How to remove NUKESPED malware

Also Known As: NUKESPED backdoor Trojan
Type: Mac Virus
Distribution: Low
Damage level: Severe

How to remove NUKESPED from Mac computers

What is "NUKESPED"?

NUKESPED is a backdoor Trojan, which targets Mac users in Korea. The group of cyber criminals who designed and spread this malware is called Lazarus. They distributed this malicious software through an Excel document using a Mac App bundle, which contains legitimate and malicious versions of Adobe Flash Player files. Cyber criminals employ NUKESPED as a tool to remotely access and control infected computers.

NUKESPED scam

The Mac App bundle runs NUKESPED, which is disguised as a legitimate version of Flash Player (and to hide the genuine version). The malicious version uses the legitimate one to play a SWF (Adobe Flash file format) video. While the video is playing, NUKESPED creates a hidden file in "~/.FlashUpdateCheck" and installs a persistence mechanism for it though a "~/Library/Launchagents/com.adobe.macromedia.plist" PLIST file. The hidden file is used by cyber criminals to establish communication through Command and Control (C&C) servers and perform various actions. This Trojan can be used to terminate processes, receive information about the system, check and update the configuration of a 'backdoor', execute shell commands, and download, upload, and execute files. It is very likely that cyber criminals behind NUKESPED use it to infect systems with additional malware. For example, banking malware, other Trojan types, and so on. Installed malware might be used to encrypt data, take screenshots/record the screen, steal credentials and other confidential information, obtain personal account details, record data saved on the clipboard, and so on. Typically, most cyber criminals target information that can be used to generate revenue in various ways. For example, they steal banking information and various accounts to make fraudulent purchases/transactions, infect systems with ransomware to blackmail victims by demanding ransom payments for decryption software, and so on. In most cases, computers infected with malicious software such as the NUKESPED backdoor Trojan lead to financial loss, problems with privacy, browsing safety, data loss, and other serious issues.

Threat Summary:
Name NUKESPED backdoor Trojan
Threat Type Trojan
Detection Names Avast (MacOS:NukeSpeed-C [Trj]), BitDefender (Trojan.MAC.Lazarus.C), ESET-NOD32 (OSX/NukeSped.C), Kaspersky (HEUR:Trojan-Dropper.OSX.Agent.d), Full List (VirusTotal)
Malicious Process Name .Flash Player
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, fake Flash Player installers or updaters, malicious online advertisements, social engineering, software 'cracks'.
Damage Stolen passwords and banking information, identity theft, victim's computer added to a botnet, installation of other malware.
Malware Removal (Mac)

To eliminate possible malware infections, scan your Mac with legitimate antivirus software. Our security researchers recommend using Combo Cleaner.
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Other examples of backdoor Trojans include Casbaneiro, Kryptik, and GoBotKR. Typically, cyber criminals who proliferate this malware seek to infect computers with it in order to steal private, sensitive information. Their main goal is to extort money from victims or misuse their confidential data to generate revenue in other ways. If there is reason to believe that a Trojan (or other malware) is installed on the system, eliminate it immediately.

How did potentially unwanted applications install on my computer?

Cyber criminals proliferate NUKESPED through a Mac App bundle, which contains legitimate and malicious versions of Adobe Flash Player, however, this is not the only way that this kind of malware is spread. Cyber criminals use spam campaigns (emails), fake software updaters, untrustworthy software download sources and software 'cracking' (unofficial activation) tools. Spam campaigns are used to infect systems through malicious email attachments. Examples of files that cyber criminals attach are Microsoft Office and PDF documents, executable files (.exe), JavaScript files, archives such as ZIP and RAR, etc. When opened, these attachments install malicious software. Fake software updaters infect computers by exploiting bugs/flaws or other vulnerabilities of outdated software, or by installing malicious software rather than updating installed programs. Peer-to-Peer networks (eMule, torrent clients, and so on), third party downloaders, freeware and free file hosting websites and other similar download sources are used to upload malicious files. Typically, cyber criminals disguise them as legitimate. By downloading files using these sources and then opening/executing them, people risk causing installation of malware. Software 'cracking' tools are programs that usually activate paid software free of charge, however, cyber criminals often design them to proliferate malware. In summary, tools of this type often install malicious programs rather than activating installed software or operating systems.

How to avoid installation of potentially unwanted applications

Software should not be downloaded or installed through third party software downloaders, installers, or other dubious sources mentioned above. Download using official and trustworthy websites, and direct links. Unofficial/third party tools should not be used to update software - the only proper way is using implemented functions or tools that are provided by official software developers. Do not trust attachments presented in irrelevant emails or emails received from unknown, suspicious addresses. Files attached to them should remain unopened. Note that it is illegal to activate software or operating systems using software 'cracking' tools. Furthermore, these tools often lead to installation of various malware. Finally, have reputable anti-spyware or antivirus software installed and scan computers with it regularly. If your computer is already infected with PUAs, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for macOS to automatically eliminate them.

Appearance of malicious Flash Player version using the legitimate one to play a SWF file format (GIF):

Appearance of NUKESPED playing SWF video through malicious Flash Player

Malicious Flash Player version running in Activity Monitor:

nukesped activity monitor

Instant automatic Mac malware removal: Manual threat removal might be a lengthy and complicated process that requires advanced computer skills. Combo Cleaner is a professional automatic malware removal tool that is recommended to get rid of Mac malware. Download it by clicking the button below:
▼ DOWNLOAD Combo Cleaner for Mac By downloading any software listed on this website you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. To use full-featured product, you have to purchase a license for Combo Cleaner. Limited three days free trial available.

Quick menu:

Video showing how to remove adware and browser hijackers from a Mac computer:

Potentially unwanted applications removal:

Remove potentially unwanted applications from your "Applications" folder:

mac browser hijacker removal from applications folder

Click the Finder icon. In the Finder window, select "Applications". In the applications folder, look for "MPlayerX", "NicePlayer", or other suspicious applications and drag them to the Trash. After removing the potentially unwanted application(s) that cause online ads, scan your Mac for any remaining unwanted components.

Remove nukesped backdoor trojan related files and folders:

Finder go to folder command

Click the Finder icon, from the menu bar. Choose Go, and click Go to Folder...

step1Check for adware-generated files in the /Library/LaunchAgents folder:

removing adware from launch agents folder step 1

In the Go to Folder... bar, type: /Library/LaunchAgents

removing adware from launch agents folder step 2
In the “LaunchAgents” folder, look for any recently-added suspicious files and move them to the Trash. Examples of files generated by adware - “installmac.AppRemoval.plist”, “myppes.download.plist”, “mykotlerino.ltvbit.plist”, “kuklorest.update.plist”, etc. Adware commonly installs several files with the same string.

step2Check for adware generated files in the /Library/Application Support folder:

removing adware from application support folder step 1

In the Go to Folder... bar, type: /Library/Application Support

removing adware from application support folder step 2
In the “Application Support” folder, look for any recently-added suspicious folders. For example, “MplayerX” or “NicePlayer”, and move these folders to the Trash.

step3Check for adware-generated files in the ~/Library/LaunchAgents folder:

removing adware from ~launch agents folder step 1


In the Go to Folder bar, type: ~/Library/LaunchAgents

removing adware from ~launch agents folder step 2

In the “LaunchAgents” folder, look for any recently-added suspicious files and move them to the Trash. Examples of files generated by adware - “installmac.AppRemoval.plist”, “myppes.download.plist”, “mykotlerino.ltvbit.plist”, “kuklorest.update.plist”, etc. Adware commonly installs several files with the same string.

step4Check for adware-generated files in the /Library/LaunchDaemons folder:

removing adware from launch daemons folder step 1
In the Go to Folder... bar, type: /Library/LaunchDaemons

removing adware from launch daemons folder step 2
In the “LaunchDaemons” folder, look for recently-added suspicious files. For example “com.aoudad.net-preferences.plist”, “com.myppes.net-preferences.plist”, "com.kuklorest.net-preferences.plist”, “com.avickUpd.plist”, etc., and move them to the Trash.

step 5 Scan your Mac with Combo Cleaner:

If you have followed all the steps in the correct order you Mac should be clean of infections. To be sure your system is not infected run a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus. Download it HERE. After downloading the file double click combocleaner.dmg installer, in the opened window drag and drop Combo Cleaner icon on top of the Applications icon. Now open your launchpad and click on the Combo Cleaner icon. Wait until Combo Cleaner updates it's virus definition database and click "Start Combo Scan" button.

scan-with-combo-cleaner-1

Combo Cleaner will scan your Mac for malware infections. If the antivirus scan displays "no threats found" - this means that you can continue with the removal guide, otherwise it's recommended to remove any found infections before continuing.

scan-with-combo-cleaner-2

After removing files and folders generated by the adware, continue to remove rogue extensions from your Internet browsers.

NUKESPED backdoor Trojan removal from Internet browsers:

safari browser iconRemove malicious extensions from Safari:

Remove nukesped backdoor trojan related Safari extensions:

safari browser preferences

Open Safari browser, from the menu bar, select "Safari" and click "Preferences...".

safari extensions window

In the preferences window, select "Extensions" and look for any recently-installed suspicious extensions. When located, click the "Uninstall" button next to it/them. Note that you can safely uninstall all extensions from your Safari browser - none are crucial for normal browser operation.

  • If you continue to have problems with browser redirects and unwanted advertisements - Reset Safari.

firefox browser iconRemove malicious plug-ins from Mozilla Firefox:

Remove nukesped backdoor trojan related Mozilla Firefox add-ons:

accessing mozilla firefox add-ons

Open your Mozilla Firefox browser. At the top right corner of the screen, click the "Open Menu" (three horizontal lines) button. From the opened menu, choose "Add-ons".

removing malicious add-ons from mozilla firefox

Choose the "Extensions" tab and look for any recently-installed suspicious add-ons. When located, click the "Remove" button next to it/them. Note that you can safely uninstall all extensions from your Mozilla Firefox browser - none are crucial for normal browser operation.

  • If you continue to have problems with browser redirects and unwanted advertisements - Reset Mozilla Firefox.

chrome-browser-iconRemove malicious extensions from Google Chrome:

Remove nukesped backdoor trojan related Google Chrome add-ons:

removing malicious google chrome extensions step 1

Open Google Chrome and click the "Chrome menu" (three horizontal lines) button located in the top-right corner of the browser window. From the drop-down menu, choose "More Tools" and select "Extensions".

removing malicious Google Chrome extensions step 2

In the "Extensions" window, look for any recently-installed suspicious add-ons. When located, click the "Trash" button next to it/them. Note that you can safely uninstall all extensions from your Google Chrome browser - none are crucial for normal browser operation.

  • If you continue to have problems with browser redirects and unwanted advertisements - Reset Google Chrome.

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 malware activity level today:

Medium threat activity

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

QR Code
NUKESPED backdoor Trojan 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 NUKESPED backdoor Trojan on your mobile device.
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