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How to remove the Ares banking Trojan from the infected device?

Also Known As: Ares banking malware
Type: Trojan
Damage level: Severe

What is Ares?

Ares is the name of a banking Trojan, a new variant of Kronos. Usually, malware of this type targets login credentials (e.g., usernames, email addresses, passwords), bank account numbers, credit card information, and other financial information.

Research shows that Ares is designed to download an information stealer (Ares Stealer) that collects login credentials from various applications.

Ares malware

Usually, banking Trojans are designed to steal information that victims enter while accessing online banking systems, information of this kind stored on a web browser, installed financial applications. One of the examples of how banking Trojans steal banking information is they spoof a financial institution's login webpage.

When victims enter their login credentials on a spoofed page, the installed banking Trojan copies the entered data and sends it to threat actors behind the malware. Typically, cybercriminals use collected sensitive information to steal identities, make unauthorized transactions, or sell it to third parties (other cybercriminals).

As mentioned in the first paragraph, Ares is designed to install a stealer (Ares Stealer) that collects login credentials from various VPN clients, credentials saved on web browsers, exfiltrates the cryptocurrency wallet's private keys, and downloads arbitrary files.

Therefore, there is a high chance that victims of the Ares and Ares Stealer attack would lose access to their VPN clients, various personal accounts (e.g., email, social media, banking accounts), suffer monetary loss, become victims of identity theft, encounter other problems related to online privacy, browsing safety (and other issues).

It is important to mention that stolen email, social media, or other similar accounts could be used to send spam, deliver malware, trick other users into making money transactions, and for other malicious purposes.

Threat Summary:
Name Ares banking malware
Threat Type Trojan, password-stealing virus, banking malware, spyware.
Detection Names Avast (Win32:RATX-gen [Trj]), BitDefender (Gen:Variant.Graftor.565491), ESET-NOD32 (A Variant Of Win32/Spy.Kronosbot.A), Kaspersky (Trojan-Spy.Win32.Stealer.xvh), Microsoft (Trojan:Win32/Kronosbot), 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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To use full-featured product, you have to purchase a license for Combo Cleaner. 7 days free trial available. Combo Cleaner is owned and operated by Rcs Lt, the parent company of PCRisk.com read more.

In conclusion, Ares banking Trojan steals banking-related information (e.g., credit card details, login credentials from banking-related accounts), and installs its stealer that targets usernames and passwords (or other credentials) saved on a browser, login credentials for certain VPN clients, cryptocurrency wallets.

Basically, they are used to steal a variety of personal accounts and financial information. More examples of banking Trojans are Javali, SolarSys, and TrickBot.

How did Ares infiltrate my computer?

Usually, cybercriminals use phishing emails, unreliable sources that users use to download software, files, fake software updaters, and unofficial software activation ('cracking') tools to distribute malware like Ares. In the first case, they send malicious files or links via email.

Emails that are used to distribute malware are called phishing emails. Examples of files that cybercriminals use to deliver malware via emails are Microsoft Office, PDF documents, JavaScript files, archive files like ZIP, RAR, and executable files (like .exe).

Recipients install malicious software on their computers when they download and execute malicious files received via email. As a rule, such emails are disguised as important, official letters from legitimate, well-known organizations, companies.

Examples of untrustworthy sources for downloading files, programs are Peer-to-Peer networks (like torrent clients, eMule), unofficial pages, free file hosting, freeware download websites, third party downloaders. Users infect computers when they use such sources to download file and open downloaded malicious files.

As a rule, users are not aware that downloaded files are malicious because cybercriminals make them look like regular, legitimate files.

Third-party (unofficial) software updaters infect computers by directly installing malware on a computer, or by exploiting bugs, flaws, or other vulnerabilities of already installed outdated software. Those tools never fix or update any installed software, or the operating system.

Unofficial activation ('cracking') tools infect computers when they are bundled with malware, and it is very common. When users use such tools, they expect to activate licensed software for free. It is important to know that it is against the law to activate software this way.

How to avoid installation of malware?

Files and programs should be downloaded from legitimate, official pages (and via direct links). Other sources (e.g., Peer-to-Peer networks, third-party downloaders, unofficial sites) can be used to distribute malicious files.

Already installed programs have to be updated or activated using tools, functions that their official developers have designed. All the other (third-party, unofficial) tools often are used to distribute malware. Moreover, it is not legal to activate licensed programs with 'cracking' tools or use pirated programs.

Received irrelevant emails that have a file (or files) attached to them or contain website link (or links) are likely to be used to deliver malware. It is very common that cybercriminals send such emails with a purpose to trick recipients into opening files designed to install malicious software.

Additionally, the operating system should have a reputable antivirus or anti-spyware suite installed on it. It should be scanned for threats on a regular basis. 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 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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Quick menu:

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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