Microsoft warns of "prolific" Trickbot malware exploiting COVID-19 crisis

Hackers are sending out hundreds of emails offering free advice and testing

Trojan

Microsoft has warned that cyber criminals are taking advantage of the ongoing coronavirus crisis to trick users into downloading malware onto their devices.

In a statement on Twitter, Microsoft Security Intelligence said that hackers are posing as the “Usa Volunteer Organization” and the “Usa Humanitarian Group” and are sending out hundreds of emails offering free COVID-19 medical advice and testing.

Each email aims to install the Trickbot malware using “unique macro-laced” document attachments.

“Like in recent Trickbot campaigns, if allowed to run, the macro uses CHOICE.EXE to wait 20 seconds before downloading the info-stealing payload,” explained Microsoft’s Security Intelligence team. “Trickbot campaigns are known to delay malicious activities to evade emulation or sandbox analysis.”

The company also warned that new phishing campaigns are using the theme of remote working in an attempt to encourage victims to share personal data, such as bank details, over the phone.

“To further avoid raising a flag, phishers don’t put malicious URLs in emails. Instead, they leverage legitimate web services or use attachments that contain the link to the phishing site. In this example, phishers left the email body empty; message & link are in the attached PDF,” Microsoft explained over Twitter.

According to Microsoft 365 Security corporate VP Rob Lefferts, “the trendy and pervasive Trickbot and Emotet malware families are very active and rebranding their lures to take advantage of the outbreak”. 

“We have observed 76 threat variants to date globally using COVID-19 themed lures,” he wrote in a blog post.

Related Resource

2020 report: The threat posed by shadow IoT devices

Unsanctioned IoT devices open a portal for chaos across the network

Download now

Last year, the TrickBot trojan was named the most dangerous threat to healthcare, and it seems to be holding onto that title during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Microsoft’s warning comes weeks after US and UK cybersecurity officials issued a joint warning that hackers, some of them potentially state-backed, are using the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic to exploit businesses and the wider public.

Google has also issued a warning to users working from home during the lockdown about a rise in the number of coronavirus-based phishing attacks, many of which are being sent as emails. 

Featured Resources

The ultimate law enforcement agency guide to going mobile

Best practices for implementing a mobile device program

Free download

The business value of Red Hat OpenShift

Platform cost savings, ROI, and the challenges and opportunities of Red Hat OpenShift

Free download

Managing security and risk across the IT supply chain: A practical approach

Best practices for IT supply chain security

Free download

Digital remote monitoring and dispatch services’ impact on edge computing and data centres

Seven trends redefining remote monitoring and field service dispatch service requirements

Free download

Recommended

Phishing emails target victims with fake vaccine passport offer
cyber crime

Phishing emails target victims with fake vaccine passport offer

21 Sep 2021
Oracle teams with Oxford University for rapid detection of COVID-19 variants
data processing

Oracle teams with Oxford University for rapid detection of COVID-19 variants

20 Sep 2021
The IT Pro Podcast: Digital stagnation in a post-COVID world
digital transformation

The IT Pro Podcast: Digital stagnation in a post-COVID world

27 Aug 2021
Podcast transcript: Digital stagnation in a post-COVID world
digital transformation

Podcast transcript: Digital stagnation in a post-COVID world

27 Aug 2021

Most Popular

Best Linux distros 2021
operating systems

Best Linux distros 2021

11 Oct 2021
HPE wins networking contract with Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games
Network & Internet

HPE wins networking contract with Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games

15 Oct 2021
Veritas Backup Exec 21.3 review: Covers every angle
backup software

Veritas Backup Exec 21.3 review: Covers every angle

14 Oct 2021