How to remove Soul malware from the operating system

Also Known As: Soul malware framework
Type: Trojan
Damage level: Severe

What is Soul?

Soul is the name of the malware framework. Cybercriminals behind it use a downloader that executes a loader dubbed SoulSearcher. This loader is accountable for the decryption, downloading, and loading of other modules of the Soul modular backdoor into memory. The usage of the Soul framework has been traced back to a minimum of 2017.

Soul malware

More about Soul

The main function of the second-stage loader, SoulSearcher, is to execute the primary module of the Soul backdoor and interpret its configuration. This backdoor module facilitates communication with the C&C server and is primarily responsible for loading additional modules into memory.

Given the backdoor's modular design, malicious actors may be using various modules, including those that steal data, record keystrokes, exfiltrate data, and potentially a toolkit for lateral movement.

Data-stealing modules can be used to exfiltrate sensitive information from infected systems, including login credentials, personal information, and financial data. Keylogger modules can be used to capture keystrokes, enabling cybercriminals to monitor victims' activities, including their usernames and passwords.

Data exfiltration modules allow sending data from a computer to a remote server controlled by attackers. The modular design of the backdoor also suggests that lateral movement modules could be used to spread the malware to other systems within a network, potentially enabling attackers to gain access to additional sensitive data and systems.

Overall, the Soul malware framework provides cybercriminals with a broad range of tools and techniques for compromising the security of targeted systems and stealing valuable information.

Threat Summary:
Name Soul malware framework
Threat Type Backdoor malware
Detection Names Avast (Win32:Malware-gen), Combo Cleaner (Gen:Variant.Lazy.151343), ESET-NOD32 (Win32/TrojanDownloader.Agent.GNX), Kaspersky (Trojan-Downloader.Win32.Agent.xyajxv), Microsoft (Trojan:Win32/Casdet!rfn), 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 Infected email attachments (malicious documents)
Damage Stolen passwords and banking information, identity theft, monetary loss, and more.
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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Backdoors in general

A backdoor is a type of malware that provides unauthorized access to a computer system or network. It allows attackers to bypass normal authentication procedures and gain access to systems and data that they would not normally have permission to access.

Backdoors can be used for a variety of purposes, including data theft, surveillance, and the installation of additional malware. They can also be used for remote control of an infected system, enabling attackers to perform actions such as downloading and executing arbitrary files, executing commands, and modifying or deleting files.

Examples of backdoor malware are MQsTTang, WhiskerSpy, and GOLDBACKDOOR.

How did Soul infiltrate my computer?

The attackers are observed to utilize spear-phishing emails that incorporate a Word document with government-themed content as a lure. This document is designed to take advantage of a remote template to download and execute an RTF document that contains the RoyalRoad exploit kit.

Upon successful infiltration, the malware initiates a series of in-memory loaders, beginning with a customized DLL downloader and followed by SoulSearcher. The latter is responsible for loading the remaining modules of the Soul modular backdoor.

How to avoid installation of malware?

Install software updates and security patches as soon as they become available. Use antivirus software. Do not open email attachments or download files from untrusted sources. Be especially wary of attachments from unknown or unexpected sources. Do not trust advertisements and links on shady web pages.

Download software from reliable sources such as official pages and verified stores. 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.

Malicious attachments (documents) distributing Soul:

Soul malware malicious document Soul malware malicious document 2 Soul malware malicious document 3 Soul malware malicious document 4

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

Formatting the storage device should be considered a last resort, as it will erase all data. Before resorting to formatting, victims are advised to try running antivirus software to scan and remove the malware.

What are the biggest issues that malware can cause?

The consequences of malware infection can vary depending on the specific type of malware. It may result in a variety of negative outcomes, including compromised identity, financial losses, decreased computer performance, additional infections, and more.

What is the purpose of backdoor malware like Soul?

The purpose of backdoor malware is to provide remote access and control over an infected system to the attacker, allowing them to execute commands, steal data, or perform other malicious activities.

How did Soul malware infiltrate my computer?

It is known that cybercriminals use government-themed spear-phishing emails with a Word document to trick users into infecting computers with Soul malware.

Will Combo Cleaner protect me from malware?

Certainly, Combo Cleaner can detect and remove nearly all known malware infections. However, it's important to note that sophisticated malware typically conceals itself deeply within the system. Therefore, performing a full system scan is crucial to ensure complete removal.

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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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