How to recognize malspam like "The list of the problem"

Also Known As: The list of the problem malspam campaign
Damage level: Severe

What kind of email is "The list of the problem"?

We have examined this email and found that cybercriminals use it to deliver malware. Their goal is to trick recipients into opening the attachment (a malicious file). We are not certain what malware threat actors behind this malspam campaign are distributing, but there is reason to believe it is Agent Tesla RAT.

The list of the problem malware-spreading email

More about the "The list of the problem" malspam campaign

The email claims that the file attached to it is a file that a person named "Richard Lee" has charged against the recipient. It urges to review that file to avoid "family problems". We have examined the attachment and found that it is an archive file named "From Richard.rar" (its name may vary) containing malware.

As we mentioned in the introduction, it is unknown what malware is distributed via this email. The file attached to this email may contain a malicious file designed to infect computers with Agent Tesla. This malware is a remote access Trojan that can record keystrokes and steal information from web browsers, VPN and FTP clients, and more.

Threat Summary:
Name The list of the problem malspam campaign
Threat Type Trojan, password-stealing virus, banking malware, spyware
Hoax Some has filed charges against the recipient
Attachment(s) From Richard.rar (its name may vary)
Detection Names (Malicious file) Avast (Win32:PWSX-gen [Trj]), Combo Cleaner (Gen:Variant.Lazy.182001), ESET-NOD32 (A Variant Of MSIL/GenKryptik.FUNF), Kaspersky (HEUR:Trojan-Spy.MSIL.Noon.gen), Microsoft (Trojan:MSIL/FormBook.ESM!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 Possibly the Agent Tesla RAT
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)

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Emails used to deliver malware in general

Emails of this kind are used to deliver cryptocurrency miners, RATs, ransomware, and other types of malware. Typically, they are disguised as official/important/urgent letters from legitimate companies, organizations, etc. Cybercriminals attempt to trick recipients into opening malicious attachments or links.

More examples of emails used to deliver malware are "DUY THANH EXPORT Email Virus", "DHL Air Waybill Email Virus", and "SECRETO PROFESIONAL Y CONFIDENCIAL Email Virus".

How did "The list of the problem" infect my computer?

The file attached to this email is an archive (RAR/.rar) file containing another malicious file (or multiple files). Malware infects a computer after executing a malicious file within the archive file. It is important to mention that cybercriminals can use other file types to distribute malware via email (e.g., MS Office, PDF documents, JavaScript files, executables).

How to avoid installation of malware?

Download files and software from official/legitimate websites. Do not use P2P networks, third-party downloaders, shady pages, etc., for downloading files/programs. Also, do not open links or attachments presented in irrelevant emails sent from unknown addresses. Keep the operating system (and installed software) up to date.

Update and activate the software with tools provided by its official developer. Never use cracking tools or cracked software. If you've already opened "The list of the problem" attachment, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows to automatically eliminate infiltrated malware.

Text presented in the "The list of the problem" email letter:

Subject: Confirm it

Dear Sir,

Please find attachment The list of the problem Mr. Richard Lee file against you  Don’t allow this to cost a family problem please

best regards
Mr. Johnson Red

Detection names for the malicious file used to distribute malware via this email:

Malicious file distributed through The list of the problem 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)

What are the biggest issues that malware can cause?

It depends on the type of malware. The most common problems are encryption of files, identity theft, monetary loss, hardware usage for cryptocurrency mining, and loss of access to personal accounts.

What is the purpose of a malware?

Most cybercriminals use malware to encrypt files (and demand ransom in return for decryption tools), steal credit card details, passwords (and) or other sensitive information, or mine cryptocurrency using the hardware installed on a computer.

How did a malware infiltrate my computer?

It is common for threat actors to use various phishing and social engineering techniques like malspam campaigns and fake system warning messages to trick users into executing malware. In other cases, malware infects computers via malicious drive-by downloads or files downloaded via Peer-to-peer (P2P) networks, cracked software download pages, and other unreliable sources.

Will Combo Cleaner protect me from malware?

Yes, Combo Cleaner can detect and eliminate almost all known malware. When computers are infected with high-end malware, they must be scanned using a full system scan. Otherwise, antivirus software will not be able to detect malware that hides deep in the operating system.

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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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