How to remove Brute Ratel from the operating system

Also Known As: Brute Ratel post-exploitation toolkit
Type: Trojan
Damage level: Severe

What is Brute Ratel?

Brute Ratel is a penetration testing tool created after reverse engineering multiple highest quality Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) and antivirus dynamic-link libraries (DLLs). It is a post-exploitation toolkit designed to avoid detection by EDR and antivirus capabilities. Its license costs $2500 per year for one user.

Brute Ratel malware

Brute Ratel in detail

Brute Ratel allows customers to place "Badgers" on computers. Those "Badgers" connect to the Command and Control server controlled by the customers and allow them to execute commands or receive the result of previously executed commands.

It is known that Brute Ratel's subscribers can use it to take screenshots, load x64 Shellcode, upload, download and create files, create Windows system services, scan ports, log kernel or application-defined events, create external C2 channels over legitimate web pages, and more.

Potential customers have to be verified before they can use Brute Ratel. It is sold only registered companies or individuals with business email addresses. A manual verification is processed before selling Brute Ratel. However, some cybercriminals have been able to bypass the verification process by creating fake companies and use Brute Ratel as a malware distribution tool.

Threat Summary:
Name Brute Ratel post-exploitation toolkit
Threat Type Trojan, password-stealing virus, banking malware, spyware.
Detection Names (Roshan_CV.iso) Avast (Win64:Malware-gen), Combo Cleaner (Trojan.Brutel.A), ESET-NOD32 (A Variant Of Win64/Agent.BMC), Kaspersky (Trojan.Win32.Agent.xapvcq), Microsoft (Trojan:Win32/BruteRatel!MSR), Full List (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 ISO file containing a malicious LNK (shortcut) file with a fake MS Office Word icon.
Damage Stolen passwords and banking information, identity theft, the victim's computer added to a botnet, data encryption, monetary loss.
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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More about Brute Ratel

It is known that some cybercriminals have used Brute Ratel as a tool to distribute ransomware. Brute Ratel is very dangerous (if used for malicious purposes) because it can evade detection by EDR and antivirus solutions. Also, threat actors can use it to execute commands and spread the Brute Ratel further.

There is another post-exploitation toolkit used for the same purpose called Cobalt Strike. It can be assumed that cybercriminals are now switching from Cobalt Strike to Brute Ratel and the number of threat actors misusing this tool is growing.

How did Brute Ratel infiltrate my computer?

It is known that Brute Ratel is distributed using an ISO file masquerading as curriculum vitae (CV). That ISO file contains a shortcut file with a fake Microsoft Word icon. Brute Ratel installs after double-clicking the shortcut (LNK/.lnk) file. That ISO file also contains four hidden files not visible to users who do not have the display of hidden files enabled. Those files are part of the infection chain.

How to avoid installation of malware?

Do not open attachments and links in irrelevant emails sent from suspicious (e.g., unknown) addresses. Remember that links/files in such emails are likely to be malicious. Usually, such emails are disguised as official/important letters from legitimate companies or other entities.

Also, download software from official pages. Do not download it via/from P2P networks, third-party downloaders, torrent sites, etc. Update and activate the installed software properly - use tools provided by the official software developers to achieve it.

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 the payload file ("Roshan-Bandara_CV_Dialog.lnk" - shortcut) which executes "OneDriveUpdater.exe" and "version.dll" files to drop Brute Ratel:

brute ratel payload file

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:
▼ DOWNLOAD Combo Cleaner By downloading any software listed on this website you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. To use full-featured product, you have to purchase a license for Combo Cleaner. 7 days free trial available. Combo Cleaner is owned and operated by Rcs Lt, the parent company of PCRisk.com read more.

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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)

What are the biggest issues that malware can cause?

It depends on the type of malware. In most cases, it causes data loss, monetary loss, identity theft, loss of personal accounts, slow computer performance, problems with privacy, browsing safety, etc.

What is the purpose of Brute Ratel?

Brute Ratel is a penetration testing tool that avoids Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) and antivirus capabilities. Cybercriminals can use it for various purposes, such as injecting malware, stealing sensitive information, spying on victims, etc. However, it is not supposed to be used for illegal activities.

How did a malware infiltrate my computer?

It installs on computers through an ISO file containing a shortcut (LNK) file with a fake Microsoft Word icon. Brute Ratel installs after double-clicking that shortcut file. It is important to mention that the aforementioned ISO file is disguised as some resume (curriculum vitae). Cybercriminals may eventually use other distribution techniques, such as fake software cracking tools, malicious MS Office documents, etc.

Will Combo Cleaner protect me from malware?

Combo cleaner can detect almost all known malware. It runs a system scan and removes all detected threats. Computers infected with high-end malware must be scanned using a full scan to detect malware that hides 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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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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