How to remove NuggetPhantom malware from the operating system?

Also Known As: NuggetPhantom malware toolkit
Type: Trojan
Distribution: Moderate
Damage level: Severe

NuggetPhantom virus removal guide

What is NuggetPhantom?

NuggetPhantom is the name of a modularized malware toolkit that consists of three types of modules for deployment, download, and function execution. It targets computers that contain EternalBlue vulnerability. Research shows that NuggetPhantom is used for cryptohijacking and DDoS attacks.

NuggetPhantom malware

Typically, cryptocurrency mining process uses computer's processor, graphics card, and/or other hardware and significantly affects computer performance. However, attackers behind NuggetPhantom can control the resource usage. They can adjust mining parameters to keep the CPU usage by the cryptomining module at a comparatively low level so that victims would not notice changes in computer performance. It increases a chance that attackers could be able to use computer resources to mine cryptocurrency without raising any suspicions for a long period of time. It is known that NuggetPhantom is used to mine Monero, although, it is possible that attackers may use it to mine other cryptocurrency as well.

In addition to cryptohijacking module NuggetPhantom has a module for using bandwidth resources to launch DDoS (distributed denial-of-service) attacks. These attacks are performed with a purpose to disrupt or make an online service (for example, some website, network, server) unavailable for users by overloading it with a big number of requests. Computers that are infected with NuggetPhantom are used as bots to perform those attacks.

Threat Summary:
Name NuggetPhantom malware toolkit
Threat Type Modularized malware
Detection Names Avast (Win64:Malware-gen), BitDefender (Trojan.Agent.DHZT), ESET-NOD32 (A Variant Of Win64/Kryptik.BJI), Kaspersky (Trojan.Win32.Inject.akjav), Microsoft (Trojan:Win32/Occamy.CE4), Full List (VirusTotal)
Payload DDoS and cryptominer modules
Symptoms Higher CPU and/or network bandwidth usage
Distribution methods EternalBlue exploit
Damage Computer added to a botnet and/or its hardware used to mine cryptocurrency
Malware Removal (Windows)

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In conclusion, NuggetPhantom is a difficult to detect and perceive modularized malware toolkit that is used mainly for cryptohijacking and launching DDoS attacks. It is worthwhile to mention that earlier attackers targeted computers used by college students and now they target neglected devices (the ones that contain the EternalBlue vulnerability). A couple examples of other malware that is used for cryptohijacking are Epsilon, Cliptomaner and QuilMiner.

How did NuggetPhantom infiltrate my computer?

In this particular case NuggetPhantom malware is distributed via EternalBlue exploit that allows cyber criminals to compromise the entire network and all devices connected to it. After finding that the operating system on a user's computer contains the EternalBlue vulnerability, cyber criminals exploit this vulnerability to send downloader payload to the victim computer. Then that payload downloads malware and commands it to deploy its own modules.

How to avoid installation of malware?

The operating system and installed software should be up to date. It has to be updated (and/or activated) with tools or implemented functions that are provided/designed by it developers. Third party, unofficial tools should never be used. Moreover, it is illegal to use tools of this kind to activate licensed software, or use pirated software. Files attached to irrelevant emails (or website links in them) that are sent from unknown, suspicious addresses should not be opened. It is common that such emails are part of some malspam campaign. Software (and files) should be downloaded only from official, trustworthy websites. Any other sources, tools like third party downloaders, Peer-to-Peer networks, unofficial sites, etc., should not be used. Operating system should be scanned for threats regularly, it is advisable to scan it for them with a reputable antivirus or anti-spyware suite and keep that suite up to date. If you believe that your computer is already infected, we recommend running a scan with Malwarebytes for Windows to automatically eliminate infiltrated malware.

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.

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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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