LokiBot Malware Spreads Via Fake WHO / CDC Email and Steals Information from Infected Computers
LokiBot malware is infected computers across the globe via pushing emails. The emails are designed to look like official World Health Organization (WHO) communications and even use the official WHO trademarked logo. Other information in the email including the name of the email attachment attempt to trick the reader into thinking it may also be information from the US Center for Disease Control (CDC). This malware was discovered by FortiGuard Labs.
LokiBot is an infostealer malware that was used to leverage CVE-2017-11882 (Office Equation Editor) exploit. Once a device is infected, it reads information from your computer and sends it back to the hacker. This malware steals FTP credentials, email passwords, passwords saved in web browsers, and other credentials. Infostealer malwares gather data and login credentials to use in further cyberattacks and to steal money from financial accounts.
The spear phishing email contains the subject line “Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) Important Communication[.]” which is meant to look like a Microsoft Word document. In the past LokiBot has also been sent via MS Excel files, but so far not in this attack.
Like many other COVID-19 spear phishing emails, the body of the email contains Coronavirus tips and claims that the attached document contains more supposedly helpful information. The email goes to name a but of the information in the (malicious) attachment on hand sanitizer use, quarantine procedures, tips for home care of sick relatives, and protective gear use. The bullet points are lures to trick the recipient into opening the email attachment. If the reader does open the attachment, it launches a LokiBot malware.
It also includes an email attachment entitled “COVID_19- WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION CDC_DOC.zip.arj” that supposedly contain additional information from WHO, but which in fact is a decoy. The attachment can be unzipped with 7-zip, a common (harmless) free file compression / extraction utility. If extracted, the zip contains a file named “DOC.pdf.exe” Anyone receiving the email should NOT open the attachment or unzip it.
RELATED READ: 5 Phishing Email Examples
What The LokiBot Spear Phishing Email Looks Like
Phishing emails often contain misspellings, grammar errors, and lack attention to detail. Malicious emails attempt to scare the reader into taking immediate action – clicking on a link, opening an email attachment – so they act quickly and don’t second guess the legitimacy of the email or its contents. Malware attacks don’t start because someone received an email, they start because the target followed the direction of the hacker.
If infected with LokiBot, use an antivirus app like McAfee Antivirus Plus to stop the infection and clean your computer immediately. It is best to protect computers, laptops, and phones with antivirus software before it is needed. Some malwares block the download of mitigation software to prevent you from gaining control over your own device.
How to Spot the LokiBot Malware Phishing Email Attack
- Uses the subject line “Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) Important Communication[.]”
- Has an email attachment named “COVID_19- WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION CDC_DOC.zip.arj”
- Email is written in English
- Contain numerous grammar and spelling mistakes
- Misspelling of Center for Disease Control (CDC) name – use the word “Centre” instead of “Center”
- Uses a Geneva, Switzerland address for the CDC which is incorrect, The CDC is in the United States
- Email uses offical WHO logos (this is difficult)
Keith has 30 years of experience managing staff for the planning and design of highway, bridge and transportation-related projects and specialty structures. Keith oversees the development of and authors numerous reports on a variety of topics related to transportation engineering and has worked with several key clients on projects related to infrastructure security. Keith is a licensed professional engineer in the State of New York, currently a State Board member of the American Council of Engineering Companies of New York and is a licensed commercial pilot with an instrument rating. He resides in Western New York.