How to remove Buer Loader malware from the operating system

Also Known As: Buer Loader trojan
Type: Trojan
Damage level: Severe

What is Buer Loader?

Buer Loader (BuerLoader) is trojan-type malicious software designed to cause chain infections (i.e., download/install additional malware). Since August 2019, it has been actively sold in underground markets. It has been observed spreading TrickBot, KPOT, Smoke Loader and Amadey malware.

Due to its presence on these marketplaces, Buer Loader can be used to spread a wide variety of other malicious content. The aforementioned infections were noted to proliferate via email spam campaigns and exploit kits (toolkits exploiting security weaknesses of various applications).

Buer Loader malware

Buer Loader possesses anti-analysis capabilities, which complicates its research. These capabilities allow this trojan to check for virtual machines and/or other research-oriented programs (e.g. debuggers, sandboxes, etc.). It can also geotarget. Thus, Buer Loader can infer the location of the infected system and ensure that it is running in select countries.

This can be relevant for several purposes, for example, due to laws and jurisdiction, cyber security level, economic climate, etc. These are just some of the capabilities of this malicious program. The developers of Buer Loader are continually changing and updating the software, and therefore it is rapidly evolving.

As mentioned, its primary function is to infect devices with other malware, and it has already been used to proliferate other loaders, banking and personal information-stealing trojans. It might also inject systems with ransomware and other high-risk content.

To elaborate on how some of these programs can affect devices and users, they can exfiltrate, modify and damage all manner of sensitive system and private data. Additionally, malware can execute shell commands, manage/edit various files, record key strokes, grant control over connected hardware and so on.

Certain infections can allow cyber criminals to gain control over a device and its assorted data. Targeted information can include communication (email and chat services), social networking and social media, financial (savings, credit, retirement, etc.) and other account credentials.

For example, communication and social accounts can be used (under the guise of the user) to proliferate infections and demand loans. Financial accounts can be exploited to make monetary transactions and online purchases.

Material attained through integrated/plugged hardware (e.g. cameras, microphones, USD drives and other storage devices) can be used for blackmail or ransom purposes. In summary, Buer Loader can cause extremely dangerous system infections, which can lead to financial loss, serious privacy issues and identity theft.

Due to these risks, it is paramount to remove all malicious content immediately upon detection.

Threat Summary:
Name Buer Loader trojan
Threat Type Trojan, password-stealing virus, banking malware, spyware.
Detection Names Avast (Win32:Trojan-gen), BitDefender (Trojan.GenericKD.32383150), ESET-NOD32 (A Variant Of Win32/Injector.EHWH), Kaspersky (Backdoor.Win32.Androm.tepx), Full List (VirusTotal)
Malicious Process Name(s) MoonBlast Software (process name may vary)
Payload TrickBot, KPOT, Smoke Loader, Amadey (payload may vary)
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 Combo Cleaner.
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There are many examples of malware infection with the aforementioned capabilities. For example, QakbotPsiXBotSocelarsMachete and so on. Software stealthily installed by Buer Loader can include information-stealers, remote access trojans (RATs), crypto-miners, ransomware and other malware.

While their functions/abilities differ, the goal is the same: to generate revenue for the cyber criminals behind them. Regardless of their specific characteristics, these infections are extremely dangerous to device and user safety.

How did Buer Loader infiltrate my computer?

Buer Loader has been proliferated via dangerous Microsoft Word documents attached to deceptive, judicially-themed emails. Systems are infected through these messages when an infectious document is opened. In Microsoft Office versions released prior to 2010, this process is automatic and begins the moment the file is opened.

Newer versions have "Protected View" mode, which prevents malicious macro commands from immediately starting to download/install malware, however, if the macros are enabled (i.e., editing is enabled), the process is allowed to begin.

As well as attached MS Office documents, malicious software is also proliferated via executable and archive files, PDF documents, JavaScript, etc. Spam campaigns and trojans are not the only modes of malware proliferation. Other common methods include untrustworthy download channels, illegal program activation ("cracking") tools and fake updaters.

Peer-to-Peer sharing networks (BitTorrent, Gnutella, eMule, etc.), unofficial and free file-hosting websites, third party downloaders and similar channels commonly offer malicious content for downloading (e.g. disguised as normal software and/or bundled with it).

Rather than activating licensed products, illegal activation ("cracking") tools can download/install malicious programs. Fake updaters infect systems by misusing flaws of outdated software and/or simply installing malware rather than the promised updates.

How to avoid installation of malware

Do not open suspicious and/or irrelevant emails. Any attachments (or links) present in suspect mail must never be opened, as these files are the source of a potential system infection. You are advised to use Microsoft Office versions released after 2010, since newer versions have "Protected View" mode.

Only official and verified download channels should be used. Program activation and updating should be performed with tools/functions provided by legitimate developers. Illegal activation ("cracking") tools and third party updaters carry a high risk of malware installation, and should not be used.

It is crucial to have a reputable anti-virus/anti-spyware suite installed and kept up-to-date. Furthermore, this software should be used to perform regular system scans and removal of detected threats. If you believe that your computer is already infected, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows to automatically eliminate infiltrated malware.

Buer Loader process on Window Task Manager:

Buer Loader process on Task Manager

Update May 19, 2020 - Cyber criminals have recently released an updated variant of Buer Loader malware which has been slightly improved. Malware is now capable of running .bat and .ps1 scripts locally, its memory payload performance has been improved, and other few features have been added/improved.

Instant automatic malware removal: Manual threat removal might be a lengthy and complicated process that requires advanced IT skills. Combo Cleaner is a professional automatic malware removal tool that is recommended to get rid of malware. Download it by clicking the button below:
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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 Combo Cleaner Antivirus 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 1Download 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 "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 filename 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 Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows.

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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.

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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.

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