DarkGate Malware is a complex threat that installs itself in a stealth way and proceeds with many malicious changes to the infected host. Depending on its configuration it may launch various additional threats, steal sensitive data and cause overall system stability problems. In case that you see this program running on your machine, you should remove it before it takes the chance to cause some serious security and privacy related issues.
|Short Description||The application will install itself silently and launch a Trojan horse infection.|
|Symptoms||Performance issues, Inability to run certain services or apps|
|Distribution Method||Email messages and infected payload files|
|Detection Tool|| See If Your System Has Been Affected by DarkGate Malware |
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|User Experience||Join Our Forum to Discuss DarkGate Malware.|
DarkGate Malware — Distribution
The DarkGate malware is a very sophisticated malware that combines the functionality of several different virus types. The attack campaigns primarily target Windows workstations and the attacks themselves are carefully planned to target specific regions or type of users. This shows that careful planning is made by the hacker collectives behind the ongoing attacks.
The security analysis reveals that there are two distinct infection methods behind the DarkGate malware. The common characteristic is that they both use the BitTorrent file-sharing network to spread infected files.
- Malware Content — One of the detected DarkGate malware attacks used files that were masked as Walkind Dead episodes and other spoofed content. When launched the tv series files will run a VBscript embedded in them to download and run the main malware engine.
- Email Phishing Messages — DarkGate malware strains have been found in email scam messages that use the most popular phishing tactics. Distinct campaigns that are confirmed to include the various courier delivery notification scams, a popular example is the one associated with theDHL scam campaign.
After the DarkGate malware is downloaded onto the victim system it will unpack itself in a multi-stage fashion. This is done by a series of obfuscated scripts and files, this procedure is required in order to hide itself from operating system services and security software. The analysis of this behavior shows that it copies itself to system folders and may replace legitimate system data.
DarkGate Malware — Capabilities
During the unpack stages the DarkGate malware will initiate a stealth bypass function. This is done by scanning the system for the presence of anti-virus software or firewalls that can block the virus’s correct execution. Updated versions of it can scan for signatures and registry values as well, not only default installation folders. During the analysis we have detected that a distinct characteristic is the detection of virtual machines, recovery tools or sandbox environments that are used by analysts. If such hosts and engines are found running during the scan they will be disabled and the DarkGate malware may automatically delete itself to avoid detection. Another behavior pattern would be to relocate and rename the virus file so that it doesn’t get detected by the usual virus signature scans.
A list of the found anti-virus signatures identified in the captured samples is the following:
Avast, Kaspersky, AVG, NOD32, BitDefender, Avira, Norton, Trend Micro, ByteFence, Panda,
Search & Destroy, McAfee, Windows Defender, SUPER AntiSpyware, Comodo, Malware Bytes
When this has finished execution a Trojan instance will be run by setting a local client that establishes a secure connection to a hacker-controlled server. It allows the operators behind it to spy on the users, hijack their data and take over control at any given time. The modular framework has been found to call a keylogger component which will track all user actions (keyboard and mouse events) which will be recorded and sent to the hackers.
The analysis also shows that it runs a data collection component. The acquired samples generate a report of the installed hardware components from which a custom victim ID is made for each host. Other information that can be used for this purpose includes specific operating system variables and user-set settings. Future updates and modifications to the malware engine can include a identity theft module. It will search for strings that can directly expose the victims: their real name, phone number, email address, address and any stored username & password combinations. Most of these engines can access both the operating system, hard drive contents and third-party installed applications. A distinct tactic that is employed during this phase is that the servers use DNS records that appear as very similar to those used by Akamai and Amazon. This makes the malicious traffic difficult to identify during network analysis.
Before launching any further modules the DarkGate malware will initiate a scan which checks if the installed OS is 32 or 64-bit. It will run the built-in compatible version afterwards. To elevate its privileges it uses two distinct User Access Control (UAC) bypass techniques. Consequently it will gain administrative privileges and create many processes of its own making it even harder to detect and remove.
Infected hosts will be very difficult to restore as the engine will be remove system data such as Restore points.
Some of the data that is harvested includes the following:
locale, user name, computer name, window name,
time of last input, processor type, display adapter, RAM amount, OS type and version, user admin,
config.bin encrypted contents, epoch type, anti-virus type
How to Remove DarkGate Malware Infections
In order to remove DarkGate Malware and all its associated files from your PC you should complete all steps listed in the removal that follows. It presents both manual and automatic removal approaches that combined could help you to remove this undesired program in full. The automatic approach could properly locate all potentially harmful files so that you could access and remove them easily.
In case that you have further questions or need additional help, don’t hesitate to leave a comment or contact us via email.
- Guide 1: How to Remove DarkGate Malware from Windows.
- Guide 2: Get rid of DarkGate Malware from Mac OS X.
- Guide 3: Remove DarkGate Malware from Google Chrome.
- Guide 4: Erase DarkGate Malware from Mozilla Firefox.
- Guide 5: Uninstall DarkGate Malware from Microsoft Edge.
- Guide 6: Remove DarkGate Malware from Safari.
- Guide 7: Eliminate DarkGate Malware from Internet Explorer.
How to Remove DarkGate Malware from Windows.
Step 1: Boot Your PC In Safe Mode to isolate and remove DarkGate Malware
Step 2: Uninstall DarkGate Malware 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.
Step 3: Clean any registries, created by DarkGate Malware on your computer.
The usually targeted registries of Windows machines are the following:
You can access them by opening the Windows registry editor and deleting any values, created by DarkGate Malware there. This can happen by following the steps underneath:
Get rid of DarkGate Malware from Mac OS X.
Step 1: Uninstall DarkGate Malware and remove related files and objects
1. Hit the ⇧+⌘+U keys to open Utilities. Another way is to click on “Go” and then click “Utilities”, like the image below shows:
- 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 DarkGate Malware 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:
You can repeat the same procedure with the following other Library directories:
Tip: ~ is there on purpose, because it leads to more LaunchAgents.
Step 2: Scan for and remove DarkGate Malware files from your Mac
When you are facing problems on your Mac as a result of unwanted scripts and programs such as DarkGate 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.
Remove DarkGate Malware 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.
Erase DarkGate Malware 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.
Uninstall DarkGate Malware 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.
Remove DarkGate Malware 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".
Step 4: After that, select the 'Extensions' Tab.
Step 5: Click once on the extension you want to remove.
Step 6: Click 'Uninstall'.
A pop-up window will appear asking for confirmation to uninstall the extension. Select 'Uninstall' again, and the DarkGate Malware will be removed.
Eliminate DarkGate Malware 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.