How to eliminate Agent Racoon malware from the operating system

Also Known As: Agent Racoon virus
Type: Trojan
Damage level: Severe

What kind of malware is Agent Racoon?

Agent Racoon is a malicious program written using the .NET framework. It is classed as a backdoor; malware within this classification is designed to open a "backdoor" into targeted systems. These programs are typically used in the initial phases of multi-stage infections.

The first instances of Agent Racoon were discovered in July 2022; however, a C&C (Command and Control) domain associated with its infections was registered back in August 2020.

This backdoor, alongside other malware, has been observed being used in attacks leveraged against organizations based in the Middle East, Africa, and the United States. Agent Racoon, specifically, was utilized in infections targeting governmental entities and non-profit organizations. There is evidence suggesting that these attacks could have been carried out by a state-backed threat actor.

Agent Racoon malware detections on VirusTotal

Agent Racoon malware overview

As mentioned in the introduction, Agent Racoon is a backdoor, and its primary purpose is to prep the compromised system for further infection.

This malware creates a communication channel with its C&C server by leveraging the DNS (Domain Name System) protocol. Agent Racoon mainly operates through scheduled tasks and does not utilize any specific persistence-ensuring techniques. Although its use of communication loops when interacting with the C&C server could be an anti-detection tactic. This could also be used to diminish the chances of network jamming and activity spikes.

Agent Racoon is capable of executing commands. It can also upload and download files; the former may be used to infiltrate additional malicious content, while the latter – to exfiltrate data.

The known Agent Racoon attacks included Ntospy and Mimilite (a lighter, customized version of Mimikatz), both of which were employed in credential theft.

It is noteworthy that additional anti-detection measures were implemented in these infections, including the use of temporary folders and a tool to clear infection artifacts following each attack. Additionally, some of the malicious programs were disguised as Microsoft updates.

In the observed attacks, (involving credential-stealing malware) the exfiltrated data included roaming user profiles and emails from Microsoft Exchange clients.

It must be mentioned that since malware developers commonly improve upon their software and techniques, it is not unlikely that future iterations of Agent Racoon will have additional capabilities, and infections involving this program will use different methodologies.

In summary, the presence of software like Agent Racoon on devices can lead to multiple system infections, severe privacy issues, financial losses, and identity theft. Attacks leveraged against high-sensitivity targets (such as entities providing essential services) can carry threats of even greater significance.

Threat Summary:
Name Agent Racoon virus
Threat Type Trojan, backdoor.
Detection Names Avast (Win32:Malware-gen), Combo Cleaner (IL:Trojan.MSILMamut.5188), ESET-NOD32 (A Variant Of Generik.HNFVIHA), Kaspersky (HEUR:Trojan.MSIL.Denes.gen), Microsoft (Trojan:MSIL/Tnega!MTB), Full List Of Detections (VirusTotal)
Payload Ntospy, Mimilite (custom Mimikatz)
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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Backdoor-type malware examples

We have researched countless malware samples; StyleServSysUpdateMQsTTang, and WhiskerSpy are just a few backdoor types we have written about recently. Since malware within this category is usually employed in the initial stages of infection, the final attack and its goals can differ drastically.

The threats associated with any infection depend on the capabilities of the programs utilized and the cyber criminals' aims – hence, the nature of the attacks and the dangers are not static. Regardless, it is essential to eliminate all threats immediately upon detection, as the presence of this software on a system endangers device integrity and user safety.

How did Agent Racoon infiltrate my computer?

It is currently unknown how Agent Racoon is proliferated. Generally, malware attacks involve phishing and social engineering. Malicious software can be disguised as or bundled with regular program/media files. They come in various formats, e.g., archives (ZIP, RAR, etc.), executables (.exe, .run, etc.), documents (PDF, Microsoft Office, Microsoft OneNote, etc.), JavaScript, and so on. Once a virulent file is opened – the infection chain is initiated.

Common malware distribution techniques include: drive-by (stealthy/deceptive) downloads, malicious attachments or links in spam emails/messages, dubious download channels (e.g., unofficial and free file-hosting websites, Peer-to-Peer sharing networks, etc.), illegal software activation tools ("cracks"), fake updaters, online scams, and malvertising.

Some malicious programs can even self-spread through local networks and removable storage devices (e.g., USB flash drives, external hard drives, etc.).

How to avoid installation of malware?

We highly recommend downloading only from official and verified sources. All programs must be activated and updated using legitimate functions/tools, as those acquired from third-parties may contain malware.

It is essential to be vigilant while browsing since fraudulent and malicious online content usually appears genuine and harmless. We advise against opening attachments or links found in suspicious/irrelevant mail, as they can be infectious.

It is crucial for device/user safety to have a dependable 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 Agent Racoon malware, should I format my storage device to get rid of it?

Malware removal rarely requires formatting.

What are the biggest issues that Agent Racoon malware can cause?

What threats an infection poses depends on the malware's capabilities and the attackers' modus operandi. Agent Racoon is a backdoor – a type of malware that opens a "backdoor" into systems to further the infection. It has been observed being used in attacks involving two credential-stealing programs.

These kinds of infections are most likely to lead to severe privacy issues, financial losses, and identity theft. The dangers can be greater if the attacked entity is particularly sensitive (e.g., organizations providing essential services, etc.).

What is the purpose of Agent Racoon malware?

Malware is most commonly used to generate revenue. However, cyber criminals can also utilize this software to amuse themselves, carry out personal vendettas, disrupt processes (e.g., websites, services, companies, etc.), engage in hacktivism, and launch politically/geopolitically motivated attacks.

It is pertinent to mention that known Agent Racoon attacks have had a geopolitical twist to them, enough so as to suggest that a state-sponsored threat actor might have propagated them.

How did Agent Racoon malware infiltrate my computer?

Malware is primarily spread via spam mail, drive-by downloads, online scams, malvertising, untrustworthy download sources (e.g., freeware and third-party sites, P2P sharing networks, etc.), illegal software activation ("cracking") tools, and fake updates. Furthermore, some malicious programs can self-proliferate through local networks and removable storage devices.

Will Combo Cleaner protect me from malware?

Yes, Combo Cleaner is designed to detect and remove all manner of threats. It is capable of eliminating practically all known malware infections. Note that since sophisticated malicious programs usually hide deep within systems – performing a complete system scan is paramount.

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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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