An earlier version of this story was first published on October 10, 2014
Criminals use many ways to distribute malware. However, among such tactics, they repeatedly use variations of the following three methods in their malware email campaigns.
Fake Invoices and Order Notifications
These emails purport to be order notifications or invoices for a product or service that you recently purchased. The emails claim that you can read more details about the supposed purchase by clicking a link or opening an attached file.
The criminals who send these fake invoices are hoping that you will be panicked into installing the malware because you believe that your credit card has been used to conduct fraudulent transactions.
Failed Package Delivery Notifications
These emails claim that a courier or postal service was unable to deliver a package to you because of an addressing issue. The emails instruct you to click a link or open an attached file to print out a shipping address or review parcel pickup information.
The names of several high profile delivery companies and postal services around the world have been used in versions of this malware attack.
These emails may claim that you are facing legal action for unpaid debts or are about to be charged with a serious offence.
Some may purport to be from law enforcement agencies such as the FBI or government entities such as your country’s tax department.
Others may claim that a complaint has been made against you by a company or individual and you must quickly respond to avoid serious legal consequences.
The emails claim that you can get more information by clicking a link or opening an attachment.
Malware Hides on Compromised Websites or In Attached Files
All three of these methods use similar ways of getting malware on your computer. The links lead to compromised websites that harbour the malware. The email attachments contain the malware inside.
The specific malware payload may vary in different versions. But, rest assured, regardless of what it actually does, it’s likely to be nasty and certainly not something you want to have on your computer.
Of course, these three methods are certainly not the only ways scammers distribute malware. But, committing these common methods to memory will certainly help you recognize and protect against a range of malware attacks. And, knowing about these three may help you recognize malware attacks in general, even if they don’t fit into one of the above methods.
In fact, you should always be cautious of clicking links or opening attachments in any unsolicited emails.
A good anti-malware scanner is another essential tool for stopping Internet nasties in their tracks. It should work alongside your anti-virus software and other security tools.
At Hoax-Slayer, we use and recommend Malwarebytes. The Malwarebytes Anti-Malware scanner can detect and remove worms, trojans, rootkits, spyware, and other nasties.