TSPY_MAHA.F

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TypeSpyware

In the wild: No

Destructive: No

Language: English

Systems affected: Windows 98, ME, NT, 2000, XP, Server 2003

Encrypted: No

Overall risk rating:

Low

Reported detections:

Low

System  impact:

High

Information exposure:

High

Infection Channel 1 Spammed via email

 

Description:

To get a one-glance comprehensive view of the behavior of this spyware, refer to the Behavior Diagram shown below.

TSPY_MAHA.F Behavior Diagram

Spyware Overview

This spyware may arrive on a system as an attachment to spammed email messages.

Upon execution, it drops a copy of itself and its DLL component in the Windows folder. The said .DLL file, which is also detected by Trend Micro as TSPY_MAHA.F, is injected into several running processes found on the affected system.

This spyware disables the Windows Firewall and Windows Firewall notification by creating certain registry entries.

It monitors all user activities on the affected system. It also monitors running applications and logs keystrokes.

Furthermore, it steals information such as user names, passwords, account numbers, and installation information related several applications found on the system.

The gathered information is posted to a certain link where a malicious user can retrieve it. This routine risks the exposure of the user's account information, which may then lead to the unauthorized use of the stolen data.

Description created:  Jun 2, 2007



TECHNICAL DETAILS



Initial samples received on:  Feb 26, 2007

File type: PE

Memory resident: Yes  

File size: 631,808 Bytes

Payload 1Disables services

Details:

Autostart and Installation

This spyware may arrive on a system as an attachment to spammed email messages.

Upon execution, it drops a copy of itself as ALERTER.EXE and its DLL component as SQLSERVER.DLL in the Windows folder. The said .DLL file, which is also detected by Trend Micro as TSPY_MAHA.F, is injected into several running processes found on the affected system.

It creates the following registry entry to ensure its automatic execution at every system start up:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\
Windows\CurrentVersion\Run
Alerter = "%Windows%\alerter.exe"

(Note: %Windows% is the Windows folder, which is usually C:\Windows or C:\WINNT.)

Other System Modifications

This spyware disables the Windows Firewall and Windows Firewall notification by creating the following registry entries:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\
SharedAccess\Parameters\FirewallPolicy\StandardProfile
DisableNotifications = "1"
EnableFirewall = "0"

Information Theft

This spyware monitors all user activities on the affected system. It also monitors running applications and logs keystrokes.

Furthermore, it steals information such as user names, passwords, account numbers, and installation information related to the following applications found on the system:

  • Mirabilis ICQ
  • Mozilla Firefox
  • Opera
  • Paltalk Messenger
  • Yahoo! Messenger

The gathered information is posted to a certain link where a malicious user can retrieve it. This routine risks the exposure of the user's account information, which may then lead to the unauthorized use of the stolen data.

Platforms Affected

This spyware runs on Windows 98, ME, NT, 2000, XP, and Server 2003.


Analysis by:  Ricardo O. Pineda Jr.



SOLUTION


Minimum scan engine version needed: 8.000

Download the latest scan engine

Virus pattern version needed : 4.507.00

Pattern release date:  Jun 3, 2007


Important note: The "Minimum scan engine" refers to the earliest Trend Micro scan engine version guaranteed to detect this threat. However, Trend Micro strongly recommends that you update to the latest version in order to get comprehensive protection. Download the latest scan engine here.

Solution:

Important Windows ME/XP Cleaning Instructions

Users running Windows ME and XP must disable System Restore to allow full scanning of infected computers.

Users running other Windows versions can proceed with the succeeding solution set(s).

Restarting in Safe Mode

This spyware has characteristics that require the computer to be restarted in safe mode. Go to this page for instructions on how to restart your computer in safe mode.

Editing the Registry

This spyware modifies the computer's registry. Users affected by this spyware may need to modify or delete specific registry keys or entries. For detailed information regarding registry editing, please refer to the following articles from Microsoft:

  1. HOW TO: Backup, Edit, and Restore the Registry in Windows 95, Windows 98, and Windows ME
  2. HOW TO: Backup, Edit, and Restore the Registry in Windows NT 4.0
  3. HOW TO: Backup, Edit, and Restore the Registry in Windows 2000
  4. HOW TO: Back Up, Edit, and Restore the Registry in Windows XP and Server 2003

Removing Autostart Entry from the Registry

Removing autostart entry from the registry prevents the spyware from executing at startup.

If the registry entry below is not found, the spyware may not have executed as of detection. If so, proceed to the succeeding solution set.

  1. Open Registry Editor. Click Start>Run, type REGEDIT, then press Enter.
  2. In the left panel, double-click the following:
    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE>SOFTWARE>Microsoft>
    Windows>CurrentVersion>Run
  3. In the right panel, locate and delete the entry:
    Alerter = "%Windows%\alerter.exe"
    (Note: %Windows% is the default Windows folder, usually C:\Windows or C:\WINNT.)

Removing Added Registry Entries

  1. Still in Registry Editor, in the left panel, double-click the following:
    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE>SYSTEM>CurrentControlSet>Services>
    SharedAccess>Parameters> FirewallPolicy>StandardProfile
  2. In the right panel, locate and delete the following entries:
    • DisableNotifications = "1"
    • EnableFirewall = "0"
  3. Close Registry Editor.

Running Trend Micro Antivirus

If you are currently running in safe mode, please restart your computer normally before performing the following solution.

Scan your computer with Trend Micro antivirus and delete files detected as TSPY_MAHA.F. To do this, Trend Micro customers must download the latest virus pattern file and scan their computer. Other Internet users can use HouseCall, the Trend Micro online virus scanner.