How to avoid installation of Agent Tesla via Contract Agreement email?

Also Known As: Contract Agreement spam
Damage level: Severe

What is Contract Agreement email virus?

In most cases, cybercriminals behind malspam campaigns impersonate legitimate companies, organizations, or other entities. They send emails that have some malicious file attached to them or contain a website link designed to download a malicious file.

Usually, their emails are disguised as important, urgent letters containing an invoice, purchase order, or some other document. In one way or another, their goal is to trick recipients into downloading and opening a malicious file designed install malware on the operating system.

This malspam campaign is used to distribute Agent Tesla, a remote access trojan (RAT).

Contract Agreement email virus malware-spreading email

More abity the Contract Agreement campaign

Cybercriminals behind this malspam campaign attempt to trick recipients into believing that they have received an email from SIA & AFRICA GENERAL TRADING L.L.C and the file attached to it (named "Signed Contract Agreement.zip") is a contract that should be signed and then sent back. Although, the file attached to this email is a ZIP archive file containing a malicious executable file (named "Signed Contract Agreement.exe").

It is important to mention that the filename of a malicious attachment may be different (e.g., "FlushAsyncInternald68.exe") in other email variants. In one way or another, the purpose of this malspam campaign is to trick recipients into executing a malicious file designed to install Agent Tesla.

Agent Tesla is the name of a remote access trojan that cybercriminals use to steal login credentials (usernames, email addresses, passwords), and other sensitive information by using its ability to record keyboard input and gather clipboard data. It means that Agent Tesla can be used to steal data that could be used to access email clients, messaging clients, certain FTP and VPN clients, download managers, etc.

In most cases, cybercriminals use hijacked accounts to steal identities, make unauthorized purchases, transactions, distribute malicious programs, trick other users into making money transactions, and for other purposes. Another important detail about Agent Tesla is that this RAT can be used to prevent victims from accessing the Task Manager, system registry, and executing commands via the Command Prompt.

It means that Agent Tesla can be used as a tool to infect computers with other malware, disable or even uninstall installed antivirus, anti-spyware or other software, and perform other tasks.

Threat Summary:
Name Contract Agreement spam
Threat Type Trojan, password-stealing virus, banking malware, spyware.
Hoax Email attachment is a contract that needs to be signed and sent back
Attachment(s) Signed Contract Agreement.zip, FlushAsyncInternald68.zip, or a malicious file with another filename
Detection Names (FlushAsyncInternald68.exe) Avast (Win32:MalwareX-gen [Trj]), BitDefender (Trojan.GenericKD.36982185), ESET-NOD32 (A Variant Of MSIL/Kryptik.ABDU), Kaspersky (HEUR:Trojan.MSIL.Taskun.gen), Microsoft (Trojan:MSIL/AgenteslaPacker!MTB), 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)

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Examples of similar campaigns

It is very common that cybercriminals use email as tool to trick users/recipients into infecting their computers with malware. More examples of malspam campaigns used to deliver malicious progrsms via links or files in emails are THUAN HIEP THANH Email Virus", "Pending Order Email Virus", and "Your Address Is Invalid Email Virus".

It is noteworthy that most cybercriminals use names and logos of legitimate companies, names of existing people, etc., to give their emails legitimacy. A couple examples of malicious programs that were or still are distributed via email are Snake Keylogger, FormBook, and LokiBot.

How did "Contract Agreement email virus" infect my computer?

This malspam campaign is used to trick recipients into executing a malicious executable extracted from the attached ZIP file. Research shows that the attached files can be named "Signed Contract Agreement.zip", "FlushAsyncInternald68.zip" or have another filename. Either way, cybercriminals behind this campaign succeed when recipients execute a malicious file designed to install Agent Tesla.

More examples of files that cybercriminals can use in their malspam campaigns are Microsoft Word and Excel documents, PDF documents, RAR and other archive files, JavaScript files. It is worthwhile to mention that malicious documents opened with Microsoft Office versions released prior to the year 2010 infect computers automatically.

Although, malicious documents opened with newer versions do not install malicious software unless users enable macros commands (editing/content). In other words, newer MS Office versions have the "Protected View" mode that prevents malicious documents from automatically installing malware.

How to avoid installation of malware?

It is recommended not to download (or install) any programs or files using third-party software downloaders, installers, from untrustworthy websites, Peer-to-Peer networks (e.g., torrent clients, eMule), and so on. Files/programs downloaded from official websites and via direct download links.

Files (and website links) in irrelevant emails sent from unknown, suspicious addresses should not be opened - it is very common that such emails are used to trick recipients into installing malware (they contain malicious links or files). Installed programs have to be updated and activated properly - it has to be achieved using tools or functions that their official developers provide/have created.

It is strongly recommended not to use third-party tools for that - most of them are designed to install malware. Another detail about 'cracking' tools is that it is against the law to use them to activate licensed software.

Additionally, it is recommended to scan computers for viruses and other threats with a reputable security solution (anti-spyware or antivirus software). If you've already opened "Contract Agreement email virus" attachment, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows to automatically eliminate infiltrated malware.

Text presented in the "Contract Agreement email virus" email letter:

Subject: Signed Contract Agreement

Dear Sir,

Please find attached the contract agreement.
Kindly confirm, sign and send back to us.
We will appreciate your kind response.

Best Regards,

Chittibabu .M


P O BOX 172363, AL RAS,
TEL:- +971 4 2268241
FAX:- +971 4 2268251  

Mob: 00971-528108159

Detection names of a malicious file designed to install Agent Tesla on VirusTotal:

contract agreement email virus virustotal

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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.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Why did I receive this email?

Such emails are sent to a large number of recipients in the hope that some individuals will fall for the scam. Typically, they are not personal.

I have provided my personal information when tricked by a scan email, what should I do?

If you have shared any account credentials, it is imperative to change all your passwords. In the event that you have disclosed other personal information, like credit card details or ID card information, it is crucial to get in touch with the relevant authorities (as soon as possible).

I have downloaded and opened a file attached to this email, is my computer infected?

Archive files cannot infect computers. However, their contents can. Thus, if you have executed a file within the attached file, your computer is probably infected with Agent Tesla RAT.

I have read the email but did not open the attachment, is my computer infected?

If you have received an email with an attachment but have not opened the attachment, your computer is not infected by any potential malware or threats contained within the attachment.

Will Combo Cleaner remove malware infections that were present in email attachment?

Combo Cleaner is proficient in detecting and eradicating the majority of known malware infections. It is important to bear in mind that advanced malware typically burrows deep within the system. Hence, it is imperative to perform a thorough system scan to ensure effective identification and removal.

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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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