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How to recognize phishing scams like Sparkasse email scam?

Also Known As: possible malware infections
Damage level: Medium

What is Sparkasse email scam?

The purpose of this phishing email is to trick recipients into opening a fake website and providing their login credentials. It is disguised as a letter from Sparkasse's (German savings bank's) finance department. This email must be ignored.

Sparkasse email scam

Sparkasse email scam in detail

This email claims that the savings bank will be implementing a new security procedure called S-CERT for their customers in the near future. It encourages recipients to click the "Zustimmen" hyperlink to read more about the reform. That link opens a fake Sparkasse website.

Scammers behind this phishing email seek to obtain login credentials used to access Sparkasse online banking accounts. It is possible that provided information could be used to steal accounts and make fraudulent transactions. Also, scammers may sell obtained information to third parties.

Threat Summary:
Name Sparkasse Email Scam
Threat Type Phishing, Scam, Social Engineering, Fraud
Fake Claim Sparkasse savings bank will implement new security measures
Related Domain spk-datensicherung[.]com
Detection Names (spk-datensicherung[.]com) Fortinet (Spam), Full List Of Detections (VirusTotal)
Disguise Letter from the Sparkasse's finance department
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)

To eliminate possible malware infections, scan your computer with legitimate antivirus software. Our security researchers recommend using Combo Cleaner.
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Phishing emails in general

As a rule, phishing emails are disguised as official, important letters from existing companies, institutions or other entities. The purpose of these emails is to trick recipients into providing sensitive information.

More examples of phishing emails are "Office 365 Email Scam", "New Mail Server System 4.0 Email Scam", and "ING Bank Email Scam". It is important to know that emails can be used to deliver malware (for example, ransomware).

How do spam campaigns infect computers?

Cybercriminals can use email letters to distribute malware by including malicious attachments or website links in them. Their goal is to trick recipients into downloading and opening a file designed to infect computers with malware.

It is important to mention that malicious documents opened with Microsoft Office 2010 and later do not infect computers unless users enable editing/content (macros commands). Although, documents opened with older MS Office versions do not ask for permission to enable macros commands so they could inject malware.

How to avoid installation of malware?

Do not trust irrelevant emails received from unknown addresses. More importantly, do not open links or files in those emails. It is very common for emails of this kind to be used for malware distribution. Furthermore, download files, programs from official pages and avoid using other sources.

Update and activate installed software with tools provided by its official developer. Have a reputable antivirus program installed on the operating system and run scans with it on a regular basis.

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 Sparkasse email scam (written in German):

Subject: Wir andern unsere Verfahren

Sparkasse
 
Zeitnahe Anderung unserer Sicherheitsverfahren
Sehr geehrte Kunden,

Wir mussen Sie daruber informieren, dass wir in naher Zukunft ein neues Sicherheitsverfahren fur unsere Kunden implementieren werden. Durch das neue Verfahren names S-CERT werden Ihre vertraulichen Daten noch besser verschlusselt und sind somit noch mehr gesichert. Durch eine neue Reform mussen wir Sie auf unser neues System hinweisen. Damit Sie sich mit unserem neuen System vertraut machen, bitten wir Sie, sich uber den untenstehenden Link uber die Neuerungen zu informieren. Loggen Sie sich ohne Probleme uber den Button ein.
Zustimmen

Wir entschuldigen uns fur die Unannehmlichkeiten

Mit freundlichem Gru?e
Ihre Sparkasse

2021- Sparkasse Finanzabteilung

Appearance of the fake Sparkasse website used to steal login credentials (GIF):

sparkasse email scam phishing website

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:

Malware process running in the Task Manager

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:

Autoruns application appearance

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.

Run Windows 7 or Windows XP in 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.

Run Windows 8 in 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.

Run Windows 10 in 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 archive and run Autoruns.exe application

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.

Refresh Autoruns application results

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".

Delete malware in Autoruns

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.

Search for malware and delete it

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?

Usually, scammers behind phishing emails do not target anyone in particular. They send the same letter to thousands of people hoping that someone will fall for their scam (for example, provide personal information, transfer money).

I have provided my personal information when tricked by this email, what should I do?

Victims who have provided login credentials should change all passwords as soon as possible. Victims who have provided other personal information like credit card details, ID card information should contact corresponding authorities.

I have downloaded and opened a file attached to an email received from cybercriminals, is my computer infected?

If the file attached to an email was executable,  then a computer is probably infected. In other cases, malicious files cannot infect computers unless users perform certain actions. For example, malicious MS Office documents do not infect computers unless users enable macros commands in them.

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

No, opening an email by itself is completely harmless. Recipients infect computers by clicking on website links or opening malicious attachments.

Will Combo Cleaner remove malware infections that were present in email attachment?

Yes, Combo Cleaner is capable of detecting and eliminating almost all known malware infections. It is common that high-end malware hides deep in the system. Therefore, it is recommended to run a full system scan.

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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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