How to recognize malicious emails like the fraudulent BBB email?

Also Known As: BBB spam
Damage level: Severe

What is BBB email virus?

Cybercriminals behind this email attempt to trick recipients into believing that they have received an email from a nonprofit organization called Better Business Bureau (BBB) and opening a malicious attachment. The file attached to it is used to distribute Dridex banking malware.

BBB email virus malware-spreading email

BBB email virus in detail

The Better Business Bureau is a legitimate organization helping people identify scams. This email is disguised as one of the weekly Better Business Bureau scam alerts. Threat actors use it to trick recipients into opening the attached Microsoft Excel document that is supposed to contain information about a holiday survey scam.

Once permission to enable macros commands in that Excel document is granted, it infects a computer with Dridex. This malware steals banking credentials from infected Windows computers. It does that by logging keystrokes (keys pressed with a keyboard). Also, Dridex can execute remote commands and modify the execution/behavior of installed programs.

Threat Summary:
Name BBB spam
Threat Type Trojan, password-stealing virus, banking malware, spyware.
Hoax The email claims that the file attached to it contains information about a certain scam.
Attachment(s) Threats Survey 00557.xlsb (its name may vary)
Detection Names Ad-aware (Trojan.GenericKD.47515193), Combo Cleaner (Trojan.GenericKD.47515193), ESET-NOD32 (DOC/Agent.HR), Kaspersky (HEUR:Trojan.Script.Generic), Microsoft (TrojanDownloader:O97M/Dridex.RL!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 Dridex
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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Malicious emails in general

Emails containing malicious attachments or links are disguised as letters from legitimate companies, organizations, or other entities. The purpose of these emails is to trick recipients into executing malware. More examples of emails used to deliver malware are "BBVA Bank Email Virus", "Craiglist Email Virus", "Google Pay Email Virus".

How did BBB email virus infect my computer?

The file attached to this email (it can be named "Holiday Survey Fraud 996188331.xslb", "Threats Survey 00557.xlsb", or similarly) does not infect computers with Dridex malware until users enable macros commands (editing/content) in it. However, if this document is opened with MS Office released before 2010, it does not ask for permission to enable macros commands to inject malware.

How to avoid installation of malware?

Do not open files and links in irrelevant emails received from suspicious or unknown addresses. There is a high chance that those emails are going to be malicious/used to deliver malware. Also, avoid opening downloading files or programs from unofficial pages or similar sources. Use only official pages for that.

Activate and update installed programs with tools provided by their official developers. Have a reputable antivirus program installed on a computer, keep it up to date, and run scans with it regularly. If you've already opened "BBB email virus" attachment, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows to automatically eliminate infiltrated malware.

Text presented in the fraudulent BBB email letter:

Subject: Don't Fall for This Holiday Survey Fraud

Don't Fall for This Holiday Survey Scam

Scoring a great deal on Black Friday as well as Cyber Monday is exciting. Unfortunately, con artists are using that same feeling of excitement to lure shoppers into scams. These text messages and fake Black Friday and Cyber Monday surveys can steal valuable information from unsuspecting victims.

Please read attentively attached tips to protect your business from treats.

Common threads and scam cases are presented in attach with examples and details. As well as counter measures against fraid attacks.

International Association of Better Business Bureaus | 4250 North Fairfax Drive, Arlington, VA 22203

Holiday Survey Fraud 996188331

Malicious attachment distributed via BBB malspam campaign:

Malicious MS Excel document distributed through BBB email

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Quick menu:

Types of malicious emails:

Phishing email icon Phishing Emails

Most commonly, cybercriminals use deceptive emails to trick Internet users into giving away their sensitive private information, for example, login information for various online services, email accounts, or online banking information.

Such attacks are called phishing. In a phishing attack, cybercriminals usually send an email message with some popular service logo (for example, Microsoft, DHL, Amazon, Netflix), create urgency (wrong shipping address, expired password, etc.), and place a link which they hope their potential victims will click on.

After clicking the link presented in such email message, victims are redirected to a fake website that looks identical or extremely similar to the original one. Victims are then asked to enter their password, credit card details, or some other information that gets stolen by cybercriminals.

Email-virus icon Emails with Malicious Attachments

Another popular attack vector is email spam with malicious attachments that infect users' computers with malware. Malicious attachments usually carry trojans that are capable of stealing passwords, banking information, and other sensitive information.

In such attacks, cybercriminals' main goal is to trick their potential victims into opening an infected email attachment. To achieve this goal, email messages usually talk about recently received invoices, faxes, or voice messages.

If a potential victim falls for the lure and opens the attachment, their computers get infected, and cybercriminals can collect a lot of sensitive information.

While it's a more complicated method to steal personal information (spam filters and antivirus programs usually detect such attempts), if successful, cybercriminals can get a much wider array of data and can collect information for a long period of time.

Sextortion email icon Sextortion Emails

This is a type of phishing. In this case, users receive an email claiming that a cybercriminal could access the webcam of the potential victim and has a video recording of one's masturbation.

To get rid of the video, victims are asked to pay a ransom (usually using Bitcoin or another cryptocurrency). Nevertheless, all of these claims are false - users who receive such emails should ignore and delete them.

How to spot a malicious email?

While cyber criminals try to make their lure emails look trustworthy, here are some things that you should look for when trying to spot a phishing email:

  • Check the sender's ("from") email address: Hover your mouse over the "from" address and check if it's legitimate. For example, if you received an email from Microsoft, be sure to check if the email address is @microsoft.com and not something suspicious like @m1crosoft.com, @microsfot.com, @account-security-noreply.com, etc.
  • Check for generic greetings: If the greeting in the email is "Dear user", "Dear @youremail.com", "Dear valued customer", this should raise suspiciousness. Most commonly, companies call you by your name. Lack of this information could signal a phishing attempt.
  • Check the links in the email: Hover your mouse over the link presented in the email, if the link that appears seems suspicious, don't click it. For example, if you received an email from Microsoft and the link in the email shows that it will go to firebasestorage.googleapis.com/v0... you shouldn't trust it. It's best not to click any links in the emails but to visit the company website that sent you the email in the first place.
  • Don't blindly trust email attachments: Most commonly, legitimate companies will ask you to log in to their website and to view any documents there; if you received an email with an attachment, it's a good idea to scan it with an antivirus application. Infected email attachments are a common attack vector used by cybercriminals.

To minimise the risk of opening phishing and malicious emails we recommend using Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows

Example of a spam email:

Example of an email spam

What to do if you fell for an email scam?

  • If you clicked on a link in a phishing email and entered your password - be sure to change your password as soon as possible. Usually, cybercriminals collect stolen credentials and then sell them to other groups that use them for malicious purposes. If you change your password in a timely manner, there's a chance that criminals won't have enough time to do any damage.
  • If you entered your credit card information - contact your bank as soon as possible and explain the situation. There's a good chance that you will need to cancel your compromised credit card and get a new one.
  • If you see any signs of identity theft - you should immediately contact the Federal Trade Commission. This institution will collect information about your situation and create a personal recovery plan.
  • If you opened a malicious attachment - your computer is probably infected, you should scan it with a reputable antivirus application. For this purpose, we recommend using Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows.
  • Help other Internet users - report phishing emails to Anti-Phishing Working Group, FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, National Fraud Information Center and U.S. Department of Justice.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Why did I receive this email?

Cybercriminals behind emails of this type send the exact same letter to all people in their list. These emails are never personal.

I have downloaded and opened a file attached to this email, is my computer infected?

The file attached to this email is a Microsoft Excel document. It cannot infect a computer with Dridex (or any other malware) until macros commands are enabled (editing/content is enabled). If you have opened the attachment and allowed it to enable macros commands, your computer is already infected.

I have read the email but did not open the attachment, is my computer infected?

If the file used to distribute malware has not been opened, then a computer is also not infected. Malicious files cannot infect computers without being opened/executed.

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

Yes, Combo Cleaner can detect and eliminate almost all known malware infections. It is important to know that high-end malware can hide deep in the system. Therefore, it is recommended to scan the system using a full 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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