How to avoid installation of FormBook malware delivered via email?

Also Known As: FormBook malware
Type: Trojan
Damage level: Severe

What is email virus?

As a rule, emails used to deliver malware are disguised as important, official letters from legitimate companies, organizations, or other entities. The main purpose of these emails is to trick recipients into opening a malicious attachment or a file downloaded via the provided website link. By opening that file, users infect their computers with malware.

US$51,000.00 had been transferred into your account email virus

US$51,000.00 had been transferred into your account email virus in detail

Cybercriminals use various tactics to trick recipients into downloading and opening malicious files. In this particular case, they claim that $51,000.00 has been transferred to the recipient's bank account on 16th August 2021 (the date may be different in other variants of this email). The main purpose of this email is to trick a recipient into opening the attached file.

The file attached to this email is a malicious Microsoft Excel document named "02252160821.xlsx" (its name may vary in other variants of this email). This malicious document is designed to install FormBook malware. It installs FormBook when users enable editing (macros commands) in it.

FormBook is designed to steal sensitive information from web browsers and other installer programs. It is known that this malware targets login credentials (usernames, email addresses, passwords), credit card details, browsing history, cookies. Also, FormBook can log keystrokes - it can record keyboard input.

Furthermore, FormBook can infect computers with additional malware. Cybercriminals behind this malware can install ransomware, Trojans, cryptocurrency miners, and other malicious software on infected computers. To sum up, cybercriminals use FormBook to steal sensitive information and distribute other malicious software.

Threat Summary:
Name FormBook malware
Threat Type Trojan, password-stealing virus, banking malware, spyware.
Hoax $51,000.00 has been transferred to a recipient's bank account
Attachment(s) 02252160821.xlsx (its name may vary)
Detection Names Avast (OLE:CVE-2017-11882-B [Expl]), Combo Cleaner (Exploit.CVE-2017-11882.Gen), ESET-NOD32 (Probably A Variant Of Win32/Exploit.CVE-2017-11882.C), Kaspersky (UDS:DangerousObject.Multi.Generic), Microsoft (Exploit:O97M/CVE-2017-11882.BKQO!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 FormBook
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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In order to make emails used to deliver malware look trustworthy, cybercriminals use real logos, addresses, names, surnames, and so on. As a rule, users infect computers by opening a received malicious file or through the provided link. More examples of malicious emails are "The Best Price List", "Order Loading Information", and "Zoom Conference Invitation".

How did US$51,000.00 had been transferred into your account email virus infect my computer?

Usually, cybercriminals claim that files attached to their emails are invoices, bank statements, purchase orders, or other supposedly official, important documents. Recipients install malicious software via emails when they open malicious attachments or file downloaded via website links.

In this case, recipients would install FormBook after opening the attached malicious Excel document and enabling editing (macros commands) in it. It is important to mention that malicious documents opened with Microsoft Office released prior to 2010 do not ask for permission to enable macros commands - they install malware automatically.

A couple of examples of other files that cybercriminals can use to deliver malware via emails are Microsoft Word documents, PDF documents, archive files like ZIP, RAR, executable files like EXE), JavaScript files. Users install malware through archive files by executing extracted malicious files.

How to avoid installation of malware?

Installed programs have to be updated and activated with functions and (or) tools designed/provided by their developers. It is important not to use third-party, unofficial tools for that - very often, those tools are malicious/used to distribute malware. Also, it is not legal to activate legitimate programs with cracking tools.

Files attached to irrelevant emails received from unknown, suspicious addresses should not be opened unless there is no doubt that it is safe. The same applies to website links in received emails. It is common that cybercriminals disguise their emails as legitimate letters and use website links or attachments to trick recipients into installing malware.

Programs (and files) should be downloaded from official, trustworthy websites. It is not safe to use other channels, sources. Virus scans should be performed regularly, and it should be achieved using a reputable antivirus or anti-spyware software. If you've already opened the US$51,000.00 had been transferred into your account email attachment, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows to automatically eliminate infiltrated malware.

Text presented in the "US$51,000.00 had been transferred into your account email virus" email letter:


Dear Sir/Madam
We are pleased to inform you that US$51,000.00 had been transferred into your account on 16/08/2021 13:52:06 P.M.

Kindly find an attached file is payment advice.

Thanks and best regards

Siti Sumarni Muhamad

Equipment Control & DND Collection
RCL Agencies (M) Sdn Bhd

Tel: 0333422722

Faridah Mohd Yatim - faridah.yatim@rclgroup.com 019 2652773
Ahmad Usni - ahmjam@rclgroup.com - 0126067537
Arif Sazywan  - arif@rclgroup.com - 016-3390171
Siti Sumarni  - siti.sumarni@rclgroup.com 012-3128939

Group email:  eqcrclpkg@rclgroup.com

Malicious attachment distributed via US$51,000.00 had been transferred into your account email letter:

Malicious attachment distributed through US$51,000.00 had been transferred into your account email virus campaign

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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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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