A remote administration tool (or RAT) is a program that is used by hackers or other people to connect to a remote computer via the Internet or across a local network, and perform needed activities. A remote administration tool is based on the server and client technology. The server part runs on a controlled computer and receives commands from the client, which is installed on the remote host. A remote administration tool works in the background and hides from the user. The person who controls it can monitor user’s activity, manage files, install additional software, control the entire system, including any present application or hardware device, modify main system settings, turn off or restart a computer.
Remote administration tools are divided into malicious and legitimate applications. Parasitical RATs, also known as remote administration trojans, are very similar to backdoors and have very similar functionality. However, they are not as viral as backdoors and do not have additional destructive functions or another dangerous payload. These parasites do not work on their own and must be controlled by the client.
Legitimate remote administration tools are commercial products targeted mostly at system administrators. Their main purpose is to allow the authorized access to computers for fixing them or controlling them remotely. Nevertheless, legitimate RATs have the same functionality as parasitical programs and, therefore, can be used for obvious malicious purposes.
Activities that are performed with the help of a Remote Administration Tool
As we have already mentioned, legitimate RATs are very similar to illegal ones. However, they are used only for illegal activities, such as the ones given below:
- Allowing the intruder to create, delete, rename, copy or edit any file. The attacker can also use RAT for executing various commands, changing system settings, altering the Windows registry and running, controlling or terminating applications. Finally, it can be used to install optional software or parasites.
- Letting the attacker control hardware, modify related settings, shutdown or restart a computer without asking user’s permission.
- Allowing the malicious person to monitor user’s activity on the Internet. This activity can lead the victim to the loss of his/hers passwords, login names, personal documents, and other sensitive information.
- Capturing screenshots and tracking user’s activity. All data, which is collected with the help of such technique, is transferred to the intruder.
- Degrading computer’s performance, decreasing Internet connection speed and security of the system. Typically, such viruses can also cause computer’s instability.
- Hiding from the user and complicating its removal as much as possible.
The distribution techniques of Remote Administration Tools (RATs)
Remote administration tools (RATs) aren’t similar to regular computer viruses. Their server parts must be installed on the affected system as any other software. Of course, this can be done either with or without user’s content. There are two major ways how can an unsolicited RAT get into the system:
- Manual installation. A legitimate remote administration tool can be manually installed by the system administrator or any other user who has sufficient privileges for the software installation. A hacker can break into the system and setup his RAT. In both cases, a privacy threat gets installed without the affected user’s knowledge and consent.
- Infiltration with the help of other parasites. Malicious remote administration tools are installed by other parasites like viruses, backdoors or worms. Often they are dropped by specific trojans, which get into the system using Internet Explorer ActiveX controls or exploiting certain web browser vulnerabilities. Their authors run insecure websites filled with malicious code or distribute unsafe advertising pop-ups. Whenever the user visits such a site or clicks on such a pop-up, harmful scripts instantly install a trojan. The user cannot notice anything suspicious, as a threat does not display any setup wizards, dialogs or warnings.
To sum up, the malicious version of remote administration tool allows the attacker to work with an infected computer in the same way as with its PC and use it for various malicious purposes. The responsibility for such activity is usually assumed by guiltless users on which systems malicious RATs were installed, as it can hardly be revealed the person who was controlling a parasite.
Practically all remote administration tools are tough to detect. They can violate users’ privacy for months and even years until they are noticed. The malicious person can use the RAT to find out everything about the user, obtain and disclose priceless information like user’s passwords, login names, credit card numbers, exact bank account details, valuable personal documents, contacts, interests, web browsing habits and much more.
Any remote administration tool can be used for destructive purposes. If the hacker was unable to obtain any valuable and useful information from an infected computer or have already stolen it, he eventually may destroy the entire system to wipe out his tracks. That means that all hard disks would be formatted, and all the files on them would be erased.Typically, the malicious versions of remote administration tools can affect computers running Microsoft Windows OS. However, there are lots of less prevalent parasites that are designed to work under different environments, including Mac OS X and others.
The most infamous examples of RATs
There are thousands of different remote administration tools. The following examples illustrate how powerful and extremely dangerous these threats can be.
PC Invader is a malicious remote administration tool used by hackers to modify essential networking settings of remote systems. Pc Invader is considered very dangerous as its main aim is to can change vital computer’s settings, its IP address, DNS address, computer name, default gateway, etc. It also can shutdown or restart a computer.
Back Orifice is an infamous malicious remote administration tool that allows the intruder to do with a compromised computer everything he wants and even more. This tool has a massive amount of dangerous functions and leaves the victim completely unprotected and disorientated. Back Orifice can be used to manage files, run and install applications, terminate defined processes, modify essential system and networking settings, control the operating system, installed software and hardware devices, log keystrokes, take screenshots, capture video or audio, steal passwords, etc. This remote administration tool supports plugins and, therefore, can have different additional functionality.
Beast is just another virus, which belongs to a huge family of Remote Administration Tools. The author of this threat is a known hacker, who is called Tataye. As we know, the first versions of Beast appeared from April 2001 to March 2004. This threat is written in Delphi and is compressed with ASPack.
Removing RAT from the system
You cannot remove the malicious versions of RATs manually because they hide their files and other components deep inside the system. The most reliable way to eliminate such threats is to use a reputable anti-spyware tool. Such programs can easily help you to detect and remove even the most dangerous viruses, so there is no need to postpone their installation on your computer. You can fix your computer and get rid of any RAT with the help of Reimage, Plumbytes Anti-MalwareWebroot SecureAnywhere AntiVirus.
If you think that you are advanced enough to find RAT’s files on your computer manually, you should think twice before each removal of your detected components. Otherwise, you may run into serious problems, like computer’s instability. Note that lots of Internet resources, such as 2-Spyware.com, can help you with the manual removal of your malware. Detailed instructions on how to remove RAT (malicious one) from the system can be received by adding a question on Ask Us page.
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Information updated: 2017-05-11