THREAT REMOVAL

Heaven’s Gate Miner Virus – How to Detect and Remove It

This blog post has been created to explain what is Heaven’s Gate Miner cryptocurrency miner and show how to remove it from your computer plus protect your PC against future infections as well.

The Heaven’s Gate miner is a new cryptocurrency miner malware that is the main payload of a recent hacker attacks. It contains many advanced stealth protection features and upon infection it would use the resources of the victim computers to generate income for the operators.

Threat Summary

Name Heaven's Gate
Type CryptoCurrency Miner Malware
Short Description Aims to mine for different cryptocurrencies on the victim’s computer after which may begin to
Symptoms The Heaven’s Gate Miner miner may begin to slow down your computer by using over 90% of both your CPU and GPU. This may result in your cooling fans to work at higher speeds.
Distribution Method Via bundled installers, fake setups or via other PUP that has already been installed on your PC.
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Heaven’s Gate Miner Virus – Distribution Methods

The Heaven’s Gate Miner is distributed using large-scale attacks that are planned in advance by different hacker groups. At the moment the identity of the person or group behind the various campaigns is not known. The security analysts reveal that depending on the separate campaigns the exact configuration and behavior may differ.

A recent RIG exploit kit based attack campaign launched last week has been found to carry the Heaven’s Gate miner. Instead of ransomware however the latest campaign seem to include cryptocurrency miners as payloads such as the Heaven’s Gate malware. The analysts note that more and more of them are purposed to generate alternative crypto currencies to Bitcoin, the most popular being Monero.

The exploit kit uses the Ngay campaign to facilitate dangerous malvertising instances that lead to the Heaven’s Gate miner infections. They can be used in cases such as the following:

  • Hacker-controlled Sites — The criminals can utilize different web scripts such as redirects, banners, pop-ups and etc. that are inserted in various malware sites.
  • Email Messages — The criminals can utilize social engineering techniques in order to coerce the targets into opening the malware links. In some cases the files can also be attached directly to the messages masquerading as data of interest.

Criminals can also utilize browser hijackers to deliver the malware as part of their infection patterns. This type of computer viruses are counterfeit browser plugins that usually change important settings on the victims applications (default home page, search engine and new tabs page) in order to redirect the victims to hacker-controlled sites. They are also used to institute tracking cookies, Trojan viruses and cause dangerous system changes.

Malware software installers represent modified setup files taken from their official sources and changed to include payloads such as the Heaven’s Gate miner. They are often distributed using several methods at once.

Heaven’s Gate Miner Malware – Malicious Activity

At the start of infections the malicious process that is powered up by the main virus engine starts the behavior pattern is initiated. The analysts detected that the Notepad applications is started together with built-in parameters that runs the Heaven’s Gate miner code in parallel. An in-depth overview reveals that this is not the actual text software, but a customized xmring Monero mining instance. There are several reasons why the hacker operators would want to launch miner using this method:

  • Counterfeit Process Launch — The miner process is made to appear as one of the essential Microsoft Windows coponents. In many cases such techniques can fool users and system administrators that might be looking at their task manager. Such obfuscation techniques are fairy common among miners of late.
  • Minimum Time To Launch — This particular threat does not involve complex archives or packaging schemes that usually delay slightly the initial infections.
  • Customized Instance — Unlike simpler miner malware this particular one contains a distinctive launch mechanism which can make it harder to detect using generic signatures scans employed by anti-virus products in some cases.

The security investigation shows that the main malware process (dropper) appears to be 32-bit compatible. However it injects a 64-bit prcoess into the “notepad” instance. Officially this is not supported by the Windows API and the programmers behind the Heaven’s Gate miner have used workarounds in order to allow this to happen. The experts note that the hackers behind the threat are experienced criminals and it is likely that the virus can be modified further in future iterations.

During the code execution the hackers discovered that the samples include a stealth protection feature. It defends the malware files from virtual machines, sandboxes and debug environments. If such are found the malware may attempt to delete or disable them. If it is unable to do so then it can delete itself to avoid detection.

Cryptocurrency miners like the Heaven’s Gate malware aim to utilize the resources of the victim computers in order to generate income for the hacker operators. This particular strain is a Monero based software which is one of the most popular crypto currencies.

Malware miners such as this one have the ability to cause further damage to the victims machines including the following:

  • Trojan Virus Delivery — The hackers can institute Trojan malware that can spy on the users in real time. In can also take over control of the machines at any given time.
  • Additional Malware Delivery — The Heaven’s Gate miner virus can be used to institute other threats to the victim hosts.
  • System Changes — If configured so the main malware module can cause dangerous system changes to all aspects of the computers. This includes the Windows registry, configuration settings and services. As a result the users may experience performance issues or find that some system services or applications may fail to start. Boot and recovery options can also be affected.

The Heaven’s Gate miner is merely the latest payload used by the hackers. Usually such malware threats are customized and updated further in future attacks. We suspect that improved versions of it will follow.

Remove Heaven’s Gate Miner Virus and Protect Your PC

Q: How Do I Remove Heaven’s Gate Miner and How Do I Protect Myself In the Future?

A: In order to remove the Heaven’s Gate Miner miner, you should first stop the malicious processes of the malware by entering Windows Task Manager and stopping the malicious task by right-clicking on the Heaven’s Gate Miner process and clicking on End Process or End Process tree. This results in the virus stopping to mine. After doing so, you may want to remove the malware preferably by following the automatic or manual removal instructions below, if you have removed malware manually and have the experience. Be advised that security experts strongly recommend to remove the Heaven’s Gate Miner miner malware automatically by downloading an advanced anti-malware software, that aims to scan for and erase all malware from your system plus protect it against future infections as well.

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Martin Beltov

Martin graduated with a degree in Publishing from Sofia University. As a cyber security enthusiast he enjoys writing about the latest threats and mechanisms of intrusion.

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Windows Mac OS X Google Chrome Mozilla Firefox Microsoft Edge Safari Internet Explorer

How to Remove Heaven's Gate from Windows.


Step 1: Boot Your PC In Safe Mode to isolate and remove Heaven's Gate

OFFER

Manual Removal Usually Takes Time and You Risk Damaging Your Files If Not Careful!
We Recommend To Scan Your PC with SpyHunter

Keep in mind, that SpyHunter’s scanner is only for malware detection. If SpyHunter detects malware on your PC, you will need to purchase SpyHunter's malware removal tool to remove the malware threats. Read our SpyHunter 5 review. Click on the corresponding links to check SpyHunter's EULA, Privacy Policy and Threat Assessment Criteria

1. Hold Windows key() + R


2. The "Run" Window will appear. In it, type "msconfig" and click OK.


3. Go to the "Boot" tab. There select "Safe Boot" and then click "Apply" and "OK".
Tip: Make sure to reverse those changes by unticking Safe Boot after that, because your system will always boot in Safe Boot from now on.


4. When prompted, click on "Restart" to go into Safe Mode.


5. You can recognise Safe Mode by the words written on the corners of your screen.


Step 2: Uninstall Heaven's Gate and related software from Windows

Here is a method in few easy steps that should be able to uninstall most programs. No matter if you are using Windows 10, 8, 7, Vista or XP, those steps will get the job done. Dragging the program or its folder to the recycle bin can be a very bad decision. If you do that, bits and pieces of the program are left behind, and that can lead to unstable work of your PC, errors with the file type associations and other unpleasant activities. The proper way to get a program off your computer is to Uninstall it. To do that:


1. Hold the Windows Logo Button and "R" on your keyboard. A Pop-up window will appear.


2. In the field type in "appwiz.cpl" and press ENTER.


3. This will open a window with all the programs installed on the PC. Select the program that you want to remove, and press "Uninstall"
Follow the instructions above and you will successfully uninstall most programs.


Step 3: Clean any registries, created by Heaven's Gate on your computer.

The usually targeted registries of Windows machines are the following:

  • HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run
  • HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run
  • HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\RunOnce
  • HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\RunOnce

You can access them by opening the Windows registry editor and deleting any values, created by Heaven's Gate there. This can happen by following the steps underneath:

1. Open the Run Window again, type "regedit" and click OK.


2. When you open it, you can freely navigate to the Run and RunOnce keys, whose locations are shown above.


3. You can remove the value of the virus by right-clicking on it and removing it.
Tip: To find a virus-created value, you can right-click on it and click "Modify" to see which file it is set to run. If this is the virus file location, remove the value.

IMPORTANT!
Before starting "Step 4", please boot back into Normal mode, in case you are currently in Safe Mode.
This will enable you to install and use SpyHunter 5 successfully.

Step 4: Scan for Heaven's Gate with SpyHunter Anti-Malware Tool

1. Click on the "Download" button to proceed to SpyHunter's download page.


It is recommended to run a scan before purchasing the full version of the software to make sure that the current version of the malware can be detected by SpyHunter. Click on the corresponding links to check SpyHunter's EULA, Privacy Policy and Threat Assessment Criteria.


2. After you have installed SpyHunter, wait for it to update automatically.

SpyHunter5-update-2018


3. After the update process has finished, click on the 'Malware/PC Scan' tab. A new window will appear. Click on 'Start Scan'.

SpyHunter5-Free-Scan-2018


4. After SpyHunter has finished scanning your PC for any files of the associated threat and found them, you can try to get them removed automatically and permanently by clicking on the 'Next' button.

SpyHunter-5-Free-Scan-Next-2018

If any threats have been removed, it is highly recommended to restart your PC.


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Get rid of Heaven's Gate from Mac OS X.


Step 1: Uninstall Heaven's Gate and remove related files and objects

OFFER
Manual Removal Usually Takes Time and You Risk Damaging Your Files If Not Careful!
We Recommend To Scan Your Mac with SpyHunter for Mac
Keep in mind, that SpyHunter for Mac needs to purchased to remove the malware threats. Click on the corresponding links to check SpyHunter’s EULA and Privacy Policy


1. Hit the ⇧+⌘+U keys to open Utilities. Another way is to click on “Go” and then click “Utilities”, like the image below shows:


2. Find Activity Monitor and double-click it:


3. In the Activity Monitor look for any suspicious processes, belonging or related to Heaven's Gate:

Tip: To quit a process completely, choose the “Force Quit” option.


4. Click on the "Go" button again, but this time select Applications. Another way is with the ⇧+⌘+A buttons.


5. In the Applications menu, look for any suspicious app or an app with a name, similar or identical to Heaven's Gate. If you find it, right-click on the app and select “Move to Trash”.


6: Select Accounts, after which click on the Login Items preference. Your Mac will then show you a list of items that start automatically when you log in. Look for any suspicious apps identical or similar to Heaven's Gate. Check the app you want to stop from running automatically and then select on the Minus (“-“) icon to hide it.


7: Remove any left-over files that might be related to this threat manually by following the sub-steps below:

  • Go to Finder.
  • In the search bar type the name of the app that you want to remove.
  • Above the search bar change the two drop down menus to “System Files” and “Are Included” so that you can see all of the files associated with the application you want to remove. Bear in mind that some of the files may not be related to the app so be very careful which files you delete.
  • If all of the files are related, hold the ⌘+A buttons to select them and then drive them to “Trash”.

In case you cannot remove Heaven's Gate via Step 1 above:

In case you cannot find the virus files and objects in your Applications or other places we have shown above, you can manually look for them in the Libraries of your Mac. But before doing this, please read the disclaimer below:

Disclaimer! If you are about to tamper with Library files on Mac, be sure to know the name of the virus file, because if you delete the wrong file, it may cause irreversible damage to your MacOS. Continue on your own responsibility!

1: Click on "Go" and Then "Go to Folder" as shown underneath:

2: Type in "/Library/LauchAgents/" and click Ok:

3: Delete all of the virus files that have similar or the same name as Heaven's Gate. If you believe there is no such file, do not delete anything.

You can repeat the same procedure with the following other Library directories:

→ ~/Library/LaunchAgents
/Library/LaunchDaemons

Tip: ~ is there on purpose, because it leads to more LaunchAgents.


Step 2: Scan for and remove malware from your Mac

When you are facing problems on your Mac as a result of unwanted scripts, programs and malware, the recommended way of eliminating the threat is by using an anti-malware program. Combo Cleaner offers advanced security features along with other modules that will improve your Mac’s security and protect it in the future.



Windows Mac OS X Google Chrome Mozilla Firefox Microsoft Edge Safari Internet Explorer


Remove Heaven's Gate from Google Chrome.


Step 1: Start Google Chrome and open the drop menu


Step 2: Move the cursor over "Tools" and then from the extended menu choose "Extensions"


Step 3: From the opened "Extensions" menu locate the unwanted extension and click on its "Remove" button.


Step 4: After the extension is removed, restart Google Chrome by closing it from the red "X" button at the top right corner and start it again.


Windows Mac OS X Google Chrome Mozilla Firefox Microsoft Edge Safari Internet Explorer


Erase Heaven's Gate from Mozilla Firefox.

Step 1: Start Mozilla Firefox. Open the menu window


Step 2: Select the "Add-ons" icon from the menu.


Step 3: Select the unwanted extension and click "Remove"


Step 4: After the extension is removed, restart Mozilla Firefox by closing it from the red "X" button at the top right corner and start it again.



Windows Mac OS X Google Chrome Mozilla Firefox Microsoft Edge Safari Internet Explorer


Uninstall Heaven's Gate from Microsoft Edge.


Step 1: Start Edge browser.


Step 2: Open the drop menu by clicking on the icon at the top right corner.


Step 3: From the drop menu select "Extensions".


Step 4: Choose the suspected malicious extension you want to remove and then click on the gear icon.


Step 5: Remove the malicious extension by scrolling down and then clicking on Uninstall.



Windows Mac OS X Google Chrome Mozilla Firefox Microsoft Edge Safari Internet Explorer


Remove Heaven's Gate from Safari.


Step 1: Start the Safari app.


Step 2: After hovering your mouse cursor to the top of the screen, click on the Safari text to open its drop down menu.


Step 3: From the menu, click on "Preferences".

stf-safari preferences


Step 4: After that, select the 'Extensions' Tab.

stf-safari-extensions


Step 5: Click once on the extension you want to remove.


Step 6: Click 'Uninstall'.

stf-safari uninstall

A pop-up window will appear asking for confirmation to uninstall the extension. Select 'Uninstall' again, and the Heaven's Gate will be removed.


How to Reset Safari
IMPORTANT: Before resetting Safari make sure you back up all your saved passwords within the browser in case you forget them.

Start Safari and then click on the gear leaver icon.

Click the Reset Safari button and you will reset the browser.


Windows Mac OS X Google Chrome Mozilla Firefox Microsoft Edge Safari Internet Explorer


Eliminate Heaven's Gate from Internet Explorer.


Step 1: Start Internet Explorer.


Step 2: Click on the gear icon labeled 'Tools' to open the drop menu and select 'Manage Add-ons'


Step 3: In the 'Manage Add-ons' window.


Step 4: Select the extension you want to remove and then click 'Disable'. A pop-up window will appear to inform you that you are about to disable the selected extension, and some more add-ons might be disabled as well. Leave all the boxes checked, and click 'Disable'.


Step 5: After the unwanted extension has been removed, restart Internet Explorer by closing it from the red 'X' button located at the top right corner and start it again.


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