How to remove PingPull malware from the operating system

Also Known As: PingPull remote access trojan
Type: Trojan
Damage level: Severe

What is PingPull?

PingPull is a piece of malicious software classified as a RAT (Remote Access Trojan). Malware of this type is designed to enable remote access and control over infected machines. RATs are highly multifunctional; hence, the threats posed by these trojans are especially broad.

PingPull malware detections on VirusTotal

PingPull malware overview

The research done by Unit 42 suggests that PingPull is connected to the cyber crime group called GALLIUM, which is likely sponsored by the Chinese state.

As mentioned in the introduction, PingPull is a RAT - a program capable of enabling remote access and control over compromised devices. These trojans can perform a wide variety of malicious actions; how a machine is manipulated depends on the target and the cyber criminals' aims.

RATs can have various functionalities. For example, PingPull can manage files, i.e., it can learn folder contents and modify them (e.g., read, change, move, delete, etc.). Furthermore, many RATs can download/install additional malicious components or malware (e.g., trojans, ransomware, cryptocurrency miners, etc.).

To summarize, PingPull malware infections can lead to severe privacy issues, significant financial losses, and identity theft.

Threat Summary:
Name PingPull remote access trojan
Threat Type Trojan, password-stealing virus, banking malware, spyware.
Detection Names Avast (Win64:BackdoorX-gen [Trj]), Combo Cleaner (Trojan.GenericKD.50317070), ESET-NOD32 (A Variant Of Win64/Agent.BGA), Kaspersky (HEUR:Backdoor.Win64.Agent.gen), Microsoft (Trojan:Win32/Casdet!rfn), 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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Remote access trojan examples

We have analyzed hundreds of RATs; PowerShell RATNerbian, SiMay, NetDooka, and Eagle Monitor are just some examples.

These trojans typically have an extensive range of malicious functionalities, which can be used to cause various severe issues. However, regardless of how malware operates - its presence on a system endangers device and user safety. Therefore, we strongly recommend eliminating all threats immediately upon detection.

How did PingPull infiltrate my computer?

Malware is mainly proliferated using phishing and social engineering techniques. Malicious programs are typically presented as or bundled with ordinary content.

Virulent files can be in various formats, e.g., executables (.exe, .run, etc.), archives (ZIP, RAR, etc.), Microsoft Office and PDF documents, JavaScript, and so forth. Once such a file is opened - malware download/installation is jumpstarted.

The most common distribution methods include: drive-by (deceptive and stealthy) downloads, malicious attachments and links in spam emails/messages, untrustworthy download sources (e.g., freeware and third-party download sites, P2P sharing networks, etc.), online scams, illegal program activation tools ("cracks"), and fake updates.

How to avoid installation of malware?

We strongly advise against opening the attachments and links present in suspicious/irrelevant emails and messages - since that may result in a system infection.

Furthermore, all downloads must be done from official and verified channels. It is just as important to activate and update programs using functions/tools provided by legitimate developers, as illegal activation tools ("cracks") and fake updates can contain malware.

It is paramount to have a reputable anti-virus installed and kept up-to-date. Security software must be used to run 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.

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

No, PingPull's removal does not require formatting.

What are the biggest issues that PingPull malware can cause?

Since PingPull is a RAT (Remote Access Trojan), it can variously manipulate infected devices and cause serious issues. Generally, RAT infections can lead to severe privacy issues, financial losses, and identity theft.

What is the purpose of PingPull malware?

Malware is usually used to generate revenue. However, these attacks can also be motivated by cyber criminals' amusement, process disruption (e.g., websites, services, companies, organizations, etc.), personal grudges, political/geopolitical reasons, and so forth.

How did PingPull malware infiltrate my computer?

Malware is primarily spread via drive-by downloads, online scams, spam emails and messages, dubious download channels (e.g., freeware and third-party sites, P2P sharing networks, etc.), illegal program activation tools ("cracks"), and fake updates. Furthermore, some malicious programs can self-proliferate through remote servers 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 threats. It can remove nearly all known malware infections. It must be mentioned that running a complete system scan is crucial - as sophisticated malicious programs tend to hide 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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