Fraudulent email uses Microsoft Excel attachment to download malicious code

Posted by Akankasha Dewan on 05 June 2020 13:53:26 AEST

MailGuard has intercepted a fraudulent email that uses a malicious payload disguised as a Microsoft Excel attachment to infect systems.

The email body is empty and does not include a subject. It was discovered that the email actually originated from a large number of different addresses. All of these are likely to be compromised accounts. An attachment is included in the email, in the form of a Microsoft Excel attachment.

Here is what the email looks like:


This Excel file contains malicious code that is executed once unsuspecting recipients enable macros/ additional content to be run. The code within the Excel file downloads a file to a newly created folder. It is unknown what this downloaded file does, though we believe it is likely that it was designed to encrypt users’ files and then display a ransom.

We strongly advise all recipients to delete these emails immediately without opening any attachments. Please share this alert with your social media network to help us spread the word around this email scam.

This attack is a good reminder of how easy it is for criminals to operate these sort of scams. A simple email of this kind could be based on inexpensive malware, bought through a dark web portal, and run from a phone.

The email in itself contains several tell-tale signs that commonly belong to fraudulent emails and should help eagle-eyed recipients point to its illegitimacy. These include the lack of a subject and a blank body.

As a precaution, MailGuard urges you not to open attachments within emails that:

  • Are not addressed to you by name.
  • Appear to be from a legitimate company but use poor English, or omit personal details that a legitimate sender would include.
  • Are from businesses that you were not expecting to hear from.
  • Take you to a landing page or website that is not the legitimate URL of the company the email is purporting to be sent from. 

Don't get scammed

If your company’s email accounts aren’t protected, emails like the one above are almost certainly being received by your staff. Cybercriminals know people can be tricked; that’s why they send out millions of scam messages and put so much effort into making them look convincing.

People are not machines; we're all capable of making bad judgement calls. Without email filtering protecting your business, it’s just a matter of time before someone in your organisation has a momentary lapse of judgement and clicks on the wrong thing.

One email is all that it takes

All that it takes to break into your business is a cleverly-worded email message. If scammers can trick one person in your company into clicking on a malicious link they can gain access to your data.

For a few dollars per staff member per month, you can protect your business with MailGuard's predictive and advanced email security.

Talk to a solution consultant at MailGuard today about securing your company's network.

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Topics: email scams fraud fastbreak

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