Agent Tesla virus removal guide
What is Agent Tesla?
Agent Tesla (AgentTesla) is a remote access tool (RAT) that allows users to control computers remotely. This tool can be purchased from its official website and developers present it as a legitimate program. In fact, cyber criminals use Agent Tesla to steal various personal data.
Anyone can purchase an Agent Tesla subscription (monthly/yearly) and use it for various purposes. The website claims that this tool should not be used for malicious purposes, and the subscriptions of users who do so will be suspended. In fact, research shows that these claims are false and the developers attempt to give the impression of legitimacy. Be aware that subscribers can get 24/7 support on a Discord chatting program. Developers provide a wide range of support, including tips about how to proliferate Agent Tesla in malicious ways (e.g., spam email campaigns, misusing software bugs, etc.). Therefore, it is safe to assume that claims regarding the suspension of subscriptions are false and that developers condone employing this tool to illegally monitor/control other people's computers to generate revenue in malicious ways. One of the main Agent Tesla features is keylogging - it can be used to record system keystrokes. Therefore, criminals can gain access to victims' accounts. They aim to generate as much revenue as possible and will probably misuse hijacked accounts in various ways. For example, bank accounts can be used to transfer money, purchase items online, and so on. Other personal accounts (e.g., social networks, emails, etc.) can be used to steal a victim's identity to borrow even more money and send malicious files to people on the contacts list, thus proliferating this RAT (or other malware) even further. Therefore, the presence of a remote access tool on your system might cause various issues, financial loss, and victims can even get into debt. Therefore, you should eliminate these threats immediately.
|Threat Type||Trojan, remote access trojan, RAT.|
|Detection Names||Avast (AutoIt:Injector-JF [Trj]), BitDefender (Trojan.GenericKD.31825418), ESET-NOD32 (MSIL/Spy.Agent.AES), Kaspersky (Trojan-Dropper.Win32.Scrop.uod), Full List (VirusTotal)|
|Symptoms||Trojans are designed to stealthily infiltrate the victim's computer and remain silent, and thus no particular symptoms are clearly visible on an infected machine.|
|Distribution methods||Infected email attachments, malicious online advertisements, social engineering, software 'cracks'.|
|Damage||Stolen passwords and banking information, identity theft, the victim's computer added to a botnet.|
|Malware Removal (Windows)||
To eliminate possible malware infections, scan your computer with legitimate antivirus software. Our security researchers recommend using Malwarebytes.
There are hundreds of remote access tools online. For example, Imminent Monitor, H-Worm, CrimsonRAT, and Nymeria. Some are malicious, others are legitimate, however, if misused, they all pose threats to users' privacy and computer safety (remote access tools are often used to download and install additional applications that are often malicious). Therefore, removing remote access tools is extremely important.
How did Agent Tesla infiltrate my computer?
Anyone can purchase and start proliferating Agent Tesla using many available distribution tools/methods. In most cases, RATs are proliferated using trojans, spam email campaigns, fake software updaters/cracks and unofficial software download sources. Trojans are essentially malicious applications that stealthily infiltrate computers and continually inject additional malware. Spam email campaigns are used to proliferate malicious attachments together with deceptive messages encouraging users to open the files. These attachments are often presented as invoices, bills, receipts, and so on. Opening them usually leads to system infections. Fake updaters infect computers by exploiting outdated software bugs/flaws or simply downloading and installing malware rather than updates. The idea behind software cracks is to bypass paid software activation, however, since they are often used to proliferate malware, users commonly end up infecting their computers rather than activating software free of charge. Unofficial software download sources are also an issue. Developers present malicious executables/apps as legitimate software, thereby tricking users into downloading and installing malware. In summary, the main reasons for computer infections are poor knowledge of these threats and careless behavior.
How to avoid installation of malware?
To prevent this situation, be very cautious when browsing the internet and downloading/installing software. Think twice before opening email attachments. Files/links that do not concern you, and those received from suspicious/unrecognizable email addresses, should not be opened. Software should be downloaded from official sources only, using direct download/links. Third party downloaders/installers often include rogue apps, and thus such tools should never be used. Similar rules apply to software updates. Keeping installed applications and operating systems up-to-date is important, however, use tools provided by the official developer or implemented functions only. Never use software cracking tools since software piracy is a cyber crime and the risk of infections is extremely high. Use a reputable anti-virus/anti-spyware suite - these tools commonly detect and eliminate malware before the system is harmed. The key to computer safety is caution. If you believe that your computer is already infected, we recommend running a scan with Malwarebytes for Windows to automatically eliminate infiltrated malware.
Hacking website promoting Agent Tesla RAT:
Agent Tesla dashboard used to control this RAT:
Deceptive email promoting a malicious attachment that injects Agent Tesla:
Text presented within this email:
Subject REQUEST FOR QUOTATION URGENTLY RFQ#1624400ID
Please find the attached our Order RFQ PO#40053.
Kindly go through the product and provide us PI
with your company seal (stamp) urgently
And also delivery date and payment terms.
NB: This order is for a huge supply to our customer.
Tel : +33 (0)1 47 24 14 14
Mob : +33 (0)6 43 42 40 04
Fax : +33 (0)1 47 98 25 43
Malicious attachment (Microsoft Excel document) distributing Agent Tesla:
Another email spam campaign ("TNT Express") used to spread Agent Tesla RAT:
Text presented within this email:
Subject: TNT Shipping Documents Delivery Notification
International courier delivery services company
PARCEL NO: TNT7855433291
ARRIVAL DATE:Fri, Sep 06, 2019
At the request of the shipper.
Your parcel has arrived at our office. Our courier was unable to deliver the parcel to you due to wrong address from our customer.
To receive your parcel, please visit any of our nearest office and show this receipt.
Please click the attachment to download and print receipt.
All rights reserved by TNT Holdings B.V. © 2017
Yet another email spam campaign ("DHL Express") used to distribute Agent Tesla RAT:
Text presented within this email:
Subject: DHL ONLINE SHIPPING PARCEL NOTIFICATION / TRACKING
Dear Valued customer
We are pleased to inform you that your consignment was booked via DHL Express
Copies of the shipment has been attached
To be able to check the status of the above shipment, simply check the enclosed file to track your shipment and more detailed information of the consignment is available
Download your attachment for your reference
Wishing you and your company a fruitful business!
DHL International Express Ltd.
Keep the downloaded documents safe because, we will need you to provide them for confirmation before delivering your parcel.
Yet another email spam campaign (crooks pretend to be employees of Pricol company) used to spread Agent Tesla RAT:
Text presented within this email:
Subject: RE : B/L No LCLSWKAJM1900039 & TNSSWKJEA19051 MT101 SWIFT
I hope you are doing well.
Please find attached our bank swift of the balance payment.
Looking forward for the B/L No LCLSWKAJM1900039 & TNSSWKJEA19051
Me respekt Kind regards,
Putian Hengwei outdoor Co.,Ltd.
Registered in China no.3503967145
Add:RM1501,15/F.,Zhengding Dong Jie Kou Building No.C,Putian City,Fujian,China
Update March 27, 2020 - Due to the recent outbreak of Coronavirus (COVID-19) cyber criminals have started hundreds of email spam campaigns relating to this topic. They send various emails encouraging users to open attached files which are presented as documents relating to the current situation (e.g., list of infected people, safety instructions, etc.) The attachments, as usual, inject various malware into the system. Here's an example of a malicious attachment ("Covid-19-UPDATE-9000986666.zip") which is supposedly sent by World Health Organization (WHO). The attachment injects Agent Tesla:
Yet another phishing email used to spread Agent Tesla RAT (the malicious attachment is an executable named "**** Delivery Express.exe"):
Text presented within this email:
ON DEMAND DELIVERY
YOUR SHIPMENT IS ON ITS WAY
Your *** Express shipment with waybill number 6856686851 *** EXPRESS is on its way. We will require a signature at the same time of delivery.
The current estimated delivery is Mon 2 March by End of Day.
To view your delivery options, make a change or track your shipment, click here.
Delivery Address P.O.BOX 16199 AL-AIN UAE
Estimated Delivery Date Mon March 2
Delivery Time by End of Day
Thank you for using On Demand Delivery
*** Express - Excellence. Simply delivered.
Example of a Coronavirus-related spam email spreading Agent Tesla RAT via attached Microsoft Word document:
Text presented within this email:
Subject: COVID-19 Explore Laniado Hospital latest update
In line with our commitment to always provide excellent services and keep you abreast of regulatory directives that may affect you, please be informed that we have attached the latest update on corona virus (COVID-19).
Kinldy ensure you check the attached file to understand the latest preventive measure to takle the virus within your environment.
Keep me posted for more news and preventive measures.
Explore Laniado Hospital
Laniado Hospital, -
Stay at home if you feel unwell. If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention and call in advance. Follow the directions of your local health authority
stay safe and keep your environment clean
Screenshot of the attached malicious MS Word document:
Update April 2, 2020 - Agent Tesla targets web browsers such as:
- 7 Star
- Apple Safari
- Comodo Dragon
- Epic Privacy
- Google Chrome
- Microsoft IE & Edge
- Mozilla Firefox
- QIP Surf
- Sleipnir 6
List of targeted email clients and messaging clients:
- Aerofox Foxmail
- Becky! Internet Mail
- Claws Mail
- ICQ Transport
- Microsoft Outlook
- Mozilla Thunderbird
- Opera Mail
- Qualcomm Eudora
- The Bat! Email
- Trillian Messenger
List of targeted VPN, FTP clients and download managers:
- Coowon jDownloader
- FTP Navigator
- Ipswitch WS_FTP
Agent Tesla collects credentials from files in VPN, FTP clients and download managers, also, it collects credentials from the system registry and sends them to a C&C server controlled by cyber criminals.
New Agent Tesla version is capable of starting every time the operating system starts, also, it can disable various operating system's features or prevent victims from using them. It can:
- Disable Windows User Account Controls
- Prevent victims from opening Task Manager
- Prevent victims from launching Command Prompt (cmd.exe)
- Disable Control Panel, run various items from the Start menu and start new tasks from Task Manager
- Prevent victims from accessing the System Registry
- Prevent victims from restoring Windows
- Disable Folder Options in Windows Explorer
- Prevent victims from running msconfig.exe
Additionally, Agent Tesla can restart a computer, take screenshots of victims screen and send them to attackers email address.
Update April 17, 2020 - New variants of Agent Tesla RAT have been observed targeting Wi-Fi credentials. It attempts to steal Wi-Fi profiles and passwords. This data may be used to spread the infection to other devices, using the same wireless network.
An example of Facebook-related spam campaign used to spread Agent Tesla RAT (the attachment is a compressed malicious executable):
Text presented within:
Subject: Re: FACEBOOK NOTIFICATION ON CHANGE OF PASSWORD
Kindly Identify Attached Details As User Order-Wise Cancel Request NOW
CHANGE OF PASSWORD
ITS ME ENTER
THANK YOU FOR CHOOSING FACEBOOK
View on Facebook Edit Email Settings
Detection names of the malicious PowerPoint add-in in VirusTotal:
Instant automatic malware removal:
Manual threat removal might be a lengthy and complicated process that requires advanced computer skills. Malwarebytes is a professional automatic malware removal tool that is recommended to get rid of malware. Download it by clicking the button below:
- What is Agent Tesla?
- STEP 1. Manual removal of Agent Tesla malware.
- STEP 2. Check if your computer is clean.
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 Malwarebytes 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:
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:
Download a program called Autoruns. This program shows auto-start applications, Registry, and file system locations:
Restart 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.
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.
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.
Video showing how to start Windows 10 in "Safe Mode with Networking":
Extract the downloaded archive and run the Autoruns.exe file.
In 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.
Check 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".
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 filename of the malware, be sure to remove it.
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 Malwarebytes for Windows.