How to remove the SkinnyBoy malware?

Also Known As: SkinnyBoy virus
Type: Trojan
Damage level: Severe

What is SkinnyBoy?

It is known that SkinnyBoy was used in targeted attacks (in spear phishing campaigns targeting military and government institutions). At the current moment this malware is delivered using emails that contain malicious Microsoft Word document.

SkinnyBoy is designed to collect information about the victims and distribute other malicious software. Although, it is unknown what type of malware SkinnyBoy is used to install.

It could be ransomware, a remote access trojan, cryptocurrency miner, or some another malicious software.

SkinnyBoy malware

As mentioned in the introduction paragraph, SkinnyBoy collects certain information. It is known that it gathers file names of files (or folders) stored on a Desktop and in the Program Files folder.

Also, it gathers file names of files or folders in the following AppData folders: Administrative Tools, Roaming, Templates, and Temp. SkinnyBoy sends extracted information to the C2 (Command and Control) server. Furthermore, it extracts a DLL file that retrieves a file designed to download the main payload (malware).

It is likely that SkinnyBoy's payload is ransomware, a remote access trojan, cryptocurrency miner, or another malicious software. Ransomware is a type of malware that encrypts files (makes them inaccessible, unusable).

Victims cannot use their files unless they are decrypted with the right software (or key) purchased from the attackers. Threat actors monetize ransomware by getting paid for tools that can restore access to encrypted files.

Remote access trojans (RATs) provide the attackers with full remote control over infected computers. In most cases, RATs are used to steal sensitive information such as credit card details (e.g., cardholder name, CVV code, expiry date) login credentials (e.g., usernames, email addresses, passwords), social security numbers, and other information that could be used to make unauthorized purchases, transactions, steal identities, hijack online accounts, etc.

It is also popular to use RATs to distribute malicious programs (install additional malware on computers). Cryptocurrency miners use hardware such as processors (CPUs), graphics cards (GPUs), and other hardware.

They use it to solve mathematical problems/cryptographic equations. Cybercriminals try to trick users into installing crypto miners so they could use hardware installed on their computers to mine cryptocurrency instead of using their own hardware.

Threat Summary:
Name SkinnyBoy virus
Threat Type Trojan, password-stealing virus, banking malware, spyware.
Detection Names Avast (Win32:Trojan-gen), BitDefender (Trojan.GenericKD.36866116), ESET-NOD32 (A Variant Of Win32/Agent.ADBC), MaxSecure (Trojan.Malware.300983.susgen), Microsoft (Trojan:Win32/AceLog.B!dha), Full List (VirusTotal)
Payload SkinnyBoy's payload is currently unknown
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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In conclusion, threat actors use SkinnyBoy as a tool to extract information and infect computers with additional malware. A couple of examples of other malicious programs that are capable of installing other programs of this kind are Purple Fox, Project Plague, and Adrozek.

It is common that malicious programs like SkinnyBoy are designed to look like legitimate programs, and users do not know that they have them installed on their computers for days, weeks, or even longer.

How did SkinnyBoy infiltrate my computer?

Research shows that cybercriminals distribute SkinnyBoy through a malicious Microsoft Word document. It is very likely that they send this file via email.

When opened, that document asks whether users want to enable macros commands (editing/content) to view it. It installs malware after getting permission to enable macros.

It is important to mention that this does not apply to malicious documents opened with MS Office versions released prior to the year 2010 - those versions do not have "Protected View" that prevents malicious documents from installing malware without needing to enable macros commands manually.

More examples of files that can be used to deliver malicious software via email are PDF documents, ZIP, RAR and other archive files, JavaScript files, executable files like EXE. It is important to mention that malicious documents usually are disguised as official, important letters from trustworthy, legitimate companies, organizations.

How to avoid installation of malware?

It is strongly recommended not to open files or links in emails that are not relevant, and the sender is unknown, suspicious. It is common for emails of this kind to be used by cybercriminals as tools to deliver malware - they contain malicious files and links.

It is important to remember that emails used to deliver malware are disguised as official, important letters. Also, it is advisable to download files and programs from official pages and via direct links. It is not safe to download them from unofficial pages, via Peer-to-Peer networks like eMule, torrent clients, third-party downloaders, etc.

One more important thing is not to update or active software with third-party, unofficial tools. It is common those tools are bundled with malware (used to distribute malicious software).

Also, it is illegal to activate licensed software with 'cracking' tools. Installed software has to be activated, updated with tools, functions that the official software developers provide. 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 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:
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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.

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