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Avoid infecting your device with malware via "INTERLINK" scam emails

Also Known As: Agent Tesla RAT
Type: Trojan
Damage level: Severe

What is "INTERLINK email virus"?

"INTERLINK email virus" refers to a malware-distributing spam campaign. These spam emails request recipients to review the attached PO (Purchase Order). However, instead of containing the stated information, the attachment triggers Agent Tesla malware's download/installation - once opened.

INTERLINK malware-spreading email spam campaign

"INTERLINK" scam email overview

The fake "INTERLINK" emails ask recipients to review the attached document immediately, since there was a delay due to supposedly undelivered letters from a different email. As mentioned in the introduction, these emails are scams, and when the attachment is opened - a system infection is initiated.

Agent Tesla malware functionalities

Agent Tesla is classified as a RAT (Remote Access Trojan). Malicious software within this classification operates by enabling remote access and control over infected machines. These trojans typically have a broad range of harmful functionalities.

Agent Tesla can perform various commands, yet its primary functionality is stealing data. This trojan can record keystrokes (keylogging) and exfiltrate data from certain browsers, download manners, as well as email, messaging, VPN, and FTP clients. Information of interest includes: personally identifiable details, online account usernames/passwords, finance data (e.g., banking account and credit card numbers), etc.

To summarize, Agent Tesla infections can result in severe privacy issues, financial losses, and identity theft. Therefore, it is strongly advised to use an anti-virus to remove the malware without delay.

Threat Summary:
Name Agent Tesla RAT
Threat Type Trojan, password-stealing virus, banking malware, spyware.
Hoax Scam emails request recipients to review the attached PO document.
Attachment(s) SMK_103.zip (filename may vary)
Detection Names Avast (Win32:PWSX-gen [Trj]), Combo Cleaner (Trojan.GenericKD.37505035), ESET-NOD32 (A Variant Of MSIL/Kryptik.ACQA), Kaspersky (HEUR:Trojan-Spy.MSIL.Noon.gen), Microsoft (Trojan:MSIL/AgentTesla.CQH!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 Agent Tesla
Rogue Process Name AppInForm (process name may vary)
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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Spam campaigns in general

"Erweka Email Virus", "The Best Price List", "Baldur Email Virus", "Assurance Certificates", "Interhydro Email Virus", "Order Loading Information", "EniGaseLuce Email Virus", and "Taxve Inc. Email Virus" are some examples of malware-spreading spam campaigns.

The deceptive emails are typically disguised as "official", "urgent", "important", and similar. Distributing malicious software is not the sole use of spam letters, they are also used for phishing and other scams. Due to how widespread spam mail is, it is important to exercise caution with incoming emails and messages.

How did "INTERLINK email virus" infect my computer?

Systems are infected via virulent files attached to or linked inside the spam emails. These files can be in various formats, e.g., archives, executables, Microsoft Office and PDF documents, JavaScript, etc. When the files are opened - the infection process is triggered.

For example, Microsoft Office documents infect systems by executing malicious macro commands. This process occurs when a document is opened in Microsoft Office versions released before 2010. Newer versions have "Protected View" mode that stops this process; instead, users can manually enable editing/content (i.e., macro commands).

How to avoid installation of malware?

Suspicious and irrelevant emails should not be opened, especially any attachments or links found in them - as they may contain malware. It is recommended to use Microsoft Office versions released after 2010.

Aside from spam mail, malware is also spread via dubious download channels (e.g., unofficial and freeware sites, Peer-to-Peer sharing networks, etc.), illegal activation tools ("cracks"), and fake updates. Therefore, it is advised to only download from official/verified sources and activate/update programs with tools provided by genuine developers.

It is paramount to have a dependable anti-virus installed and kept updated. This software has to be used to run regular system scans and to remove threats. If you've already opened "INTERLINK email virus" attachment, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows to automatically eliminate infiltrated malware.

Text presented in the "INTERLINK" scam email letter:

Subject: RE: RFQ SMK#9611-30082020 -

 

Greetings info

 

I have been sending messages with my other email with no response from you.

 

Please kindly confirm asap the attached PO can be quoted accordingly.

 

Waiting for your clarification.

 

Nathanael Low

 

Sales Department

 

INTERLINK
Partnership to SUCCESS
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

SIEW WENG ENGINEERING PTE LTD

 

Tel : (852)2111-3144

 

Fax: (852)2302-1859

 

Address: Suite 2211-2212A, 22/F.,

 

Prudential Tower, The Gateway,

 

Harbour City, No. 21 Canton Road,

 

Tsim Sha Tsui, China

Appearance of the "INTERLINK" scam email (GIF):

INTERLINK scam email appearance (GIF)

Screenshot of VirusTotal detections of the malicious attachment distributed via "INTERLINK" spam campaign:

INTERLINK email virus attachment detections

Screenshot of the malicious process on Windows Task Manager ("AppInForm" process name):

INTERLINK email virus process on Task Manager (AppInForm - 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:
▼ DOWNLOAD Combo Cleaner By downloading any software listed on this website you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. To use full-featured product, you have to purchase a license for Combo Cleaner. 7 days free trial available. Combo Cleaner is owned and operated by Rcs Lt, the parent company of PCRisk.com read more.

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.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Why did I receive this email?

Cyber criminals distribute spam emails by the thousand. These letters aim is to trick recipients, they are not personal.

I have read the "INTERLINK" spam email but didn't open the attachment, is my computer infected?

No, if you have not opened the file attached to the "INTERLINK" spam email - your system was not infected

I have downloaded and opened the file attached to the "INTERLINK" spam email, is my computer infected?

If you have downloaded the archive attachment and opened the file contained within - then, yes, your system is most likely infected. Executable files infect systems the moment they are opened. Document format files (e.g., .pdf, .doc, etc.) may require additional actions to initiate malware download/installation.

My computer is infected with Agent Tesla malware, should I format my storage device to get rid of it?

No, Agent Tesla malware can be removed without formatting.

What are the biggest issues that malware can cause?

The issues caused by malware depend on its functionalities and the cyber criminals' modus operandi. In general, a system infection may result in multiple system infections, system failure, hardware damage, data loss, severe privacy issues, financial losses, identity theft, and other serious problems.

What is the purpose of malware?

Malicious software is usually used to generate revenue. Other possible reasons cyber criminals may have to proliferate malware include: amusement, personal motivations regarding the victim(s), specific process interruption (e.g., website, service, company, etc.), political or geopolitical attacks, etc.

Will Combo Cleaner remove malware infections present in email attachments?

Yes, Combo Cleaner can detect and eliminate almost all known malware infections. Note that sophisticated malware tends to hide deep within the system; therefore, performing a full system scan is a must.

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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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