An email with the subject of  Fwd:Bill to Grant Morgan.  coming from random 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 Trojans like Dridex or Dyreza and ransomware like cryptolocker or Teslacrypt.

They are using email addresses and subjects that will scare or 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.

I have only seen 1 copy of this so far, but previous ones used random senders, where the name of the alleged senders matched the name in the body of the email

Update: we are now seeing them coming in thick and fast. The subjects vary;  including invoice, bill,  payment and other variations. Some are bill from xxx , some are bill to xxxx. To make it even harder to block in spam filters, all of today’s examples seem to be coming from the email address in the from line. Several I have seen have genuine & valid  SPF and DKIM authentication, which bypasses a lot of spam checks. so that suggests compromised email accounts where a previous malware or phishing attempt has given the bad actors access to numerous email accounts. In previous malspam runs from Dridex, we have seen the majority of the malspam emails sent from either a few  compromised servers or servers set up specifically by the bad actors to spread the malware, and the from email address was spoofed completely.

The email looks like:

From: Grant Morgan <>

Date: Tue 26/01/2016 05:25

Subject: Fwd:Bill to Grant Morgan.

Attachment: 20MEPRZ8WBE.doc

Body content:


Please check the report attached. In order to avoid fine for delay you need to pay within 48 hours. 

Best regards

Grant Morgan


Good morning. 

Please see the invoice in attachment. In order to avoid penalty for delay you should pay in 24 hours. 


Barrett Watkins


Screenshot: None


26 January 2016 : 20MEPRZ8WBE.doc         Current Virus total detections: I am waiting for the automatic analysers to churn through and get a download location of what will almost certainly turn out to be Dridex banking malware, but might just be a ransomware variant like teslacrypt instead

Hybrid Analysis eventually gave me 209743.exe ( VirusTotal)  downloaded from This is a devious method where if the referral does not come directly from the malicious macro, and you attempt to connect directly to the malware site, you get given an image file. Today’s file is imgwp.jpg which is very large for a small jpg 191kb  ( VirusTotal) and possibly even contains the malware embedded inside the image. For safety reasons I have taken a screenshot of the image, rather than displaying the original from the website

Update: unless we have all got it horribly wrong, it definitely looks like the jpg does contain the embedded Dridex binary. The hundreds of lines in the macro does the decoding and eventually gives the innocent victim the Dridex banking Trojan. The image is now being detected by several antivirus companies as TROJ_EXEMBED.JPG  or DR/FakePic.Gen


The bad actors behind this campaign are using a new macro style which is long and even more complicated than previous ones. It really is a cat & mouse game between the security researchers and companies and the criminals running these malspam campaigns. A copy of the macro is posted HERE

Edit: it looks like this is a rerun of a campaign from about 2 weeks ago, which slipped under the radar a bit because it didn’t continue

So far I have only examined  1 version of this malware, but previous campaigns over the last few weeks have delivered 5 or 6 and quite often up to 10 or 12  different versions, some with word doc attachments and some with Excel xls attachments. There are frequently 5 or 6 download locations all delivering exactly the same malware.

All the alleged senders, companies, names of employees, phone numbers, amounts, reference numbers etc. 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 other 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.

None of the names in the body of the email has 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. The email address listed in the FROM: is a genuine email address that is either compromised and the genuine owner does not know it is compromised and sending malspam, or they are genuine email addresses set up by the bad actors on random ISPs and email servers to perform these campaigns. My gut feeling is compromised accounts from previous malware infections or phishing.

This email attachment contains what appears to be a genuine word doc or Excel XLS spreadsheet with either a macro script or  an embedded OLE object that when run will infect you.

Modern versions of Microsoft office, that is Office 2010, 2013, 2016 and Office 365 should be automatically set to higher security to protect you.

By default protected view is enabled and  macros are disabled, 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 or enable editing to see the content.

Most of these malicious word documents either appear to be totally blank or look something like these images when opened in protected view mode, which should be the default in Office 2010, 2013, 2016  and 365.  Some versions pretend to have a digital RSA key and say you need to enable editing and Macros to see the content.  Do NOT enable Macros or editing under any circumstances


What can be infected by this
At this time, these only infect windows computers. They do not affect a Mac, IPhone, IPad, Blackberry, Windows phone or Android phone. The malicious word or excel file can open on any device with an office program installed, and potentially the macro will run on Windows or Mac or any other device with Microsoft Office installed. BUT the downloaded malware that the macro tries to download is windows specific, so will not harm, install or infect any other computer except a windows computer. You will not be infected if you do not have macros enabled in Excel or Word. These Macros do not run in Open Office, Libre Office, Word Perfect or any other office program that can read Word or Excel files. 

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

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. It might be a simple message saying “look at this picture of me I took last night” that appears to come from a friend. It might be a scare ware message that will make you open the attachment to see what you are accused of doing. Frequently it is more targeted at somebody ( small companies etc.) who regularly receive PDF attachments or Word .doc attachments or any other common file that you use every day, for example an invoice addressed to

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. Many of us routinely get Word, Excel or PowerPoint attachments in the course of work or from companies that we already have a relationship with.

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. A lot of 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”, an invoice or receipt from some company for a product or service  or receive a Word doc or Excel file report 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 .COM .PIF .SCR .JS 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. Do not rely on your Anti-Virus to immediately detect the malware or malicious content.    DO NOT enable editing mode or enable macros  

All modern versions of word and other office programs, that is 2010, 2013, 2016 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 or enable macros the document will look blank or have a warning message, but will be safe.

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.


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[…] get an example from some of the trickier methods Dridex uses to disguise this initial download [15, 16]. Dridex malspam is sent by different botnets. The associated malware will have different […]


[…] get an example from some of the trickier methods Dridex uses to disguise this initial download [15, 16]. Dridex malspam is sent by different botnets. The associated malware will have different […]