Avoid infecting your system with malware via fake "Contech" emails

Also Known As: Ave Maria trojan
Type: Trojan
Damage level: Severe

What is the "Contech" scam email?

"Contech email virus" refers to a malware-spreading 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 are presented as urgent purchase orders. However, the fake Excel documents attached to these emails do not contain information relating to any purchases.

In fact, the attachment is an archived executable. When this file is opened - it triggers download/installation of the Ave Maria trojan.

Contech malware-spreading email spam campaign

The "Contech" scam emails (subject/title "new purchase order document for june"; may vary) request recipients to review the attached product spreadsheet. Allegedly, the document contains the order details.

The letters emphasize the urgency of the fake purchase. They ask recipients to respond as quickly as possible.

The emails express a preference for shipment to take place before the end of the week, as the order is supposedly intended for an ongoing project. As mentioned in the introduction, the email attachment does not contain the stated information.

Instead, when the malicious executable is opened - it initiates Ave Maria trojan's infection process. The primary functionalities of Ave Maria malware are data theft and download/installation of additional malicious programs.

To elaborate on the former, this trojan has keylogging abilities. That means that this malicious software can record keyboard input (i.e., keystrokes).

Additionally, it can exfiltrate information from specific browsers and email clients. Typically, such data-stealing features are used to obtain the log-in credentials (usernames/passwords) of various accounts, browsing and search engine histories, Internet cookies, IP addresses/ geolocations, personally identifiable details, financial information (bank account and credit card numbers), etc.

Ave Maria trojan also operates as a backdoor for other malware. Hence, it can be used to infect the system with ransomware, cryptocurrency miners, and other malicious programs.

This expands the threats posed by Ave Maria infections. To summarize, by trusting the fake "Contech" emails - users can experience multiple system infections, device and data damage, severe privacy issues, financial losses, and identity theft.

If it is suspected or known that the Ave Maria trojan (or other malware) has already infiltrated the system - an anti-virus must be used to eliminate it immediately.

Threat Summary:
Name Ave Maria trojan
Threat Type Trojan, password-stealing virus, banking malware, spyware.
Hoax Scam emails are disguised as purchase orders
Attachment(s) New order_doc.lzh containing New order_doc.exe (filenames may vary)
Detection Names Avast (Win32:PWSX-gen [Trj]), BitDefender (Trojan.GenericKD.46452961), ESET-NOD32 (A Variant Of Win32/Injector.EPMJ), Kaspersky (HEUR:Trojan-Banker.Win32.BestaFera.gen), Microsoft (Trojan:Win32/DelfInject.PNU!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 Ave Maria
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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"Air Sea Land Email Virus", "Contract Agreement", "THUAN HIEP THANH Email Virus", "OCEANIC PROJECTS Email Virus", and "Pending Order" are some examples of malware-proliferating spam campaigns. Deceptive emails are usually presented as "urgent", "important", "priority", and/or disguised as messages from legitimate companies, authorities, institutions, organizations, services providers, and so on.

Aside from malicious software distribution, these large-scale operations are also used for phishing and other scams. Due to how widespread spam mail is, it is strongly advised to exercise caution with incoming emails.

How did "Contech email virus" infect my computer?

Spam campaigns proliferate malware via infectious files distributed through them. These files can be attached to the emails, or they can contain download links of such files.

Virulent content can be in various formats, e.g., Microsoft Office and PDF documents, archives (ZIP, RAR, etc.), executables (.exe, .run, etc.), JavaScript, and so forth. When the files are executed, run, or otherwise opened - the infection chain (i.e., malware download/installation) is jumpstarted.

For example, Microsoft Office documents infect systems by executing malicious macro commands. This process begins upon the document's opening in Microsoft Office versions released before 2010.

Newer versions have "Protected View" mode, which prevents automatic execution of macros. Instead, users are asked to enable editing/content (i.e., macro commands), and they are alerted of the potential risks.

How to avoid installation of malware?

To avoid infecting the system via spam mail, it is advised against opening dubious and 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 not spread exclusively through spam campaigns; other proliferation techniques are used as well. Malicious programs are distributed via untrustworthy download channels (e.g., unofficial and freeware websites, Peer-to-Peer sharing networks, etc.), illegal activation tools ("cracks"), and fraudulent updates.

Therefore, it is crucial to download only from official and verified sources. Additionally, all programs must be activated and updated using functions/tools provided by genuine developers.

It paramount to have a reputable anti-virus/anti-spyware suite installed and kept updated. This software has to be used to run regular system scans and remove detected threats.

If you've already opened "Contech email virus" attachment, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows to automatically eliminate infiltrated malware.

Text presented in the "Contech" scam email letter:

Subject: new purchase order document for june


Good Morning sir,


Kindly see the attached product spreadsheet in excel, we would like the order shipped before the week runs out.


We would really appreciate your fastest response as this order is very urgent to our ongoing project.


Purchasing Management Unit


Block B170, Jebel Ali Industrial Area 2,
PO Box 5750, Dubai, UAE
Tel:    +971-4-8802662
Fax:    +971-4-8802622




The information in this email is confidential and may contain proprietary and/or legally privileged information. It is intended solely for the user of the individual or entity to whom it is addressed and others authorized to receive it. If you are not the intended recipient, please e-mail the sender and delete this email and any attachments from your system and note that any disclosure, copying, distribution or taking action in reliance of the contents of this email is prohibited and may be unlawful.


P No trees were harmed in the making or sending of this message. Consider the environment please don't print this e-mail unless you really need to

Screenshot of VirusTotal detections of the malicious attachment distributed via "Contech" spam campaign ("New order_doc.exe" filename):

Contech email virus attachment detections on VirusTotal (New order_doc.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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Quick menu:

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.

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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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