How to protect computers from being infected with Stalk worm?

Also Known As: Worm.Win32 Stalk
Type: Trojan
Distribution: Low
Damage level: Severe

Stalk virus removal guide

What is Stalk?

Stalk (also known as Worm.Win32 Stalk) is a malicious program which is categorized as worm. Typically, worms are designed to automatically spread themselves onto other computers and infect as many systems as possible. It is unknown what is the payload of this worm, however, it could be used to spread a variety of malicious programs. To avoid being detected, Stalk hides the "Show hidden files and folders" option by making changes in Windows registry.

Stalk malware

Research shows that cyber criminals distribute Stalk by disguising various files as textbooks of essays. When opened, they install this worm, which copies itself to the c:\z\ folder and puts desktop.ini and csrss.exe files in there. In order to spread itself on other computers it might place these files in removable drives like USB that, if used, will spread Worm.Win32 Stalk (or Stalk) further. One of the possible scenarios is that this worm could be used to spread malware such as ransomware. Ransomware-type programs lock victim's files by encrypting them with strong encryption algorithm. Users of infected computers are unable to access their files unless they decrypt them with a decryption software or/and key that usually can be purchased only from cyber criminals who designed ransomware. Simply said, in order to recover files ransomware victims are forced to pay a ransom. Another possible payload is some information stealer that could be designed to steal logins, passwords of various accounts related to banking, email and so on. Typically, cyber criminals use programs of this type to steal sensitive details that could be used to make fraudulent transactions, purchases, or generate revenue in other ways. Furthermore, Stalk could be used to infect a computer with cryptocurrency miner. Cyber criminals seek to infect other computers with miners so they could use their hardware (GPU, CPU) to mine cryptocurrency. Users of infected systems usually get higher bills because programs of this type force computers to consume more electricity. Besides, high CPU and GPU usage could cause unexpected shutdowns that can lead to loss of unsaved data, also, miners could cause hardware overheat and other problems. Stalk could be used to install high-risk malware that could cause victims problems with privacy, browsing safety, lead to financial, data loss and other serious issues. If there is a reason to suspect Stalk of being installed on a computer, it should be removed immediately.

Threat Summary:
Name Worm.Win32 Stalk
Threat Type Worm
Payload Stalk could be used to spread some password stealing virus, banking malware, spyware, ransomware and other malware.
Symptoms Worms are designed to stealthily infiltrate victim's computer and remain silent thus no particular symptoms are clearly visible on an infected machine.
Distribution methods Infected files that are disguised as textbooks or/and essays, malicious online advertisements, social engineering, software cracks.
Damage Stolen banking information, passwords, identity theft, victim's computer added to a botnet, additional installations of various malware.
Removal

To eliminate Worm.Win32 Stalk 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.

Other examples of worms are Retadup and Forbix. Programs of this type are designed to replicate themselves, in other words, to spread themselves further from one infected computer to another. Programs of this type could be used to infect systems with additional malware that might cause a variety of serious problems. It is important to avoid installation of worm or other malware in all possible ways.

How did Stalk infiltrate my computer?

As we mentioned in the introduction, this worm spreads itself through infected drives (like USB). However, at least one computer must be already infected with it. To spread malware cyber criminals usually use emails (spam campaigns), Trojans, untrustworthy software download sources, software 'cracking' tools and fake updaters. Emails can lead to installation of malware through attachments that are attached to them. Typically, cyber criminals attach Microsoft Office documents, archive files (like ZIP, RAR), executables (.exe files), PDF documents, JavaScript and other files. Their main goal is to trick recipients into opening attached file that, once opened, installs particular malware. Another way to spread malicious programs is through Trojans. Once installed, Trojans open 'backdoors' for other threats. Simply said, they cause chain infections/install additional malware. Untrustworthy download sources like free file hosting, freeware download websites, Peer-to-Peer networks such as torrent clients, eMule and other similar channels can be used to disguise malicious files (like executable .exe files) as legitimate. People who use such channels risk to download malicious files that, if open, install malicious software. Unofficial activation/'cracking' tools are programs that some people use to activate paid programs for free. Unfortunately, quite often these tools are designed to distribute malware/install unwanted, malicious software. Fake software updaters infect computers when they install malicious programs instead of updates or exploit bugs, flaws of outdated, vulnerable software that is installed on the operating system.

How to avoid installation of malware?

We do not recommend to trust emails that are received from suspicious, unknown addresses. If they contain attachments or web links, they should not be opened, otherwise they might lead to installation of malware. All programs and files should be downloaded from official websites, none of the other tools can be trusted. Quite often cyber criminals use them to distribute malicious programs. Installed programs must be updated properly, it is important to do it using tools or functions that are provided by official developers and not some third party tools. If software is not free, it should not be activated using unofficial, 'cracking' tools. Tools of this type can be used to spread malware, besides, they are not legal. One more way to keep systems safe from malicious programs is to scan them for viruses regularly. It should be done using reputable anti-virus or anti-spyware software. If you believe that your computer is already infected, we recommend running a scan with Spyhunter for Windows to automatically eliminate infiltrated malware.

Instant automatic removal of Worm.Win32 Stalk: 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 Worm.Win32 Stalk. 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.

Quick menu:

How to remove malware manually?

Manual malware removal is a complicated task, usually it's better to let antivirus or anti-malware programs do it 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's an example of a suspicious program running on 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 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 "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 Autoruns application and locate the malware file that you want to eliminate.

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

locate the malware file you want to remove

After removing the malware through Autoruns application (this ensures that the malware won't 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 help remove any malware from your computer. Note that manual threat removal requires advanced computer skills, it's recommended to leave malware removal to antivirus and anti-malware programs. These steps might not work with advanced malware infections. As always it's better to avoid getting infected that try to remove malware afterwards. To keep your computer safe be sure to install 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.

About the author:

Tomas Meskauskas

Tomas Meskauskas - expert security researcher, professional malware analyst.

I am passionate about computer security and technology. I have an experience of over 10 years working in various companies related to computer technical issue solving and Internet security. I have been working as an author and editor for pcrisk.com since 2010. Follow me on Twitter and LinkedIn to stay informed about the latest online security threats. Contact Tomas Meskauskas.

PCrisk security portal is brought by a company RCS LT. Joined forces of security researchers help educate computer users about the latest online security threats. More information about the company RCS LT.

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Malware activity

Global virus and spyware activity level today:

Medium threat activity
Medium

Increased attack rate of infections detected within the last 24 hours.

QR Code
Worm.Win32 Stalk QR code
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Platform: Windows

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