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How to remove StealBit malware from the operating system?

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

What is StealBit?

StealBit is the name of a malicious program designed to exfiltrate (download) sensitive content from infected machines. This malware has been used in campaigns concluding with LockBit ransomware infections.

StealBit is employed in the double-extortion tactics used by LockBit. This program's task is to obtain vulnerable data prior to the ransomware encrypting victims' files. Therefore, in addition to paying a ransom being the only way of decrypting the affected files - it also becomes the solution to preventing the publication of the stolen content.

StealBit malware detections on VirusTotal

StealBit malware overview

At the time of research, StealBit is used by the LockBit group; this program exfiltrates (downloads) sensitive files before the release of LockBit ransomware. There are several variants of StealBit, and further improvements are highly probable as the cyber criminals behind LockBit are in active operation.

StealBit is designed to locate, read, and download victims' files within certain limitations. The primary differences between older and newer versions of this malware entail refined hiding and evasion capabilities. Additionally, StealBit's previous variants were geolocation-sensitive - i.e., the program would check where the device is located and avoid continuing operation in some countries.

StealBit aims for fast data exfiltration, although it is currently incapable of compressing files. Attackers can specify what content is of no interest, e.g., StealBit can be configured to ignore certain file formats and folders, download files that do not exceed a set size, and the cyber criminals can choose the desired exfiltration rate (i.e., data amount - KBs, MBs, or GBs downloaded every 15 seconds).

Furthermore, StealBit can prevent Windows from displaying particular error messages, which its operation can invoke. The malware's ability to quickly exfiltrate content and stop the OS from showing error alerts improves its chances of evading detection; however, it is (as of yet) incapable of closing all types of windows that its activity opens. Although, StealBit does use an anti-analysis technique - a debugger detection functionality.

After StealBit successfully completes its operations, the LockBit ransomware is deployed. It encrypts victims' files and creates a ransom note stating that a payment must be made to decrypt the data. What is more, the message informs victims that if they refuse to meet these demands - content stolen from their systems will be leaked.

The malware campaign that StealBit is part of - is focused on companies and other large entities rather than home users. Therefore, the information-stealing program seeks to obtain data relating to finances, clients/customers, employees, products, manufacturing, marketing, and so on.

To summarize, StealBit infiltrated into a device can result in severe privacy issues, permanent data loss, and significant financial losses.

If you suspect that your system is infected with StealBit (or other malware), we strongly advise using an anti-virus to remove it without delay.

Threat Summary:
Name StealBit virus
Threat Type Trojan, password-stealing virus, banking malware, spyware.
Detection Names Avast (FileRepMalware [Misc]), Combo Cleaner (Gen:Variant.Lazy.92877), ESET-NOD32 (A Variant Of Win32/Agent_AGen.IQ), Kaspersky (Trojan.Win32.Agent.xalmzh), Microsoft (Trojan:Win32/Corrempa.MP!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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Data-stealing malware examples

We have analyzed thousands of malicious programs; SVCReadyRedoxBlueShtorm, and S-400 are just some examples of malware designed to steal information.

Data-stealing programs can target a wide variety of information and use different techniques to obtain it. For example, these programs may download files, extract data from the system or installed applications (e.g., usernames/passwords, credit card numbers, browsing histories, etc.), employ spying capabilities (e.g., take screenshots, record keystrokes, audio/video, etc.), and so forth.

However, regardless of how malware operates - its presence on a system endangers device integrity and user safety. Therefore, we highly recommend eliminating all threats immediately upon detection.

How did StealBit infiltrate my computer?

Malware is spread using phishing and social engineering techniques. Malicious programs are usually disguised as or bundled with ordinary programs/media. Infectious files can be in various formats, e.g., archives (ZIP, RAR, etc.), executables (.exe, .run, etc.), Microsoft Office and PDF documents, JavaScript, and so on. Once such a file is opened - the infection process is triggered.

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

How to avoid installation of malware?

We advise exercising caution with incoming mail. The attachments and links found in suspicious/irrelevant emails and messages - must not be opened since that can lead to a system infection.

We recommend downloading only from official and verified channels. Additionally, all programs must be activated and updated with tools provided by legitimate developers, as illegal activation tools ("cracks") and fake updaters can contain malware.

We must emphasize the importance of having a dependable anti-virus installed and kept up-to-date. Security software must be used to run regular system scans and to remove detected 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.

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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Quick menu:

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

No, StealBit's removal does not necessitate formatting.

What are the biggest issues that StealBit malware can cause?

The threats posed by a malicious program depend on its functionalities and the cyber criminals' modus operandi. StealBit is designed to steal data - however, it is used in combination with LockBit ransomware. Therefore, these infections can lead to serious privacy issues, permanent data loss, and significant financial losses.

What is the purpose of StealBit malware?

Most malicious programs are used to generate revenue. However, cyber criminals can also employ malware for their own amusement, to disrupt processes (e.g., websites, services, companies, etc.), carry our personal grudges, or even launch a politically/geopolitically motivated attack.

How did StealBit malware infiltrate my computer?

Malware is primarily proliferated via drive-by downloads, dubious download channels (e.g., unofficial and freeware sites, Peer-to-Peer sharing networks, etc.), spam emails and messages, online scams, illegal software activation ("cracking") tools, and fake updates. Furthermore, 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 practically all known malware infections. It has to be mentioned that performing a full system scan is paramount - 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.

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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