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How to recognize phishing scams like Microsoft 365 email scam?

Also Known As: possible malware infections
Damage level: Medium

What is Microsoft 365 email scam?

Phishing emails often contain a link to a website asking to provide personal/sensitive information. Usually, those websites ask to enter account login credentials, credit card details, social security numbers, and similar details. Scammers behind this phishing email attempt to lure recipients into providing Microsoft 365 account login credentials.

Microsoft 365 email scam

Microsoft 365 phishing email in detail

This phishing email claims that a recipient has a new voice message from Niagara Health (a Canadian multi-site hospital amalgamation). It encourages recipients to listen to that message by logging into the Microsoft 365 account via the attached file.

The file attached to this email is an HTML file designed to open a fake Microsoft 365 login page/form asking for an email address and a password. Scammers behind this page seek to steal Microsoft 365 account login credentials. They might try to use the provided credentials to access other accounts too.

Threat Summary:
Name Microsoft 365 Email Scam
Threat Type Phishing, Scam, Social Engineering, Fraud
Fake Claim Recipient has received a new voice message from Niagara Health
Disguise Letter from a Canadian multi-site hospital amalgamation
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, scammers behind phishing emails pretend to be legitimate institutions, companies, organizations, or other entities. Their goal is to lure unsuspecting recipients into providing information that could be misused to steal online accounts, identities, make fraudulent purchases, transactions, and for other purposes.

More examples of phishing emails are "FileShare Email Scam", "CTT Email Scam", "Host Europe Email Scam". It is important to know that email can be used as a channel to deliver malware.

How do spam campaigns infect computers?

Emails used to distribute malware often are disguised as letters from legitimate entities too. They contain a malicious attachment or website link. Recipients cause computer infections by opening a malicious file (usually, a MS Office document, PDF document, executable file, JavaScript file, contents of an archive file).

MS Office documents cannot infect computers until macros commands (editing/content) are enabled. Documents opened with a Microsoft Office version created before 2010 do not ask for permission to enable macros commands - they infect computers right after opening them.

How to avoid installation of malware?

Do not click links or open attachments in irrelevant emails sent from suspicious addresses. Download files and programs only from legitimate sources (official websites). Update and activate the installed software with tools provided by its official developer.

Keep the operating system up to date and scan it with a reputable antivirus program regularly. 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 Microsoft 365 phishing email:

Subject:  New Voice Message from Niagara Health

 

Office Audio mail™


Dear -,

You have a new voice message:
From:     Niagara Health (905) 378-4647
Received:     2021/11/24 7:24:10
To listen to this message: Open the attachment or click here.

Thank you for choosing Office Audio mail™


Legal|Service Terms
© 2021 Office365 Communications Inc.

Screenshot of a phishing website provided in this email:

microsoft 365 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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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:

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?

In most cases, these emails are not personal. Scammers send the same email to a lot of people hoping that someone will fall for it. Typically, such emails are disguised as letters from legitimate entities.

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

If you have provided login credentials on the fake Microsoft 365 login page or any phishing page, then change all passwords as soon as possible. It is also recommended to report such emails.

I have read the email but did not open the link, is my personal information safe?

Links and attachments in emails used to distribute malware are harmless until they are opened.

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

Yes, Combo Cleaner is capable of detecting and eliminating almost all known malicious software. It is recommended to scan the operating system using a full system since sophisticated malware can hide deep in the operating system (can use various techniques to avoid detection).

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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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