How to remove sLoad from the operating system?

Also Known As: sLoad (StarsLord) virus
Type: Trojan
Distribution: Moderate
Damage level: Severe

sLoad virus removal guide

What is sLoad?

sLoad (also known as StarsLord) is the name of a malicious software which is designed to infect operating systems with other malware (e.g., some banking Trojan or ransomware). Simply said, sLoad operates as a malware downloader/dropper. Research shows that cyber criminals spread sLoad via spam campaigns (emails), to be more precise, through malicious documents attached to them. If there is a reason to believe that sLoad (and its payload) is installed on the operating system, then it must be removed as soon as possible.

sLoad malware

Cyber criminals who spread sLoad target users of Windows operating system. This malware is designed to gather system information and send it to cyber criminals through C2 (Command & Control) server. It not only sends information to C2 server but also receives commands through it. Research shows that sLoad communicates with its C2 server by using Windows BITS (a service that Windows uses to send operating system updates). It sets up BITS scheduled tasks that are executed at regular intervals. Those tasks allow for sLoad to communicate with its Command & Control server and perform tasks such as download of additional malware. This malware could be used to infect system with a various types of malicious software. One of the possible payloads could be some Trojan (like Lampion) that is designed to steal personal information. Typically, software of this type is designed to steal information that cyber criminals could use to generate revenue in various ways. Quite often it steals credentials (logins, passwords) of various accounts, credit card details and other sensitive data. Cyber criminals misuse stolen details to make fraudulent purchases, transactions, steal identities, and so on. Basically, people who have their computers infected with software of this type experience financial loss, problems related to privacy, browsing safety, and so on. sLoad could be used to infect the operating system with some ransomware. This type of software usually is designed to encrypt data (make files inaccessible) so that victims could not decrypt files without a decryption tool and/or key that can be purchased only from cyber criminals. As a rule, ransomware causes data and monetary loss. Unfortunately, there are many other malicious programs that could be installed through sLoad. Either way, cyber criminals use programs like sLoad to generate as much revenue as possible, which means there is almost no chance that having a computer infected with it would not cause any serious problems.

Threat Summary:
Name sLoad (StarsLord) virus
Threat Type Malware dropper/downloader
Detection Names Avast (Other:Malware-gen [Trj]), BitDefender (Dropped:Heur.BZC.MTN.Leopard.1.0F163537), ESET-NOD32 (BAT/TrojanDownloader.Agent.NYM), Kaspersky (HEUR:Trojan-Downloader.VBS.SLoad.gen), Full List (VirusTotal)
Malicious Process Name(s) WAN Service (the name may vary)
Payload sLoad could be used to infect systems with some Trojan, ransomware, and other malware.
Symptoms Programs like sLoad 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.
Removal

To eliminate sLoad (StarsLord) virus our malware researchers recommend scanning your computer with Spyhunter.
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Free scanner checks if your computer is infected. To remove malware, you have to purchase the full version of Spyhunter.

ZLoader, Legion Loader and Buer Loader are a couple examples of other malicious programs that operate as malware droppers too. In other words, they are designed to install some malware payload. Typically, cyber criminals behind these programs seek to install high-risk malware on as much computers as possible which increases a chance to generate more revenue. As we mentioned in the introduction, malware like sLoad must be removed from the infected system as soon as possible, otherwise it could cause further installations of software of this kind.

How did sLoad infiltrate my computer?

It is known that cyber criminals spread sLoad through spam campaigns. They send emails that contain a malicious attachment and hope that someone will open it. In our example (as in a screenshot below) an email includes an archive (ZIP) file that contains a malicious executable file. If opened/executed, that file installs sLoad. More examples of files that cyber criminals usually attach to their emails are MS Office, PDF documents, executable files (like .exe) and JavaScript files. Furthermore, various malware can be distributed in other ways as well. For example, unreliable software download sources/channels, Trojans, fake (unofficial) software updating and activation ('cracking') tools. Examples of untrustworthy file and software download channels are Peer-to-Peer networks (e.g., torrent clients, eMule), freeware download websites, third party downloaders, free file hosting pages, unofficial websites, etc. Cyber criminals use them to host malicious files that they disguise as regular. When downloaded and opened, they install some high-risk malware. Trojans are programs that often are designed to cause chain infections. Simply said, when a computer is infected with a Trojan, then this program causes installation of other software of this kind. Unofficial software updaters infect systems by downloading and installing malicious programs instead of updating or fixing installed software, or they achieve by exploiting bus, flaws of some outdated software' that is installed on a computer. Various 'cracking' tools are programs that supposed to activate licensed software for free. In other words, to bypass paid activation. However, they often are used as tools to distribute malware. People who use them often cause installation of some malicious program.

How to avoid installation of malware?

We strongly recommend not to open attachments (or web links) that are presented in irrelevant emails and/or emails that are received from unknown, suspicious addresses. Included web links and/or attachments should be opened only when there is no reason to think that it could be not safe. All files and program should be downloaded only from official and trustworthy sources (websites). Unofficial websites, various third party downloaders, installers and other channels that we mentioned in the previous paragraph should not be used/ Software must be updated via implemented functions and/or tools that are designed by official developers. If operating system or some installed program requires activation, then it should be updated properly as well. It is not legal to use various 'cracking' tools for that. Besides, they can be designed to infect systems with malware. And finally, we recommend to regularly scan the operating system for threats with reputable antivirus or anti-spyware software and make sure that it is always up to date. If you believe that your computer is already infected, we recommend running a scan with Spyhunter for Windows to automatically eliminate infiltrated malware.

Example of a malicious attachment (.zip) which contains a file that is designed to install sLoad:

example of malicious attachment distributing sLoad

Text in this email:

Subject: Invio File  IT20798069622_tch63

Invio file IT20798069622_tch63, con identificativo 77402443375. In allegato il file contenente la fattura ed il file contenente i metadati.

La mail e' inviata dal Sistema di Interscambio per la fatturazione elettronica (L. 244/2007).

Se il file allegato presenta estensione .xml.p7m vuol dire che e' stato firmato digitalmente con firma Cades; per aprirlo e' necessario installare sul proprio computer un apposito software.

Tali software sono facilmente reperibili sul web sia a pagamento che gratuitamente (licenza open source). Il file xml ottenuto dopo aver 'decifrato' la firma puo' essere agevolmente visualizzato in formato PDF utilizzando la funzionalita` 'Visualizza PDF Fattura' dell'area 'Fatturazione elettronica' del sito Fatture e Corrispettivi.

Per qualsiasi necessita' di chiarimenti non rispondere a questa mail, ma utilizzare i tradizionali canali di assistenza presenti sul sito www.fatturapa.gov.it.

Il nuovo indirizzo da utilizzare per inviare le prossime fatture al Sistema di Interscambio. L'utilizzo di un indirizzo diverso non garantisce il buon esito del recapito al destinatario.

Example of a malicious process ("WAN Service") that sLoad uses to disguise itself:

example of sLoad malware diguising as WAN Service

Instant automatic removal of sLoad (StarsLord) virus: 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 sLoad (StarsLord) virus. 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.

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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 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 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 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 malware activity level today:

Medium threat activity

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

QR Code
sLoad (StarsLord) virus QR code
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