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Remove DarkGate virus (Easy Removal Guide) - Free Instructions

removal by Lucia Danes - - | Type: Malware

DarkGate – sophisticated malware campaign that mines crypto and locks up data 

Darkgate virus
DarkGate is the new sophisticated malware that is users multiple means to avoid AV detection

DarkGate virus is an elaborate cyberthreat that was spotted by enSilo's[1] Adi Zeligson making rounds in Spain and France. The malware targets Windows operating systems and is downloaded by users via torrent websites. The range of capabilities this malware posses is truly impressive – it can evade AV detection by using advanced obfuscation techniques, mine digital currency, steal crypto wallets, and allow the bad actors to take over the infected PC using remote control access. Finally, DarkGate is also able to lock personal files on the targeted machine by using ransomware capabilities. According to research, the virus is closely related to a password-stealer Golroted.[2]

SUMMARY
Name DarkGate
Category Malware
Type Trojan/rootkit/ransomware
Infiltration Torrent files, phishing emails
Complexity High. Avoids detection, mines crypto, encrypts files
First discovered November 2018
Elimination Use security software to get rid of the infection and then scan your machine with Reimage to fix the damage done by malware

According to researchers, DarkGate malware spreads with the help of .torrent files, which are often associated with pirated software and media downloads. However, the technology itself is not illegal and can be used by businesses to share large amounts of data. DarkGate virus is known to be hidden on file-sharing torrent sites that offer free downloads of popular TV shows like Walking Dead or Game of Thrones. After execution, it runs VBScript[3] to infect the system.

Additionally, DarkGate can also be propagated in malicious spam campaigns that urge users to download and install fake executables or open PDF files. Regardless of the infiltration method, those who got infected should not wait and remove DarkGate virus from the machine which the help of reputable security software.

DarkGate then establishes reactive communication via the Command and Control server, which is carefully obfuscated by legitimate DNS records from AWS, Akamai CDN or Amazon, which prevents reputation-based detection.

DarkGate also performs a few checks in order to avoid detection. It first analyzes whether or not it landed in a sandbox environment (it is used by security experts to unpack and examine malware samples) and then scans for the most commonly used AV engines, such as Comodo, Trend Micro, Kaspersky, Bitdefender, Norton, Avast, etc. 

DarkGate virus also uses two different techniques to bypass User Account Control (UAC) to gain administrator privileges on the targeted PC. Next, malware downloads additional malicious components, which execute the following:

  • Allows hackers to gain a remote access;
  • Steals crypto wallet credentials;
  • Mines digital currency;
  • Uploads ransomware payloads.

To conclude, DarkGate malware utilizes advanced technique to execute complex operations on the machine to bring the maximum benefit for its creators. As of now, the motive is believed to be monetary gain, although researchers do not deny other possibilities.

Because the virus uses sophisticated techniques to avoid detection, we recommend scanning your machine with multiple security tools for full DarkGate virus removal. After the elimination, use Reimage to recover from the damage malware caused on the system.

Darkgate malware
DarkGate is a complex malware that was spotted attacking victims in France and Spain

Beware of torrent sites and phishing emails

While the malware is exceptionally complex and advanced in its operation, the infection method used is relatively common for most virus families. As mentioned above, it mostly users .torrent file to run malicious VBScript to infect the machine, all while not being detectable by the user.

We highly advise users to stay away from file-sharing and torrent sites, as malware can be disguised as your favorite TV show or anything else for that matter. Additionally, pirated software and media is illegal, so might get you into real trouble. Nevertheless, many users are still undertaking such activity which makes malware's infection rate go up. Because the virus is still not detected by many AV vendors, infection is guaranteed once the malicious .torrent file is downloaded.

Another way to get infected with malware is by opening infected email attachments. Phishing emails have become one of the most prevalent virus distribution methods. Therefore, do not casually open attachments or click on links in an email from an unknown source, even if it looks legitimate. 

Remove DarkGate from your computer

Experts believe that the malware will evolve and become even more sophisticated. As of now, DarkGate virus removal might be a little bit complicated, however. Only a few AV engines recognize the threat, as it uses advanced obfuscation techniques. Therefore, if you suspect that your computer is infected, you might have to try different AV engines. Researchers from enSilo claim that the software they offer detects the virus.[1]

Additionally, users might have to load their machines into Safe Mode with Networking in order to temporarily stop malware from functioning and then finally remove DarkGate virus. We provide instructions below, so check them out. Another way that might help you to eliminate the infection is System Restore function, which we also present below. Although this method is highly unlikely to help.

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What to do if failed?
If you failed to remove virus damage using Reimage, submit a question to our support team and provide as much details as possible.
Reimage is recommended to remove virus damage. Free scanner allows you to check whether your PC is infected or not. If you need to remove malware, you have to purchase the licensed version of Reimage malware removal tool.
Alternative Software
Different security software includes different virus database. If you didn’t succeed in finding malware with Reimage, try running alternative scan with SpyHunter 5.
Alternative Software
Different security software includes different virus database. If you didn’t succeed in finding malware with Reimage, try running alternative scan with Combo Cleaner.

To remove DarkGate virus, follow these steps:

Remove DarkGate using Safe Mode with Networking

To remove DarkGate virus you will have to enter Safe Mode with Networking:

  • Step 1: Reboot your computer to Safe Mode with Networking

    Windows 7 / Vista / XP
    1. Click Start Shutdown Restart OK.
    2. When your computer becomes active, start pressing F8 multiple times until you see the Advanced Boot Options window.
    3. Select Safe Mode with Networking from the list Select 'Safe Mode with Networking'

    Windows 10 / Windows 8
    1. Press the Power button at the Windows login screen. Now press and hold Shift, which is on your keyboard, and click Restart..
    2. Now select Troubleshoot Advanced options Startup Settings and finally press Restart.
    3. Once your computer becomes active, select Enable Safe Mode with Networking in Startup Settings window. Select 'Enable Safe Mode with Networking'
  • Step 2: Remove DarkGate

    Log in to your infected account and start the browser. Download Reimage or other legitimate anti-spyware program. Update it before a full system scan and remove malicious files that belong to your ransomware and complete DarkGate removal.

If your ransomware is blocking Safe Mode with Networking, try further method.

Remove DarkGate using System Restore

You can also utilize System Restore:

  • Step 1: Reboot your computer to Safe Mode with Command Prompt

    Windows 7 / Vista / XP
    1. Click Start Shutdown Restart OK.
    2. When your computer becomes active, start pressing F8 multiple times until you see the Advanced Boot Options window.
    3. Select Command Prompt from the list Select 'Safe Mode with Command Prompt'

    Windows 10 / Windows 8
    1. Press the Power button at the Windows login screen. Now press and hold Shift, which is on your keyboard, and click Restart..
    2. Now select Troubleshoot Advanced options Startup Settings and finally press Restart.
    3. Once your computer becomes active, select Enable Safe Mode with Command Prompt in Startup Settings window. Select 'Enable Safe Mode with Command Prompt'
  • Step 2: Restore your system files and settings
    1. Once the Command Prompt window shows up, enter cd restore and click Enter. Enter 'cd restore' without quotes and press 'Enter'
    2. Now type rstrui.exe and press Enter again.. Enter 'rstrui.exe' without quotes and press 'Enter'
    3. When a new window shows up, click Next and select your restore point that is prior the infiltration of DarkGate. After doing that, click Next. When 'System Restore' window shows up, select 'Next' Select your restore point and click 'Next'
    4. Now click Yes to start system restore. Click 'Yes' and start system restore
    Once you restore your system to a previous date, download and scan your computer with Reimage and make sure that DarkGate removal is performed successfully.

Finally, you should always think about the protection of crypto-ransomwares. In order to protect your computer from DarkGate and other ransomwares, use a reputable anti-spyware, such as Reimage, SpyHunter 5Combo Cleaner or Malwarebytes

About the author

Lucia Danes
Lucia Danes - Virus researcher

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