A new malicious attack has been detected, distributing a form of very dangerous malware which researchers dubbed Tonedeaf. The Tonedeaf malware is in fact a sophisticated backdoor which communicates with a specific command and control server via HTTP GET and POST requests.
The Tonedeaf backdoor is capable of collecting system information, uploading and downloading files, and arbitrary shell command execution, FireEye researchers explained in their report.
The Tonedeaf malware campaign is operated by a group known as APT34, an Iran-linked APT group that has been active since at least 2014. The group has been known to target organizations in the financial, government, energy, telecommunication, and chemical sectors, primarily in the United States and Middle Eastern territories.
According to the report, APT34 is relying heavily on their PowerShell development capabilities but is also trying to include Golang, a statically typed, compiled programming language designed at Google.
|Short Description||The Tonedeaf backdoor is capable of collecting system information, uploading and downloading files, and arbitrary shell command execution.|
|Distribution Method||A phishing campaign spread on LinkedIn.|
See If Your System Has Been Affected by malware
Malware Removal Tool
|User Experience||Join Our Forum to Discuss Tonedeaf Backdoor.|
Tonedeaf Backdoor – Distribution Techniques
The malware has been spread via a phishing campaign conducted by APT34. The phishing messages are made to look like they have been sent by a member of Cambridge University, and have been spread on LinkedIn to deliver the malicious payload. More specifically, in this campaign, fake profiles got in contact with targeted victims and asked them to open a malicious Excel file named ERFT-Details.xls that played the role of a dropper.
The messages sent over LinkedIn looked like messages from the “Research Staff at University of Cambridge” with their topic involving resumes for potential job opportunities. In fact, this technique is not unique and has been observed in multiple campaigns. For example, a phishing scam from 2017 was trying to trick users of the professional network to upload their CVs. Scammers were sending emails about alleged “job openings for active LinkedIn users”. https://sensorstechforum.com/job-openings-active-linkedin-users-phishing-scam-detected/
Tonedeaf Backdoor – Malicious Capabilities
Tonedeaf is a backdoor that communicates with a command and control server via HTTP GET and POST requests. The malware is capable of collecting system information, uploading and downloading files, and arbitrary shell command execution.
When executed, the Tonedeaf backdoor writes encrypted data to two temporary files – temp.txt and temp2.txt – within the same directory of its execution.
FireEye has identified offlineearthquake[.]com as a potential command and control domain of the operation.
Requests to the domain offlineearthquake[.]com could be carried out in different forms, in accordance with the malware’s stage of installation and purpose. In addition, Tonedeaf can retrieve the system and current user names, which are used to create a three-character sys_id, the report noted. This value is used in subsequent requests, most probably done to track infected target activity.
It is noteworthy that the Tonedeaf backdoor is not the only malware being distributed in this campaign, as FireEye detected “two additional new malware families hosted at this domain, ValueVault and Longwatch”. The researchers also identified a variant of Pickpocket, a browser credential-theft tool which was hosted on the command and control server.
What is ValueVault? A Golang-compiled version of the Windows Vault Password Dumper browser credential theft tool developed by Massimiliano Montoro, the developer of Cain & Abel. The tool has the same functionality as the original tool, and allows the threat actor to extract and view credentials stored in the Windows Vault. The tool also employs Windows PowerShell to extract browser history to match browser passwords with visited websites.
What is Longwatch? LongWatch is a keylogger that outputs keystrokes to a log.txt file in the Windows temp folder.
What is Pickpocket? It is a credential theft tool that dumps the victim’s website login credentials from several browsers (Chrome, Firefox, and IE) to a file.
The Tonedeaf backdoor is currently targeting organizations in the following sectors – energy and utilities, government, and oil and gas. However, the backdoor may also be utilized in large-scale campaigns, so protecting the operating system against such threats is highly advisable.
- Guide 1: How to Remove Tonedeaf Backdoor from Windows.
- Guide 2: Get rid of Tonedeaf Backdoor on Mac OS X.
- Guide 3: Remove Tonedeaf Backdoor in Google Chrome.
- Guide 4: Erase Tonedeaf Backdoor from Mozilla Firefox.
- Guide 5: Uninstall Tonedeaf Backdoor from Microsoft Edge.
- Guide 6: Remove Tonedeaf Backdoor from Safari.
- Guide 7: Eliminate Tonedeaf Backdoor from Internet Explorer.
- Guide 8: Disable Tonedeaf Backdoor Push Notifications in Your Browsers.
About the Tonedeaf Backdoor Research
The content we publish on SensorsTechForum.com, this Tonedeaf Backdoor how-to removal guide included, is the outcome of extensive research, hard work and our team’s devotion to help you remove the specific, adware-related problem, and restore your browser and computer system.
How did we conduct the research on Tonedeaf Backdoor?
Please note that our research is based on independent investigation. We are in contact with independent security researchers, thanks to which we receive daily updates on the latest malware, adware, and browser hijacker definitions.
Furthermore, the research behind the Tonedeaf Backdoor threat is backed with VirusTotal https://www.virustotal.com/gui/home/upload.
To better understand this online threat, please refer to the following articles which provide knowledgeable details.
1.Browser Redirect – What Is It?
2.Adware Is Malicious, and It Uses Advanced Techniques to Infect
3.The Thin Red Line Between Potentially Unwanted Programs and Malware
4.The Pay-Per-Install Affiliate Business – Making Millions out of Adware
5.Malicious Firefox Extensions Installed by 455,000 Users Blocked Updates
How to Remove Tonedeaf Backdoor from Windows.
Step 1: Boot Your PC In Safe Mode to isolate and remove Tonedeaf Backdoor
Step 2: Uninstall Tonedeaf Backdoor 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 Tonedeaf Backdoor 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 Tonedeaf Backdoor there. This can happen by following the steps underneath:
1. Open the Run Window again, type "regedit" and click OK.
2. When you open it, you can freely navigate to the Run and RunOnce keys, whose locations are shown above.
3. You can remove the value of the virus by right-clicking on it and removing it.
Step 4: Scan for Tonedeaf Backdoor with SpyHunter Anti-Malware Tool
1. Click on the "Download" button to proceed to SpyHunter's download page.
2. After you have installed SpyHunter, wait for it to update automatically.
3. After the update process has finished, click on the 'Malware/PC Scan' tab. A new window will appear. Click on 'Start Scan'.
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.
Video Removal Guide for Tonedeaf Backdoor (Windows).
Get rid of Tonedeaf Backdoor from Mac OS X.
Step 1: Uninstall Tonedeaf Backdoor 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:
2. Find Activity Monitor and double-click it:
3.In the Activity Monitor look for any suspicious processes, belonging or related to Tonedeaf Backdoor:
4.Click on the "Go" button again, but this time select Applications. Another way is with the ⇧+⌘+A buttons.
5.In the Applications menu, look for any suspicious app or an app with a name, similar or identical to Tonedeaf Backdoor. If you find it, right-click on the app and select “Move to Trash”.
6: Select Accounts, after which click on the Login Items preference.
Your Mac will then show you a list of items that start automatically when you log in. Look for any suspicious apps identical or similar to Tonedeaf Backdoor. Check the app you want to stop from running automatically and then select on the Minus (“-“) icon to hide it.
7: Remove any left-over files that might be related to this threat manually by following the sub-steps below:
- 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 Tonedeaf Backdoor 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:
1: Click on "Go" and Then "Go to Folder" as shown underneath:
2: Type in "/Library/LauchAgents/" and click Ok:
3: Delete all of the virus files that have similar or the same name as Tonedeaf Backdoor. If you believe there is no such file, do not delete anything.
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 Tonedeaf Backdoor files from your Mac
When you are facing problems on your Mac as a result of unwanted scripts and programs such as Tonedeaf Backdoor, the recommended way of eliminating the threat is by using an anti-malware program. SpyHunter for Mac offers advanced security features along with other modules that will improve your Mac’s security and protect it in the future.
Video Removal Guide for Tonedeaf Backdoor (Mac)
Remove Tonedeaf Backdoor 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 Tonedeaf Backdoor 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 Tonedeaf Backdoor 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 Tonedeaf Backdoor 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 Tonedeaf Backdoor will be removed.
Eliminate Tonedeaf Backdoor 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.
Remove Push Notifications caused by Tonedeaf Backdoor from Your Browsers.
Turn Off Push Notifications from Google Chrome
To disable any Push Notices from Google Chrome browser, please follow the steps below:
Step 1: Go to Settings in Chrome.
Step 2: In Settings, select “Advanced Settings”:
Step 3: Click “Content Settings”:
Step 4: Open “Notifications”:
Step 5: Click the three dots and choose Block, Edit or Remove options:
Remove Push Notifications on Firefox
Step 1: Go to Firefox Options.
Step 2: Go to “Settings”, type “notifications” in the search bar and click "Settings":
Step 3: Click “Remove” on any site you wish notifications gone and click “Save Changes”
Stop Push Notifications on Opera
Step 1: In Opera, press ALT+P to go to Settings.
Step 2: In Setting search, type “Content” to go to Content Settings.
Step 3: Open Notifications:
Step 4: Do the same as you did with Google Chrome (explained below):
Eliminate Push Notifications on Safari
Step 1: Open Safari Preferences.
Step 2: Choose the domain from where you like push pop-ups gone and change to "Deny" from "Allow".
Tonedeaf Backdoor FAQ
What is Tonedeaf Backdoor?
The Tonedeaf Backdoor threat is adware or browser redirect virus. It may slow your computer down siginficantly and display advertisements. The main idea is for your information to likely get stolen or more ads to appear on your device.
The creators of such unwanted apps work with pay-per-click schemes to get your computer to visit risky or different types of websites that may generate them funds. This is why they do not even care what types of websites show up on the ads. This makes their unwanted software indirectly risky for your OS.
What are the symptoms of Tonedeaf Backdoor?
There are several symptoms to look for when this particular threat and also unwanted apps in general are active:
Symptom #1: Your computer may become slow and has poor performance in general.
Symtpom #2: You have toolbars, add-ons or extensions on your web browsers that you don't remember adding.
Symptom #3: You see all types of ads, like ad-supported search results, pop-ups and redirects to randomly appear.
Symptom #4: You see installed apps on your Mac running automatically and you do not remember installing them.
Symptom #5: You see suspicious processes running in your Task Manager.
If you see one or more of those symptoms, then security experts reccomend that you check your computer for viruses.
What types of Unwanted Programs are there?
According to most malware researchers and cyber-security experts, the threats that can currently affect your Mac can be the following types:
- Rogue Antivirus programs.
- Browser hijackers.
- Fake optimizers.
What to do if I have a "virus" like Tonedeaf Backdoor?
Do not panic! You can easily get rid of most adware or unwanted program threats by firstly isolating them and then removing them from your browser and computer. One reccomended way to do that is by using a reputable malware removal software that can take care of the removal automatically for you. There are many anti-malware apps out there that you can choose from. SpyHunter is one of the reccomended anti-malware apps, that can scan your computer for free and detect any viruses, tracking cookies and unwanted adware apps and eliminate them quickly. This saves time when compared to doing the removal manually.
How to secure my passwords and other data from Tonedeaf Backdoor?
With few simple actions. First and foremost, it is imperative that you follow these steps:
Step 1: Find a safe computer and connect it to another network, not the one that your Mac was infected in.
Step 2: Change all of your passwords, starting from your e-mail passwords.
Step 3: Enable two-factor authentication for protection of your important accounts.
Step 4: Call your bank to change your credit card details (secret code, etc.) if you have saved your credit card for online shopping or have done online activiites with your card.
Step 5: Make sure to call your ISP (Internet provider or carrier) and ask them to change your IP address.
Step 6: Change your Wi-Fi password.
Step 7: (Optional): Make sure to scan all of the devices connected to your network for viruses and repeat these steps for them if they are affected.
Step 8: Install anti-malware software with real-time protection on every device you have.
Step 9: Try not to download software from sites you know nothing about and stay away from low-reputation websites in general.
If you follow these reccomendations, your network and all devices will become significantly more secure against any threats or information invasive software and be virus free and protected in the future too.
More tips you can find on our website, where you can also ask any questions and comment underneath the articles about your computer problems. We will try to respond as fast as possible.