12 November 2014

Alert Priority High

A scam email campaign is currently circulating that features attached Microsoft Office documents with malicious macros.

Opening the attachment and enabling the macro could lead to ransomware or other banking malware being downloaded and launched on your computer.

A macro is a small program or set of instructions which your computer can automatically execute. Macros are a built in feature of Microsoft Office, used to help automate simple or repetitive tasks. They have also been used by scammers for many years. They are disabled by default in Microsoft Office as a security precaution.

The circulating scam emails vary widely, current examples refer to financial themes such as outstanding invoices, bills or credit card charges from organisations such as Amazon or PayPal, but most are from lesser known organisation. The email asks you to refer to an attached document for more detail.

Screen shot of an email client showing a sample of the spam email

An example of the spam email

For the malicious macro to run, you need to open the document and enable the macro. Enabling unknown macros to run on your computer is extremely dangerous as you do not know what actions it will perform.

The wording of the attached document seeks to trick you into enabling the macro. Examples vary; some may notify you that you have an outdated version of Word, others more simply state you need to enable macros to view the content.

Do not click Enable Content or enable macros.

A screen shot showing the sample infected Word documetn with blurred text and message encouraging user to click on the button to enable the macro

An example of the Word document. Do not enable the macro.

A screen shot showing the sample infected Word documetn with message encouraging user to click on the button to enable the macro

A different example of the malicious Word document. Do not click 'Enable Content'.

Other Office documents such as Excel or PowerPoint may also be used.

Be suspicious of any messages you receive from unknown or untrusted sources. Do not click on links or attachments in a message unless you are completely confident about its content. You can always contact the original website or source yourself—independently of links in the message—to cross check its information.

If you are suspicious, simply delete the message.

More information

Stay Smart Online has more information on managing spam email and avoiding scams and hoaxes.

Information provided by CERT Australia.

The information provided here is of a general nature. Everyone's circumstances are different. If you require specific advice you should contact your local technical support provider.

Feedback

Thank you to those subscribers who have provided feedback to our Alerts and Newsletters. We are very interested in your feedback and where possible take on board your suggestions or requests.

Disclaimer

This information has been prepared by Enex TestLab for the Department of Communications ('the Department'). It was accurate and up to date at the time of publishing.

This information is general information only and is intended for use by private individuals and small to medium sized businesses. If you are concerned about a specific cyber security issue you should seek professional advice.

The Commonwealth, Enex TestLab, and all other persons associated with this advisory accept no liability for any damage, loss or expense incurred as a result of the provision of this information, whether by way of negligence or otherwise.

Nothing in this information (including the listing of a person or organisation or links to other web sites) should be taken as an endorsement of a particular product or service.

Please note that third party views or recommendations included in this information do not reflect the views of the Commonwealth, or indicate its commitment to a particular course of action. The Commonwealth also cannot verify the accuracy of any third party material included in this information.

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