Removing the Ghostly stealer-type malware

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

What kind of malware is Ghostly?

Discovered by Yogesh Londhe, Ghostly is a piece of malicious software classified as a stealer. As the classification implies, this malware extracts and exfiltrates vulnerable information from infected machines. Targeted data and how it is abused depends on the stealer's design and the attackers' modus operandi.

Ghostly malware detections on VirusTotal

Ghostly malware overview

Ghostly is an information-stealing malware. Programs within this class tend to be highly malleable, having multiple iterations with varying target lists and capabilities.

Most stealers can extract data from browsers, e.g., browsing histories, Internet cookies, log-in credentials (usernames/passwords), personally identifiable details, credit card numbers, etc.

Information can also be obtained from other apps, which differ based on the cyber criminals' goals. Targeted applications can include: FTP (File Transfer Protocol) clients, gaming and streaming related software, cryptocurrency wallets, VPNs (Virtual Private Networks), email clients, messengers, and so on.

Some stealers also have file grabber or keylogger functionalities, i.e., they can steal files or record keystrokes (keyboard input). Additionally, this malware may operate as spyware, e.g., acquire detailed geolocation data, record or live-stream desktops, take screenshots, record audio and video via microphones/cameras, etc. Clipper (cryptowallet address replacing) abilities are prevalent in stealers as well.

Malware developers commonly improve upon their software and methodologies. This, in addition to the versatility often present in stealers, makes it likely that potential future versions of Ghostly will have additional/different capabilities and features.

In summary, the presence of software like Ghostly on devices can lead to severe privacy issues, financial losses, and identity theft.

Threat Summary:
Name Ghostly malware
Threat Type Trojan, stealer, password-stealing virus, spyware.
Detection Names Avast (MacOS:ReverseShell-C [Trj]), Combo Cleaner (Heur.BZC.MNT.Boxter.1020.5E728D94), ESET-NOD32 (Python/PSW.Agent.AXX), Kaspersky (UDS:DangerousObject.Multi.Generic), Malwarebytes (Malware.AI.3982942871), 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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Stealer-type malware examples

We have investigated countless malware samples; Dracula, VacBanSamsSharpNova, and Planet are just some of our newest articles on stealers. Data-targeting malware can seek incredibly specific details or a wide variety of information. It is pertinent to mention that these abilities are common for other types of malware.

However, regardless of what (if any) data that malware collects or its other functionalities – the presence of malicious software on a system endangers device integrity and user safety. Therefore, all threats must be removed immediately upon detection.

How did Ghostly infiltrate my computer?

Exactly how Ghostly is proliferated is currently unknown. Generally, malware is spread using phishing and social engineering techniques. It is typically disguised as or bundled with genuine/ordinary content.

Virulent files come in various formats, e.g., executables (.exe, .run, etc.), archives (ZIP, RAR, etc.), documents (PDF, Microsoft Office, Microsoft OneNote, etc.), JavaScript, and so forth. Once a malicious file is executed, run, or otherwise opened – the infection process is initiated.

The most widespread distribution methods include: drive-by (stealthy/deceptive) downloads, online scams, untrustworthy download sources (e.g., unofficial and free file-hosting sites, P2P sharing networks, etc.), malicious attachments/links in spam (e.g., emails, DMs/PMs, SMSes, etc.), malvertising, illegal software activation tools ("cracks"), and fake updates.

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

How to avoid installation of malware?

It is essential to be vigilant while browsing since fake and dangerous online content typically appears legitimate and innocuous. Incoming emails and other messages must be treated with care. Attachments or links found in suspect/irrelevant mail must not be opened, as they can be infectious.

Furthermore, all downloads must be performed from official and verified sources. Another recommendation is to activate and update programs using genuine functions/tools, as those obtained from third-parties may contain malware.

We must stress the importance of having a reputable anti-virus installed and kept updated. This software must be used to run 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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Quick menu:

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

No, malware removal rarely requires such drastic measures.

What are the biggest issues that Ghostly malware can cause?

The dangers associated with an infection depend on the malware's functionalities and the attackers' modus operandi. Ghostly is a stealer – it is designed to obtain vulnerable information from infected systems. Hence, victims of this malware can experience serious privacy issues, financial losses, and identity theft.

What is the purpose of Ghostly malware?

Most malware infections are motivated by profit. However, malicious software can also be used to amuse the attackers, realize personal grudges, disrupt processes (e.g., sites, services, companies, etc.), engage in hacktivism, and launch politically/geopolitically motivated attacks.

How did Ghostly malware infiltrate my computer?

The most common malware distribution techniques include: drive-by downloads, spam emails/messages, online scams, malvertising, dubious download channels (e.g., freeware and free file-hosting websites, P2P sharing networks, etc.), illegal software activation tools ("cracks"), and fake updates. Some malicious programs can even self-spread via local networks and removable storage devices.

Will Combo Cleaner protect me from malware?

Yes, Combo Cleaner can scan systems and remove all types of threats. It is capable of detecting and eliminating most of the known malware infections. It must be emphasized that since sophisticated malicious programs typically hide deep within systems – performing a full 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.

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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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