Posted: January 21, 2015
Threat Metric
Threat Level: 8/10
Infected PCs 590

Chthonic Description

Chthonic is an updated variant of the Zeus banking Trojan, with a modified module-loading function while keeping Zeus's central features for targeting and collecting its victims' financial information. Your PC may be infected by Chthonic after you've opened a corrupted e-mail attachment, or after your PC has been compromised by another Trojan previously, such as Andromeda. Memory injection, multiple encryption methods, and other defenses can protect Chthonic from casual identification. You should use updated anti-malware solutions for deleting Chthonic immediately, ideally preventing any unnecessary loss of sensitive data from your PC.

Chthonic: the Underworld's New Thief

Chthonic is a module-based threat that loads separate attack-related functions, primarily associated with gathering account information, onto a variety of customizable modules. The 'http' module is Chthonic most noteworthy component, and allows Chthonic to monitor your browser and inject threatening content according to which Web page is being visited. Prior attacks by Chthonic Trojans have used this functionality to supplant bank Web pages with copycat pages that capture any entered information, as well as to hide Web security alerts or even conduct independent bank transactions. Typically, these attacks are customized to particular banking institutions, and, in less than a year, Chthonic already has targeted over one hundred and fifty separate banks.

Malware analysts also find the following attacks from Chthonic worthy of mention, although these attacks don't necessarily supersede nigh-identical features already implemented in old versions of Zeus:

  • Chthonic's 'klog' module is a keylogger that may record any typed information to a separate log file. A previously established backdoor vulnerability may allow Chthonic to upload this log to a third-party C&C server.
  • Chthonic's 'info' module may collect miscellaneous system information thatthird parties may use in further attacks, and includes compatibility with 64-bit systems.
  • The 'pony' module may target and capture passwords that your PC may save in common locations, such as passwords previously stored by your browser.
  • The 'vnc' module may be considered an extension of Chthonic's backdoor vulnerability, in that it may allow third parties to use the backdoor to take remote control over your computer.
  • The self-descriptive 'cam_recorder' module also may capture visual data through your PC's webcam.

Many of these functions also are in previous builds of Zeus. However, Chthonic sets itself apart from Zeus by its use of structural differences suggestive of ties with the Andromeda botnet and an ongoing campaign targeting victims in over a dozen countries throughout the world. While malware analysts have verified North Americans and Western Europeans as being at the greatest risk for these attacks, other regions, such as Japan and Russia, also have been victimized.

Bringing Illumination to a Banking Trojan Campaign

Chthonic's name is a reference to subterranean themes, and, no different from the underworld, Chthonic does its best to obscure its presence from any would-be onlookers. Chthonic conceals its primary code inside of a default Windows process 'msiexec.exe' (a .msi package installer) so that any victims will not see an overt, independent file or memory process. Its Web injection attacks also are designed to imitate the regular contents of a banking website, although it may request additional information or make other changes that should alert attentive PC users to the security issue. Many of the targeted banks also have taken site administrative precautions to prevent Chthonic's current modules from subverting their online transactions, although Chthonic may receive future updates to render these security fixes irrelevant.

When another threat, such as Andromeda, isn't responsible for installing Chthonic, it most often is installed through e-mail-based attacks. Malware analysts saw previous attacks for installing Chthonic that abused fake .doc files with embedded .rtf vulnerabilities, thus enabling a Trojan downloader that loaded Chthonic. This delivery method provides one of the many reasons for PC users to view unexpected file attachments with suspicion, distrust file names provided from dubious sources and, of course, update their anti-malware security. Due to Chthonic's multifaceted defenses and relationships with other Trojans, casual PC users never should attempt to remove Chthonic by hand.


Win32/Trojan.Ransom.6edGeneric_r.EGD [AVG]W32/Foreign.CNVK!tr [Fortinet]Trojan-Ransom.Win32.Foreign [Ikarus]Win32.Trojan.Foreign.Suxva variant of Win32/Kryptik.CNVKTrojan.Win32.Banker.azvTrojan/Win32.Generic [AhnLab-V3]Trojan:Win32/Dynamer!ac [Microsoft]Trojan[Ransom]/Win32.Foreign [Antiy-AVL]TR/Ransom.Foreign.lezlW32/Ransom.QECV-3703Troj/Wonton-FZ [Sophos] [McAfee-GW-Edition]Win32.Malware!Drop
More aliases (31)

Use SpyHunter to Detect and Remove PC Threats

If you are concerned that malware or PC threats similar to Chthonic may have infected your computer, we recommend you start an in-depth system scan with SpyHunter. SpyHunter is an advanced malware protection and remediation application that offers subscribers a comprehensive method for protecting PCs from malware, in addition to providing one-on-one technical support service.

Download SpyHunter's Malware Scanner

Note: SpyHunter's free version is only for malware detection. If SpyHunter detects malware on your PC, you will need to purchase SpyHunter's malware tool to remove the malware threats. Learn more on SpyHunter. If you would like to uninstall SpyHunter for any reason, please follow these uninstall instructions. To learn more about our policies and practices, visit our EULA, Privacy Policy and Threat Assessment Criteria.

Why can't I open any program including SpyHunter? You may have a malware file running in memory that kills any programs that you try to launch on your PC. Tip: Download SpyHunter from a clean computer, copy it to a USB thumb drive, DVD or CD, then install it on the infected PC and run SpyHunter's malware scanner.

Technical Details

File System Modifications

Tutorials: If you wish to learn how to remove malware components manually, you can read the tutorials on how to find malware, kill unwanted processes, remove malicious DLLs and delete other harmful files. Always be sure to back up your PC before making any changes.

The following files were created in the system:

file.exe File name: file.exe
Size: 126.97 KB (126976 bytes)
MD5: 742bd02d5f54998220660d74b301cc2f
Detection count: 71
File type: Executable File
Mime Type: unknown/exe
Group: Malware file
Last Updated: May 8, 2017
%ALLUSERSPROFILE%msalq.exe File name: msalq.exe
Size: 124.41 KB (124416 bytes)
MD5: 5a1b8c82479d003aa37dd7b1dd877493
Detection count: 23
File type: Executable File
Mime Type: unknown/exe
Group: Malware file
Last Updated: January 22, 2015
%SYSTEMDRIVE%\Users\user\AppData\Roaming\GoogleService\GoogleServicestart.exe\GoogleServicestart.exe File name: GoogleServicestart.exe
Size: 562.68 KB (562688 bytes)
MD5: 7f2857eebf222975a296db14ec9d3565
Detection count: 5
File type: Executable File
Mime Type: unknown/exe
Path: %SYSTEMDRIVE%\Users\user\AppData\Roaming\GoogleService\GoogleServicestart.exe\
Group: Malware file
Last Updated: June 26, 2020

More files

Registry Modifications

The following newly produced Registry Values are:

Regexp file mask%ALLUSERSPROFILE%\Intel\wIntel.exe%ALLUSERSPROFILE%\Windows Portable Devices\WindowsPortableDevicesw.exe

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