What Is the Sandworm Malware?
The latest malware on the horizon, Sandworm, may have been named after the famous worm-like creature from the 60’s sci-fi classic Dune, but users should keep in mind that it is neither a worm, nor they need a weapon of mass destruction in order to get rid of it. The cyber crooks have created a piece of malware that reportedly has been used in a Russian espionage campaign targeting the European Union, NATO, Energy and Telecom sectors.
The Sandworm attack relies on a Windows-vulnerability, known to the public as CVE-2014-4114. This vulnerability has been patched in Bulletin MS14-060 of October 2014 Patch Tuesday by Microsoft. This automatically turns the campaign into a zero-day exploit, as the flaw was exploited for the first time before a patch was even available.
The combination of a supposed Russian cyberespionage operation, a zero-day exploit and a killer name makes the story write itself. Luckily for the users the removal of the all-devouring worm is a lot easier and significantly less frightening than it sounds. Actually, the nature of the beast is more horse-like… As according to the expert’s research, the Sandworm is, in fact, a Trojan.
Sandworm’s Distribution Path
Sandworm is distributed to the user’s system through a PowerPoint file that leads to an .INF file. INF files are usually used during the Windows software setup process. They have been widely used by hackers to deliver various malware, because of the AUTORUN.INF file that can be used on different removable drives to define a program that runs automatically as soon as the drive gets plugged in. These files are not allowed to run programs automatically anymore, but the INF files also be used for various installation-like tasks, like setting entries in the registry or putting files into place and/or renaming them. This way the malware can get installed on the affected machine and run later on.
The Sandworm Attack Step By Step
The malicious PowerPoint file that starts the attack refers to an INF file by using a UNC path (specific Windows filenames, which also include a server name along with the drive letter and the directory name). The creators of Sandstorm have somehow managed to find a vulnerability in Windows that allows applications like PowerPoint to suck in and launch external files in this manner.
The next thing the PowerPoint file does is to pull in two files from a remote server – slides.inf and slide1.gif. These names are specially created to lure the user into thinking that these are regular files, part of the PowerPoint-presentation. Their actual function is to deliver the malware payload.
- slide1.gif is an executable file
- slides.inf is an installer file
The installer renames slide1.gif by adding and .exe extension to the file. Afterwards, it adds a registry entry that will start the malicious program next time the user logs into the system. This combination of PowerPoint, INF file and GIF file is sufficient to install the program that will be started later. The Sandworm is actually fetched in a drive-by install, which is initiated without a pop-up notification that allows the user to interrupt the installation by choice.
Security experts have detected the PowerPoint files infected with Sandworm as Troj/20144114-A.
How to Fight the Sandworm Back?
The good news is you don’t need nuclear weapons to get rid of the infection. All you need to do is apply the MS14-060 patch by Microsoft. Its mission is to close the hole that allows the vulnerability. In addition to the patch, you rely on a reputable anti-virus program on other security products. They are able to identify the files that exploit the vulnerability and stop them from opening. They can also block the “call home” traffic that is used in other popular attacks. This way the payload code cannot be retrieved.
- Guide 1: How to Remove from Windows.
- Guide 2: Get rid of from Mac OS X.
- Guide 3: Remove from Google Chrome.
- Guide 4: Erase from Mozilla Firefox.
- Guide 5: Uninstall from Microsoft Edge.
- Guide 6: Remove from Safari.
- Guide 7: Eliminate from Internet Explorer.
How to Remove from Windows.
Step 1: Boot Your PC In Safe Mode to isolate and remove
Step 2: Uninstall 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 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 there. This can happen by following the steps underneath:
Get rid of from Mac OS X.
Step 1: Uninstall 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 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 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 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 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 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 will be removed.
Eliminate 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.