Past Due Invoice “Ultimate Alert” Email Contains Macro Malware

Rather threatening email claims to be the third and last billing notification for a service and warns that the service will be discontinued in the next 48 hours if you do not take this last chance to settle a past due invoice by opening an attached Microsoft Word document.

Brief Analysis:
The email is not a genuine billing notification and the attached Word document is not a real invoice. If you attempt to open the Word document, you will be prompted to enable macros. But, if you do enable macros, a malicious macro will then install malware on your computer.

Subject: Hoax-Slayer – Past Due Invoice : Ultimate alert (To: Brett Christensen)

Dear Brett Christensen,(Hoax-Slayer)

Here is your third and last billing notification that your invoice no. 01080704 which was issued on 24th of September, 2016 is now past due.Note: Your Services described in the invoice WILL BE discontinued in the next 48 hours!Contract Name: Hoax-Slayer
Balance Due: A$ 2485.33
Pay before: 11-10-16You have a last chance to settle the invoice.

Respectfully yours,
David [Removed]
[Name Removed] Pharmacy Accounts Team.
ABN: [removed]

Detailed Analysis:
According to this “ultimate alert”  email, I have one last chance to settle an overdue invoice. It warns that, if I don’t pay within 48 hours, the “services described in the invoice” will be discontinued. Supposedly, the email is the third and last billing notification for the service. The email claims to be from Australian based pharmaceutical supply company and includes an attached Microsoft Word document supposedly containing the invoice.

However, the email is not from the company named as the sender and I do not owe the company any money. And, the attached Word document does not contain a legitimate invoice. When I click on the attachment, I get a popup message asking me to enable macros. Supposedly, the document is protected against unauthorised access and I must therefore enable macros before I can view the content.

But, if I were to enable macros, a malicious macro would then run in the background. If i was using a Windows based computer, the macro could download and install malware.

The exact nature of this malware payload may vary.

Malicious macros are commonly used to install ransomware. Once installed, the ransomware can lock the files on your computer and then demand that you pay a fee to online criminals to get a decryption key.

In other cases, the malware may be able to steal banking passwords and other sensitive personal information from the infected computer.

Macros can certainly be useful in some workflows. But, unless you have a specific need to use them and you understand the potential dangers that they pose, you are best to leave macros disabled by default. If you are unfamiliar with macros, you can read more about them in this earlier Hoax-Slayer report.

These malware emails often address you by name, which can make them seem more legitimate. And, they use the names and other details of real companies.  Of course, the companies named in the emails have no connection to the malware attacks and did not send the messages.

Other details, such as the supposed due date and amount due may vary in different versions of the emails.


Malware Threat

Last updated: October 12, 2016
First published: October 12, 2016
By Brett M. Christensen
About Hoax-Slayer

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