What is RedDelta?
RedDelta is the name of a threat activity group targeting the Vatican and Catholic Church-related, and some non-governmental, organizations. Research shows that the group uses malware variants for their attacks, one of which is a modified variant of PlugX referred to as RedDelta PlugX. Other known malware variants used in RedDelta attacks are Cobalt Strike and Poison Ivy.
PlugX is a Remote Administration Trojan (RAT). In most cases, cyber criminals use malware of this type to steal sensitive information and files, and to infect computers with other malicious software (e.g., ransomware, other types of Trojans, cryptocurrency miners).
PlugX can also be used to log keystrokes (record keyboard input), control connected hardware (e.g., webcams, microphones) and make changes to the Windows Registry. This RAT might be used to steal login credentials (usernames, passwords, etc.), credit card details, and to access sensitive documents and other data.
This information is misused to steal personal accounts and identities, make fraudulent purchases and transactions, and for other malicious purposes. Since RedDelta group uses a modified variant of PlugX, their RAT could be capable of doing even more damage.
As mentioned, this group uses a modified variant of PlugX, and also Poison Ivy and Cobalt Strike for their attacks. Poison Ivy is another RAT with similar capabilities, whilst Cobalt Strike is software that can detect system penetration vulnerabilities, however, it can also be used for malicious purposes such a keystroke logging and installation of malware.
If any of the PlugX variants, Poison Ivy or Cobalt Strike is already installed on the operating system, then they should be removed immediately.
|Threat Type||Trojan, password-stealing virus, spyware.|
|Detection Names||AVG (FileRepMalware), Comodo (TrojWare.Win32.UMal.gen@0), ESET-NOD32 (A Variant Of Win64/Agent.AFJ), Webroot (W32.Trojan.Gen), Full List (VirusTotal).|
|Malicious Process Name(s)||Flash Helper Service (its name may vary).|
|Payload||Modified PlugX variant, Cobalt Strike, Poison Ivy|
|Symptoms||Remote Administration 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||Deceptive software installers, 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.
More examples of malware that cyber criminals use for similar purposes include DuckRAT, LuxNET and T-RAT. In most cases, malware of this type is used to steal sensitive information and/or distribute other malicious software. Commonly, victims are unaware that they have RATs installed on the operating system until it is too late and damage is already done.
Methods that cyber criminals use to trick users into installing various malware are described in the next paragraph.
How did RedDelta infiltrate my computer?
Research shows that RedDelta PlugX is distributed by tricking people into using a deceptive Adobe Flash Player installer, which has nothing to do with the official, legitimate installer for the player.
Ransomware and other malware infections are also spread through malspam campaigns, untrusted file/software download sources, fake (third party) software updating tools, Trojans and unofficial software activation tools. Using malspam, criminals send emails that have a malicious file attached, or include a website link designed to download a malicious file.
Note that malicious MS Office documents can install malware only when users enable editing/content (macros commands). If the documents are opened with MS Office versions prior to 2010, however, the documents install malicious software automatically, since these older versions do not include "Protected View" mode.
Examples of untrusted file and software download sources are Peer-to-Peer networks (torrent clients), free file hosting websites, freeware download sites, and unofficial web pages. These are used to distribute malicious files by disguising them as legitimate and regular.
When users download and open (execute) the files, however, they inadvertently install malware. Fake software updating tools cause damage by installing malware rather than updates/fixes for installed software, or by exploiting bugs/flaws of outdated software.
Trojans are malicious programs that can cause chain infections by installing other software of this kind.
Note that malware can only be distributed in this way if Trojans are already installed on computers. Unofficial activation ('cracking') tools are illegal programs that supposedly activate licensed software free of charge and bypass activation, however, they often install other malicious programs instead.
How to avoid installation of malware
Download software and files from official websites and via direct links. It is not safe to use torrent clients, eMule (or other Peer-to-Peer networks), third party downloaders, unofficial websites or other sources of this kind. Avoid third party installers. Check "Advanced", "Custom" and other settings, and decline offers to download or install unwanted software.
Do not click ads that are displayed on dubious websites, since they can open other untrusted websites or even cause unwanted downloads and installations. Remove any unwanted, suspicious applications (extensions, add-ons, and plug-ins) that are installed on the browser.
The same should be applied to programs of this kind that are installed on the operating system. 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.
Fake Adobe Flash Player installer used to distribute PlugX modified by RedDelta:
RedDelta malware process running in Task Manager as "Flash Helper Service":
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:
- What is RedDelta?
- STEP 1. Manual removal of RedDelta malware.
- STEP 2. Check if your computer is clean.
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:
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:
Download a program called Autoruns. This program shows auto-start applications, Registry, and file system locations:
Restart 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.
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.
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.
Video showing how to start Windows 10 in "Safe Mode with Networking":
Extract the downloaded archive and run the Autoruns.exe file.
In 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.
Check 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".
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.
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.