AdvisorsBot Trojan is a newly discovered hacking weapon which is being distributed against targets worldwide. Its modular engine allows the criminal operators to carry out complex infections utilizing a variety of modules. Our article looks at the typical samples and shows how users can remove active infections.
|Short Description||The AdvisorsBot Trojan is a utility malware that is designed to silently infiltrate computer systems, active infections will spy on the victim users.|
|Symptoms||The victims may not experience any apparent symptoms of infection.|
|Distribution Method||Freeware Installations, Bundled Packages, Scripts and others.|
|Detection Tool|| See If Your System Has Been Affected by AdvisorsBot Trojan |
Malware Removal Tool
|User Experience||Join Our Forum to Discuss AdvisorsBot Trojan.|
AdvisorsBot Trojan – Distribution Methods
The AdvisorsBot Trojan has been found in a recent attack campaign, the first instances of which were reported in May 2018. It appears that the ongoing infiltration attempts target primarily companies and businesses: restaurants, telecom providers and hotels. It appears that the hackers are using it as a weapon for global infiltration — reports of infected machines have been received from different parts of the world.
One of the most popular distribution methods for spreading the AdvisorsBot Trojan is the coordinated distribution of email messages. The hackers use several templates tht attempt to blackmail the victims into thinking that they are receiving messages from partners, customer or Internet services that they use. Interaction with them will lead to the malware infection. Examples of social engineering tactics include the following message types:
- Fake Customer Complaint — Hotel owners and staff can receive a fake message that appears to be coming from a guest claiming that they have been double charged for a room reservation or service. The emails feature a rich text document (.doc Word file format) containing further information about the incident.
- Restaurant Food Poisoning — Restaurant managers can receive messages claiming to have been sent by unhappy clients. The criminals pretend to have been clients of the target company and that they have been poisoned by the offered food. They state that they will file a lawsuit against the company and that the attached document presents an attorney’s case details or medical report from a doctor.
- Fake CV Submission — Telecom service providers can receive CV submissions for open positions. The attached files will include dangerous macros that upon activation will lead to the virus infections.
- Software Updates — The staff may receive fake messages that appear as being sent by the vendors that maintain software used in their business. The messages resemble a software update notification with a hyperlink or direct attachment to an executable file. Upon interaction with it the virus infection will be triggered.
These scenarios also depend on the creation of numerous fake download sites. They are used to blackmail the users into thinking that they have accessed a vendor download page or a popular portal where they can acquire documents or application installers.
A popular mechanism for spreading the AdvisorsBot Trojan is to embed the virus code into infected payloads. Two of the most popular types include the following:
- Documents — The macro-infected documents can be made into various types: rich text documents, presentations, databases and spreadsheets. Once they are opened by the victim users a notification prompt will appear asking them to enable the built-in macros. This will trigger the commands that will download the threat from a remote site and execute it on the local computer.
- Application Installers — The Trojan code can be embedded in setup files of popular software: system utilities, creativity suites and productivity applications. They are made by taking the legitimate installers from the official vendor download sites and bundling the Trojan payload.
Advanced infection campaigns can make use of browser hijackers as another delivery method. They represent malicious extensions that are described as useful additions to the web browsers and are most often found on the associated repositories. This is done via fake user reviews and developer credentials along with a detailed description of the promised enhancements. As soon as the plugins are installed the built-in commands will modify the settings by redirecting the users to a hacker-controlled site. Following this the next step would be to deploy the AdvisorsBot Trojan to the infected hosts.
AdvisorsBot Trojan – Detailed Description
The security analysis of the captured AdvisorsBot Trojan shows that it does feature a complex infection algorithm. While the earlier versions of the took advantage of payload infections via documents and the other common strategies, later versions shifted to a step-by-step pattern.
The macros, payloads and other infection methods execute a PowerShell script which downloads another set of scripts. The second dropper downloads the Trojan instance and runs the actual Trojan infection without writing any log files to the disk.
As soon as the threat is deployed a series of anti-spyware detection measures will be launched. This is done by scanning the local computer for signs of installed applications that can interfere with the virus infection: anti-virus software, virtual machine hosts or debug environments. Their real-time engines can be bypassed or entirely removed.
Other actions include the addition of extra instructions and system code instructions that can maek it harder to perform analysis on the captured samples. This means that even when placed under observation by a security researcher or system administrator it may be difficult to discover that there might be an active infection.
This step can be accompanied with a data harvesting module. it can harvest sensitive data that can be grouped into two main types:
- Personal Data — This information can be used to expose the identity of the users. This is done by programming the engine to harvest information such as their name, address, phone number, interests, location and account credentials.
- Campaign Optimization Metrics — The engine can retrieve information that can be used to optimize the ongoing attack campaigns. The bulk of the harvested used for this purpose includes a report of the installed hardware components and certain operating system values.
The analysis of the AdvisorsBot Trojan shows that the fingerprint component can process the collected data and adapt the virus to the infected hosts.
AdvisorsBot Trojan – Trojan Operations
The main goal of the AdvisorsBot Trojan is to allow the hackers control of the infected computers. The most common way to achieve this is to create a secure connection to a hacker-controlled server. The encrypted connection will be maintained during the Trojan’s presence and allows the hackers to constantly spy on the victims, take over control of their machines and deploy additional threats.
The analysis shows that some of the noteworthy features found in this virus is its ability to automatically capture screenshots which are encoded using a special cipher and transferred to the operators. The other unique feature is the ability to hoop up to the installed Microsoft Outlook and retrieve all stored account credentials.
One of the possible uses of this Trojan is to perform social engineering scams with the aid of interactive elements and system manipulation. The most common scenario is to hook up to the web browsers and monitor for logins to sensitive Internet services — payment gateways, banking sites and etc. Whenever a user accesses a certain site the criminals can automatically redirect them to a fake login page automatically, in many cases they will not even notice the page change. Whenever the account credentials are entered they will be automatically sent to the controllers. In certain configurations this can be done in a more intrusive way by installing a keylogger component. It will automatically collect all entered keystrokes and mouse movement.
The Trojan code can also be programmed to carry out system modifications such as the following:
- Windows Registry Changes — The Trojan can be instructed into modifying the registry entries belonging to the system. If the ones related to service components components overall performance can greatly suffer. In addition if user-installed applications are affected then certain functions can stop working properly.
- System Data Deletion — To make recovery more difficult the virus code can delete the identified System Restore Data and Shadow Volume Copies. This means that the victims will have to resort to a professional restore solution. Refer to our instructions for more information.
- Miner Installation — Many newer viruses can install a cryptocurrency miner which will take advantage of the available system resources to perform complex calculations. In return of the reported results the hacker operators will receive funds in the form of digital currencies such as Bitcoin and Monero.
The AdvisorsBot Trojan has been found to contain a modular engine which means that for each attack campaign the hackers can prepare different instructions. In the hands of experienced criminals this can be a really powerful weapon that can be used to both deploy other malicious payloads and to carry out different scam attacks.
Remove AdvisorsBot Trojan
If your computer system got infected with the AdvisorsBot Trojan, you should have a bit of experience in removing malware. You should get rid of this Trojan as quickly as possible before it can have the chance to spread further and infect other computers. You should remove the Trojan and follow the step-by-step instructions guide provided below.