What Is SmokeLoader?
The SmokeLoader Malware is a dangerous weapon used against computer users worldwide. It infects mainly via phishing email messages. Our article gives an overview of its behavior according to the collected samples and available reports, also it may be helpful in attempting to remove the virus.
|Short Description||The SmokeLoader Malware is a computer virus that is designed to silently infiltrate computer systems.|
|Symptoms||The victims may not experience any apparent symptoms of infection.|
|Removal Time||Less than 15 Minutes (full-system scan)|
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SmokeLoader Malware – Distribution Methods
The SmokeLoader malware is a new payload dropper which has been captured in a live attack campaign. At the moment it is not known which is the main delivery strategy however we assume that the criminals are going to use the most popular ones. This includes the following:
- Email Phishing Messages — The hackers can send out messages that pose as legitimate notifications that have been sent by well-known companies and services. They contain links to proposed sites or files that are deemed as required to be opened by the users: software updates, service notifications, account changes and etc. The virus files can also be attached directly to the emails.
- Malware Application Installers — Another alternative is to create infected application installers of popular software. The hackers target products which are most likely to be used by end users: system utilities, creativity suites, productivity and office apps and etc. As soon as the relevant executable file is opened the SmokeLoader malware will be engaged. These files are made by taking the legitimate files from their official sources and infecting with the necessary code.
- Infected Documents — The criminals can also embed the dangerous virus installation code in documents across all popular types: text files, databases, spreadsheets and presentations. This is done in the macros, whenever they are opened by the victims a prompt will be presented to them asking for these scripts to be run. The quoted reason is that this is required in order to correctly view the contents of the file.
- Malware Sites — Both the direct virus files and any malicious payload carriers can be carried in hacker-made sites. They are hosted on similar sounding domain names as legitimate and well-known portals. In most cases the criminals will impersonate search engines, download portals, product landing pages and etc.
- Browser Hijackers — The virus files can be spread over dangerous extensions which are made for the most popular web browsers. The infections are caused mainly through interaction with the relevant repositories which are one of the most popular places that host them. They are uploaded with fake or stolen developer credentials and user reviews.
Another strategy that can be attempted by the hacking collective is to launch direct attacks by exploiting vulnerabilities. This is done in an automated manner by using automated software.
SmokeLoader Malware – Detailed Description
At the moment there is no information about the identity of the hackers that are behind the SmokeLoader malware campaigns. It is presumed that they are experienced as the malware can be leased on the underground markets for spreading of other threats. By itself it is a modular platform that can be configured to launch different actions depending on the current configuration or certain victim machine conditions.
As soon as the infection has been made the main engine will call a security bypass function which can act against virtual machine hosts. The collected samples will scan the memory of the computer system and detect if there are any running hosts. If such are found the process will terminate itself, in some cases it can even delete all virus files in order to avoid detection. Future versions of this module can be updated to include other software as well: anti-virus engines, firewalls, intrusion detection systems and etc.
This is followed by an in-depth data harvesting module which can be programmed to acquire data that can be categorized into two main types:
- Personal Information — The engine can acquire data that can directly expose the identity of the victims. This is done by searching for strings such as a person’s name, address, phone number, interests, account credentials and etc.
- Machine Identification — It is used to assign an unique ID to each affected computer. This is done by launching an algorithm that takes its input parameters from information such as the installed hardware components, system settings and user preferences.
The code analysis shows that it can hook up to existing processes or create ones of its own. This is especilly dangerous as this also includes those with administrative privileges. The collected samples can also interact with the Windows Volume Manager which will allow the hackers to spy on the victims activities in real-time. Code injection is one of the most dangerous effects of the SmokeLoader malware infection. This causes the execution of virus code by various processes making it much more difficult to remove.
It has been confirmed that these samples are configured to enable a persistent infection — this means that the boot options and system settings will be changed in order to automatically start the engine as soon as the computer is powered on. In many cases this also blocks access to the recovery options and boot menus which are used during manual user recovery. In this case the victims will need to resort to a quality anti-spyware solution.
Another consequence of having this infection active is that it can be programmed to delete sensitive data such as backups, system restore points and shadow volume copies. This means that the victims will need to use a data recovery solution to effectively recover their computers.
The relevant engine has also been found to connect to a hacker-controlled server by running its built-in Trojan instance. This will allow the operators to take over control of the machines, spy on the victims activities and hijack data. By classification this is a dropper which means that it can be used to deliver a wide variety of other threats. Some of the most commmon ones include the following:
- Ransomware — This is one of the most popular malware types — viruses that use a built-in list of target file type extensions which are encrypted with a strong cipher. The processed data is renamed with a given extension and a ransom note or another type of message is produced in order to blackmail the recipients into paying the hackers a “decryption fee”.
- Cryptocurrency Miners — These applications or scripts can be called in order to run complex tasks that take advantage of the system’s performance. This can place a very heavy toll on components such as the CPU, memory, hard disk spce and memory. The controlling mechanism is a remote server called “mining pool” which will monitor the running tasks. Whenever one of them is reported digital currency will be awarded to the hackers behind the SmokeLoader malware.
- Web Browser Hijackers — They will change the default settings of the affected web browsers in order to redirect the victims to a preset hacker-controlled page. This is done by modifying the home page, new tabs and search engine values.
We anticipate that future versions will also be programmed to change the Windows Registry. When values that belong to the operating system are affected the victims may experiences serious performance issues to the point of rendering the system completely unusable. When the Registry values of third-party are affected then the normal routine will be changed — unexpected errors may be presented.
Remove NtCrypt Crypter Completely
To remove SmokeLoader Malware manually from your computer, follow the step-by-step removal tutorial written down below. In case this manual removal does not get rid of the miner malware completely, you should search for and remove any leftover items with an advanced anti-malware tool. Such software can keep your computer secure in the future.
Preparation before removing SmokeLoader 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.
SmokeLoader Malware FAQ
What Does SmokeLoader Malware Trojan Do?
The SmokeLoader 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 SmokeLoader Malware Trojan Cause?
The SmokeLoader 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 SmokeLoader 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 SmokeLoader 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 SmokeLoader 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 SmokeLoader 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.
About the SmokeLoader Malware Research
The content we publish on SensorsTechForum.com, this SmokeLoader 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 SmokeLoader 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 SmokeLoader Malware threat is backed with VirusTotal.
To better understand the threat posed by trojans, please refer to the following articles which provide knowledgeable details.