How to remove the ZxxZ trojan-type malware from your operating system

Also Known As: ZxxZ malware
Type: Trojan
Damage level: Severe

What is the ZxxZ trojan?

ZxxZ is the name of a malicious program classified as a trojan. This malware is capable of infiltrating additional malicious software into systems. Hence, the threats posed by ZxxZ infections may be particularly broad. It is noteworthy that this trojan has been observed being actively spread via email spam campaigns.

ZxxZ malware detections on VirusTotal

ZxxZ malware overview

Following successful infiltration, ZxxZ begins its operations by collecting relevant device data, e.g., computer name, operating system version, username, etc. This trojan can execute remote commands, but most importantly - it can infiltrate files into the compromised machine and launch them. Therefore, ZxxZ can cause chain infections.

Theoretically, such programs can introduce just about any type of malware into a system. To elaborate: downloader programs can inject devices with various trojan-types, ransomware, cryptocurrency miners, and other malware.

"Trojan" is a term that encompasses a broad range of malicious software. It includes stealers that can download files and extract data from the system and installed applications, keyloggers that record keystrokes, spyware that can live-stream/record audio and video via microphones and cameras, RATs (Remote Access Trojans) - multifunctional malware that allows remote control over infected machines, loaders/backdoors that infiltrate additional malicious content into systems, clippers that replace data copied into the clipboard, and so forth.

Ransomware operates by encrypting files and/or locking the device's screen to demand ransoms for the decryption/access recovery. Cryptominers abuse system resources (potentially to the point of system failure/ hardware damage) to generate cryptocurrency. Furthermore, malware can have different abilities in varied combinations.

To summarize, infections like ZxxZ can lead to multiple system infiltrations, data loss, severe privacy issues, financial losses, and identity theft. If you suspect that your system has already been infected with ZxxZ (or other malware), we strongly advise using an anti-virus to remove it without delay.

Threat Summary:
Name ZxxZ malware
Threat Type Trojan, password-stealing virus, banking malware, spyware.
Detection Names (ZxxZ) Avast (Win32:Trojan-gen), Combo Cleaner (Gen:Variant.Doina.23073), ESET-NOD32 (A Variant Of Win32/TrojanDownloader.Small.BJH), Kaspersky (HEUR:Trojan.Win32.APosT.gen), Microsoft (TrojanDownloader:Win32/FraudLoad.AN!), Full List Of Detections (VirusTotal)
Detection Names (malicious doc) Avast (Other:Malware-gen [Trj]), Combo Cleaner (Trojan.GenericKD.47845687), ESET-NOD32 (Win32/Exploit.CVE-2017-11882.CO), Kaspersky (HEUR:Exploit.MSOffice.CVE-2018-0802.gen), Microsoft (Exploit:O97M/CVE-2017-11882.SM!MTB), Full List Of Detections (VirusTotal)
Detection Names (malicious excel) Avast (Other:Malware-gen [Trj]), Combo Cleaner (Trojan.Generic.31270685), ESET-NOD32 (Win32/Exploit.CVE-2018-0798.A), Kaspersky (HEUR:Exploit.MSOffice.CVE-2018-0802.gen), Microsoft (Exploit:O97M/CVE-2018-0802.AL!MTB), 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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Similar malware examples

We have analyzed thousands of malware samples; Serpent backdoorSysJoker, and Matanbuchus are but a few examples of those capable of causing chain infections.

As previously mentioned, malicious software can have varied combinations of harmful functionalities. Additionally, cyber criminals often improve and update their programs. Hence, regardless of how malware operates - its presence on a system endangers device/user safety.

We highly recommend running regular system scans and eliminating threats immediately upon detection.

How did ZxxZ infiltrate my computer?

Cisco Talos researchers have discovered ZxxZ-spreading spam campaigns that targeted governmental entities in Bangladesh. Their research suggests that ZxxZ is linked to the Bitter APT cyber criminal group.

We have inspected ZxxZ-proliferating emails, which contain short text typically requesting the recipient to review the attachment. The attached files were Microsoft Office Word and Excel documents. It is pertinent to mention that Microsoft Office files are often used in malware proliferation; they infect systems by executing malicious macro commands (which victims are lured into enabling).

Spam emails can have a wide variety of disguises, and they distribute malicious programs in the form of attachments or download links. Infectious files can be Microsoft Office and PDF documents, archives, executables, JavaScript, etc. Once such a file is executed, run, or otherwise opened - the infection chain is triggered.

Aside from spam campaigns, malware is also commonly spread through drive-by (stealthy and deceptive) downloads, online scams (e.g., fake virus alerts, outdated program warnings, etc.), untrustworthy download sources (e.g., unofficial and freeware sites, P2P sharing networks, etc.), illegal software activation tools ("cracks"), fake updates, and so on.

How to avoid installation of malware?

We advise against opening the attachments and links present in suspicious/irrelevant emails and messages - as that may result in a system infection. It is also important to use Microsoft Office versions released after 2010 since they have the "Protected View" mode that prevents automatic macro execution.

Another recommendation is to download only from official and verified channels. Additionally, all programs must be activated and updated with tools provided by genuine developers, as illegal activation tools ("cracks") and fake updates can cause malware infections.

We must stress the importance of having a reputable anti-virus installed and kept up-to-date. Security software must be used to perform regular system scans and to remove detected threats and issues. 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 spam email used to proliferate the ZxxZ trojan:

ZxxZ trojan spreading email 1

Text presented in this email:

Subject: Application for CDR

Dear sir,

Please go through the att file

Thanks & Regards

Screenshot of the malicious attachment distributing ZxxZ trojan ("ASP AVIJIT DAS.doc" filename):

Malicious attachment distributing ZxxZ malware (ASP AVIJIT DAS.doc) 1

Screenshot of another spam email used to proliferate the ZxxZ trojan:

ZxxZ trojan spreading email 2

Text presented in this email:

Subject: CDR

Dear Sir,

Find the attached document below you for further necessary action please.

Best regards,

Screenshot of another malicious attachment distributing ZxxZ trojan ("List of Numbers to be verified.xlsx" filename):

Malicious attachment distributing ZxxZ malware (List of Numbers to be verified.xlsx) 2

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

No, ZxxZ's removal does not require formatting.

What are the biggest issues that ZxxZ malware can cause?

The threats posed by malware depend on its abilities and the cyber criminals' modus operandi. ZxxZ is designed to cause chain infections (i.e., download/install additional malware) - therefore, its threats can be numerous. Generally, malware infections can lead to decreased system performance or failure, permanent data loss, severe privacy issues, financial losses, and identity theft.

What is the purpose of ZxxZ malware?

In most cases, malware is used to generate revenue. However, other reasons can include - attackers' amusement, process disruption (e.g., websites, services, organizations, etc.), personal grudges, politically/geopolitically motivated attacks, and so forth.

How did ZxxZ malware infiltrate my computer?

ZxxZ has been observed being actively spread via spam emails. However, malicious software is typically distributed using multiple techniques. The most popular include: malicious attachments and links in spam emails and messages, drive-by downloads, online scams, dubious download channels (e.g., freeware and third-party websites, Peer-to-Peer sharing networks, etc.), illegal software activation tools ("cracks"), and fake updates. Furthermore, some malicious programs are capable of self-spreading via 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 designed to detect and eliminate malware. It is capable of removing most of the known malware infections. It has to be emphasized high-end malware tends to hide deep within systems - therefore, performing a complete system scan is a must.

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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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