How to remove the Zenon clipper malware from the operating system?

Also Known As: Zenon malware
Type: Trojan
Distribution: Low
Damage level: Severe

Zenon virus removal guide

What is the Zenon clipper?

Zenon is a piece of malicious software, classified as a clipper. The primary functionality of this malware is stealing outgoing transfers from digital currency wallets. It does so by replacing the addresses of recipient cryptocurrency wallets and other e-wallets with those under possession of cyber criminals using Zenon. Furthermore, this clipper has significant anti-detection and anti-analysis abilities. The Zenon clipper is deemed to be a highly dangerous program. Therefore, its infections must be eliminated immediately upon detection.

Zenon malware detections on VirusTotal

The Zenon clipper targets outgoing transactions from/to: Bitcoin, Dash, Doge Coin, Etherum, Lite Coin, Monero and Zcash cryptowallets. Other digital wallets that are similarly targeted include: Payeer, Qiwi, Ripple, Yandex Money, WMR, WMU and WMZ. As mentioned in the introduction, the malicious program stealthily transfers the outgoing (potentially, incoming) transactions by replacing the addresses of the receiving e-wallets. It can also disrupt trades on the Steam video game digital distribution service. Zenon intercepts the exchanges by replacing Steam trade links. Additionally, this clipper can display fake error messages. It has the ability to detect whether it is run on a virtual machine and operate accordingly to the findings. Another of the clipper's functionalities is disablement of Windows SmartScreen - anti-phishing/anti-malware component of Microsoft products. The Windows Task Manager can likewise be disabled to ensure that the malicious program's process is not terminated. The malware is also lightweight (100-200 kb size), hence it does not put a strain on system resources, thereby raising no suspicion as the device's operation and response time is unlikely to be altered. These are but some of Zenon's features, which ensure its persistence and complicate detection. If it is suspected/known that Zenon clipper (or other malware) has already infected the system - an anti-virus must be used to remove it without delay.

Threat Summary:
Name Zenon malware
Threat Type Trojan, password-stealing virus, banking malware, spyware.
Detection Names Avast (Win32:PWSX-gen [Trj]), BitDefender (Trojan.MSIL.Basic.8.Gen), ESET-NOD32 (A Variant Of MSIL/Kryptik.XHC), Fortinet (MSIL/Kryptik.XGY!tr), Full List (VirusTotal)
Malicious Process Name(s) SmartFTP Client Setup (process name 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)

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MoistStealerT-RATKryptoCibule and ApocalypseClipper are some examples of other malicious programs with clipper functionalities. Malware can be designed for a wide variety of purposes and have different abilities in varied combinations. This software can extract information from infected devices, browsers and other applications; cause chain infections (i.e. download/install additional malware); remotely control the compromised machine; encrypt files and/or lock the screen for ransom purposes (ransomware); use system resources to mine cryptocurrency (cryptominers), and so on. Regardless of how malicious programs operate, the end-goal is always the same - to generate revenue for the cyber criminals using them.

How did Zenon infiltrate my computer?

At the time of research, the Zenon clipper was offered for sale on various hacker forums. Hence, how it is proliferated depends on the specific cyber criminals who have obtained it. The most common malware distribution methods are via trojans, spam campaigns, illegal activation tools ("cracking"), illegitimate updaters and dubious download sources. Trojans are malicious programs with a broad range of functionalities that can include the ability to cause chain infections (i.e. download/install additional malware). Spam campaigns are large-scale operations, during which thousands of scam emails are sent. The deceptive letters contain download links of infectious files and/or the files are simply attached to the emails. Malicious files can be in a variety of formats (e.g. PDF and Microsoft Office documents, archive and executable files, JavaScript, etc.) and when they are opened - the infection process is triggered. Rather that activate licensed product, illegal activation tools ("cracks") can download/install malware. Fake updaters infect systems by exploiting weaknesses of outdated products and/or by installing malicious programs. Untrustworthy download channels, e.g. unofficial and free file-hosting sites, Peer-to-Peer sharing networks and third party downloaders - can offer malware, disguised as or bundled with ordinary content.

How to avoid installation of malware?

Suspect and/or irrelevant emails must not be opened, especially any links or attachments found in them - as that can lead to a high-risk system infection. It is recommended to only use official and verified download sources. Additionally, all products have to be activated/updated with tools or functions provided by legitimate developers. Illegal activation ("cracking") tools and third party updaters are advised against use, as they are often employed to spread malware. To protect device and user safety, it is crucial to have a reputable anti-virus/anti-spyware suite installed. This software must be kept updated, 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.

Screenshot of Zenon clipper's process on Windows Task Manager ("SmartFTP Client Setup"):

Zenon clipper malware process on Task Manager (SmartFTP Client Setup)

Screenshots of Zenon clipper promoted online:

Zenon clipper malware promoted online 1 Zenon clipper malware promoted online 2

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
Zenon malware QR code
A QR code (Quick Response Code) is a machine-readable code which stores URLs and other information. This code can be read using a camera on a smartphone or a tablet. Scan this QR code to have an easy access removal guide of Zenon malware on your mobile device.
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