Threat Signal Report

Emotet Distributed Through U.S. Election Themed Link Files

description-logo Description

FortiGuard Labs has discovered that Emotet was recently delivered through an archive file that has a file name targeting those interested in the U.S. midterm elections. The archive file is "US midterm elections The six races that could decide the US" that has a link file with the same name, which leads to Emotet.

Why is this Significant?

This is significant because Emotet is trying to leverage the interest of the U.S. midterm elections for infection. While FortiGuard Labs has not observed the infection vector, the file name "US midterm elections The six races that could decide the US" was likely distributed via emails. "The six races" likely refers to Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin where Democrats and Republican are expected to have close race in the elections, which gives better chance that recipients will open the archive contents. Emotets' modus operandi includes distribution via malicious spam campaigns and thread hijacking of emails.

What's in "US midterm elections The six races that could decide the US"?

The zip file contains a link file named "US midterm elections The six races that could decide the US Senate.lnk". When the link file is executed, it drops a further script in %tmp% that will attempt to cycle through several URLs to download a Emotet DLL.

The downloaded Emotet connects to C2 server and will likely deliver additional malware.

FortiGuard Labs discovered that the same script is present in other link files "New York Election news and updates....lnk" and "Amazon warns of slower sales as economy weakens.lnk" that were submitted to VirusTotal at the end of October and beginning of November respectively.

What is the Status of Protection?

FortiGuard Labs provides the following AV signatures for the archive and link file involved in the attack:



C2 address is blocked by FortiGuard Webfiltering Client.


Traffic Light Protocol

Color When Should it Be used? How may it be shared?


Not for disclosure, restricted to participants only.
Sources may use TLP:RED when information cannot be effectively acted upon by additional parties, and could lead to impacts on a party's privacy, reputation, or operations if misused. Recipients may not share TLP:RED information with any parties outside of the specific exchange, meeting, or conversation in which it was originally disclosed. In the context of a meeting, for example, TLP:RED information is limited to those present at the meeting. In most circumstances, TLP:RED should be exchanged verbally or in person.


Limited disclosure, restricted to participants’ organizations.
Sources may use TLP:AMBER when information requires support to be effectively acted upon, yet carries risks to privacy, reputation, or operations if shared outside of the organizations involved. Recipients may only share TLP:AMBER information with members of their own organization, and with clients or customers who need to know the information to protect themselves or prevent further harm. Sources are at liberty to specify additional intended limits of the sharing: these must be adhered to.


Limited disclosure, restricted to the community.
Sources may use TLP:GREEN when information is useful for the awareness of all participating organizations as well as with peers within the broader community or sector. Recipients may share TLP:GREEN information with peers and partner organizations within their sector or community, but not via publicly accessible channels. Information in this category can be circulated widely within a particular community. TLP:GREEN information may not be released outside of the community.


Disclosure is not limited.
Sources may use TLP:WHITE when information carries minimal or no foreseeable risk of misuse, in accordance with applicable rules and procedures for public release. Subject to standard copyright rules, TLP:WHITE information may be distributed without restriction.