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Avoid having your email stolen via "Annual Salary Adjustment" fake email

Also Known As: Annual Salary Adjustment phishing email
Damage level: Medium

What kind of email is "Annual Salary Adjustment"?

After inspecting the "Annual Salary Adjustment" email, we determined that it is spam. This mail operates as a phishing scam. It aims to deceive recipients into disclosing their email log-in credentials by promoting a fake file-sharing website that requests this information for identity confirmation.

Annual Salary Adjustment email spam campaign

"Annual Salary Adjustment" email scam overview

The spam email is presented as a shared file notification. This scam message implies that two documents titled "Annual salary adjustment.pdf" and "Salary_Reviews.pdf" were shared with the recipient.

When the "Preview Documents" button is clicked, it results in a redirect to the phishing site. The fake page is disguised as the Quire file-sharing platform. This website states that because the user is about to access sensitive information - they must provide their email password for verification purposes.

With the log-in credentials in their possession, the scammers behind this spam campaign can steal the exposed email account. Furthermore, cyber criminals might be able to hijack the content registered through the email.

To elaborate on how this unauthorized access can be used: finance-related accounts (e.g., online banking, money transferring, e-commerce, etc.) can be used to make fraudulent transactions and/or online purchases. Scammers can use stolen communication accounts (e.g., emails, social media, messengers, etc.) to steal the owner's identity and ask their contact for loans or proliferate malware by sharing malicious files/links.

In summary, by trusting emails like "Annual Salary Adjustment" - users can experience system infections, severe privacy issues, financial losses, and identity theft.

If you have disclosed your log-in credentials to scammers - immediately change the passwords of all potentially exposed accounts and inform their official support.

Threat Summary:
Name Annual Salary Adjustment phishing email
Threat Type Phishing, Scam, Social Engineering, Fraud
Fake Claim Salary-related files were shared with the recipient.
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)

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Phishing spam campaign examples

We have analyzed thousands of spam emails; "Email Security Update Scam", "Your Wages Monthly Activity Statement", and "Authenticate Account" are merely a couple examples of those used for phishing.

These letters are used for various scams, and they are employed to proliferate malware (e.g., trojans, ransomware, etc.). Spam mail can appear legitimate, ordinary, and harmless; it can even be presented as messages from genuine companies, service providers, organizations, institutions, authorities, and other entities.

Due to how widespread spam mail is, we highly recommend exercising caution with incoming emails and other messages.

How do spam campaigns infect computers?

Spam campaigns proliferate malware by distributing infectious files. The files can be attached to or linked inside the emails. Virulent files can be archives (ZIP, RAR, etc.), executables (.exe, .run, etc.), Microsoft Office and PDF documents, JavaScript, and so on.

Once such a file is executed, run, or otherwise opened - malware download/installation processes are initiated. For example, Microsoft Office documents infect systems by executing malicious macro commands.

How to avoid installation of malware?

We strongly advise against opening the attachments and links found in suspect/irrelevant emails and messages - as they can be malicious and cause system infections. Another recommendation is to use post-2010 Microsoft Office versions since they have the "Protected View" mode that prevents automatic execution of macros.

It must be mentioned that malware is not spread only through spam mail. Therefore, we also advise downloading from official/verified sources and activating/updating programs using legitimate functions/tools. It is just as important to be cautious when browsing since fraudulent and malicious online content typically appears legitimate and innocuous.

We must stress that having a dependable anti-virus installed and kept up-to-date is paramount to device and user safety. Security software must be used to run regular system scans and to remove threats. 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 "Annual Salary Adjustment" email letter:

Subject: ******** Salary_Reviews.pdf


********     
Annual salary adjustment.pdf    897.3 KB
Salary_Reviews.pdf     0.75 MB


Preview Documents


******** uses ShareFile to share documents securely. Learn More.

Screenshot of the phishing website promoted by the "Annual Salary Adjustment" spam campaign:

Annual Salary Adjustment scam email promoted phishing site

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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?

Spam emails are not personal; cyber criminals distribute these letters by the thousand with the hopes that at least some recipients will fall for their scams.

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

If you have disclosed account log-in credentials - change the passwords of all possibly exposed accounts and inform their official support without delay. And if you've provided other private information (e.g., ID card details, credit card numbers, etc.) - immediately contact the appropriate authorities.

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

No, opening/reading an email is harmless. Devices are infected when the attachments or links found in spam mail are opened/clicked.

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

Whether your system was infected may depend on the opened file's format. When opened, executables (.exe, .run, etc.) - infect devices almost without fail. While document formats (.doc, .xls, .pdf, etc.) might require additional interactions (e.g., enabling macro commands) to start downloading/installing malicious software.

Will Combo Cleaner remove malware infections present in email attachments?

Yes, Combo Cleaner is capable of detecting and eliminating nearly all known malware infections. It is noteworthy that sophisticated malicious programs usually hide deep within systems - therefore, performing a complete system scan is essential.

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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.

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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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