Bogus ‘Payment Accepted’ Email Carries Locky Ransomware

Email with the subject line ‘Payment Accepted’ claims to be from a financial manager and requests that you check a payment confirmation by opening an attached file.

Brief Analysis:
The email is not from any financial manager and the attachment does not contain a payment confirmation document. Instead, the attached .zip file harbours a malicious JavaScript file that can install Locky ransomware. Once installed, Locky encrypts all of the files on your computer and then demands that you pay a fee to get a decryption key.

Subject: FW: Payment ACCEPTED M-362827
Dear [Name taken from email address],Please check the payment confirmation attached to this email.The Transaction should appear on your bank in 2 days.

Thank you.

Stanley Frank
Financial Manager

Detailed Analysis:
This email informs you that your payment has been accepted, although it does not bother to mention which payment it is referring to or what company is doing the accepting. The subject line of the email simply states ‘Payment accepted’ along with an apparent reference number. The body of the message asks that you open an attached file to check a payment confirmation.

The email claims to be from a Financial Manager.

But, the email is not from any legitimate financial manager at any legitimate company. Nor does the attachment contain a payment confirmation document. Instead, the attached .zip file hides a malicious JavaScript (.js) file. If you unzip the attachment and then click the .js file, the JavaScript will perform its dastardly deed.  It will connect to a website and download and install a copy of the Locky ransomware.

Once installed, Locky will encrypt the files stored on your computer and rename them all with the file extension .locky.  It will then display a ‘ransom note’ that demands that you pay a fee to cybercriminals via the dark web in order to get a decryption key that will unlock your files. The message will ask that you pay the fee in the online currency Bitcoin.

Alas, unless you have recent back ups, there is no easy way to recover your files once they have been encrypted by the Locky malware.  If you give in to the demands and pay the ransom, you MAY receive the promised encryption key. However, you will be dealing with anonymous criminals who will retreat back into the shadows once they have their money. So, there is no guarantee that you will receive a working decryption key even if you pay up.

Details, such as the reference number, the attachment name, and the name and job description of the staff member who supposedly sent the email may vary in different versions. Similar emails that also carry Locky may claim that a payment has been declined or that the sender has received documents from your bank.

If you receive one of these emails, do not click any links or open any attachments that it contains.

Locky Ransomware

Last updated: March 17, 2016
First published: March 17, 2016
By Brett M. Christensen
About Hoax-Slayer

‘Payment Declined’ Emails Contain Locky Ransomware
‘Received Documents From Your Bank’ Emails Contain Locky Ransomware
“Locky” ransomware – what you need to know