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How to remove XLoader malware from the operating system?

Also Known As: XLoader virus

What is XLoader?

XLoader is a piece of malicious software targeting Windows and Mac operating systems (not to be confused with Android OS targeting XLoader malware, discovered in 2019). This program is based on FormBook malware's code and shares many features with it. The primary functionality of XLoader is stealing information.

XLoader malware

XLoader malware in detail

XLoader is lightweight (i.e., does not occupy a lot of space), so it does not put a strain on the infected device. This complicates its detection as there are no obvious signs of infection (e.g., slow operation speed).

As mentioned in the introduction, XLoader is designed to exfiltrate data. This malicious program has keylogging abilities (i.e., it can record key-strokes). Additionally, it can take screenshots and obtain information stored in the clipboard (i.e., copy/paste buffer).

XLoader is also capable of extracting usernames/passwords from browsers (Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Opera, Microsoft Edge, Internet Explorer, etc.), messengers, FTP (File Transfer Protocol) and email clients (Microsoft Outlook, Mozilla Thunderbird, Foxmail, etc.).

To elaborate on how cyber criminals can abuse stolen accounts, communication platforms (e.g., emails, social networking, social media, messengers, etc.) can be used to ask contacts for loans and/or to proliferate malware. Finance-related accounts (e.g., online banking, digital wallets, e-commerce, etc.) can be used to make fraudulent transactions and/or online purchases.

Furthermore, XLoader can cause chain infections (i.e., download/install additional malicious software). Hence, it can potentially infect systems with trojans, ransomware, cryptocurrency miners, and other malware. Therefore, the potential threats posed by this malicious program are especially broad.

To summarize, XLoader can cause multiple system infections, severe privacy issues, financial losses, and lead to identity theft. If it is suspected or known that XLoader (or other malware) has already infected the device - an anti-virus must be used to eliminate it without delay.

Threat Summary:
Name XLoader virus
Threat Type Trojan, password-stealing virus, banking malware, spyware.
Detection Names Avast (Win32:MalwareX-gen [Trj]), BitDefender (Trojan.GenericKD.46631605), ESET-NOD32 (A Variant Of MSIL/GenKryptik.FHOR), Kaspersky (HEUR:Trojan-PSW.MSIL.Agensla.gen), Microsoft (Trojan:Win32/AgentTesla!ml), Full List Of Detections (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)

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Malware in general

Extended ClipperLu0botJupyterLittle Thief, and Ducky stealer are some examples of malicious programs with harmful functionalities akin to those of XLoader. Malware can have a wide variety of features, which can be in different combinations.

Popular abilities include (but are not limited to): content exfiltration from the infected system, spying (e.g., recording the screen, keystrokes, audio/video via microphones/cameras, etc.), enablement of remote access/control over the compromised machine (RATs - Remote Access Trojans), data encryption and/or screen locking for ransom purposes (ransomware), use of system resources to generate cryptocurrency (cryptominers), and cause chain infections.

The sole purpose of malicious software is to generate revenue for the cyber criminals. Regardless of how malware operates, it seriously endangers device integrity and user privacy. Therefore, to ensure device and user safety, it is crucial to remove all threats immediately upon detection.

How did XLoader infiltrate my computer?

At the time of research, XLoader was offered for sale online. Hence, the distribution methods depend on the specific cyber criminals using it. In general, malware is commonly spread via dubious download channels (e.g., unofficial and freeware websites, Peer-to-Peer sharing networks, and other third-party downloaders).

Illegal activation ("cracking") tools and fake updates are prime examples of malware-proliferating content. "Cracks" can infect systems instead of activating licensed products. Fake updaters cause infections by exploiting weaknesses of outdated programs and/or by installing malicious software rather than the promised updates.

Spam campaigns are also used to distribute malware. This term defines a large-scale operation during which thousands of deceptive/scam emails are sent. These letters are usually disguised as "official", "important", "priority", "urgent", and similar.

Spam emails have virulent files attached to and/or linked inside them. Infectious files can be in various formats, e.g., archives (ZIP, RAR, etc.), executables (.exe, .run, etc.), PDF and Microsoft Office documents, JavaScript, and so forth. When the files are opened - the infection process is triggered.

How to avoid installation of malware?

It is advised to download only from official and verified sources. Additionally, all programs must be activated and updated with tools/functions provided by legitimate developers. It is recommended to exercise caution with incoming emails; suspect/irrelevant letters must not be opened - especially any attachments/links present in them.

It is paramount to have a dependable anti-virus/anti-spyware suite installed and kept up-to-date. Furthermore, this software has to be used to run regular system scans and to remove threats. 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.

Screenshot of a post in hacker forums selling XLoader malware:

Cyber criminals selling XLoader in hacker forums

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.

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