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Remove Tonedeaf Backdoor Malware

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.

Threat Summary

Name Tonedeaf Backdoor
Type Backdoor, Spyware
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.
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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/

Related: [wplinkpreview url=”https://sensorstechforum.com/job-openings-active-linkedin-users-phishing-scam-detected/”] Job Openings for 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.


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An inspired writer and content manager who has been with SensorsTechForum since the project started. A professional with 10+ years of experience in creating engaging content. Focused on user privacy and malware development, she strongly believes in a world where cybersecurity plays a central role. If common sense makes no sense, she will be there to take notes. Those notes may later turn into articles! Follow Milena @Milenyim

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Preparation before removing Tonedeaf Backdoor.

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 Tonedeaf Backdoor 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 Tonedeaf Backdoor 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 Tonedeaf Backdoor 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 Tonedeaf Backdoor 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.

Tonedeaf Backdoor FAQ

What Does Tonedeaf Backdoor Trojan Do?

The Tonedeaf Backdoor 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 Tonedeaf Backdoor Trojan Cause?

The Tonedeaf Backdoor 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 Tonedeaf Backdoor 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 Tonedeaf Backdoor, 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 Tonedeaf Backdoor 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 Tonedeaf Backdoor 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 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 trojan problem.

How did we conduct the research on Tonedeaf Backdoor?

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 Tonedeaf Backdoor 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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