The term Emotet may be familiar for you hearing over the news, but what is it? It sounds like a home pet creature or trending ideal band, unfortunately, Emotet is much worst.
Emotet started its fame as a banking Trojan specializes in stealing credit accounts and financial authorization. The primary infection strategy is email spams bundled with either a macro-enabled document file or a malicious web link.
Emotet emails are known to look as it is from a legitimate source using popular logo and brand. Title and message content are created based on Social Engineering theory making the reader willing to follow the instruction.
Over time Emotet has evolved beyond just a banking Trojan and became a malware platform designed to spread multiple malware as part of its activity. Today Emotet is acknowledged as one of the most dangerous malware that able to upgrade itself by adapting to the cybersecurity trend movements.
History of Emotet
Despite its powerful evolution traces, the history of Emotet is quite short. The first incident of Emotet activity was discovered by Trend Micro research in mid-2014. Emotet emails were disguised as purchase confirmations and bank transactions with messages intending to persuade the receiver to click the malicious link or execute the attached document.
A new version of Emotet was discovered in 2015 equipped with enhanced malware features. Some reported features include modular add-on loader, custom financial data extraction, DDoS attacks, email account hack, and email spam spread.
By 2017, a much intelligent and upgraded Emotet started to appear attacking the banking industry as spreading fear throughout the nation. Improve Emotet came with an end-to-end ability that remotely downloads the most effective threats based on the environment. They also became harder to detect from its latest obfuscation technique, while spread rapidly using the self-propagation module.
U.S. Department of Homeland Security alerted the nation in 2018 to announce Emotet as highly dangerous malware difficult to combat.
Emotet Major Feature Modules
What makes Emotet so alerting is its module driven self-upgrade feature. Through obfuscated Command and Control (C&C) Server, Emotet can download modules and strategically update its version based on the environment.
Reproduce itself throughout the available network by analyzing accounts and email address discovered on the host computer. Because of its extremely high infection rate, Emotet removal requires the entire workspace to be quarantined.
Banking Account Tracking
Monitors the victim's browser network stream to extract banking account associated details. This feature is the core reason why Emotet became to be known as a banking Trojan.
Email Account Hack
Steals access credentials from email services. Once Emotet gains the authorization all emails, accounts, and social networks get exposed.
Outlook Scraper Infostealer
Searches through host's Outlook emails and collects email account details. Hacked addresses will be used to further spread out a copy of itself.
Injects set of malware to perform a range of attacks at once. Major malware introduced by Emotet is Spyware, Ransomware, Rootkit, and DDoS attacks.
Environment Based Auto Upgrade
Automatically adjust behaviors to improve invisibility while discovering security holes using different strategies. Will download additional threats from a remote server if necessary.
Emotet Infection Methods
Although Emotet behavior changes dramatically depending on the host environment, its primary infection method is quite simple, email spam.
The first phase of Emotet infection starts with a single email. Emotet email is well disguised with familiar content and branded logo, looking like it was sent from an official source. The email title may describe the message as "Invoice Notification", "Paypal Receipts", or terms related to the target business characteristics.
Emotet persistent establishment process is conducted by downloading portably executable Emotet from five obfuscated remote servers. The setup is performed silently under the scene.
Finally, after Emotet is installed a set of malware and modules will be downloaded by Emotet. Surprisingly Emotet itself does not have much harm to the host device and these bundled entities are the main threats that make Emotet so dangerous.
Emotet Email Delivery Strategies
There are mainly two ways Emoit infection gets delivered by email.
Macro-Enabled Document: An email attached macro-enabled document file, typically Word or Excel, will run a set of Emotet injection programs upon execution. Obfuscated VBA code is programmed to run PowerShell commands to access five remote servers for downloading portable executable Emotet.
Malicious weblink: Accesses a web link to download a file that will trigger the Emotet infection. The file can be a macro-enabled Word or Excel document, PDF, or .EXE executable file based on the attack strategy.
How to Protect Yourself from Emotet Attacks
As often it is the case, we should hold security standards to prevent infection over removal, especially for Emotet.
A first and foremost effective approach to prevent Emotet is by installing Antimalware software. Many Antimalware vendors have performed detailed research on Emotet and collected its characteristics saved as metadata into their data server for detection. Antimalware can also provide useful features to scan email attachments and links to make sure the email contents are safe even before reaching the user.
Beyond Antimalware defense, we can improve system protection through several approaches. Start by ensuring your network does not access unsecured computers or devices. Keeping network-accessible endpoints protected can minimize Emotet from further infection.
Educating people with characteristics of threats and major infection methods can drastically decrease potential attack initiation. Make sure to check all emails are from a legitimate source before opening any attachment files or web links. Co-operate with the security or DevOps team so that your workstation can comfortably contact them when experiencing any malicious behaviors.
Keep in mind that Emotet is constantly evolving. Use the latest version and always apply newly released security updates throughout your system. Especially any OS and browser vulnerabilities can cause critical damage as Emotet is designed to adjust itself according to the known security loopholes.
How to Remove Emotet After Infection
If you believe Emotet has got hold of your device, don't panic. The first thing first is to isolate your device from other network systems to prevent further infection. Next, run an Antimalware software with an Emotet removal patch to terminate any threats.
Because there is a chance that infection has spread out, do not connect your device back to the network otherwise the infection may backfire from external devices that are potentially infected. Make sure to clean each and all computers on the network before reconnecting the system.
Once all systems are cleaned out, proactively run Antimalware software to continuously monitor malware behaviors. This way future Emotet infection can be prevented to remain the environment safe.