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How to remove the AbSent-Loader malicious program

Also Known As: AbSent-Loader virus
Type: Trojan
Damage level: Severe

What is AbSent-Loader?

As its name suggests, AbSent-Loader is a malware loader and dropper. It grabs malicious executables or payloads from an attacker-controlled server and then installs malware once it is present in the operating system. In summary, AbSent-Loader is a malicious program designed to infect computers with additional malware.

It should be removed from affected systems immediately before it causes any damage.

malicious document used to distribute AbSent-Loader malware

Cyber criminals behind AbSent-Loader use this malware to infect computers with a variety of other, similar programs. For example, ransomware, information-stealing Trojans, cryptocurrency miners or Remote Administration Trojans (RATs).

Ransomware is a type of malware that encrypts files and keeps them inaccessible unless victims decrypt them with tools/keys that can be purchased only from the cyber criminals who designed the program. In most cases, only victims who have data backed up can restore their files free of charge.

Information stealers are programs that gather sensitive information. They target details such as login credentials (usernames and passwords, credit card details, and/or other confidential information), which can be used to generate revenue.

Cryptocurrency miners are programs that use computer hardware (such as the CPU or GPU) to solve mathematical problems (mine cryptocurrency). Cyber criminals commonly attempt to trick users into installing this software so that they can generate revenue using the resources of their computers.

These programs can thus affect computer performance and lead to higher electricity consumption, unexpected shutdowns, data loss, etc. RATs are tools that help cyber criminals to receive full control of the infected computer. Typically, they use them to install additional software (usually, malware), access and manage files, use the microphone and camera, take screenshots, etc.

Essentially, RATs allow cyber criminals to do anything that they would be able to do with physical access to the computer. AbSent-Loader can be cause serious damage, from identity theft to monetary/data loss and other serious problems.

Threat Summary:
Name AbSent-Loader virus
Threat Type Malware loader and dropper
Detection Names Antiy-AVL (Trojan[Exploit]/OLE.CVE-2014-6352), BitDefenderTheta (Gen:NN.ZexaF.34108.iqW@aekHPhi), Kaspersky (HEUR:Trojan.MSOffice.Pederr.gen), Microsoft (TrojanDownloader:O97M/Vigorf.A), Full List (VirusTotal).
Payload AbSent-Loader can be used to distribute a variety of malicious programs.
Symptoms Malicious programs like AbSent-Loader 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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To use full-featured product, you have to purchase a license for Combo Cleaner. 7 days free trial available. Combo Cleaner is owned and operated by Rcs Lt, the parent company of PCRisk.com read more.

More examples of malicious programs that have similar capabilities to AbSent-Loader are GuLoader, Ostap and ZLoader. Cyber criminals seek to infect computers with these programs so that they can infect them with other malware. This allows them to access (steal) information, which can be misused to generate revenue.

Typically, users of infected computers become victims of identity theft, lose money/data and access to various accounts, and experience problems relating to online privacy/browsing safety and other issues.

How did AbSent-Loader infiltrate my computer?

Research shows that cyber criminals attempt to trick users into installing AbSent-Loader through a malicious Microsoft Word document that they send via email. The document contains an icon/image with "CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO LAUNCH" text below it.

If clicked, this allows the malicious document to infiltrate the AbSent-Loader loader and dropper. Cyber criminals commonly send emails that contain attachments that, when opened, infect computers with malicious software.

More examples of files (attachments) that can be used to distribute such software are executable files (.exe), archive files (like RAR, ZIP), PDF documents, and JavaScript files. These emails often contain website links designed to open malicious pages and/or download dangerous files.

More examples of tools that cyber criminals use to proliferate malware are software 'cracking' tools, Trojans, fake software updaters and dubious software download channels.

Users who use software 'cracking' (unofficial activation) tools to bypass activation of licensed software can infect their computers with malware - they are often designed by cyber criminals who seek to trick people into installing malware. Trojans are malicious programs that infect systems with other malware.

I.e., when installed, they cause chain infections. Fake, unofficial software updaters infect systems by exploiting outdated software bugs/flaws, or by installing malware rather than fixes or updates. Untrusted software download channels can have a similar effect when people open malicious files downloaded through them.

Examples of such channels are Peer-to-peer networks (torrent clients, eMule), freeware download websites, free file hosting pages, third party downloaders, and unofficial pages. Commonly, malicious files are distributed when disguised as regular, harmless and legitimate.

How to avoid installation of malware

Avoid using various third party downloaders, installers, unofficial pages and other similar channels to download or install software. The only reliable channels/sources are official websites and direct links. Update and activate installed software only through implemented functions or tools that are designed by official software developers.

Note that it is illegal to use third party activators to activate licensed programs. Attachments and website links in irrelevant emails that are received from unknown/suspicious addresses should not be opened. Check all emails before opening any attachments or links.

Regularly scan the operating system with reputable antivirus or anti-spyware software and keep it up to date. 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.

VirusTotal listing detection names of the malicious MS Word document ("COVID-19 PESENTATION.doc"), which injects AbSent-Loader into the system:

AbSent-Loader detection names in VirusTotal

Instant automatic 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 malware. Download it by clicking the button below:
▼ DOWNLOAD Combo Cleaner 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. 7 days free trial available. Combo Cleaner is owned and operated by Rcs Lt, the parent company of PCRisk.com read more.

Quick menu:

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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AbSent-Loader virus QR code
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