Microsoft Malware Protection Center

Threat Research & Response Blog

Microsoft Malware Protection Center

  • Emotet spam campaign targets banking credentials

    A new variant in the Win32/Emotet family is targeting banking credentials with a new spam email campaign. The emails include fraudulent claims, such as fake phone bills, and invoices from banks or PayPal. Since November 2014 we have been monitoring a new variant: Trojan:Win32/Emotet.C . This variant was part of a recent spam campaign that peaked in November. Our telemetry indicates this campaign primarily targeted German-language speakers and banking websites. Figure 1: Emotet infections...
  • Before you enable those macros…

    The Microsoft Malware Protection Center (MMPC) has recently seen an increasing number of threats using macros to spread their malicious code. This technique uses spam emails and social engineering to infect a system. Using macros in Microsoft Office can help increase productivity by automating some processes. However, malware authors have also exploited these capabilities. Since Microsoft set the default setting to "Disable all macros with notification", the number of macro-related malware...
  • Make your browsing 14x safer for the holidays!

    The browser is how most people access the Internet, and with the proliferation of malware online today, it is one of the first lines of defense in helping to protect systems. Each new browser version can offer new capabilities, protections, and fixes for vulnerabilities. This means that a newer browser is often safer than its predecessor. It turns out, Microsoft Malware Protection Center’s data analysis reinforces this theory. Computer security professionals often remind people to regularly...
  • Your Browser is (not) Locked

    Most ransomware has a binary file that needs to be executed before it can infect your PC. Ransomware usually relies on social engineering or exploits to infect unsuspecting users. However, some malware authors are bypassing this requirement with a new trick - browser lockers. Unlike traditional ransomware threats that lock the entire desktop, browser lockers only lock the web browser of an infected PC. Most other malware needs a user (or other malware) to manually run it. Browser lockers don’t...
  • Wire transfer spam spreads Upatre

    The Microsoft Malware Protection Center (MMPC) is currently monitoring a spam email campaign that is using a wire transfer claim to spread Trojan:Win32/Upatre . It is important to note that customers running up-to-date Microsoft security software are protected from this threat. Additionally, customers with Microsoft Active Protection Service Community (MAPS) enabled also benefit from our cloud protection service . Upatre typically uses spam email campaigns to spread and then downloads other...
  • ​​​​A timeline of consent and control

    In October we announced some changes to our BrowserModifier detection criteria . These changes were designed to keep a user in charge of their web browsers through consent and control. Since the changes were announced we have been working with software developers to align their programs with our criteria. To provide more clarity, we are sharing our timeline for compliance. This blog sets an enforcement timetable and further clarifies our detection criteria. Control Our objective criteria...
  • MSRT December 2014

    This month is our final release of the Malicious Software Removal Tool (MSRT) for 2014. Although we didn’t add any new malware families, we updated the tool with the latest detection and remediation capabilities for the malware families added in previous releases. Since January 2014, there have been more than seven billion successful MSRT installs via Microsoft Windows Update . This is an average of 500 million installs every month. The MSRT detected and successfully removed malware on more...
  • An interesting case of the CVE-2014-8439 exploit

    We have recently seen an exploit targeting the Adobe Flash Player vulnerability CVE-2014-8439 (we detect it as Exploit:SWF/Axpergle ). This exploit is being integrated into multiple exploit kits, including the Nuclear exploit kit ( Exploit:JS/Neclu ) and the Angler exploit kit ( Exploit:JS/Axpergle ). Adobe released a patch in November to address this exploit ( APSB14-26 ). Coincidentally, our investigation shows that Adobe released a patch to address a different exploit and that patch appears...
  • An inside look: gathering and analyzing the SIR data

    At the Microsoft Malware Protection Center, threat data is a critical source of information to help protect our customers. We use it to understand what’s going on in the overall malware ecosystem, determine the best way to protect our customers, and find the most effective way to deliver that protection. We also use the data to produce a number of reports to help our customers. This includes our bi-annual Security Intelligence Report (SIR). This blog post gives you a behind-the-scenes look...
  • Expired antimalware software is nearly as unsafe as having no protection at all

    Analyzing data to find the root cause of infections has been a long-standing focus of the MMPC. One area we've been investigating is the correlation between endpoint protection and infection rates. Back in version 14 of the Security Intelligence Report (SIRv14), we first published data on infection rates for PCs protected with fully up-to-date antimalware software in comparison to those that either had no antimalware software or software that was not on or fully current. We discovered that PCs...