Emotet Malware: How Does It Spread, How to Protect Yourself

Emotet is a type of computer virus that was initially created as a banking Trojan. Accessing overseas devices and spying on private information were the objectives. Basic antivirus programs have been reported to be tricked by Emotet, which then hides from them. Once activated, the malware spreads like a computer worm and tries to access other networked systems.

Spam emails are the primary way that Emotet spreads. The relevant email contains a dangerous link or a corrupted file. Additional malware is downloaded onto your computer automatically if you download the file or click the link. Many people have been scammed by Emotet thanks to emails that were made to appear extremely convincing.

When customers of German banks were impacted by the Trojan in 2014, Emotet was first discovered. The login information of the clients had been made available to Emotet. The virus would eventually spread over the world in the years to come. As Emotet changed from a banking Trojan to a Dropper, it now reloads malware onto targets. The system's actual damage is then brought on by them.

Emotet employs features that assist the program in avoiding detection by some anti-malware tools. Emotet spreads to other linked computers using traits resembling those of worms. This aids in the spread of malware. Because of this functionality, the Department of Homeland Security has concluded that Emotet is among the most expensive and destructive malware, affecting both the public and private sectors, as well as individuals and organizations, and resulting in cleanup costs of up to $1M per incident.

A malicious link, macro-enabled document files, or malicious script can all deliver the infection. Emotet emails may use well-known branding intended to make them appear authentic. Emotet may employ enticing text about "Your Invoice," "Payment Details," or maybe an approaching shipment from well-known parcel firms to try to get people to click the malicious files.

There have been several iterations of Emotet. Earlier versions came infected with a JavaScript file. Later iterations started to use documents with macro support to download the virus payload from the attackers' command and control (C&C) servers.

In an effort to avoid being discovered and analyzed, Emotet employs several techniques. It's noteworthy that Emotet can detect whether it's running inside a virtual machine (VM). It will become dormant if it finds a sandbox environment, a tool cybersecurity researchers use to study malware in a secure setting.

How Does EMOTET Spread?

Malspam is the primary way that Emotet is distributed. Your friends, family, coworkers, and clients receive messages from Emotet after it has combed through your contacts list. Since the emails appear less spammy because they originate from your compromised email account, recipients are more likely to click dangerous links and download malicious files because they feel safer.

Using a list of popular passwords, Emotet spreads if a network is present and launches a brute-force attack to get access to other connected systems. Emotet will probably end up there if the crucial human resources server's password is just "password."

It operates in a fox-like manner, being sneaky and challenging to catch. Until you click the destruction button, it is inert. A system that is impacted is doomed with just one click. Instead of having to deal with the presence of this malware, it is best to stop it from entering your computer in the first place.

The global network of servers that make up Emotet each includes at least one unique feature for controlling the PCs of victims and disseminating new malware. Once activated, it accesses the inboxes of your mail list subscribers and friends and family members.

Any linked devices are infiltrated by the Emotet malware through a brute-force attack. To obtain access through any connection, Emotet employs a multiple password guessing approach if a network activates this virus while linked to other devices. Emotet can identify a password saved as a "password" on a connected device.

The Emotet malware is typically launched by cybercriminals using spam emails, occasionally evading spam email filters. By using the names of persons in the victim's contacts, they give these emails an authentic appearance. The victim clicks on the message after realizing it was from a familiar source.

You might be curious about what happens if you naively click on a link or file in an Emotet document. Your system triggers the macro code, which then launches an attack right away.

The second update includes a means for sending money along with several banking and spam modules. Another version sneaks into the public while the cyberworld is still striving to deal with such development. This time, it advances with functionality for traveling covertly and lays the groundwork for crooks.

To understand how this malware spreads, experts conducted a study. It appears that TrickBot is used by Emotet instead of the EternalBlue/DoublePulsar vulnerabilities to spread the infection. For prolonged attacks, TrickBot employs EternalBlue/DoublePulsar, and Emotet−an entirely separate piece of malware−hosts the event.

How to Protect Yourself from Emotet Malware?

You can take the following measures to protect yourself from Emotet Malware −

  • Keep current. Keep yourself frequently updated on any new Emotet developments. You can accomplish this in many ways, including by reading the Kaspersky Resource Center or conducting your research.

  • Installing manufacturer-provided security upgrades as soon as you can helps you close any potential security holes. This holds true for all application software, browser add-ons, email clients, Office, and PDF programs, as well as operating systems like Windows and macOS.

  • Install a complete virus and malware protection tool, such as Kaspersky Internet Security, and make sure it frequently scans your machine for weaknesses. You will have the best defense against the most recent viruses, malware, etc., thanks to this.

  • Avoid downloading suspicious email attachments and clicking on shady URLs. Do not take any chances and get in touch with the sender if you are unsure whether an email is a scam. Under no circumstances should you agree to let a macro run on a downloaded file. Instead, you should immediately delete the file. By doing this, you will prevent Emotet from ever having an opportunity to access your computer.

  • Regularly create a backup of your data on an external storage device. You will always have to keep a backup to fall back on in the event of an infection, meaning you won't lose all the data on your device.

  • For all logins, use only strong passwords (online banking, email account, online stores). Not the name of your first pet, but a random combination of letters, numbers, and special characters is what is meant by this. You may either come up with these on your own or have different applications generate them for you. Today, many programs also give users the option of two-factor authentication.

  • File extensions − Set your computer to display file extensions automatically. This enables you to recognize suspicious files, which frequently contain harmful programs, like "Photo123.jpg.exe."

How to Remove EMOTET?

First of all, if you think Emotet may be on your computer, don't freak out. Because others in your email contacts could be at risk, let those in your personal circle know about the infection.

To lessen the chance of Emotet spreading, make cautious to isolate your computer if it is connected to a network. You should then update all of your account login information (email accounts, web browsers, etc.) Perform this on a different device that isn't contaminated or using the same network.

Emotet is polymorphic, which means that each time it is accessed, a small portion of its code changes. As a result, if a cleaned computer is connected to an infected network, it can become infected again very quickly. As a result, you must wipe each computer linked to your network one at a time. To assist you in doing this, use an antivirus application. Alternatively, you might ask a professional for advice and assistance, such as your antivirus software vendor.


EmoCheck is a tool that the Japanese CERT (Computer Emergency Response Team) claims will be used to check your device for an Emotet infection. EmoCheck, however, cannot provide a 100 percent guarantee that your machine is free from infection because Emotet is polymorphic.

EmoCheck detects common character patterns and alerts you to a suspected Trojan. It's important to keep in mind that the virus's ability to change doesn't mean your computer is actually free of malware.

One of the most dangerous virus in the history of computer security is the Trojan Emotet. Anyone could fall victim, including private individuals, businesses, and even international governments, because the Trojan reloads other spyware that spies on you once it has infected a system.

Many of Emotet's victims are frequently blackmailed into paying a ransom to recover their data. Unfortunately, there isn't a remedy that completely guards against Emotet infection. The chance of infection can be decreased by taking a number of steps, though.

If you think your computer might be infected with Emotet, you should follow the instructions in this article to clear it up and make sure you have a strong antivirus program to safeguard you.

Updated on: 05-Aug-2022


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