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How to remove DevilsTongue malware from the operating system

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

What is DevilsTongue?

First researched by Microsoft Threat Intelligence Center (MSTIC) in collaboration with Citizen Lab, DevilsTongue is a piece of multifunctional malicious software written in C and C++ programming languages.

MSTIC's findings suggest that DevilsTongue is associated with cyber criminals developing/selling malware and hacking-tool packages for cyber warfare. The cyber criminals behind DevilsTongue, dubbed SOURGUM, are suspected to be an Israel-based group.

The sophisticated ware offered by SOURGUM is believed to have been used to target over a hundred victims, including politicians, embassy workers, academics, human rights activists, journalists, and political dissidents.

DevilsTongue malware detections on VirusTotal

DevilsTongue malware overview

Microsoft Threat Intelligence Center's research revealed DevilsTongue is a high-end malware that is complex and uses advanced anti-detection and ant-analysis techniques. The current understanding of DevilsTongue, based on MSTIC's analysis, is that this malicious program uses various exploits to abuse system vulnerabilities (e.g., CVE-2021-31979 and CVE-2021-33771).

This malware can interact with and manipulate the Windows Registry and SQLite databases. It is capable of carrying out WMI (Windows Management Instrumentation) commands. DevilsTongue can also exfiltrate (download) files from infected systems.

This malware can extract Internet cookies from various browsers, which are likely to be used to access websites as the victim and resume its information-gathering activities. DevilsTongue targets social networking and email service websites such as Facebook, Twitter, Odnoklassniki, VKontakte, Gmail, Yahoo, and Mail.ru.

The unauthorized access could be used to collect victims' correspondence and photographs, and further DevilsTongue (or other malware) by sharing malicious files/links. Based on how DevilsTongue has been used in the past, should the victims be involved in highly confidential matters - its infections could have devastating consequences.

Furthermore, this program can extract log-in credentials (usernames/passwords) from Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and other popular browsers. It can download entire conversations from the Signal messaging application as well.

To summarize, malware like DevilsTongue can cause severe privacy issues, financial losses, and identity theft. However, since DevilsTongue is designed for sophisticated cyberattacks, its use in politically or geopolitically motivated attacks could have disastrous ramifications.

If it is suspected that DevilsTongue (or other malware) has already infected the system, we strongly advise using an anti-virus to remove it immediately.

Threat Summary:
Name DevilsTongue virus
Threat Type Trojan, password-stealing virus, banking malware, spyware.
Detection Names AhnLab-V3 (Unwanted/Win.DevilsTongue.C4553761), Webroot (W32.Malware.Devilstongue), 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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Information-stealing malware examples

We have analyzed thousands of malware samples; Luca stealerApolloRATNoMercy stealerStealBit, and SVCReady are just some examples of programs with information-stealing capabilities.

Malicious software can have a broad range of harmful abilities, which can be in varied combinations. However, regardless of how malware operates - its presence on a system endangers device and user safety. Therefore, all threats must be eliminated immediately upon detection.

How did DevilsTongue infiltrate my computer?

Malware is primarily proliferated using phishing and social engineering techniques. Since DevilsTongue is intended for cyber warfare, the methods used in its distribution can be intricate and highly targeted.

For example, this malicious program could be spread in the form of attachments or website links in spam emails or messages. This mail may be convincingly disguised as correspondence or notifications from colleagues, associates, clients, service providers, companies, institutions, organizations, or other legitimate entities.

Malware is also distributed via deceptive/malicious websites and dubious download sources like third-party and freeware sites, Peer-to-Peer sharing networks, and so on. Illegal program activation ("cracking") tools can download/install malware rather than activate the licensed product. Fake updaters can contain malicious software as well.

Infectious files can be archives (RAR, ZIP, etc.), executables (.exe, .run, etc.), Microsoft Office and PDF documents, JavaScript, and so forth. Once such a file is executed, run, or otherwise opened - malware download/installation is jumpstarted.

How to avoid installation of malware?

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

Additionally, it is essential to research software and download it only from official/verified channels. All programs must be activated and updated using genuine functions/tools, as illegal activation tools ("cracks") and fake updaters may contain malware.

We must emphasize the importance of having a reputable anti-virus installed and kept updated. Security software has to 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.

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

Most malicious programs can be removed without resorting to such drastic measures.

What are the biggest issues that DevilsTongue malware can cause?

DevilsTongue's primary functionalities revolve around data theft; typically, this kind of malware infection can lead to severe privacy issues, financial losses, and identity theft. However, DevilsTongue attacks have been suspected in multiple instances of cyber warfare - and the consequences of such can be devastating.

What is the purpose of DevilsTongue malware?

Cyber criminals usually employ malware to generate revenue. However, DevilsTongue has been used to target politicians, human rights activists, journalists, and other persons of note. Hence, the aims of the attackers using this malware could be different; for example, they could be motivated by political or geopolitical reasons.

How did DevilsTongue malware infiltrate my computer?

Malware is most commonly distributed through drive-by downloads, spam mail, online scams, untrustworthy download sources (e.g., unofficial and freeware sites, Peer-to-Peer sharing networks, etc.), illegal software activation ("cracking") tools, and fake updates. Furthermore, some malicious programs can self-proliferate via local networks and removable storage devices (e.g., external hard drives, USB flash drives, etc.).

Will Combo Cleaner protect me from malware?

Combo Cleaner is designed to detect and remove threats. It is capable of detecting and eliminating almost all of the known malware infections. However, it must be stressed that running a full system scan is paramount - since sophisticated malicious programs usually 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.

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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