Avoid infecting your system with malware via "Air Sea Land" scam email
Written by Tomas Meskauskas on (updated)
What is the "Air Sea Land" scam email?
"Air Sea Land email virus" refers to a malware-proliferating spam campaign. The term "spam campaign" describes a mass-scale operation during which deceptive/scam emails are sent by the thousand.
The fake "Air Sea Land" letters supposedly concern order payments. This spam mail aims to spread malicious software. Therefore, when recipients open the files attached to these emails - malware download/installation is initiated.
The "Air Sea Land" scam emails inform recipients that their payment will be released after they confirm the attached payment details. However, instead of containing any sort of payment-related information, the attachment initiates the system infection process - upon opening.
Spam campaigns spread a wide variety of malicious programs. It is noteworthy that malware can have a broad range of heinous functions, which can be in different combinations.
The abilities of malicious programs classified as trojans can be particularly varied. For example, trojans can cause chain infections (i.e., download/install additional malware), exfiltrate files and extract information from the system, enable remote access/control over devices (RATs - Remote Access Trojans), obtain data from browsers and other installed applications, record key-strokes (keylogging) and/or audio and video via microphones/cameras, and so on.
Ransomware encrypts data and/or locks the device's screen - to make ransom demands for the decryption/ access recovery. Cryptocurrency miners are malicious programs that use system resources (potentially to the point of permanent hardware damage) to generate cryptocurrency. To summarize, by trusting the "Air Sea Land" scam letters, users can experience multiple system infections, severe privacy issues, financial losses, and identity theft.
If it is suspected/known that malware has already infected the device - an anti-virus must be used to remove it immediately.
|Name||Air Sea Land Email Virus|
|Threat Type||Trojan, password-stealing virus, banking malware, spyware.|
|Hoax||Scam emails claim to contain information relating to payments.|
|Attachment(s)||SMK_RFQ.zip containing SMK_RFQ.exe (filenames may vary)|
|Detection Names||Avast (Win32:MalwareX-gen [Trj]), BitDefender (Trojan.GenericKD.37013612), ESET-NOD32 (A Variant Of MSIL/Kryptik.ABFM), Kaspersky (HEUR:Trojan.MSIL.Taskun.gen), Microsoft (Trojan:MSIL/Tnega.BK!MTB), Full List Of Detections (VirusTotal)|
|Rogue Process Name||Storage Loader (process name may vary)|
|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.|
|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.
"Contract Agreement Email Virus", "THUAN HIEP THANH Email Virus", "Pending Order Email Virus", and "Order Confirmation Email Virus" are some examples of spam campaigns that are designed to proliferate malicious software. The emails sent through these campaigns are usually presented as "urgent", "important", "priority", and/or disguised as messages from legitimate organizations, institutions, authorities, companies, service providers, or different entities.
However, spam campaigns are not used just to spread malware, they are also employed to facilitate phishing and other scams. Due to how prevalent spam mail is, it is strongly advised to exercise caution with incoming emails.
How did "Air Sea Land email virus" infect my computer?
Systems are infected via virulent files distributed through spam campaigns. The files can be attached to the emails, and/or the letters contain download links of infectious content.
This process is initiated 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 the macro commands (i.e., editing/content), and they are warned of the potential 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. Aside from spam campaigns, malicious software is also distributed via untrustworthy download channels (e.g., unofficial and free file-hosting websites, Peer-to-Peer sharing networks, and other third-party downloaders), illegal activation ("cracking") tools, and fake updates.
Therefore, it is important to only download from official and verified sources. Additionally, all programs must be activated and updated with tools/functions provided by genuine developers.
To ensure device and user safety, it is paramount to have a reputable anti-virus/anti-spyware suite installed and updated. This software has to be used to run regular system scans and remove detected threats.
If you've already opened "Air Sea Land email virus" attachment, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows to automatically eliminate infiltrated malware.
Text presented in the "Air Sea Land" scam email letter:
Subject: RE: RE: Payment SMK2021271 ********
A warm greetings!
Please be advised that your attached payment will be released as soon as you confirm the attched payment details.
Air Sea Land
Bade Int'l Vinhos General Ltd.,Co.
No. 2 & 4, Persiaran Perindustrian Pengkalan 15, Taman Perindustrian
Sri Pengkalan, Jalan Lahat 31500 Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia.
Screenshot of VirusTotal detections of the malicious attachment distributed via "Air Sea Land" spam campaign ("SMK_RFQ.exe" filename):
Screenshot of the malicious executable's process on Windows Task Manager ("Storage Loader" process name):
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:
- What is Air Sea Land spam?
- Types of malicious emails.
- How to spot a malicious email?
- What to do if you fell for an email scam?
Types of malicious 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.
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.
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:
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.
▼ Show Discussion