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Avoid infecting your system with malware through fake Alibaba emails

Also Known As: Snake malware
Type: Trojan
Distribution: Low
Damage level: Severe

"Alibaba email virus" removal guide

What is the fake "Alibaba" email?

"Alibaba email virus" refers to a malware-proliferating spam campaign. This term defines a large-scale operation during which deceptive/scam emails are sent by the thousand. The letters distributed through this campaign are disguised as notifications from Alibaba Group - a Chinese multinational technology company dealing in e-commerce, retail, Internet, and technology. These fake notifications inform recipients that their product has been ordered/purchased. However, instead of containing information about the nonexistent purchase, the attached file triggers download/installation of the Snake Keylogger - upon opening. This malicious program is designed to record keystrokes (i.e., typed information). Therefore, the "Alibaba" scam emails pose a serious threat to recipients' privacy and may cause a variety of severe issues.

Alibaba malware-spreading email spam campaign

The fake "Alibaba" emails (subject/title "NEW PO-0403 From Guangzhou Bison Via Alibaba.com"; may vary) state that recipients have an order of their Alibaba-hosted product. The scam letters then name the fictitious buyer and instruct recipients to download and review the attached purchase order. It must be emphasized that despite their legitimate appearance - these emails are fraudulent and in no way associated with the genuine Alibaba Group. As mentioned in the introduction, when opened - the email attachment initiates Snake Keylogger's infection process.

The Snake Keylogger is a piece of malicious software primarily designed to record keystrokes. This feature endangers the privacy/confidentiality of any and all typed data. However, this keylogger targets other information as well. It can extract data from certain browsers and email clients. Snake's other functions include taking screenshots and accessing clipboard-stored data (i.e., information within the copy/paste buffer). Malware of this type is usually used to obtain log-in credentials (i.e., IDs, email addresses, usernames, and passwords) of various online accounts and platforms. How this can be used depends on the hijacked services themselves and/or the content stored therein. Financial information (e.g., bank account details, credit card numbers, etc.) is also of particular interest to cyber criminals. Through it, they may be able to make fraudulent transactions and/or online purchases. To summarize, by trusting the "Alibaba" scam emails - users can experience system infections, severe privacy issues, significant financial losses, and even identity theft. If it is known or suspected that the system has been infected with the Snake Keylogger (or other malware) - an anti-virus must be used to remove it immediately.

Threat Summary:
Name Snake malware
Threat Type Trojan, password-stealing virus, banking malware, spyware.
Hoax Scam emails claim recipients' Alibaba product has been ordered/purchased,
Attachment(s) Guangzhou Bison Purchase Order 0403 pdf.exe (filename may vary)
Detection Names Avast (FileRepMalware), BitDefender (Gen:Variant.Androm.29), Fortinet (W32/Androm.29!tr), Kaspersky (UDS:DangerousObject.Multi.Generic), Microsoft (Trojan:Win32/Woreflint.A!cl), 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 Snake Keylogger
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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"Vecchia Brianza Chocolab", "Palladium Email Virus", "Agos Email Virus", "HARASSMENT COMPLAINT", and "Walmart Email Virus" are some examples of malware-spreading spam campaigns. The emails distributed through these massive operations - are usually disguised as "official", "urgent", "priority", "important", and so on. There are several uses of spam letters, such as - proliferation of malicious programs (e.g., trojans, ransomware, etc.), phishing and other scams. Due to how common spam mail is, it is strongly advised to exercise caution with incoming emails.

How did "Alibaba email virus" infect my computer?

Malware is spread through spam campaigns via infectious files attached to and/or linked inside the scam emails. These 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 virulent files are executed, run, or otherwise opened - the infection process is triggered. 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. Newer versions have "Protected View" mode that prevents automatic execution of macros. Instead, users can manually enable editing/content (i.e., macro commands), and they are warned of the potential risks.

How to avoid installation of malware?

To avoid infecting the device via spam mail, it is advised against opening suspicious/irrelevant emails - especially any attachments or links found in them. It is also recommended to use Microsoft Office versions released after 2010. However, malware is proliferated using other techniques as well. Malicious programs are distributed through untrustworthy download channels (e.g., unofficial and free file-hosting websites, Peer-to-Peer sharing networks, etc.), fake updaters, and illegal software activation ("cracking") tools. Therefore, it is important to use only official and verified download sources. Furthermore, software must be updated and activated using functions/tools provided by genuine developers. To ensure device and user safety, it is crucial to have a reputable anti-virus/anti-spyware installed and updated. These programs have to be used to run regular system scans and remove detected threats and issues. If you've already opened "Alibaba email virus" attachment, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows to automatically eliminate infiltrated malware.

Text presented in the fake "Alibaba" email letter:

Subject: NEW PO-0403 From Guangzhou Bison Via Alibaba.com

Alibaba.com
Global trade starts here.™


Search Products | Post Buying Request

 

Your Product has received a purchasing order

 

Dear ********

 

We are pleased to inform you that Guangzhou Bison Marketing Services Co., Ltd. has sent you a purchasing order based on your product. DOWNLOAD TO VIEW PO.

 

DOWNLOAD PURCHASE ORDER

 

Date: 5/10/2021 9:30:16 p.m.
From: Guangzhou Bison Marketing Services Co., Ltd.

 

If you are interested in this quotation, you can contact the buyer directly to discuss further details. The buyer's contact information can be found on the Quotation Details.

Find suitable suppliers quicker by using our supplier comparison tool on the Quotation Details Page.
You can perform side-by-side comparisons of suppliers' background and quotes information by simply clicking Add to Compare

Screenshot of VirusTotal detections of the malicious attachment distributed via "Alibaba" spam campaign ("Guangzhou Bison Purchase Order 0403 pdf.exe" filename):

Alibaba scam email infectious attachment detections on VirusTotal (Guangzhou Bison Purchase Order 0403 pdf.exe filename)

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
Snake malware QR code
A QR code (Quick Response Code) is a machine-readable code which stores URLs and other information. This code can be read using a camera on a smartphone or a tablet. Scan this QR code to have an easy access removal guide of Snake malware on your mobile device.
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