How to eliminate NightClub malware from the operating system

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

What kind of malware is NightClub?

NightClub is the name of a malware that has spyware and data-stealing capabilities. This program has at least four versions, with the earliest variant dating back to 2014.

NightClub malware is used by a threat actor dubbed MoustachedBouncer. This group has been around for nearly a decade and almost exclusively targets foreign embassies in Belarus. Known attacks include the embassies of four countries; two located in Europe and one each in Africa and South Asia. Aside from NightClub, this threat actor uses another toolset referred to as Disco.

NightClub malware detections on VirusTotal

NightClub malware overview

The base version of NightClub has two primary capabilities – monitoring files and exfiltrating data. This malware sends out stolen content to its C&C (Command and Control) server via email. Older versions were limited to downloading Microsoft Word (.doc, .docx), Microsoft Excel (.xls, .xslx), and PDF (.pdf) documents.

However, versions from 2016 onward have the ability to retrieve additional malicious modules from its C&C server. While, theoretically, malware that can infiltrate extra content into infected devices could cause just about any kind of infection – in practice, this software tends to operate within certain limitations.

NightClub attacks launched since 2020 download a backdoor module and ones for keylogging (i.e., logging keystrokes/ typed data), taking screenshots, and recording audio via integrated/attached microphones.

The backdoor module can execute various commands, including (but not limited to): creating processes; copying and moving directories; reading, moving, and removing files.

It must be mentioned that malware developers commonly improve upon their software and methodologies. What is more, NightClub's activities are connected to political/geopolitical attacks. These factors make it likely that potential future NightClub campaigns will boast different/additional functionalities or features.

To summarize, the presence of malicious software like NightClub on devices can result in severe privacy issues, financial losses, and identity theft. Malware leveraged against highly sensitive targets carries threats of even greater significance.

Threat Summary:
Name NightClub virus
Threat Type Trojan, data-stealing malware, spyware.
Detection Names Avast (Win32:Malware-gen), Combo Cleaner (Dropped:Trojan.GenericKD.68628795), ESET-NOD32 (Win32/Nightclub.C), Kaspersky (HEUR:Trojan-Dropper.Win32.Agent.gen), Microsoft (Trojan:Win32/Malgent!MSR), 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; Jorik trojanXWorm RATWikiLoader, RATRUN stealer, and Fruity trojan are but a few examples of our newest articles on this topic.

Malicious software can be highly versatile, i.e., it can have a wide variety of functionalities that can be in different combinations. However, regardless of how malware operates – its presence on a system endangers device integrity and user safety. Therefore, it is paramount to eliminate all threats immediately upon detection.

How did NightClub infiltrate my computer?

Currently, the techniques used to distribute NightClub are unknown. Generally, malware is proliferated by utilizing phishing and social engineering techniques tactics.

Malicious programs are typically disguised as or bundled with ordinary software/media files. They can be in various formats, e.g., archives (ZIP, RAR, etc.), executables (.exe, .run, etc.), documents (PDF, Microsoft Office, Microsoft OneNote, etc.), JavaScript, and so on.

The most widely used distribution methods include: drive-by (stealthy/deceptive) downloads, malicious attachments and links in spam emails/messages, dubious download channels (e.g., freeware and free file-hosting websites, P2P sharing networks, etc.), online scams, malvertising, illegal software activation ("cracking") tools, and fake updates.

Furthermore, malicious programs can self-proliferate via local networks and removable storage devices (e.g., external hard drives, USB flash drives, etc.).

How to avoid installation of malware?

We strongly recommend caution with incoming emails and other messages. Attachments or links found in suspicious/irrelevant mail must not be opened, as they can be malicious. Vigilance must be extended to browsing since fraudulent and dangerous online content usually appears legitimate and innocuous.

We advise downloading only from official and verified sources. Additionally, all programs must be activated and updated by using genuine functions/tools, as those acquired from third-parties may contain malware.

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

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

In most cases, malware removal does not necessitate formatting.

What are the biggest issues that NightClub malware can cause?

The threats associated with an infection depend on the malicious program's functionalities and the cyber criminals' modus operandi. NightClub has spyware and data-stealing capabilities. This software is associated with attacks launched against foreign embassies in Belarus.

What is the purpose of NightClub malware?

As indicated in the previous answer, NightClub is linked to a threat actor with political/geopolitical motivations. Generally, the most common reason behind malware attacks is profit. However, cyber criminals can also use malicious software to amuse themselves, carry out personal vendettas, and disrupt processes (e.g., websites, services, companies, etc.).

How did NightClub malware infiltrate my computer?

Malware is predominantly proliferated via drive-by downloads, online scams, spam mail, untrustworthy download channels (e.g., freeware and third-party sites, P2P sharing networks, etc.), illegal program activation tools ("cracks"), fake updaters, and malvertising. Some malicious programs can even self-spread through local networks and removable storage devices.

Will Combo Cleaner protect me from malware?

Yes, Combo Cleaner is designed to detect and eliminate all manner of threats. It can remove practically all known malware infections. Note that since sophisticated malicious software typically hides deep within systems – performing a complete system scan is crucial.

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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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