quota Update" is the name of yet another phishing spam campaign. This term defines a mass-scale operation during which thousands of deceptive emails are sent. The letters distributed through this campaign - claim that recipients' email inboxes have reached their storage limit and will not be able to receive/send messages. The goal of this spam mail is to promote a phishing website that is disguised as an email account sign-in page. Sites of this type are designed to record information entered into them; in this case - account log-in credentials (i.e., email addresses and passwords). Hence, by trusting these scam emails, users can have their mail accounts stolen by scammers.

System Administrator Quota Update email spam campaign

The "System Administrator Quota Update" scam emails (subject/title "SECURITY ALERT!!!!"; may vary) falsely state that recipients' mailboxes have reached 98% of their quota limit. This will supposedly prevent letters from being sent and received. These deceptive emails instruct recipients to update their accounts to 5 GB storage - to avoid losing letters and prevent the mail account from being deactivated. Once the button presented in the emails is clicked - it leads to the promoted phishing website. Trying to sign in through this page will expose the log-in credentials to the scammers, thereby allowing them to gain access and control over the corresponding email account.

Emails are of particular interest to scammers and cyber criminals because they are commonly connected to other platforms and services (e.g., they can be registered through the emails). Therefore, by obtaining emails - access/control may be gained over the accounts associated with them. To elaborate on how the hijacked accounts can be used, then communication platforms (e.g., emails, social networking/media, messengers, etc.) can be employed to proliferate malware by sharing malicious files or links. Alternatively, scammers can pretend to be the accounts' genuine owners and ask the contacts/friends/followers for loans. Finance-related accounts (e.g., banking, e-commerce, online money transferring, digital wallet, etc.) can be used to make fraudulent transactions and/or online purchases. To summarize, by trusting the "System Administrator Quota Update" scam letters - users can experience severe privacy issues, significant financial losses, identity theft, and other serious problems. If attempts to sign in through the phishing website have already been made - it is advised to immediately change the log-in credentials of potentially compromised accounts. Furthermore, it is recommended to contact the official support of the endangered platforms and services.

Threat Summary:
Name System Administrator Quota Update Email Scam
Threat Type Phishing, Scam, Social Engineering, Fraud
Fake Claim Scam letters claim that recipients' email inboxes have reached their storage limit.
Symptoms Unauthorized online purchases, changed online account passwords, identity theft, illegal access of the computer.
Distribution methods Deceptive emails, rogue online pop-up ads, search engine poisoning techniques, misspelled domains.
Damage Loss of sensitive private information, monetary loss, identity theft.
Malware Removal (Windows)

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"Outgoing Mail Error", "Verify Your Email Account", "Secure your email", "Monthly Email Validation" are a couple examples of phishing spam campaigns targeting email accounts. Scam letters are typically disguised as "official", "urgent", "priority", "important", and similar. Aside from phishing and other scams, deceptive emails are also used to distribute malware (e.g., trojans, ransomware, cryptocurrency miners, etc.). Regardless of what scam emails promise, claim, request, or demand, their sole aim is to generate profit at user expense. Scammers and cyber criminals frequently use spam mail; therefore, it is strongly recommended to exercise caution with incoming emails.

How do spam campaigns infect computers?

Spam campaigns proliferate malware via infectious files sent through them. These files can be attached to the emails, and/or the letters can contain download links of such content. Virulent files can be in various formats, e.g., archives (ZIP, RAR, etc.), executables (.exe, .run, etc.), PDF and Microsoft Office documents, JavaScript, and so forth. When the files are executed, run, or otherwise opened - the infection process (i.e., malware download/installation) is initiated. For example, Microsoft Office documents infect systems by executing malicious macro commands. This process begins 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 risks.

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 found in them. It is recommended to use Microsoft Office versions released after 2010. Malware is also spread through untrustworthy download channels (e.g., unofficial and free file-hosting websites, Peer-to-Peer sharing networks, etc.), illegal activation ("cracking") tools, and fake updates. Therefore, it is important to only use official and verified sources. Additionally, all programs must be activated and updated with tools/functions provided by legitimate developers. To protect device and user safety, it is crucial to have a dependable anti-virus/anti-spyware suite installed and kept up-to-date. This software has to be used to run regular system scans and remove detected/potential threats. If you've already opened malicious attachments, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows to automatically eliminate infiltrated malware.

Text presented in the "System Administrator Quota Update" scam email letter:

Subject: SECURITY ALERT!!!!

 

System Administrator
Quota Update : ********  

   
Your ******** Mailbox is 98% Full and has exceeded its quota limit of sending and receiving Incoming messages.

 

Update Your Mailbox quota to 5GB  to avoid Incoming Message loss and Email Account Closure.


Update Your ******** Quota


You received this email from our Webmaster for ******** Account and services. © 2021

Screenshot of the phishing site promoted through the "System Administrator Quota Update" spam campaign:

System Administrator Quota Update scam email promoted phishing website

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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