Aspiring Solicitors Debt Collection coming from random names and email addresses with a malicious word doc or Excel XLS spreadsheet attachment is another one from the current bot runs which try to download various Trojans and password stealers especially banking credential stealers, which may include cridex, dridex, dyreza and various Zbots, cryptolocker, ransomware and loads of other malware on your computer. They are using email addresses and subjects that will entice a user to read the email and open the attachment. A very high proportion are being targeted at small and medium size businesses, with the hope of getting a better response than they do from consumers.
All these emails come from random email addresses. The name of the alleged sender matches the name of the solicitor in the body of the email. The reference number matches the attachment name and number. The account numbers are all random. The clients are all banks but randomly selected. The owing amount and court fees all appear to be the same in every email received
Almost all of these also have a password stealing component, with the aim of stealing your bank, PayPal or other financial details along with your email or FTP ( web space) log in credentials. Many of them are also designed to specifically steal your Facebook and other social network log in details.
All the alleged senders, companies, names of employees and phone numbers mentioned in the emails are all innocent and are just picked at random. Some of these companies will exist and some won’t. Don’t try to respond by phone or email, all you will do is end up with an innocent person or company who have had their details spoofed and picked at random from a long list that the bad guys have previously found. The bad guys choose companies, Government departments and organisations with subjects that are designed to entice you or alarm you into blindly opening the attachment or clicking the link in the email to see what is happening.
Aspiring Solicitors ( if they do actually exist) has not been hacked or had their email or other servers compromised. They are not sending the emails to you. They are just innocent victims in exactly the same way as every recipient of these emails.
This email has what appears to be a genuine word doc or Excel XLS spreadsheet attached which is malformed and contains a macro script virus. Modern versions of Microsoft office, that is Office 2010 and 2013 and Office 365 have Macros disabled by default, UNLESS you or your company have enabled them. If protected view mode is turned off and macros are enabled then opening this malicious word document will infect you, and simply previewing it in windows explorer or your email client might well be enough to infect you.
Definitely DO NOT follow the advice they give to enable macros to see the content. Almost all of these malicious word documents appear to be blank when opened in protected view mode, which should be the default in Office 2010, 2013 and 365.
What Can Be Infected By This
At this time, these only affect windows computers. They do not affect a Mac, IPhone, Blackberry, Windows phone or Android phone. The malicious word or excel file can open on any system, and potentially the macro will run on windows or mac BUT the downloaded malware that the macro tries to download is windows specific, so will not harm or infect any other computer except a windows computer.
According to Dynamoo’s blog Attached is a file with a random numerical name (e.g. 802186031.doc) which is in fact a malicious XML file that appears to drop the Dridex banking trojan. Indication are that this can run even with macros disabled. Each attachment has a unique MD5. Analysis is currently pending, this appears to have several new techniques to avoid detection. According to this Twitter conversation one version attempts to download a binary from 22.214.171.124/smoozy/shake.exe although this is currently timing out for me.
IMPORTANT: if you have opened this document in Word then there is a good chance that you are infected. I would recommend that you shut down any machine that has opened this. Anti-virus detections are currently very poor, but vendors may have signature available soon, I would wait 24 hours before attempting to disinfect any infected machine. Dridex collects banking passwords, so it is important that machines are not used for financial transactions.
Please read our How to protect yourselves page for simple, sensible advice on how to avoid being infected by this sort of socially engineered malware. Also please read our post about word macro malware and how to avoid being infected by them
The email looks like:
Ref : 841693534
Date : 02.10.2014
Dear Sir, Madam
Re: Our Client National Westmenister Bank PLC
We are instructed by National Westmenister Bank PLC in relation to the above matter.
You are required to pay the balance of GBP 2,345.00 in full within 7(seven) days from the date of this email to avoid Country Court proceedings being issued against you. Once proceedings have been issued, you will be liable for court fees and solicitors costs detailed below.
Court Fees GBP 245.00
Solicitors Costs GBP 750.00
Cheques or Postal Orders should be made payable to National Westmenister Bank PLC and sent to the address in attachment below quoting the above account number.
We are instructed by our Client that they can accept payment by either Debit or Credit Card.If you wish to make a payment in this wa, then please contact us with your Card details. We will then pass these details on to our Client in order that they may process your agreed payment. Kindly note that any payment made will be shown on your Bank and/or Credit Card Statement as being made to National Westmenister Bank PLC
If you have any queries regarding this matter or have a genuine reason for non payment, you should contact us within 7 days from the date of this email to avoid legal proceedings being issued against you, by filling the contact us form in attachment below.
Department CCD, Box 449
Upper Ground Floor
1-5 Queens Road Quadrant
19 March 2015 : 841693534.doc Current Virus total detections: 0/56
So far I am only seeing 1 version of this malware, but previous campaigns over the last few weeks have delivered 2 or 3 different versions, some with word doc attachments and some with Excel xls attachments
Be very careful with email attachments. All of these emails use Social engineering tricks to persuade you to open the attachments that come with the email. Whether it is a message saying “look at this picture of me I took last night” and it appears to come from a friend or is more targeted at somebody who regularly is likely to receive PDF attachments or Word .doc attachments or any other common file that you use every day.
The basic rule is NEVER open any attachment to an email, unless you are expecting it. Now that is very easy to say but quite hard to put into practice, because we all get emails with files attached to them. Our friends and family love to send us pictures of them doing silly things, or even cute pictures of the children or pets.
Never just blindly click on the file in your email program. Always save the file to your downloads folder, so you can check it first. Most ( if not all) malicious files that are attached to emails will have a faked extension. That is the 3 letters at the end of the file name.
Unfortunately windows by default hides the file extensions so you need to Set your folder options to “show known file types. Then when you unzip the zip file that is supposed to contain the pictures of “Sally’s dog catching a ball” or a report in word document format that work has supposedly sent you to finish working on at the weekend, you can easily see if it is a picture or document & not a malicious program. If you see .EXE or .COM or .PIF or .SCR at the end of the file name DO NOT click on it or try to open it, it will infect you.
With these malformed infected word, excel and other office documents that normally contain a vba macro virus, the vital thing is do not open any office document direct from your email client or the web. Always save the document to a safe location on your computer, normally your downloads folder or your documents folder and scan it with your antivirus. Many Antiviruses do not natively detect vba macro-viruses in real time protection and you need to enable document or office protection in the settings.
Be aware that there are a lot of dodgy word docs spreading that WILL infect you with no action from you if you are still using an out dated or vulnerable version of word. This is a good reason to update your office programs to a recent version and stop using office 2003 and 2007. Many of us have continued to use older versions of word and other office programs, because they are convenient, have the functions and settings we are used to and have never seen a need to update to the latest super-duper version. The risks in using older version are now seriously starting to outweigh the convenience, benefits and cost of keeping an old version going.
I strongly urge you to update your office software to the latest version and stop putting yourself at risk, using old out of date software.
All modern versions of word and other office programs, that is 2010, 2013 and 365, should open all Microsoft office documents that is word docs, excel files and PowerPoint etc that are downloaded from the web or received in an email automatically in “protected view” that stops any embedded malware or macros from being displayed and running.
Make sure protected view is set in all office programs to protect you and your company from these sorts of attacks and do not over ride it to edit the document until you are 100% sure that it is a safe document. If the protected mode bar appears when opening the document DO NOT enable editing mode the document will look blank, but will be safe.