Prevent installation of Tortoiseshell trojan

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

Tortoiseshell virus removal guide

What is Tortoiseshell?

Tortoiseshell is the name of a group of cyber criminals who spread malware that is designed to steal information about its victims and infected computers. They spread information stealer together with a remote access Trojan (RAT), a software that allows cyber criminals to remotely control infected computers. Tortoiseshell group seeks to infect computers with two dangerous malicious programs that can cause serious problems, they should be removed/uninstalled as soon as possible.

Tortoiseshell malware

When installed, information stealer executes a number of commands that allow cyber criminals to steal details such as: list of files that are stored on the infected computer, various networking information, list of user accounts, information about installed firewall, drive information, running processes, and other details. The RAT which gets installed as well is capable of launching itself on every system startup. Cyber criminals control this tool through Command and Control severs. It can be used to execute various commands that allow cyber cyber criminals to upload, unzip and execute various files. It means that they could infect computers with additional malware, for example, ransomware. Ransomware is a type of software that encrypts files stored on victim's computer. Cyber criminals use programs of this type to force their victims to purchase decryption tools from them. Typically, it is impossible to decrypt encrypted files without the tools that only developers of particular ransomware have. However, cyber criminals could infect computers with other malware as well. They could install some malicious program that is designed to steal personal details, such as banking information, email, social network accounts, and so on. Stolen information could be used to generate revenue by making fraudulent transactions, purchases, spreading scams through stolen email or other accounts, and so on. To avoid possible financial, data loss, problems related to privacy and other serious issues is it strongly recommended to uninstall the installed RAT and information stealer immediately.

Threat Summary:
Name Tortoiseshell malware
Threat Type Trojan, Spyware, Remote Access Trojan
Detection Names (HMH.exe) ALYac (Trojan.Agent.Tortoiseshell), BitDefender (Trojan.Autoruns.GenericKDS.32493503), ESET-NOD32 (A Variant Of MSIL/TrojanDownloader.Agent.FRO), McAfee (Artemis!A194E3BF8301), Full List (VirusTotal)
Payload Remote Acess Trojan (RAT) and information stealer.
Symptoms Trojans are designed to stealthily infiltrate victim's computer and remain silent thus no particular symptoms are clearly visible on an infected machine.
Distribution methods Fake recruitment website, Infected email attachments, malicious online advertisements, social engineering, software cracks.
Damage Stolen sensitive information, identity theft, victim's computer added to a botnet, installation of other malware.
Removal

To eliminate Tortoiseshell 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.

More examples of malicious programs categorized as Trojans are Torpig, Nymeria and Retefe. The purpose of these infections may vary: some record data, some install additional malware (cause "chain infections"), others provide remote access to the infected machine, and so on so forth. However, no matter what kind of malware has infiltrated the system, it must be eliminated immediately.

How did Tortoiseshell infect my computer?

Research shows that cyber criminals spread these two malicious programs through a deceptive website that is disguised as a page of organization which offers jobs for U.S. military veterans. However, it is known that there is another hacking group which targets not veterans, but IT companies. The page/organization which targets veterans is called Hire Military Heroes. It offers to download some desktop app that, if executed, installs aforementioned infections. However, there other ways to spread malicious programs as well. In most cases cyber criminals do that through spam campaigns, software 'cracking' tools and fake software updaters. They try to infect computers through spam campaigns by sending emails that contain malicious attachments, or web links that download malicious files. Attached files usually are executable files (like .exe), archive files (like RAR, ZIP), PDF or Microsoft Office documents, JavaScript files, and so on. When opened, these files infect computers with malware. Another way to infect computers with malicious software is through unofficial activation/'cracking' tools. These programs supposed to activate software or operating systems for free, however, very often they download/install malware instead. Unofficial (third party) software updaters infect systems by downloading malicious programs instead of installing updates, or by exploiting bugs, flaws of outdated software that is installed on a computer.

How to avoid installation of malware?

We recommend not to open attachments presented in irrelevant emails that are received from unknown, suspicious addresses. There is a high possibility that an email of this type will be sent from cyber criminals who intend to infect computers with malware. All software should be downloaded using official, trustworthy channels (websites) and direct download links. Third party downloaders, installers, Peer-to-Peer networks (like torrent clients), unofficial websites, and other similar channels cannot be trusted. Cyber criminals may use them to distribute malicious software. Unofficial/third party tools to update installed software should not be used as well. Also, it is important to update and activate software is through tools or functions that are provided by official software developers. Note, unofficial software activation tools are illegal and can be designed to infect computers with malware. To keep computers safe, we also recommend to have a reputable anti-virus (or anti-spyware) software installed on them. Computers should be scanned regularly and detected threats must be removed immediately. If you believe that your computer is already infected, we recommend running a scan with Spyhunter for Windows to automatically eliminate infiltrated malware.

Malicious executable file (dropper) which is designed to install aforementioned trojans:

tortoiseshell malware dropper

Screenshot of the dropper disguising as Hire Military Heroes application:

Screenshot of the dropper disguising as Hire Military Heroes application

Screenshot of a fake pop-up window which is displayed once the malware is downloaded and installed (pop-up claims that the Hire Military Veterans cannot operate due to present security suite):

Screenshot of a fake pop-up window which is displayed once the malware is downloaded and installed

Instant automatic removal of Tortoiseshell 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 Tortoiseshell 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.

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
Tortoiseshell malware QR code
A QR code (Quick Response Code) is a machine-readable code which stores URLs and other information. This code can be read using a camera on a smartphone or a tablet. Scan this QR code to have an easy access removal guide of Tortoiseshell malware on your mobile device.
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Platform: Windows

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