How to remove XTMEM stealer malware from operating systems

Also Known As: XTMEM malware
Type: Trojan
Damage level: Severe

What is the XTMEM stealer?

XTMEM is malicious software, classified as a stealer. As the classification suggests, this type of malware steals information. Stealers have a wide range of dangerous capabilities, which can lead to likewise varied issues for users of infected devices.

XTMEM poses a significant threat to device and user safety and, as such, must be removed from systems immediately upon detection.

XTMEM malware detections on VirusTotal

Malicious programs within the stealer classification can target a broad range of information/content and have many different functions, enabling them to successfully carry out data theft. Some stealers can exfiltrate files stored anywhere on the infected system, whilst others can download them only from specific locations (e.g. the desktop).

This malware typically targets certain browsers and other applications. Information of interest from these apps includes (but is not limited to) account log-in credentials (e.g. IDs, usernames and passwords), browsing and search engine histories, browser cookies, auto-fills, etc.

It is possible for stealers to have keylogging capabilities. I.e., they might be able to record key strokes. Malicious software capable of keylogging poses a threat to the privacy of all typed information. If cyber criminals obtain particularly sensitive or compromising content from the device and/or from online data storage accounts, it can be held for ransom.

Hijacked communication accounts (e.g. emails, social media, social networking and various other communication/messaging accounts) can be misused to proliferate malware (by sharing infectious files) and/or to ask contacts/friends for loans - all under the guise of the genuine owner.

Accounts that directly deal with and/or store financial information, such as banking account or credit card details (e.g. online banking and money transfers, e-commerce and other similar accounts), can be used to make fraudulent transactions and/or online purchases.

To summarize, XTMEM infections can lead to financial loss, serious privacy issues and identity theft. Therefore, if it is suspected or known that the XTMEM stealer (or other malware) has already infected the system, use anti-virus software to eliminate it without delay.

Threat Summary:
Name XTMEM malware
Threat Type Trojan, password-stealing virus, banking malware, spyware.
Detection Names Avast (Win32:Trojan-gen), BitDefender (Trojan.GenericKD.43499288), ESET-NOD32 (A Variant Of MSIL/PSW.Agent.RHJ), Kaspersky (HEUR:Trojan-PSW.MSIL.Agent.gen), Full List (VirusTotal).
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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ZeromaxEchelon, and Mist are examples of other stealer-type malicious programs. As mentioned, this malicious software can have various capabilities/features.

While the primary functionality of stealers is data theft, they might also have spying capabilities (e.g. taking screenshots, recording audio and/or video via integrated/connected microphones and cameras, etc.), and cause download/installation of additional malware, and so on.

Regardless of how malicious software operates, the purpose is identical: to generate profit for the cyber criminals using it.

How did XTMEM infiltrate my computer?

The XTMEM stealer has been observed being proliferated as online gaming hacks, however, malware is distributed using various methods and it is likely that XTMEM is proliferated in other ways as well. In general, malicious programs are spread via spam campaigns, illegal activation tools ("cracks"), bogus updaters and dubious download channels.

The term "spam campaign" is used to describe a large-scale operation, during which thousands of scam emails are sent. These messages are usually presented as "official", "important", "urgent" and similar. The deceptive emails have infectious files attached to and/or linked inside them.

Infectious files can be in various formats (e.g. archives, executables, Microsoft Office and PDF documents, JavaScript, etc.) and when they are opened, the infection process/chain is initiated. Illegal activation ("cracking") tools can download/install malware rather than activating licensed products.

Fake updaters infect systems by exploiting weaknesses of outdated products and/or simply by installing malicious software, rather than the updates. Untrusted download sources such as unofficial and free file-hosting sites, Peer-to-Peer sharing networks and other third party downloaders can offer malware for download (disguised as or bundled with normal content).

How to avoid installation of malware

You are strongly advised against opening suspect and/or irrelevant emails, especially those received from unknown/suspicious addresses. Any attachments or links found in such messages must never be opened, as this can result in a serious system infection.

Use official and verified download channels. It is also important to activate/update products with tools or functions provided by legitimate developers. Illegal activation tools ("cracks") and third party updaters must not be used, as they often proliferate malware.

To protect device integrity and user safety, it is crucial to have reputable anti-virus/anti-spyware installed and updated. This software must be used to perform regular system scans and to remove detected threats/issues.

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.

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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