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Ignore the stopped processing incoming emails and PDF attachments scam

Also Known As: possible malware infections
Damage level: Medium

What is Stopped processing incoming emails and PDF attachments scam?

Typically, scammers behind phishing emails pretend to be legitimate companies, organizations, or other entities. Their main goal is to trick recipients into providing personal information directly via email or through a deceptive website. Scammers use phishing emails to extract credit card details, passwords, or other sensitive information.

Stopped processing incoming emails and PDF attachments phishing campaign

Stopped processing incoming emails and PDF attachments scam in detail

This phishing email is disguised as a final notice letter from Microsoft regarding a problem with incoming emails and attachments. Scammers behind this email attempt to trick recipients into believing that Microsoft has stopped processing incoming emails and files attached to them (PDF documents).

In order to avoid losing incoming emails, recipients are encouraged to update their Microsoft account via the provided "Update New Version" link. The provided link opens a fake Microsoft website asking to log in to Microsoft accounts using an email address, phone number, Skype name, and password.

Scammers behind this phishing campaign try to extract login credentials for Microsoft accounts from unsuspecting users. It is likely that they seek to use stolen accounts to access personal documents or other files stored on OneDrive, trick other users into sharing sensitive information, send phishing emails, etc.

Also, scammers may try to use stolen credentials to access other accounts (e.g., social media, email accounts). If succeeded, they may use accessed accounts to make fraudulent purchases, transactions, deliver malware, steal identities, and so on. Although, it concerns mainly users who use the same login credentials for multiple accounts.

Threat Summary:
Name Stopped processing incoming emails and PDF attachments scam
Threat Type Phishing, Scam, Social Engineering, Fraud
Fake Claim Microsoft has stopped processing incoming emails
Disguise Letter from the Microsoft company
Symptoms Unauthorized online purchases, changed online account passwords, identity theft, illegal access of the computer.
Distribution methods Deceptive emails, rogue online pop-up ads, search engine poisoning techniques, misspelled domains.
Damage Loss of sensitive private information, monetary loss, identity theft.
Malware Removal (Windows)

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Phishing emails in general

In conclusion, scammers behind phishing emails attempt to extract personal information. Typically, they disguise their emails as official, important letters from legitimate entities. More examples of phishing emails are "Mail Delivery Failure", "Novo Banco" and "CMA CGM". It is important to mention that emails can be used to deliver malware too.

How do spam campaigns infect computers?

Usually, emails that cybercriminals send with the purpose to distribute malware contain malicious files (attachments) or website links. Recipients infect their computers when they execute (open) a downloaded malicious file, for example, Microsoft Office, PDF documents, executable files, archive files, JavaScript files.

It is worthwhile to mention that not all malicious files that cybercriminals send via email install malware once they are opened. For example, malicious documents opened with MS Office 2010 and newer versions do not install malware unless users enable macros commands (editing/content) in them.

Although, malicious documents opened with older MS Office versions do not need permission to enable macros to install malicious software - they infect computers automatically. It is because older versions do not include the "Protected View" mode which prevents malicious documents from installing malware.

How to avoid installation of malware?

Irrelevant emails received from unknown senders and containing attachments or website links should be ignored. It is common that emails of this kind are disguised as important letters and contain malicious files, links. Also, files and programs should be downloaded only from official websites (and via direct links).

It is common that other sources (third-party downloaders, installers, unofficial pages) are used as tools to trick users into downloading (and then opening) malicious files. Furthermore, installed software has to be activated and updated with tools (or functions) provided by its official developer.

It is never safe to use third-party updaters or cracking tools to update or activate software - they often have malware hidden in them. Besides, it is not legal to use cracking tools (or installers for pirated software) to avoid paying for legitimate/licensed programs.

And finally, the operating system should be scanned with a reputable antivirus or anti-spyware software. It is advisable to do it regularly and keep the installed security suite up to date. If you've already opened malicious attachments, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows to automatically eliminate infiltrated malware.

Text presented in the Stopped processing incoming emails and PDF attachments phishing email:

Subject:  MAIL VALIDATION ALERT IN PROGRESS

Microsoft

This is to notify you for the final time  that we have stopped processing incoming emails and PDF attachments on your account.

To cover new Microsoft products, services and features. Update below to avoid losing your mails.

Update New Version

This email was sent from an unmonitored mailbox.
Privacy Statement

Microsoft Corporation, O‍ne Mi‍crosoft Wa‍y, Redm‍ond, WA 98052 U‍SA

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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.

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