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Qakbot. How to remove? (Uninstall guide)

removal by Lucia Danes - - | Type: Malware
12

QakBot virus gets resurrected again: 54,000 infected computers

The image displaying QakBot malware

QakBot virus functions as a banking trojan. The original version of QakBot trojan appeared in 2009[1]. However, since then, it evolved into the threat that it might be regarded as a different virus. Recently, virus name got into the spotlight after it caused a series of massive lockouts in companies[2].

Complex operation mode

The latest QakBot version is able to steal the following information:

  • cached credentials
  • cookies and digital certificates
  • HTTP(S) session authentication data
  • FTP and POP3 credentials
  • Keystrokes
  • Network interfaces

Along with another banking trojan Emotet, the activity of QakBot trojan was spotted in the second half of 2017. As a result, Microsoft published the summary about key operation peculiarities in order to encourage users to be more vigilant and contribute to termination of these cyber issues.

According to their data, the malware still prefers targeting businesses. On other hand, ordinary users encompass 29% of all targets[3]. At the moment, the malware is identified as Backdoor:Win32/Qakbot.T, W32.Qakbot, W32/Trojan.XBYW-8720[4], etc.

A chain of massive lookouts

In the beginning of November, enterprises reported Active Directory (AD) lockouts. Active Directory is the Windows service which enables a range of directory-based related services. In other words, it ensures smooth communication between operating system, its network, and internal processes. Due to its paralysis, employees could not access business servers and assets.

This is due to complex structure of Qakbot malware. Once it gets into a system, it postpones its execution for 15 minutes approximately. This is done to avoid sandboxing. Since it infiltrates in the disguise of .dll file, it corrupts crucial .dll files and the very explorer.exe file responsible for Windows OS processes.

Later on, the malware relaunches ping.exe file six times in a row. This action overwrites the original file. After that, the malware launches the legitimate Windows autoconv.exe command which again overwrites the executable of the virus.

The malware also places its own CurrentVersion\Run[2] in the registry directory which allows Qakbot banking trojan renew its process after each system reboot.

During the process, the malware will also connect to the following domains[2]:

  • projects[.]montgomerytech[.]com
  • [.]abcwd0.seed.fastsecureservers[.]com
  • css.kbaf.myzen[.]co[.]uk

Qakbot banking trojan also communicates with Command and Control server. Likewise, it can send the collected data there. Unfortunately, the trojan is also capable of corrupting shared networks and drives such as USB flash drive. Due to obtained credentials, Qakbot aims to place its copies in devices visible on the same network with the help of Server Message Block (SMB). It can do so manually, receiving the command from a remote Command and Control (C&C) server, or automatically.

Banking data stealing process

After completing the preparatory processes, Qakbot begins its main mission. With the help of Javascript code, the malware is able to identify bank account log-in credentials. The malware also applies its “layers” which help record login credentials and leak other vital personal details.

Main targets and distribution campaign

QakBot virus mainly prefers spreading via exploit kits. The latter target specific browser’s or PC’s vulnerabilities to corrupt the network. Additionally, the infection might lurk hidden in a spam email attachment or disguised as the executable file of some shady application.

The malware exclusively targets companies. IT experts observe that it prefers technology and pharmaceutical sectors. In order to avoid this menace, enterprises are advised to:

  • install current system and software updates as soon as they are released
  • use different malware prevention and elimination utilities
  • educate company employees about virus distribution technique– spam emails

Now let us discuss options how to remove QakBot properly. You may also need to apply other measures other than simple scanning of the system.

Qakbot removal steps

You may need a few more anti-virus and virus elimination tools, such as Malwarebytes Anti Malware, to cease the activity of this menace. You need to block the malware from accessing its C&C server. One of the ways to do so is to disconnect the affected computers from the Internet.

In addition, you may limit the number of administrator accounts and shares. You should also configure shared folders to “read-only” status. Another step to remove QakBot virus is to shut down the process of new tasks. You can do so via Group Policy Objects (GPO). Navigate to Computer Config, then go to Windows Settings. Later on, choose Security Settings, File System, Add File. Add these:

  1. %windir%\tasks
  2. %windir%\system32\tasks

For each one, in the configuration dialog box, remove the checkmarks from Full Control, Modify, and Write for both Administrators and System, and click OK.

In the Add Object dialog box, click Replace existing permissions in all subkeys with inheritable permissions and finish the command by clicking OK.

After that, reboot the system in Safe Mode and scan the computer. These steps should assist you in completing QakBot removal.

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What to do if failed?
If you failed to remove infection using Reimage, submit a question to our support team and provide as much details as possible.
Reimage is recommended to uninstall Qakbot. 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.
More information about this program can be found in Reimage review.
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Manual Qakbot Removal Guide:

Remove Qakbot using Safe Mode with Networking

After completing the necessary preparations, begin QakBot removal. Install the necessary applications to do so. After that reboot the system into Safe Mode, disconnect the device from the Web and begin the malware elimination process.

  • 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 Qakbot

    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 Qakbot removal.

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

Remove Qakbot using 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 Qakbot. 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 Qakbot removal is performed successfully.

Finally, you should always think about the protection of crypto-ransomwares. In order to protect your computer from Qakbot and other ransomwares, use a reputable anti-spyware, such as Reimage, Plumbytes Anti-MalwareWebroot SecureAnywhere AntiVirus or Malwarebytes Anti Malware

About the author

Lucia Danes
Lucia Danes - Virus researcher

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References