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How to uninstall Project Plague malware?

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

Project Plague virus removal guide

What is Project Plague?

Project Plague is the name of the malware that adds infected computers to a botnet and installs some cryptocurrency miner on them. It is known that cybercriminals control Project Plague through a website (they use a certain website as the Command and Control server). The larger the number of computers is in the botnet, the more resources cybercriminals have to perform their activities and generate revenue.

Project Plague malware

In most cases, cybercriminals use botnets (networks of infected computers) to perform DDoS (distributed denial-of-service) attacks, send spam, or perform click fraud. Also, an infected computer can be used to download and install additional malware on it. Cybercriminals launch DDoS attacks to disrupt (crash) the traffic of a specified server, network, or service. In other words, such attacks are launched to make websites and other online services unavailable (inaccessible to legitimate users). Another popular way to use computers in botnets is to send spam to a larger number of users through them. It is common that cybercriminals use botnets to deliver malware as well (to send emails containing malicious files/attachments or links). Or they send phishing emails to trick other users into providing login credentials (usernames, email addresses, passwords), credit card details, banking information, or other sensitive data. Additionally, botnets can be used to conduct ad fraud. In such cases, computers are used to generate revenue by clicking on links or advertisements on websites. It is known that the biggest part of ad fraud comes from botnets.

Additionally, Project Plague can be used to download and install a cryptocurrency miner on a computer. Cryptocurrency miner is a type of software that uses hardware (GPU, CPU) to mine a specific cryptocurrency by solving complex mathematical problems. Computers with powerful hardware can mine cryptocurrency faster. In one way or another, the mining process (calculations) requires a lot of CPU, GPU resources which means that infected computers consume more power (require more electricity), operate slower, or do not respond. Therefore, users who have a cryptocurrency miner installed on the operating system receive higher electricity bills and are likely not to be able to use their computers properly, lose data, etc. Cryptomining that happens on computers without the user's knowledge is known as crypto hijacking.

Threat Summary:
Name Project Plague virus
Threat Type Botnet malware, cryptohijacking malware
Detection Names Avast (Win32:BotX-gen [Trj]), BitDefender (Gen:Variant.Zusy.2105), ESET-NOD32 (A Variant Of MSIL/Agent.QUI), Kaspersky (HEUR:Trojan.Win32.Generic), Microsoft (TrojanDownloader:MSIL/Redok.YA!MTB), Full List (VirusTotal)
Payload Cryptocurrency miner
Symptoms Botnet malware is designed to stealthily infiltrate the victim's computer and remain silent, and thus no particular symptoms are clearly visible on an infected machine. Cryptominers cause high CPU and (or) GPU usage
Distribution methods Infected email attachments, malicious online advertisements, social engineering, software 'cracks'.
Damage The victim's computer added to a botnet and used to mine cryptocurrency
Malware Removal (Windows)

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In conclusion, botnets are computers infected computers used by cybercriminals for financial gain. The most common uses of a botnet are operations such as DDoS attacks, crypto hijacking, spam (malspam, phishing) campaigns, and click fraud. Typically, users who have their computers infected with malware Project Plague do not know that their computer has been added to a botnet.

How did Project Plague infiltrate my computer?

Cybercriminals distribute malware via Trojans, malspam emails, untrustworthy software download sources, unofficial software activation ('cracking') tools, and fake software updaters. A trojan is a type of malware that can damage the system when it is installed on it. Once installed, certain Trojans can install their payload (another, additional malware). Users infect computers via malspam, phishing emails when they open malicious attachments or files downloaded via links in received emails. Examples of files that cybercriminals attach to their emails are Microsoft Office documents, executable files (like .exe), archive files (like RAR, ZIP), JavaScript files, PDF documents.

Examples of unreliable channels for downloading files (and programs) are Peer-to-Peer networks (like torrent clients, eMule), third-party downloaders, free file hosting websites, freeware download pages. In order to trick users into downloading malicious files, cybercriminals disguise them as legitimate, harmless. When users download and open those files, they install ransomware, or some other malware. Unofficial software activation tools are programs that illegally activate licensed software. It is common that cybercriminals use such tools to lure users into infecting their computers. They bundle those tools with malware, inject malicious code into them. Fake software updaters cause damage by directly installing malicious software, or by exploiting bugs, flaws of outdated software that is installed on user's computer.

How to avoid installation of malware?

It is recommended to download files and programs using only official websites and direct download links. Peer-to-Peer networks, third-party downloaders, unofficial websites, etc., should not be used (the same applies to third-party installers). Emails received from suspicious, unknown addresses and containing website links or attachments should be analyzed. Especially if they are not relevant. It is common that links and files in such emails are used to deliver malware. Installed software has to be updated and activated using tools or implemented functions that official developers provide. Third-party tools can be and often are malicious. Moreover, it is illegal to activate licensed software with various unofficial activation ('cracking') tools (or use pirated software). The operating system should be scanned for threats regularly, and it should be done using a reputable antivirus or anti-spyware software. 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.

Administration panel used to control Project Plague botnet:

project plague malware website admin panel

Instant automatic malware removal: Manual threat removal might be a lengthy and complicated process that requires advanced computer 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.

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
Project Plague virus QR code
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