The SLoad Trojan is being primarily spread against computer users in Canada and UK, it appears that the attacks are targeted mainly against specific targets which means that the attackers have carefully researched their intended victims. There are several popular attack methods which are used by the criminal collective:
- Fake Messages and Sites — The hackers can create phishing emails and fake web sites in order to coerce the victims into interacting with the content. This can take the form of both scripts, files or other type of data interaction.
- Payload Carriers — The code can be placed in documents or application installers which when opened will lead to the virus infection. This also include browser hijackers which are dangerous plugins made or the most popular web browsers.
- Direct Attacks — Exploits can be used to directly take down certain machines using popular vulnerabilities.
As soon as it is installed on a given computer it will start to gather sensitive data about the victims and their machines. This allows the hacker operators to execute crimes such as identity theft and financial abuse. The code analysis shows that as soon as the infection is triggered the relevant infection engine will start to scan the memory for a list of running programs and identify any installed and/or running programs that are related to online banking: web browsers, VPN utilities and email clients. A specially designed Trojan instance will be started which will establish a secure and persistent connection with a hacker-controlled server. This will allow the criminals to spy on the victims in real-time, steal any one of their files and deploy other threats if necessary.
Such infections are very useful for performing man-in-the-middle attacks (MITM) and other dangerous behavior. By itself it is categorized as a dangerous banking Trojan however any future releases can add in any other behavior if required.
|Type||Malware, Scam Hacking Program|
|Short Description||It is installed silently by other payload droppers.|
|Symptoms||The victims may notice performance issues and can get infected with other malware.|
|Distribution Method||Mainly via download sites and file sharing networks.|
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|User Experience||Join Our Forum to Discuss SLoad Trojan.|
Microsoft has reported the release of a SLoad Trojan v2.0 “in the wild” which is a significant update to the previous core threat. It appears that the hackers are the same collective as the ones which have created the first version. In terms of features there isn’t much surprise — some of the main code has been updated to reflect the changes in the infection sequence. The SLoad Trojan still servers its main purpose as a payload dropper that also includes some other functions. The way it works is that the hackers will load a “main payload” which will be downloaded from a remote server and executed by SLoad which will make sure that the infection is deployed correctly.
What’s interesting about this particular threat is that is abuses the Background Intelligent Transfer Service (BITS) component of Windows in a manner which is similar to another recent threat — the Astaroth Trojan.
As soon as the SLoad Trojan infection has been done it will immediately start to detect active security services which are installed on the host computers. They will be disabled or entirely removed depending on the instructions. Like other popular threats it ill also implement a thorough information gathering process.
Once again the infection technique used by the hackers is the sending of email messages that contain download links or scripts that will deliver the initial loader which is wrapped in PowerShell code. This will download and decrypt and obfuscated VBScript instance that will download the SLoad Trojan.
Before the actual deployment and start of the malicious operations the loader will create a scheduled task that will run the VBScript every 3 minutes. The script will control the BITS instances and spawn different one depending on the deployed configuration. The Sload Trojan v2.0 contains an additional feature that will actively track the stages of infection and prevent certain removal attempts made by the users.
The sLoad Trojan as one of the most effective PowerShell-based malware has received numerous updates in December 2019. The newer versions use a distinct technique that will download the main payload through the BITS (Background Intelligent Transfer Service) service. This is a main component that is part of the Windows operating system to download updates by using idle network bandwidth. Over the years many groups have used it and as such the malware delivery can be done using a lot of distribution techniques.
sLoad Trojan uses alternative protocols and methods compared to most other threats making it very hard to detect by most anti-virus engines. Most of the campaigns rely on the creation and sending out of malware phishing emails that look like sent by companies or services that the recipients are familiar with. In their contents there will be several scripts that when interacted with will deploy the initial sLoad Trojan loader. This component will prepare the environment for the actual malware infection by triggering the rich code. The first loader will run a series of Visual Basic and PowerShell scripts — they are responsible for scheduling the BITS download job.
The newer versions of the sLoad Trojan have been found to run several dangerous modules:
- Installation Folder Creation — The sLoad Trojan will install itself in a specific location. The folder is named after the unique machine ID generated by the main engine
- Constant Malware Check — A special marker will be placed in the system which will periodically check if the sLoad trojan is running properly
- Configuration Files Creation — Every individual computer will have created their own unique configuration file based on the local conditions
- Scheduled Task Creation — The installation engine will create a scheduled task that will guarantee that the relevant sLoad Trojan scripts are running properly
Several of the hacking groups have been found also include a very sophisticated data retrieval module. It is programmed to extract data that can both reveal sensitive information about the victim users and their computers. Additionally due to its complex infiltration pattern the sLoad Trojan is particularly effective at installing other malware onto the compromised machines.
SLoad – Overview
The SLoad Trojan can be spread using a variety of different tactics. There are many variants of it which are spread using various collectives. There may be many versions using the SLoad name and alternatives as well. This allows the criminal collectives to launch a multitude of attacks bearing different versions of the malware.
One of the main techniques is the coordination of phishing email messages which coerce the victims to interact with the included content. They are designed to appear as legitimate notifications sent from well-known services and companies. The SLoad Trojan files can be either attached or inserted as text links.
Hacker-made sites that pose as legitimate download portals, search engines and software product pages will scam the users into downloading and running the application. They are generally hosted on domains that sound similar to popular sources and may include self-signed security certificates.
To increase the number of infected victims the criminals can also place the SLoad Trojan in payload carriers such as macro-infected documents and malware application bundles. They are widely downloaded from the Internet by end users and may be found on file-sharing sites as well like BitTorrent.
Such infections can also be spread via browser hijackers which are dangerous web browser extensions that are usually uploaded to the repositories of the most popular browsers.
The SLoad Trojan upon execution will start its infection process as soon as the infection occurs. Its main goal is to start a secure and persistent connection to a hacker-controlled server. It allows the criminals to take over control of the affected computers, steal their data and deploy other threats.
Such malware can execute many different tactics depending on the exact attack campaign. Most of them are used in order to serve as payload carriers for other threats. Popular options are the following:
- Data Theft — The SLoad Trojan may include an information harvesting ability which is capable of acquiring data that ca directly expose the identity of the victim users.
- Machine Identification — Many similar threats are programmed to extract the list of installed hardware components ,specific operating system environment values and user settngs which are then processed by a special algorithm that will output an unique infection ID that is to be assigned to each different computer.
- Windows Registry Changes — The SLoad Trojan can create entries for itself in the Windows Registry which can make its removal more difficult. If it edits existing values then serious performance issues can arise. Data loss and errors are a common side effect of this operation.
- Boot Menu Options Modification — Some SLoad Trojan versions can modify the boot options in order to automatically start themselves when the computer is powered on. By disabling access to these options manual user removal guides can become worthless.
- Data Removal — The engine can be configured to locate and delete files such as system backups, restore files and shadow volume copies. This makes recovery much more difficult and in this case the use of a data recovery solution needs to be used.
Any future SLoad variants can include other malicious actions as per the hacker’s instructions.
How to Remove SLoad Trojan
In order to fully remove SLoad 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 SLoad 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 SLoad files and programs related to it and will protect your computer against such intrusive apps and malware in the future.
- Guide 1: How to Remove SLoad Trojan from Windows.
- Guide 2: Get rid of SLoad Trojan from Mac OS X.
- Guide 3: Remove SLoad Trojan from Google Chrome.
- Guide 4: Erase SLoad Trojan from Mozilla Firefox.
- Guide 5: Uninstall SLoad Trojan from Microsoft Edge.
- Guide 6: Remove SLoad Trojan from Safari.
- Guide 7: Eliminate SLoad Trojan from Internet Explorer.
How to Remove SLoad Trojan from Windows.
Step 1: Boot Your PC In Safe Mode to isolate and remove SLoad Trojan
Step 2: Uninstall SLoad Trojan 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 SLoad Trojan 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 SLoad Trojan there. This can happen by following the steps underneath:
Get rid of SLoad Trojan from Mac OS X.
Step 1: Uninstall SLoad Trojan 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 SLoad Trojan 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 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.
Remove SLoad Trojan 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 SLoad Trojan 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 SLoad Trojan 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 SLoad Trojan 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 SLoad Trojan will be removed.
Eliminate SLoad Trojan 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.