Notification Of Vehicle Tax DD Payment Schedule (Ref: 000000-000005-274421-001)- Word Doc Or Excel Xls Spreadsheet Malware

detecting malware

Notification of Vehicle Tax DD Payment Schedule (Ref: 000000-000005-274421-001) pretending to come from directdebit@taxdisc.service.gov.uk 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.

Since the UK government decided to remove car tax discs ( road fund licence) and make you either renew online or via Direct debit, we have been expecting this sort of scam, either a phishing attempt or malware distribution or both, using a template based on a genuine renewal notice

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.

taxdisc.service.gov.uk or any service.gov.uk service have 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:

Important: Confirmation Of Your Successful

Direct Debit instruction

Dear customer

Vehicle registration number: FG08OEE

Thank you for arranging to pay the vehicle tax by Direct Debit.

Please can you check that the details attached below, and your payment schedule are correct.

If any of the above financial details are incorrect please contact your bank as soon as possible.

However, if your details are correct you don’t need to do anything and your Direct Debit will be
processed as normal. You have the right to cancel your Direct Debit at any time. A copy of the
Direct Debit Guarantee is included with this letter.

For your information, the collection will be made using this reference, and this is how your
payment will be detailed on your bank statements:

  • DVLA Identifier: 295402
  • Reference: FG08OEE

Your vehicle tax will automatically renew unless you notify us of any changes. We will send a new
payment schedule at the time of renewal.

Yours sincerely

Rohan Gye

Vehicles Service Manager

26 June 2021: FG08OEE.doc Current Virus total detections: 4/55 This downloads the same Dridex banking malware in exactly the same way as today’s other malspam word macro downloader Scanned from a Xerox Multifunction Printer – word doc or excel xls spreadsheet malware

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. 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.

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