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Remove DarkGate Malware Infections — Restore Your Computer

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.

Threat Summary

Name DarkGate Malware
Type Rootkit, Trojan
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 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 the [wplinkpreview url=”https://sensorstechforum.com/dhl-phishing-scams-get-rid/”]DHL 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.

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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Preparation before removing DarkGate Malware.

Before starting the actual removal process, we recommend that you do the following preparation steps.

  • Make sure you have these instructions always open and in front of your eyes.
  • Do a backup of all of your files, even if they could be damaged. You should back up your data with a cloud backup solution and insure your files against any type of loss, even from the most severe threats.
  • Be patient as this could take a while.
  • Scan for Malware
  • Fix Registries
  • Remove Virus Files

Step 1: Scan for DarkGate Malware 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.

SpyHunter 5 Scan Step 1

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

SpyHunter 5 Scan Step 2

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 Scan Step 3

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

Step 2: Clean any registries, created by DarkGate Malware 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 DarkGate Malware there. This can happen by following the steps underneath:

1. Open the Run Window again, type "regedit" and click OK.
Remove Virus Trojan Step 6

2. When you open it, you can freely navigate to the Run and RunOnce keys, whose locations are shown above.
Remove Virus Trojan Step 7

3. You can remove the value of the virus by right-clicking on it and removing it.
Remove Virus Trojan Step 8 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.

Step 3: Find virus files created by DarkGate Malware on your PC.

1.For Windows 8, 8.1 and 10.

For Newer Windows Operating Systems

1: On your keyboard press + R and write explorer.exe in the Run text box and then click on the Ok button.

Remove Virus Trojan Step 9

2: Click on your PC from the quick access bar. This is usually an icon with a monitor and its name is either “My Computer”, “My PC” or “This PC” or whatever you have named it.

Remove Virus Trojan Step 10

3: Navigate to the search box in the top-right of your PC's screen and type “fileextension:” and after which type the file extension. If you are looking for malicious executables, an example may be "fileextension:exe". After doing that, leave a space and type the file name you believe the malware has created. Here is how it may appear if your file has been found:

file extension malicious

N.B. We recommend to wait for the green loading bar in the navigation box to fill up in case the PC is looking for the file and hasn't found it yet.

2.For Windows XP, Vista, and 7.

For Older Windows Operating Systems

In older Windows OS's the conventional approach should be the effective one:

1: Click on the Start Menu icon (usually on your bottom-left) and then choose the Search preference.

Remove Virus Trojan

2: After the search window appears, choose More Advanced Options from the search assistant box. Another way is by clicking on All Files and Folders.

Remove Virus Trojan Step 11

3: After that type the name of the file you are looking for and click on the Search button. This might take some time after which results will appear. If you have found the malicious file, you may copy or open its location by right-clicking on it.

Now you should be able to discover any file on Windows as long as it is on your hard drive and is not concealed via special software.

DarkGate Malware FAQ

What Does DarkGate Malware Trojan Do?

The DarkGate Malware Trojan is a malicious computer program designed to disrupt, damage, or gain unauthorized access to a computer system.

It can be used to steal sensitive data, gain control over a system, or launch other malicious activities.

What Damage Can DarkGate Malware Trojan Cause?

The DarkGate Malware Trojan is a malicious type of malware that can cause significant damage to computers, networks and data.

It can be used to steal information, take control of systems, and spread other malicious viruses and malware.

Is DarkGate Malware Trojan a Harmful Virus?

Yes, it is. A Trojan is a type of malicious software that is used to gain unauthorized access to a person's device or system. It can damage files, delete data, and even steal confidential information.

Can Trojans Steal Passwords?

Yes, Trojans, like DarkGate Malware, can steal passwords. These malicious programs are designed to gain access to a user's computer, spy on victims and steal sensitive information such as banking details and passwords.

Can DarkGate Malware Trojan Hide Itself?

Yes, it can. A Trojan can use various techniques to mask itself, including rootkits, encryption, and obfuscation, to hide from security scanners and evade detection.

Can a Trojan be Removed by Factory Reset?

Yes, a Trojan can be removed by factory resetting your device. This is because it will restore the device to its original state, eliminating any malicious software that may have been installed.

Can DarkGate Malware Trojan Infect WiFi?

Yes, it is possible for a Trojan to infect WiFi networks. When a user connects to the infected network, the Trojan can spread to other connected devices and can access sensitive information on the network.

Can Trojans Be Deleted?

Yes, Trojans can be deleted. This is typically done by running a powerful anti-virus or anti-malware program that is designed to detect and remove malicious files. In some cases, manual deletion of the Trojan may also be necessary.

Can Trojans Steal Files?

Yes, Trojans can steal files if they are installed on a computer. This is done by allowing the malware author or user to gain access to the computer and then steal the files stored on it.

Which Anti-Malware Can Remove Trojans?

Anti-malware programs such as SpyHunter are capable of scanning for and removing Trojans from your computer. It is important to keep your anti-malware up to date and regularly scan your system for any malicious software.

Can Trojans Infect USB?

Yes, Trojans can infect USB devices. USB Trojans typically spread through malicious files downloaded from the internet or shared via email, allowing the hacker to gain access to a user's confidential data.

About the DarkGate Malware Research

The content we publish on SensorsTechForum.com, this DarkGate Malware how-to removal guide included, is the outcome of extensive research, hard work and our team’s devotion to help you remove the specific trojan problem.

How did we conduct the research on DarkGate Malware?

Please note that our research is based on an independent investigation. We are in contact with independent security researchers, thanks to which we receive daily updates on the latest malware definitions, including the various types of trojans (backdoor, downloader, infostealer, ransom, etc.)

Furthermore, the research behind the DarkGate Malware threat is backed with VirusTotal.

To better understand the threat posed by trojans, please refer to the following articles which provide knowledgeable details.

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