Ave Maria Trojan

Also Known As: Ave Maria malware
Type: Trojan
Distribution: Low
Damage level: Severe

Ave Maria virus removal guide

What is Ave Maria?

Ave Maria is high-risk information-stealing and keylogging malware. It is typically proliferated using various spam email campaigns. Criminals send thousands of deceptive emails that contain infectious attachments, most of which are Microsoft Office (typically Excel) files. Emails are delivered with messages encouraging users to open the attached document, however, this results in infiltration of Ave Maria.

Ave Maria malware

One of the emails we examined was an order confirmation, which contained an "invoice" attached. The message essentially states that information regarding a type of order is provided in the attached document and encourages users to review it. This, however, results in a malware infection. This particular email was supposedly sent by an employee of the Mignon Sista International company, however, this is a deceptive tactic - cyber criminals often claim to be employees of popular companies or governmental agencies to give the impression of legitimacy, since users are much more likely to open attachments that are received from familiar names. Developers of this virus often target small companies/businesses, rather than regular users. Therefore, most recipients are employees/owners of various companies and businesses. This, however, does not mean that regular users are safe. The Ave Maria virus is designed to track information and record victims' keystrokes. These infections are used to gather personal information, such as logins/passwords (of emails, social networks, etc.), credit card information, and so on. Having such information stolen is very risky. Cyber criminals aim to generate as much revenue as possible. Therefore, they are likely to misuse stolen accounts. If they gain access to bank accounts, they can steal all funds by transfer to their accounts or via online purchases. Emails, social networks, and other accounts can be used to steal identities and perform various malicious actions (e.g., send malware to victims' contacts, ask contacts to lend money, and so on). Having this virus on your computer can lead to various privacy issues and financial loss. Fortunately, Ave Maria's process can be found in Windows Task Manager under a type of random name (e.g., some samples we analyzed ran the "apo.exe" and "firefox.exe" [with random icon] processes). If you find any dubious processes running, and suspect Ave Maria's presence, immediately scan your computer with a reputable anti-virus/anti-spyware suite and eliminate all detected threats.

Threat Summary:
NameAve Maria malware
Threat TypeTrojan, Password stealing virus, Banking malware, Spyware
SymptomsTrojans are designed to stealthily infiltrate victim's computer and remain silent thus no particular symptoms are clearly visible on an infected machine.
Distribution methodsInfected email attachments, malicious online advertisements, social engineering, software cracks.
DamageStolen banking information, passwords, identity theft, victim's computer added to a botnet.
Removal

To eliminate Ave Maria malware our malware researchers recommend scanning your computer with Spyhunter.
▼ Download Spyhunter
Free scanner checks if your computer is infected. To remove malware, you have to purchase the full version of Spyhunter.

Ave Maria shares many similarities with a number of other trojan-type viruses, such as TrickBot, Adwind, FormBook, and Qakbot. Although these viruses are developed by different cyber criminals, all have the same purpose: to steal personal data. In addition, as with Ave Maria, these viruses are often distributed using spam email campaigns. They pose a significant threat to users' privacy and financial safety. Therefore, eliminating malware such as Ave Maria is paramount.

Ave Maria trojan technical analysis:

  • Detection names: BitDefender (Exploit.RTF-ObfsStrm.Gen), Kaspersky (HEUR:Exploit.MSOffice.Generic), ESET-NOD32 (probably a variant of Win32/Exploit.CVE-2017-11882.A)
  • Full list of antivirus detections: VirusTotal
  • Executable file name: svrvs.doc
  • Sample first submitted: 2019-04-02

How did Ave Maria infiltrate my computer?

As mentioned above, Ave Maria is distributed using spam email campaigns that contain malicious MS Office documents attached. In most cases, the attachment format is Excel, which exploits an MS Office vulnerability (code-name CVE-2017-11882) to inject Ave Maria into the system. This is a common method to proliferate trojans such as Ave Maria, however, the attachment is not always an MS Office document - the file type might be different (e.g., PDF, JavaScript, .exe, archive, or other). In any case, user interaction is necessary for the malware to infiltrate the system. The user must manually run/open the attachment, otherwise the virus cannot enter the system.

How to avoid installation of malware?

To prevent this situation, be very cautious when browsing the internet. Think twice before opening email attachments. If the sender seems suspicious/unrecognizable or the attached link/file is irrelevant, do not open anything. Bear in mind that criminals often try to abuse the recipient's curiosity by sending fraudulent messages, such as "you have received a package", "you have won a lottery", and so on. Unfortunately many users fall for these scams, hoping that they have gained something free of charge. Therefore, you should never trust such messages. Have a reputable anti-virus/anti-spyware suite installed and running, since these programs commonly detect and eliminate malware before any damage is done. Lack of knowledge and careless behavior are the main reasons for computer infections. The key to safety is caution. If you believe that your computer is already infected, we recommend running a scan with Spyhunter for Windows to automatically eliminate infiltrated malware.

Examples of rogue processes ("apo.exe" and "Firefox") of Ave Maria in Windows Task Manager:

Ave Maria trojan in Windows Task Manager - Firefox (sample 1) Ave Maria trojan in Windows Task Manager - apo.exe (sample 2)

Instant automatic removal of Ave Maria malware: Manual threat removal might be a lengthy and complicated process that requires advanced computer skills. Spyhunter is a professional automatic malware removal tool that is recommended to get rid of Ave Maria malware. Download it by clicking the button below:
▼ DOWNLOAD Spyhunter By downloading any software listed on this website you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. Free scanner checks if your computer is infected. To remove malware, you have to purchase the full version of Spyhunter.

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How to remove malware manually?

Manual malware removal is a complicated task - usually it is best to allow antivirus or anti-malware programs to do this automatically. To remove this malware we recommend using Spyhunter for Windows. If you wish to remove malware manually, the first step is to identify the name of the malware that you are trying to remove. Here is an example of a suspicious program running on a user's computer:

malicious process running on user's computer sample

If you checked the list of programs running on your computer, for example, using task manager, and identified a program that looks suspicious, you should continue with these steps:

manual malware removal step 1 Download a program called Autoruns. This program shows auto-start applications, Registry, and file system locations:

screenshot of autoruns application

manual malware removal step 2Restart your computer into Safe Mode:

Windows XP and Windows 7 users: Start your computer in Safe Mode. Click Start, click Shut Down, click Restart, click OK. During your computer start process, press the F8 key on your keyboard multiple times until you see the Windows Advanced Option menu, and then select Safe Mode with Networking from the list.

Safe Mode with Networking

Video showing how to start Windows 7 in "Safe Mode with Networking":

Windows 8 users: Start Windows 8 is Safe Mode with Networking - Go to Windows 8 Start Screen, type Advanced, in the search results select Settings. Click Advanced startup options, in the opened "General PC Settings" window, select Advanced startup. Click the "Restart now" button. Your computer will now restart into the "Advanced Startup options menu". Click the "Troubleshoot" button, and then click the "Advanced options" button. In the advanced option screen, click "Startup settings". Click the "Restart" button. Your PC will restart into the Startup Settings screen. Press F5 to boot in Safe Mode with Networking.

Windows 8 Safe Mode with networking

Video showing how to start Windows 8 in "Safe Mode with Networking":

Windows 10 users: Click the Windows logo and select the Power icon. In the opened menu click "Restart" while holding "Shift" button on your keyboard. In the "choose an option" window click on the "Troubleshoot", next select "Advanced options". In the advanced options menu select "Startup Settings" and click on the "Restart" button. In the following window you should click the "F5" button on your keyboard. This will restart your operating system in safe mode with networking.

windows 10 safe mode with networking

Video showing how to start Windows 10 in "Safe Mode with Networking":

 

manual malware removal step 3Extract the downloaded archive and run the Autoruns.exe file.

extract autoruns.zip and run autoruns.exe

manual malware removal step 4In the Autoruns application, click "Options" at the top and uncheck the "Hide Empty Locations" and "Hide Windows Entries" options. After this procedure, click the "Refresh" icon.

Click 'Options' at the top and uncheck 'Hide Empty Locations' and 'Hide Windows Entries' options

manual malware removal step 5Check the list provided by the Autoruns application and locate the malware file that you want to eliminate.

You should write down its full path and name. Note that some malware hides process names under legitimate Windows process names. At this stage, it is very important to avoid removing system files. After you locate the suspicious program you wish to remove, right click your mouse over its name and choose "Delete".

locate the malware file you want to remove

After removing the malware through the Autoruns application (this ensures that the malware will not run automatically on the next system startup), you should search for the malware name on your computer. Be sure to enable hidden files and folders before proceeding. If you find the file of the malware be sure to remove it.

searching for malware file on your computer

Reboot your computer in normal mode. Following these steps should remove any malware from your computer. Note that manual threat removal requires advanced computer skills. If you do not have these skills, leave malware removal to antivirus and anti-malware programs. These steps might not work with advanced malware infections. As always it is best to prevent infection than try to remove malware later. To keep your computer safe, install the latest operating system updates and use antivirus software.

To be sure your computer is free of malware infections, we recommend scanning it with Spyhunter for Windows.