The BalkanRAT Trojan is a dangerous malware threat which is designed for Microsoft Windows computers. It can be acquired from various sources, every attack campaign can focus on one specific tactic. Usually virus infections like this one are made by interacting with an infected file — this can be either a macro-infected document or a hacker-made software installer. They are often made by taking the legitimate files from their official sources and modifying them with the necessary virus code. Other data can also be affected. All kinds of other data may be used as well — this includes malicious plugins for web browsers and etc. In other cases the hackers can use a direct attacks that will look for system vulnerabilities and weaknesses. If any are found then the BalkanRAT Trojan will be installed.
This particular threat is known for being spread using a multitude of weaknesses. It is set against both end users and servers. After the infection has been made the BalkanRAT Trojan can download other threats, launch multiple dangerous modules and install a cryptocurrency miner which will run a sequence of performance-demanding tasks.
|Type||Malware, Trojan, Miner|
|Short Description||A dangerous malware which can launch a miner and start a Trojan module.|
|Symptoms||The victims may notice performance issues and can get infected with other malware.|
|Distribution Method||Common distribution tactics and direct web attacks.|
|Detection Tool|| See If Your System Has Been Affected by BalkanRAT Trojan |
Malware Removal Tool
|User Experience||Join Our Forum to Discuss BalkanRAT Trojan.|
BalkanRAT Trojan – How Did I Get It
The BalkanRAT Trojan is a dangerous threat which will start a malicious infection. At the moment the security researchers have detected that the main method which is being used is the coordination of email phishing messages which can focus on different strategies. The main goal of all of them will be to manipulate the recipients into thinking that they have received a legitimate notification:
- Special Web Offers — The recipients will receive promotional contents that will be presented as images, multimedia contents and links that once interacted with will lead to the BalkanRAT Trojan deployment.
- Service Notifications — The criminals can fake legitimate messages such as password reset prompts, message notifications and other related emails.
- Update Messages — The criminals can send out messages that will notify the recipients that need to apply a new software, game or operating system update. It will be directly attached to the messages or linked in it. When opened the BalkanRAT Trojan will be deployed to the victim systems.
- Infected Documents — A large part of the attacks appear to be focused on sending out macro-infected documents such as invoices and receipts. When they are opened by the victims the built-in scripts will trigger the infection.
The BalkanRAT Trojan is currently set against the following countries: Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro, and Bosnia and Herzegovina. According to the security researchers the attacks are done in campaigns that peaked during certain periods. Versions of the Trojan code have been used since 2016, the most recent one has been detected in July 2019. In one of its many forms it is found as a PDF document or an ACE archive disguised as WinRAR archive file. This is done in order to attempt exploitation of the CVE-2018-20250 vulnerability which affects the WinRAR software.
BalkanRAT Trojan – What Does It Do
When the BalkanRAT has been deployed onto a given host it will immediately start its built-in infection sequence. The main engine has the ability to check the current status of the host — whether or not an user is actively using it or not. The Trojan will actively work via a special payload that will be dropped onto the infected hosts called BalkanDoor backdoor. In the current version this is done in order to carry out the intended malicious activities.
If the screen is locked or other security mechanisms are placed they will be bypassed and the threat will take over control of the infected hosts. At the moment it appears that the main goal of the threat is to carry out espionage and surveillance. One of the motives which are seen as the main ones is financial abuse. A fact which proves this is the deployment of a special tool which can identify if there are any installed smart cards in the file system. They are frequently used to provide user authentication to services, especially online banking.
The BalkanDoor backdoor script has been updated across the live campaigns and so far there have been six major releases of it. Not only will it deploy itself on the target system by unpacking many virus-related files, but also create a persistent installation. This is done by installing the malware as a Windows service and modifying the Windows Registry by creating new entries for itself.
The BalkanRAT Trojan and the associated backdoor will then run the built-in Trojan horse instance. It is set to establish a secure and persistent connection to a hacker-defined server. If the initial connection cannot be made the backdoor will resort to a modification of the Internet settings — the traffic will be redirected to a hacker-controlled proxy server. This step will guarantee that the hackers can effectively monitor the users web activities and also access the server. The main engine and associated virus module are masked from the system by pretending to be legitimate software or utility scripts. The processes can hook to existing ones, including operating system ones. Code injections can happen in real-time which means that the malware can edit the users input without them noticing.
The BalkanDoor backdoor is commanded through several short commands which are sent by the hackers to the infected hosts. They can specify the computer name and command them to download specific malware. Specific actions can be ordered in order to launch executable and malware data with certain parameters. To spy on the victims more effectively the hackers can order the engine to create screenshots at set intervals. If direct access to the infected hosts is required the engine can create a remote shell. Specific actions can be run as instructed.
Given the complexity of the threat we assume that there are several malicious consequences that can take place after the infection has started:
- Malware Delivery — Using the Trojan components it is relatively easy to deploy other threats to the already compromised hosts. Popular ones are cryptocurrency miners which are dangerous scripts which are designed to download a sequence of small complex mathematical tasks — they take advantage of the main hardware components and lead to severe performance issues. When one of them is reported back to the hackers they will receive cryptocurrency that will be directly wired to their digital wallets. The other popular threat which can be sent is the ransomware infection — malicious viruses that will lock sensitive user data and extort the victims into paying the hackers a decryption fee.
- Information Gathering — Using the dangerous module the BalkanRAT can be used to gather a lot of sensitive data from the infected hosts. This can include the victim users themselves, as well as their computers. This is done by searching for specific strings such as a person’s name, address, mobile phone number and any stored credentials.
- System Manipulation — What’s particularly worrying about the BalkanRAT Trojan is that it can cause a wide range of changes in the infected system. Modifications to the boot options also include the blocking of access to the recovery boot options which can make manual user recovery very difficult. The editing of certain configuration files can further produce errors.
The known signatures which are attributed to the virus are the following:
Win32/BalkanDoor.A, Win32/BalkanDoor.B, Win32/BalkanRAT.A, Win32/BalkanRAT.B, Win64/BalkanRAT.A, Win64/BalkanRAT.B
How to Remove BalkanRAT Trojan
In order to fully remove BalkanRAT from your computer system, we recommend that you follow the removal instructions underneath this article. If the first two manual removal steps do not seem to work and you still see BalkanRAT or programs, related to it, we suggest what most security experts advise – to download and run a scan of your comptuer with a reputable anti-malware program. Downloading this software will not only save you some time, but will remove all of BalkanRAT files and programs related to it and will protect your computer against such intrusive apps and malware in the future.