How to eliminate the DarkLoader malware from your operating system?

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

What is DarkLoader?

DarkLoader is a piece of malicious software specifically targeting Grand Theft Auto (GTA) video game related content. There is reason to believe that this program also targets Minecraft - the 3D world construction video game. However, malware can have a wide variety of harmful abilities. Therefore, the threats posed by DarkLoader can be much more varied.

DarkLoader malware detections on VirusTotal

DarkLoader malware overview

DarkLoader targets ASI, LUA, and CLEO file formats, which relate to the Grand Theft Auto (GTA) game's modification and Dynamic Link (.DLL) libraries. Also in this list are SF files, which could refer to Minecraft files.

In its promotional material, DarkLoader is defined as a loader. This malware type is designed to cause chain infection - download/install additional malicious programs. Therefore, this software could be used to inject codes/programs that target video games or other content.

In general, loader/backdoor type malware can infiltrate trojans, ransomware, cryptocurrency miners, and other malicious programs into compromised systems.

Trojan is a broad term describing malicious software that may be capable of: causing chain infections, extracting files and information from devices and installed applications, spying (e.g., taking screenshots or recording keystrokes, desktop, audio/video via microphones and cameras, etc.), remotely controlling infected machines (RATs - Remote Access Trojans), and so on.

Ransomware encrypts data and/or locks the device's screen - to make ransom demands. Cryptominers abuse system resources (potentially to the point of system failure or permanent hardware damage) - to generate cryptocurrency.

To summarize, malware infiltrated into devices can lead to multiple system infections, data loss, severe privacy issues, financial losses, and identity theft. If it is suspected that DarkLoader (or other malware) has infiltrated the system - an anti-virus must be used to eliminate it without delay.

Threat Summary:
Name DarkLoader virus
Threat Type Trojan, password-stealing virus, banking malware, spyware.
Detection Names Avast (Win32:Trojan-gen), Combo Cleaner (Gen:Variant.Doina.25625), ESET-NOD32 (A Variant Of Win32/PSW.Stealer.NAZ), Kaspersky (UDS:Trojan.Multi.GenericML.xnet), Microsoft (Trojan:Win32/Tnega!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)

To eliminate possible malware infections, scan your computer with legitimate antivirus software. Our security researchers recommend using Combo Cleaner.
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Malware in general

Dragsteal is an example of a malicious program likewise targeting GTA-related content. Malware can have a broad range of harmful functionalities, which can be in varied combinations.

Common types include: loaders/backdoor trojans (e.g., MosaicLoader, RustyBuer, etc.), banking malware (e.g., Maxtrilha, Numando, etc.), stealers (e.g., Phoenix, PasswordStealer, etc.), keyloggers (e.g., 404, Snake, etc.), RATs - Remote Access Trojans (e.g., CetaRAT, FlawedGrace, etc.), ransomware (e.g., Ada, Qmak, etc.), screenlockers (e.g., ZLO, G0dsito Business, etc.), cryptominers (e.g., Lemon Duck, COINMINER, etc.), and many others.

Regardless of how malware operates, it endangers device and user safety. It is crucial to remove all threats from systems immediately upon detection.

How did DarkLoader infiltrate my computer?

DarkLoader malware has been observed being offered for sale online. Therefore, how it is proliferated - depends on the cyber criminals using it.

Malicious software is commonly spread through untrustworthy download channels, e.g., unofficial and freeware websites, Peer-to-Peer sharing networks, etc. Illegal activation tools ("cracks") and fake updates are used as well. "Cracking" tools can cause system infections instead of activating licensed products. Fraudulent updaters infect systems by exploiting outdated software and/or by installing malicious programs.

Email spam campaigns are also used in malware proliferation. Spam emails can have virulent files attached to and/or linked inside them. These files can be archives, executables, PDF and Microsoft Office documents, JavaScript, etc. Upon being opened, the files trigger malicious software download/installation.

How to avoid installation of malware?

It is recommended to only download from official and verified sources. Additionally, all programs must be activated and updated with tools provided by legitimate developers. It is advised against opening suspect and irrelevant emails. The attachments and links found in these letters - must never be opened, as they can cause infections.

It is paramount to have a reputable anti-virus installed and kept updated. 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.

Screenshots of DarkLoader malware being sold on hacker forums:

DarkLoader malware promoted online 1 DarkLoader malware promoted online 2 DarkLoader malware promoted online 3 DarkLoader malware promoted online 4 DarkLoader malware promoted online 5

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:

Malware process running in the Task Manager

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:

Autoruns application appearance

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.

Run Windows 7 or Windows XP in 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.

Run Windows 8 in 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.

Run Windows 10 in 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 archive and run Autoruns.exe application

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.

Refresh Autoruns application results

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".

Delete malware in Autoruns

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.

Search for malware and delete it

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.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

My computer is infected with DarkLoader malware, should I format my storage device to get rid of it?

No, such drastic measures are unnecessary. You can remove DarkLoader without formatting.

What are the biggest issues that malware can cause?

The threats posed by malicious programs depend on their abilities and the cyber criminals' aims. The presence of malware on devices can result in decreased system performance or failure, multiple infections, data loss, hardware damage, severe privacy issues, financial losses, and identity theft.

What is the purpose of malware?

The most common purpose of malware is to generate revenue. However, other goals are possible, e.g., cyber criminals' amusement, political or geopolitical motivations, disruption of certain processes (e.g., websites, services, companies, etc.), attack on specific individuals (personal reasons), and so forth.

How did malware infiltrate my computer?

Malware is proliferated using social engineering and dubious distribution techniques. For example, malicious software can infiltrate systems via deceptive or stealthy downloads, spam mail, online scams, Peer-to-Peer sharing networks, unofficial and free file-hosting websites, illegal software activation ("cracking") tools, fake updates, etc. It is noteworthy that some malicious programs can self-spread through local networks and removable storage devices (e.g., external hard drives, USB flash drives, etc.).

Will Combo Cleaner protect me from malware?

Yes, Combo Cleaner is capable of detecting and eliminating most of the known malware infections. However, it is crucial to perform a full system scan since sophisticated malicious software typically hides deep within systems.

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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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