How to eliminate GootLoader malware

Also Known As: GootLoader malware loader
Type: Trojan
Damage level: Severe

What kind of malware is GootLoader?

We have discovered GootLoader malware while examining legitimate but compromised websites (mainly websites managed using WordPress). It was found that GootLoader is used to infect computers with additional malware. Cybercriminals using GootLoader seek to trick users into unknowingly downloading and executing the malware by disguising it as a document or other file.

GootLoader malware

GootLoader in detail

We have learned that threat actors behind GootLoader distribute mainly ransomware (it functions under a criminal business model known as Ransomware-as-a-Service) and malware known as Cobalt Strike. They seek to infect computers with malware designed to encrypt files or inject information stealers, cryptocurrency miners, etc. As mentioned in the introduction, GootLoader is distributed via compromised websites.

Our team has found that threat actors attempt to trick users into downloading and executing GootLoader by disguising it as a business agreement or other template/document. In most cases, computers get infected with this malware through a downloaded malicious JavaScript file.

Threat Summary:
Name GootLoader malware loader
Threat Type Malware loader
Detection Names Avast (JS:Downloader-GRN [Trj]), Combo Cleaner (Trojan.GenericKD.37117194), ESET-NOD32 (JS/Agent.PES), Kaspersky (HEUR:Trojan-Downloader.Script.SLoad.gen), Microsoft (Trojan:JS/Gootloader!MSR), Full List (VirusTotal)
Payload Ransomware, Cobalt Strike, other malware
Symptoms Loaders 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 loaders in general

Loaders are used as tools to distribute other malware. Threat actors use loaders to infect computers with malware allowing them to steal credit card details, passwords (and other sensitive information), encrypt files, mine cryptocurrency, etc. More examples of loaders are BATLOADER, DarkLoader, XLoader.

How did GootLoader infiltrate my computer?

GootLoader infects a computer after downloading and executing a malicious file (usually, a JavaScript file) from a compromised website. It is known that most pages used to distribute GootLoader are managed using WordPress. These pages appear in Google search results while looking for legal, financial, and similar agreements (templates).

Typically, GootLoader is distributed using malicious JavaScript (.js) files (pretty often, these files are placed within compressed ZIP files). During our research, we have found that cybercriminals target mainly education, healthcare, music, and other industries, or businesses like hotels.

How to avoid installation of malware?

Avoid downloading files or software from questionable sources (for instance, P2P networks, third-party downloaders, unofficial pages). Use official pages and direct links as sources for downloading files and programs. Analyze downloads before opening/executing them - make sure that downloaded documents (or other files) are actually documents, not executables, etc.

Keep the operating system and installed software up to date. Update/activate it using tools provided by the official developer. Scan the operating system for threats regularly. 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:

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 GootLoader malware, should I format my storage device to get rid of it?

No, it is not necessary to format the infected device to eliminate GootLoader.

What are the biggest issues that malware can cause?

Cybercriminals use malware to steal identities, money, infect computers with additional malware, encrypt files, and for other purposes. It depends on the type of malware.

What is the purpose of GootLoader malware?

This malware operates as a loader. It can infect computers with additional malware. It is known that threat actors use GootLoader to distribute ransomware, Cobalt Strike.

How did GootLoader malware infiltrate my computer?

GootLoader is distributed using legitimate (but compromised) websites. It infects a computer after opening a malicious JavaScript file disguised as a document template. However, cybercriminals may change their distribution techniques in the future.

Will Combo Cleaner protect me from malware?

Yes, Combo Cleaner can detect and eliminate almost all known malware. Computers infected with high-end malware must be scanned using a full scan. Malware of this kind can be hiding deep in the operating system.

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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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Removal Instructions in other languages
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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