How to remove Horabot malware

Also Known As: Horabot spam tool
Type: Trojan
Damage level: Severe

What kind of malware is Horabot?

Horabot is part of the campaign where threat actors infect machines with a banking Trojan and spam tool. This campaign primarily focuses on Spanish-speaking users in the Americas. Horabot enables attackers to manipulate Outlook mailboxes, extract email addresses, distribute phishing emails with harmful attachments, and acquire login credentials and security codes.

Horabot malware

More about Horabot

The malicious payloads used in this campaign are specifically crafted to steal sensitive information, avoid detection, and propagate further phishing emails to the contacts of the victims. The banking Trojan focuses on extracting critical data, including login credentials and security codes for financial transactions, while also logging keystrokes and manipulating the clipboard data of the victim's machine.

Horabot is a PowerShell-based botnet program specifically designed for Outlook phishing. It incorporates Visual Basic code that empowers threat actors to manipulate the victim's Outlook mailbox, extract email addresses from contacts, and distribute phishing emails with malicious HTML attachments to all recipients within the victim's mailbox.

The attackers aim to distribute the banking Trojan to obtain the victim's credentials and financial information. In addition, they deploy Horabot and a separate spam tool to further propagate the infection by sending phishing emails to all verified email addresses within the victim's mailbox. Cybercriminals employ this strategy to minimize the risk of their phishing infrastructure being traced.

Threat Summary:
Name Horabot spam tool
Threat Type Trojan, malicious spam tool
Detection Names Avast (Win32:Trojan-gen), Combo Cleaner (Trojan.GenericKD.67338119), ESET-NOD32 (Multiple Detections), Kaspersky (Trojan-Banker.Win32.Ponteiro.acu), Microsoft (Trojan:Win32/Casdet!rfn), Full List (VirusTotal)
Symptoms Malicious programs like Horabot are often 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, social engineering.
Damage Stolen sensitive information, identity theft, financial 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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Possible damage

Harabot can cause significant damage by compromising victims' Outlook mailboxes, extracting email addresses, and sending phishing emails with malicious attachments. This can result in the theft of sensitive information, such as login credentials and financial data, leading to potential financial loss, identity theft, unauthorized access to personal accounts, and other issues.

How did Horabot infiltrate my computer?

The infection process starts with a phishing email disguised as a tax-related message containing an HTML attachment posing as a payment receipt. Upon opening the HTML file, a series of URL redirections occur, ultimately leading the victim to an HTML page hosted on an AWS instance controlled by the attacker.

Upon clicking the hyperlink on the page, the victim downloads a RAR archive that includes a CMD batch file. Executing this file triggers the download of a PowerShell script from the C2 server, which retrieves trojan DLLs and a collection of genuine executables. These trojans are then executed to fetch the final payloads from another C2 server. These payloads consist of a PowerShell downloader script and the Horabot binary.

How to avoid installation of malware?

Be cautious while clicking on suspicious links or downloading files from untrusted sources (e.g., P2P networks, third-party downloaders, free file hosting pages, etc.). Download software from official pages. Regularly update your operating system, software, and antivirus programs to ensure you have the latest security patches.

Additionally, exercise caution when opening email attachments, especially from unknown or suspicious senders. 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 Horabot malware, should I format my storage device to get rid of it?

There are alternative methods to remove Horabot without formatting your device, such as using a trusted antivirus solution.

What are the biggest issues that malware can cause?

Some of the biggest issues include unauthorized access to sensitive information, such as personal and financial data, leading to identity theft or financial loss. Additionally, malware can disrupt system operations, encrypt data, cause system crashes, and other problems.

What is the purpose of Horabot?

The purpose of Horabot is to facilitate phishing attacks. It is designed to gain control over the victim's Outlook (or another) mailbox, extract email addresses from contacts, and send phishing emails with malicious HTML attachments to all addresses within the victim's mailbox.

How did Horabot infiltrate my computer?

Horabot infects computers through phishing emails with deceptive attachments, leading the victim through URL redirections to an attacker-controlled HTML page. From there, the malware is downloaded and executed, compromising the victim's system.

Will Combo Cleaner protect me from malware?

Indeed, Combo Cleaner has the ability to remove nearly all known malware. However, it is important to note that sophisticated malware often conceals itself deeply within the system, necessitating a comprehensive system scan to ensure thorough detection and 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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