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Avoid infecting your device via "OCEANIC PROJECTS" scam email

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

"OCEANIC PROJECTS email virus" removal guide

What is the "OCEANIC PROJECTS" scam email?

"OCEANIC PROJECTS email virus" refers to a malware-proliferating spam campaign. The term "spam campaign" defines a mass-scale operation during which deceptive/scam emails are sent by the thousand. The letters distributed through this campaign claim that they have a purchase order attached to them. Additionally, the emails request recipients to send an invoice containing the necessary banking information. It must be emphasized that all of the claims made by the "OCEANIC PROJECTS" scam letters - are false. When the file attached to these emails is opened - it triggers download installation of the Agent Tesla RAT (Remote Access Trojan).

OCEANIC PROJECTS malware-spreading email spam campaign

The "OCEANIC PROJECTS" scam letters (subject/title "Re: 回复:Purchase Order 12052021"; may vary) inform recipients that they have the purchase order attached to them. The emails then ask recipients to send the invoice with their bank account, so that the bank transfer could be made. As mentioned in the introduction, none of the information provided by these letters is true. The sole aim of the "OCEANIC PROJECTS" emails is to infect recipients' systems with Agent Tesla. Once the attachment ("Purchase Order_12052021.ace"; filename may vary) is opened - the malware's infection chain is initiated.

Agent Tesla is classified as a Remote Access Trojan (RAT). Malicious programs within this classification are designed to enable stealthy remote access and control over compromised machines. RATs can have a wide variety of heinous functionalities; hence, the threats posed by their infections are especially broad. The primary functionality of Agent Tesla is stealing sensitive and private information. To elaborate on these features, this trojan has keylogging abilities (key-stroke recording), and it can extract data from various browsers, email clients, messengers, VPNs (Virtual Private Networks), FTPs (File Transfer Protocols), and download managers. Information of interest includes: browsing activity, Internet cookies, IP addresses/ geolocations, Wi-Fi credentials, system data, account/platform/service log-in credentials (i.e., IDs, email addresses, usernames, passwords), personally identifiable details, and so forth. To summarize, Agent Tesla infections can result in severe privacy issues, financial losses, and even identity theft. If it is suspected/known that Agent Tesla RAT (or other malware) has already infected the device - 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 claim to contain a purchase order attached to them, and request recipients to provide their invoice.
Attachment(s) Purchase Order_12052021.ace (filename may vary)
Detection Names Avast (Win32:MalwareX-gen [Trj]), BitDefender (Trojan.GenericKD.36885350), ESET-NOD32 (MSIL/Spy.Agent.AES), Kaspersky (HEUR:Trojan.MSIL.Crypt.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
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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"WMS Technologies Email Virus", "Seojoong Logistics DMCC Email Virus", "Alibaba Email Virus", and "Vecchia Brianza Chocolab Email Virus" are some examples of malware-spreading spam campaigns. Deceptive emails are usually presented as "official", "urgent", "important", and similar; they may even be disguised as mail from legitimate institutions, organizations, companies, service providers, and other entities. Aside from malware proliferation, these letters are also used to facilitate phishing and other scams. Therefore, it is strongly advised to exercise caution with incoming emails.

How did "OCEANIC PROJECTS email virus" infect my computer?

Systems are infected via malicious files distributed through spam campaigns. These files can be attached to the emails, and/or the letters contain download links of such infectious content. Virulent files can be in various formats, e.g., archives (RAR, ZIP, etc.), executables (.exe, .run, etc.), Microsoft Office and PDF documents, JavaScript, and so on. When the files are executed, run, or otherwise opened - the infection process (i.e., malware download/installation) is jumpstarted. For example, Microsoft Office documents cause infections by executing malicious macro commands. When a document is opened in Microsoft Office versions released before 2010 - macros are executed immediately. Later versions have "Protected View" mode that prevents automatic execution of macro commands. Instead, users can manually enable editing/content (i.e., macros), 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 and irrelevant emails - especially any attachments or links present in them. It is recommended to use Microsoft Office versions released after 2010. Malware is also spread through dubious 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 download only from official and verified sources. Additionally, all programs must be activated and updated using functions/tools provided by genuine developers. It is paramount to have a reputable anti-virus/anti-spyware suite installed and updated. Furthermore, this software has to be used to run regular system scans and remove detected threats and issues. If you've already opened "OCEANIC PROJECTS email virus" attachment, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows to automatically eliminate infiltrated malware.

Text presented in the "OCEANIC PROJECTS" scam email letter:

Subject: Re: 回复:Purchase Order 12052021

 

Dear Sir/Madam,

 

Please find attached our stamped and signed Purchase Order 12052021.

 

Please send me your Proforma invoice with your bank account in order to make the bank transfer.

 

Thanks and best regards!


Best Regards

 

Roy Asghar

 

Business Development Manager

 

OCEANIC PROJECTS PTE. LTD.

 

UAN: +92 (21) 111 786 675

 

Fax: +92-21-34324447

 

Mob: +92-3000721937

 

Email: saslam@pseb.org.pk

 

Website:  www.pseb.org.pk

Screenshot of VirusTotal detections of the malicious attachment distributed via "OCEANIC PROJECTS" spam campaign ("Purchase Order_12052021.ace" filename):

OCEANIC PROJECTS email virus attachment detections (Purchase Order_12052021.ace 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
Agent Tesla RAT QR code
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