Damage level: Severe


One of the most commonly used ways to deliver malware is to send emails with malicious links or files (attachments) in them. Cybercriminals behind this particular email attempt to trick users into downloading and opening a malicious document designed to install RustyBuer.



Typically, emails containing malicious links or attachments look like they came from a financial institution, a government agency, or other legitimate entity (company, organization). This email is disguised as a letter sent by American Medicine Publicity.

As stated in the email letter, it contains urgent information from CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and FDA (Food and Drug Administration) regarding vaccines against COVID-19 disease. It encourages recipients to review the attached document, which supposedly contains detailed information (such as possible contraindications, complications, prices) about vaccines available in the US.

As mentioned in the first paragraph, the file attached to this email is malicious - it is designed to infect computers with RustyBuer. RustyBuer functions as a loader malware - it can be used to install other malware.

It is known that cybercriminals RustyBuer have already used it to distribute Cobalt Strike Beacon and multiple ransomware strains. This malware can be used to download and execute malware in different ways.

Thus, opening the malicious document attached to this email is likely to cause the installation of malware designed to encrypt files, provide cybercriminals remote access to the infected machine, steal sensitive information, or cause other damage.

Threat Summary:
Threat Type Malware loader
Hoax Attachment contains information about COVID-19 vaccines
Attachment(s) document.xlsm (its name may vary)
Detection Names (Attachment) Avast (Other:Malware-gen [Trj]), BitDefender (Trojan.GenericKD.37150109), Emsisoft (Trojan.GenericKD.37150109 (B)), Ikarus (Trojan-Downloader.Office.Crypt), Microsoft (TrojanDownloader:O97M/EncDoc.SS!MTB), Full List Of Detections (VirusTotal)
Symptoms Malware loaders 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 RustyBuer
Distribution methods Infected email attachments, malicious online advertisements, social engineering, software 'cracks'.
Damage Stolen passwords and banking information, identity theft, data loss.
Malware Removal (Windows)

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Malspam campaigns in general

In conclusion, cybercriminals behind emails of this type pretend to be legitimate companies, organizations to trick recipients into downloading and opening a malicious file. Usually, attachments in malicious emails are disguised as important, official documents.

More examples of malspam campaigns are "Olmetex Email Virus", "Santander Email Virus", and "Contech Email Virus". Examples of malware that is distributed via email (and possibly other channels) are FormBook, LokiBot, and Agent Tesla.

How did URGENT INFORMATION ON COVID-19 VACCINATION email virus infect my computer?

The file attached to this email is a malicious Microsoft Excel document that needs permission to enable content (macros commands) to install RustyBuer. It installs RustyBuer after getting that permission.

It is important to mention that malicious documents opened with Microsoft Office versions released before 2010 do not need permission to enable macros commands to install malware - they install malicious software automatically. Newer MS Office versions prevent malware installation by opening documents in "Protected View" mode.

It is worth mentioning that malicious emails can contain PDF documents, JavaScript files, executable files, archive files (like ZIP, RAR), and other files as well. In one way or another, the main purpose of those emails is to trick recipients into executing a malicious file.

How to avoid installation of malware?

Attachments and website links in irrelevant emails received from suspicious, unknown senders should not be opened. It is very common for emails of this type to be used by cybercriminals as channels to deliver malware.

Installed programs have to be updated and activated properly: it should be done using implemented functions or tools that their official developers provide. Third-party, unofficial tools can be malicious (have malware hidden in them). Also, it is illegal to use cracked software or use cracking tools to activate legitimate software.

Furthermore, programs and files should be downloaded from official, trustworthy websites and via direct links. It is not recommended to use third-party downloaders or installers, unofficial pages, and other channels of this kind to download or install any software.

The operating system should be scanned for threats regularly. It is recommended to do it using a reputable antivirus or anti-spyware software. If you've already opened URGENT INFORMATION ON COVID-19 VACCINATION email attachment, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows to automatically eliminate infiltrated malware.


Subject: COVID-19 Vaccination information


This email contains urgent information on latest researches from CDC and FDA in the field of vaccines against COVID-19.

Internal statistics from CDC and FDA on lethal cases and illness after vaccination (read more in attached file), we have not fully studied their real danger. Wide selection of vaccines offer has created illusion of security and feeling that we have a choice.

Studies have shown that possibility of getting infected COVID-10 after a vaccine significantly increases, and also leads to complications in the form of infertility, development of diseases of lungs and central nervous system, and even blindness.

Some prisons have unofficially introduced vaccines to prisoners, those sentenced to life sentences or death penalty. Outbreaks of COVID-19 diseases and even deaths account for areas where people were massively vaccinated. You can avoid risk of getting infected by untested vaccines.

CDC and FDA together have compiled a complete summary of contraindications, chances of death outcome, and complications from use of available vaccines in the US (such as Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson / Janssen, etc.) and other countries, as well as the price you will pay for them. Compare conditions under which certain vaccines are not suitable for you, as well as those which are contraindicated for children, pregnant women, elderly people, people with chronic diseases and allergy sufferers. Information valid as of May 2021.

You were assigned personal access to the attached document, your pass code: ohpfdpfjlqysasyl

Sent by American Medicine Publicity, 250 Willow Drive San Pablo, CA 94806,
info@cov19inf.com Unsubscribe

Malicious attachment distributed via URGENT INFORMATION ON COVID-19 VACCINATION email:

Malicious attachment distributed through URGENT INFORMATION ON COVID-19 VACCINATION email

Instant automatic malware removal: Manual threat removal might be a lengthy and complicated process that requires advanced IT 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:

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.

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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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