Your 2015 Electronic IP Pin! pretending to come from Internal Revenue Service <firstname.lastname@example.org> 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.
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.
The Internal Revenue Service 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. You will not be infected if you do not have macros enabled in Excel or word.
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:
This is to inform you that our system has generated your new secured Electronic PIN to e-file your 2014 tax return.
Please kindly download the microsoft file to securely review it.
Internal Revenue Service
915 Second Avenue, MS W180
6 March 2015 : TaxReport(IP_PIN).doc Current Virus total detections: 0/56 | 0/56 These malicious macro connects to chihoiphunumos.ru/js/bin.exe or schlaghaufer.de/js/bin.exe both of which are the same malware which is saved as %Temp%\324235235.exe ( dridex banking Trojan)which has a current Virus Total detection rate of 1/56
So far I am only seeing 2 versions 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.