How to eliminate the VanillaRAT malware from your operating system

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

What is VanillaRAT?

VanillaRAT is a piece of malicious software written in the C# programming language. It is categorized as a RAT (Remote Access Trojan). Malware within this category enables remote access and control over infected devices. These trojans tend to be particularly multifunctional, with features ranging from command execution to data extraction. Therefore, the threats posed by RATs are incredibly varied.

VanillaRAT malware detections on VirusTotal

VanillaRAT malware overview

As mentioned in the introduction, VanillaRAT is designed to allow remote access/control over infected machines. This RAT can execute Shell commands, which can be used to perform various harmful activities. The trojan can inspect and terminate running processes. It is also capable of managing files, i.e., move (drag and drop), open, download, etc.

VanillaRAT collects device/system data, e.g., CPU usage, disk usage, available RAM, OS version, OS architecture, etc. The RAT can force-open websites as well; hence, victims could be redirected to various phishing (e.g., fake log-in pages of online banking, e-commerce, social networking, and other accounts) as well as malware-proliferating sites.

VanillaRAT has spyware abilities - keylogging (keystroke recording) and audio recording (via integrated/attached microphones). This RAT can operate as screen-locking ransomware (screenlocker), i.e., display a message preventing victims from using their device and make ransom demands for access recovery.

To summarize, VanillaRAT infections can lead to severe privacy issues, data loss, significant financial losses, and identity theft.

If your device is infected with VanillaRAT (or other malware), we strongly recommend using an anti-virus to eliminate it without delay.

Threat Summary:
Name VanillaRAT virus
Threat Type RAT, Remote Access Trojan, Trojan, password-stealing virus, banking malware, spyware.
Detection Names Avast (Win32:RATX-gen [Trj]), Combo Cleaner (Generic.MSIL.Blocker.1.772725D6), ESET-NOD32 (A Variant Of MSIL/Agent.BYD), Kaspersky (), Microsoft (Trojan:Win32/Laqma), 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 countless RATs; Escanor (Esca)AuroraVileRATWoody, Manjusaka, and ApolloRAT are merely some of our latest finds.

Malicious software can have a wide variety of functionalities, which can be in different combinations. Remote access trojans tend to be especially versatile. However, regardless of how malware operates - its presence on a system endangers device integrity and user safety.

How did VanillaRAT infiltrate my computer?

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

Virulent files can be executables, archives, Microsoft Office and PDF documents, JavaScript, etc. Once a malicious file is executed, run, or otherwise opened - the infection process is jumpstarted.

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

How to avoid installation of malware?

We highly recommend downloading only from official and verified channels. Furthermore, all programs must be activated and updated with legitimate tools/functions, as illegal activation ("cracking") tools and third-party updaters may contain malware.

Another recommendation is to exercise caution with incoming mail. The attachments and links found in suspect/irrelevant emails and messages - must not be opened since that can lead to a system infection.

We must stress the importance of having a reputable anti-virus installed and kept updated. This 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 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 VanillaRAT malware, should I format my storage device to get rid of it?

No, VanillaRAT's removal does not necessitate formatting.

What are the biggest issues that VanillaRAT malware can cause?

The threats posed by a malicious program depend on its abilities and the cyber criminals' modus operandi. VanillaRAT is a highly versatile Remote Access Trojan (RAT); it can variously manipulate infected systems, use several data-stealing abilities, and even operate as a screenlocker (screen-locking ransomware). Hence, VanillaRAT infections can lead to severe privacy issues, data loss, financial losses, and identity theft.

What is the purpose of VanillaRAT malware?

While how malicious programs operate differs, they are usually used for the same purpose - to generate revenue. However, malware attacks can also be motivated by the cyber criminals seeking amusement, process disruption (e.g., websites, services, etc.), personal grudges, or political/geopolitical reasons.

How did VanillaRAT malware infiltrate my computer?

Malware is mainly distributed through drive-by downloads, spam emails and messages, online scams, dubious download channels (e.g., freeware and third-party sites, P2P sharing networks, etc.), fake updates, and illegal software activation tools ("cracks"). 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?

Yes, Combo Cleaner is capable of detecting and eliminating practically all known malware infections. It must be emphasized that since high-end malicious software typically hides deep within systems - running a complete system scan is essential to its detection.

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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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