How to remove Sponsor backdoor from the operating system

Also Known As: Sponsor malware
Type: Trojan
Damage level: Severe

What kind of malware is Sponsor?

Sponsor is a malware variant that operates as a backdoor. It has been identified in cyberattacks directed at various sectors, including healthcare, manufacturing, retail, insurance, communications, and telecommunications companies, among others. Sponsor backdoor is coded using the C++ programming language.

Sponsor backdoor malware

More about Sponsor

Once active on a system, Sponsor malware collects various details about the host and sends this information to a central server known as the C&C server. In return, it receives a unique node ID, which it stores in a file named "node.txt". The information it gathers includes the host's name, time zone, language settings, hardware details like motherboard and processor information, and software specifics such as the operating system version and installation type.

Sponsor is a type of malware that does various things when given certain commands by its operator. It can provide its process ID to the operator, execute specified commands on the infected host and send back the results, receive and execute files sent by the operator, and download and execute files from the internet.

Furthermore, Sponsor can run a script to uninstall the malware, go to sleep for a while before checking in with the operator, and change the check-in interval for communication with the operator.

With Sponsor, cybercriminals may steal sensitive data, including personal information, financial details, and login credentials, leading to identity theft, financial losses, and privacy breaches. Also, cybercriminals may gain full control over infected systems, enabling them to execute malicious commands, download additional malware, and potentially compromise the entire network.

Sponsor can be used to carry out financial fraud, potentially resulting in monetary losses for victims, especially if attackers target online banking or cryptocurrency accounts. Furthermore, this malware can disrupt the normal operation of the infected computer, leading to system crashes, slow performance, and rendering the device unusable.

Threat Summary:
Name Sponsor malware
Threat Type Backdoor
Detection Names Avast (Win32:MalwareX-gen [Trj]), Combo Cleaner (Gen:Variant.Fragtor.89320), ESET-NOD32 (Win32/Agent.UXG), Kaspersky (HEUR:Trojan.Win32.Agentb.gen), Microsoft (Trojan:Win32/BDPlusSrvc.B!dha), Full List (VirusTotal)
Symptoms Backdoor malware typically is 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 Vulnerability in Miccrosoft Exchange servers. Other possible channels include infected email attachments, malicious online advertisements, social engineering, and software 'cracks'.
Damage Stolen passwords and banking information, identity theft, the victim's computer added to a botnet, additional infections, monetary loss, data encryption, 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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In conclusion, the Sponsor backdoor represents a potent and versatile threat in the realm of cyberattacks. Its multifaceted capabilities, from data theft to system disruption, underscore the sophistication of modern malware. Detecting and mitigating the Sponsor backdoor requires vigilant cybersecurity measures and a proactive stance to safeguard against the potential damage it can inflict on individuals and organizations alike.

How did Sponsor infiltrate my computer?

Sponsor malware is distributed by exploiting a known vulnerability in Microsoft Exchange servers. This vulnerability is a well-documented security flaw, and cybercriminals have exploited it as a means of initial access. Once the vulnerability is exploited successfully, they gain a foothold on the compromised systems, allowing them to introduce and activate the Sponsor backdoor.

Some additional examples of potential infection vectors include phishing emails with malicious attachments or links, malicious ads, drive-by downloads from compromised websites, or the delivery of infected files through social engineering tactics. These tactics can exploit human vulnerabilities, tricking users into unknowingly installing the malware on their systems.

Pirated software, cracking tools, key generators, and similar tools are also used to trick users into infecting computers with malware.

How to avoid installation of malware?

Consistently keep your operating system and installed applications up-to-date to address known vulnerabilities that malicious actors could target. Utilize trusted antivirus and anti-malware tools to identify and prevent potential threats. Exercise caution when handling email attachments or links, particularly when the sender is unfamiliar, or the content appears dubious.

Avoid accessing dubious or untrustworthy websites and rely on established sources like official websites and authorized stores for downloading content. Steer clear of downloading cracked or pirated software. Avoid interacting with pop-ups and advertisements on questionable websites.

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

If your device has Sponsor malware, formatting is a powerful yet last-resort method to remove it. Be cautious, though, as formatting erases all data, including your OS and files. Before considering formatting, use reputable security software like Combo Cleaner for malware removal.

What are the biggest issues that malware can cause?

The impact of malware varies depending on its type, potentially resulting in identity theft, financial losses, reduced computer performance, or the risk of additional infections.

What is the purpose of Sponsor malware?

The primary purpose of the Sponsor backdoor malware is to provide cybercriminals with unauthorized access and control over compromised computer systems. Once installed, Sponsor allows attackers to execute a variety of malicious actions, including data theft, remote commands, downloading and executing files, and maintaining persistence on infected systems.

How did Sponsor malware infiltrate my computer?

While the exploitation of CVE-2021-26855 in Microsoft Exchange servers is a prominent infection vector for Sponsor malware, cybercriminals may employ various other methods to infiltrate systems. Some potential infection vectors include phishing emails with malicious attachments or links, drive-by downloads from compromised websites, or the delivery of infected files through social engineering tactics.

Will Combo Cleaner protect me from malware?

The Combo Cleaner app effectively detects and eradicates nearly all known malware infections. It is important to remember that sophisticated malware often conceals itself deep within the system, necessitating a comprehensive system scan for thorough 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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