Quite a mixup of subjects, languages and countries is involved in this campaign delivering a new Ransomware called Rapid Ransomware.
The email with the subject of Please Note – IRS Urgent Message-164 ( probably random numbers) pretends to come from Mitchel Silva < email@example.com > with a malicious word doc inside a zip file.
The bad actors obviously can’t decide who or where they are targeting. The IRS is American. The spoofing of the senders address to pretend to come from nottscc.gov.uk is obviously trying to target UK based recipients, but the word doc has all the enable macros instructions in German.
Very few UK residents speak or read German and I doubt many US residents do either.
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.
Remember many email clients, especially on a mobile phone or tablet, only show the Name in the From: and not the bit in <domain.com >. That is why these scams and phishes work so well.
You can now submit suspicious sites, emails and files via our Submissions system
Neither nottscc.gov.uk nor the IRS have 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 looks like:
From: Mitchel Silva <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Thu 08/02/2018 13:37
Subject: Please Note – IRS Urgent Message-164
My name is Mitchel Silva, I am the official representative of the Internal Revenue Service, Realty Tax Department.
My department is responsible for informing of citizens, explanation of the tax system for them, supporting citizens on issues related to tax procedures, arrears, and payments, etc.
In this particular case, I have to notify you that you have the considerable tax arrears related to your property. Namely, there is the tax debt for your realty – the realty tax. Ordinarily, we make no actions in case of such delays for 4-6 months, but in your context, the overdue period comes to 7 months. In such a way, we must take relevant measures to remedy the situation.
Particularly for your convenience, our specialists have compiled the full and comprehensive report for you. It contains the full information regarding realty tax accrual, your debt (including the total amount), and the chart of overdue payments for each month of the arrears period.
Please study the document as soon as possible. Actually, after receiving this message, you have only 1 day to contact your tax manager and provide them with the details you get in the report in order to resolve the problem. Alternatively, significant charges and fines may apply.
Realty Tax Division
Internal Revenue Service
Notification-478501784.doc Current Virus total detections: Hybrid Analysis gave a failed to save to web service error | Anyrun Beta shows the ransomware actions but fails to discover or declare the download urls in the network sections. it does show them in the analysis of the Powershell file dropped by the macro. JoeSandbox | Cape Sandbox |
The downloaded.exe file ( VirusTotal) | Anyrun beta |
The ransomware note doesn’t link to any website or payment method directly but asks the victim to email one of 2 email addresses quoting an ID code where they will send you details of how to pay the ransom and how to decode the files.
This looks like a slightly different version to the version described by Bleeping Computer with different email addresses in the ransom notes.
These sites are:
The word doc looks like
|184.108.40.206||bb128-106-204-36.singnet.com.sg||Singapore||Central Singapore Community Development Council||SG||AS9506 SingTel Magix Hostmaster|
Received: from [220.127.116.11] (port=60953 helo=s1083614.instanturl.net)
by knight.knighthosting.co.uk with esmtp (Exim 4.89_1)
for email@example.com; Thu, 08 Feb 2018 13:39:17 +0000
Received: from book.shopforhome.info (bb128-106-204-36.singnet.com.sg [18.104.22.168]) by s1083614.instanturl.net with SMTP;
Thu, 8 Feb 2018 08:39:03 -0500
From: “Mitchel Silva” <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Please Note – IRS Urgent Message-164
Date: Thu, 8 Feb 2018 14:36:37 +0100
X-Mailer: Microsoft Windows Live Mail 15.4.3538.513
X-MimeOLE: Produced By Microsoft MimeOLE V15.4.3538.513
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.
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 malicious macros 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 “Office Online” 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 email@example.com.
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 JS or .EXE or .COM or .PIF or .SCR or .HTA .vbs, .wsf , .jse .jar 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.