Removal instructions for the RomCom RAT (Remote Access Trojan) malware

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

What is RomCom?

RomCom is the name of a Remote Access Trojan (RAT). Malware categorized as such is designed to enable remote access/control over infected machines. RATs can be highly multifunctional and thus pose a wide variety of threats.

It is noteworthy that RomCom has been used in attacks against Ukraine's military institutions, likely a cybercrime element in the Ukrainian war. Additionally, this trojan has been employed in attacks against IT and food-industry related entities located in the US, Philippines, and Brazil.

RomCom malware detections on VirusTotal

RomCom malware overview

As mentioned in the introduction, RomCom is a RAT - a type of malware that allows remote access and control over compromised devices. These trojans can create close to or user-level control. RATs can execute a broad range of commands on infected machines, which can be used to carry out a variety of malicious activities.

Previous versions of RomCom differ little from the latest ones as far as functionality is concerned; the trojan's newest iterations have improved obfuscation and anti-detection capabilities. Much like its older variants, RomCom's primary goal is to steal data. It can obtain information relating to the device, disks, system/user files, and installed programs. Another ability that this RAT has is taking screenshots.

However, it must be mentioned that malware developers often improve upon and update their creations - hence, it is not unlikely that later versions of this malware will have additional/other functionalities.

The threats posed by malicious software infections depend not only on the program's capabilities but also on the attackers' goals.

Generally, the presence of software like RomCom on devices can result in serious privacy issues, financial losses, and identity theft. However, RomCom has been used in geopolitically-motivated attacks - the consequences of which can be much more severe.

If a RomCom RAT infection is suspected, we highly recommend using an anti-virus to remove it without delay.

Threat Summary:
Name RomCom remote access trojan
Threat Type Trojan, RAT, Remote Access Trojan, password-stealing virus, banking malware, spyware.
Detection Names Avast (Win64:MalwareX-gen [Trj]), Combo Cleaner (Trojan.GenericKD.61083265), ESET-NOD32 (A Variant Of Win64/Agent.QU), Kaspersky (Trojan.Win64.Agentb.ktrn), Microsoft (Trojan:Win64/CobaltStrike!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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Malware in general

We have analyzed thousands of malware samples; ArrowRATHyperBroRokRAT, and Trochilus are merely some of our newest finds within the RAT category. And BobikPowerShell RATPterodo - are a few examples of programs that have been used in attacks against Ukraine and its allies.

It must be stressed that 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 RomCom infiltrate my computer?

RomCom has been observed being promoted on fake websites that closely mimic official ones of legitimate software such as the Advanced IP Scanner, PDF Filler, and others. Its campaign that targeted Ukrainian military institutions was proliferated through spam emails that copied the language used in genuine communication formats used in this sphere. It is pertinent to mention that RomCom may be spread using other techniques as well.

Malware is usually distributed by employing phishing and social engineering tactics. Malicious software can be presented as or bundled with ordinary programs/media.

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

Malware is primarily proliferated via malicious attachments or links in spam mail (e.g., emails, PMs/DMs, etc.), drive-by (stealthy/deceptive) downloads, online scams, dubious download channels (e.g., freeware and third-party websites, Peer-to-Peer sharing networks, etc.), illegal program activation tools ("cracks"), malvertising, and fake updates.

How to avoid installation of malware?

We strongly recommend being careful with incoming emails and other messages. The attachments and links present in suspicious/irrelevant mail - must not be opened as they can be malicious and cause infections. It is essential to be vigilant when browsing since dangerous online content typically appears legitimate and harmless.

Another recommendation is to download only from official and trustworthy sources. Software must be activated and updated using genuine functions/tools, as illegal activation ("cracking") tools and third-party updaters may contain malware.

It is paramount to have a reputable anti-virus installed and kept up-to-date. Security programs must be used to perform regular system scans and to remove 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.

Update 4 November 2022: Cybercriminals have been observed using trojanized versions of SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor, KeePass password manager, and PDF Reader Pro programs to trick users into infecting computers with RomCom RAT. They use deceptive websites to distribute rogue versions of the software mentioned above.

It is also known that RomCom RAT is distributed via a fake Veeam Backup & Replication software installer.

Update 31 May 2023: RomCom RAT was seen to be distributed through fake websites that impersonate downloads of legitimate software, for example: ChatGPT, System Ninja, Gimp, WinDirStat, etc. You can read more about this malware distribution campaign here. Here's an example of one of the cloned websites that distribute RomCom RAT instead of the legitimate software:

romcom rat distributed through legitimate looking websites

Update 14 June 2023: A recent discovery involves a cloned website hosting a malicious Installer for a Trojanized variant of Devolutions Remote Desktop Manager. This situation is challenging because the malicious website closely mimics the legitimate one, making it hard to differentiate between the two.

In order to create an illusion of authenticity, the fraudulent domain employs a typosquatting technique, aiming to resemble the legitimate domain as much as possible. After being downloaded by the user, the Trojanized installer obtained from the cloned website employs various tactics to present itself as a legitimate software package.

Other known Trojanized variants of legitimate apps used to distribute RomCom are GoTo Meeting and WinSCP.

Update 10 July 2023: In a recent discovery, two malicious documents were sent as lures to an organization supporting Ukraine and attendees of the upcoming NATO Summit. These documents are believed to be part of a campaign orchestrated by threat actors associated with the RomCom Remote Access Trojan (RAT).

The malicious documents utilize RTF exploitation and phishing techniques, posing as legitimate organizations and websites related to Ukraine and the NATO Summit. The primary objective of this campaign is to target individuals and organizations supporting Ukraine and collect sensitive information by exploiting a zero-day vulnerability in Microsoft's Support Diagnostic Tool (MSDT).

Update 16 October 2023: A new lightweight version of the RomCom backdoor has been used in a cyber campaign targeting attendees of Brussels's Women Political Leaders (WPL) Summit. The attackers created a fake website resembling the official WPL portal, offering event photos.

When users clicked to download, they unknowingly received malware. This new variant is more discreet and supports ten commands, highlighting its evolving development for high-level cyber espionage. Those commands enable the malware to perform various actions on compromised machines.

They include running specified commands and receiving their output, uploading and downloading files, modifying the backdoor check frequency, retrieving system information, updating network components in the Windows registry, uninstalling the malware, and extracting service names from the Windows registry.

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

No, most malicious programs can be removed without resorting to such drastic measures.

What are the biggest issues that RomCom malware can cause?

What dangers an infection poses - depend on the program's abilities and the cyber criminals' aims. RomCom is a RAT - a type of trojan that enables remote access/control over devices. Generally, infections of this kind may result in severe privacy issues, financial losses, and identity theft. It is noteworthy that this malware has been used in geopolitically-motivated attacks against Ukraine's military institutions.

What is the purpose of RomCom malware?

While most malware attacks are designed to generate revenue for the attackers, it is not the only reason behind them. Cyber criminals also use malicious software to amuse themselves, carry out personal vendettas, disrupt processes (e.g., websites, services, institutions, etc.), and launch politically/geopolitically motivated attacks.

How did RomCom malware infiltrate my computer?

Malware is mainly distributed through drive-by downloads, online scams, spam mail, dubious download sources (e.g., freeware and third-party sites, P2P sharing networks, etc.), malvertising, illegal software activation tools ("cracks"), and fake updates. Some malicious programs can even self-spread 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. However, it must be stressed that running a complete system scan is crucial - since 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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