How to remove DarkCrystal (dcRAT) remote access trojan?

Also Known As: dcRAT virus
Type: Trojan
Distribution: Low
Damage level: Severe

DarkCrystal virus removal guide

What is the DarkCrystal RAT?

DarkCrystal, also known as dcRAT, is a Remote Access Trojan (RAT). Malware of this type is designed to enable remote access and control over an infected device. RATs can manipulate machines in various ways and can have likewise varied functionalities. DarkCrystal is a dangerous piece of software, which poses a significant threat to device and user safety.

DarkCrystal malware detections on VirusTotal

The DarkCrystal RAT is a highly functional malicious program. To elaborate on some of this trojan's main abilities, it can manipulate hardware, software and data of the compromised computer. Its hardware manipulation includes: opening/closing the CD-ROM drive door, recording audio via integrated/connected microphones and video/stills through webcams. The malware can manage various files and folders; it can rename, move, delete them and create new ones. It can also exfiltrate and infiltrate (i.e. download and upload) files. If the stolen content is particularly sensitive, it may then be held for ransom. DarkCrystal can execute/run files and end already running processes. Due to its ability to infiltrate files and execute them, it is possible that this RAT can be used to cause chain infections (i.e. infect the system with additional malware). The trojan can take screenshots, rotate the screen, change the desktop wallpaper, hide the taskbar and desktop icons. It can reboot/restart and shut down the system. Additionally, it can log off the current user and create new user accounts. DarkCrystal targets certain browsers. It can manipulate them by opening websites and extract data stored in the browsers (e.g. browsing history, browser cookies, saved usernames and passwords, etc.). Another of DarkCrystal's data stealing abilities is keylogging. In other words, it can record key strokes. Typically, cyber criminals use saved log-in credentials and keylogging to target: email, social media, social networking, messenger, data storage, e-commerce, online money transferring and banking accounts. Hijacked communication/social accounts may be used to spread malware and/or to ask contacts/friends for loans - under the guise of the real owner. Accounts that deal with and/or store financial information are of particular interest, as through them criminals may be able to make fraudulent transactions and/or online purchases. To summarize, DarkCrystal infections can result in financial losses, severe privacy issues and identity theft. If it is suspected or known that the DarkCrystal RAT (or other malicious software) has already infected the system - an anti-virus must be used to eliminate it immediately.

Threat Summary:
Name dcRAT virus
Threat Type Trojan, password-stealing virus, banking malware, spyware.
Detection Names AVG (Win32:Malware-gen), BitDefender (Trojan.GenericKD.32546165), ESET-NOD32 (A Variant Of Generik.JTQNQBW), Kaspersky (Trojan.Win32.Vasal.adt), Full List (VirusTotal)
Malicious Process Name(s) Randomly named processes
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 Malwarebytes.
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Imperium MetamorpherRattyVanTomDarkTrack and BlackRemote are some examples of other Remote Access Trojans. As mentioned in the introduction, malicious programs within this classification can have various abilities/features. Therefore, how they are used - depend on the cyber criminals' goals and modus operandi. Regardless of how malware operates, the end-goal is the same - to generate revenue to the individuals/groups behind it.

How did DarkCrystal infiltrate my computer?

Malware is proliferated using a variety of techniques. The most common distribution methods are via spam campaigns, illegal activation ("cracking") tools, fake updates and dubious download channels. The term "spam campaign" defines a large-scale operation, during which thousands of scam emails are sent. These letters have infectious files attached to and/or linked inside them. Malicious files can be in various formats (e.g. PDF and Microsoft Office documents, archive and executable files, JavaScript, etc.); when they are executed, run or otherwise opened - the infection chain is triggered. Rather than activate licensed product, illegal activation tools ("cracks") can download/install malware. Illegitimate updaters cause infections by exploiting weaknesses of outdated products and/or by simply installing malicious programs instead of the updates. Malware (disguised as or packed with ordinary content) can be unintentionally downloaded from untrustworthy download sources, e.g. unofficial and free file-hosting (freeware) sites, P2P sharing networks (BitTorrent, Gnutella, eMule, etc.) and other third party downloaders.

How to avoid installation of malware?

Suspect and/or irrelevant emails must not be opened, especially any attachments or links found in them - as that can lead to a high-risk infection. It is recommended to only use official and verified download channels. All products must be activated and updated with tools/functions provided by legitimate developers. Illegal activation tools ("cracks") and third party updaters are advised against use, due to commonly being used to proliferate malware. To ensure device integrity and user safety, it is paramount to have reputable anti-virus installed and kept up-to-date. Furthermore, this software has to be used to run regular system scans and to remove detected/potential threats. If you believe that your computer is already infected, we recommend running a scan with Malwarebytes for Windows to automatically eliminate infiltrated malware.

DarkCrystal's process on Windows Task Manager (randomly named processes):

DarkCrystal remote access trojan process on task manager (random process names)

Instant automatic malware removal: Manual threat removal might be a lengthy and complicated process that requires advanced computer skills. Malwarebytes 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 Malwarebytes 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 Malwarebytes 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
dcRAT virus QR code
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