SPICA Backdoor Malware Removal

What is Spica Malware?
Written by Brendan Smith

SPICA is a backdoor-type malware that ingeniously infiltrates systems primarily through phishing and social engineering tactics. Developed by the Coldriver cybercrime group, it’s known for disguising itself in seemingly innocent documents, only to reveal its encrypted nature.

Victims are then tricked into downloading a fake decryption tool, which is Spica. This malware stands out for its stealthy spread methods and its ability to open backdoors for further infection.

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SPICA Backdoor Overview

Spica is a backdoor developed using the Rust programming language. This kind of software stealthily creates a “backdoor” in targeted systems to facilitate further infections. Since September 2023, Spica has been actively deployed, though evidence indicates its existence as early as November 2022. Notably, it is the first custom-built malware attributed to the Coldriver group, also known under aliases such as Callisto, Star Blizzard, and UNC4057.

Aligned with Russian governmental interests, Coldriver has been operational for many years, primarily engaging in phishing-based espionage. The group strategically targets significant individuals, including former Western intelligence and military officials, and those connected with NATO, the Ukrainian government and military, academia, and various Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs). While previously focusing solely on credential phishing, COLDRIVER has recently expanded its operations to include the distribution of malware like Spica.

Spica Malware on VirusTotal screenshot

Spica Malware on VirusTotal

NameSPICA Backdoor
DetectionTrojan:Win64/GoldTrigger!dha (Microsoft)
Threat TypeTrojan, backdoor malware
DamageStolen passwords and banking information, identity theft, the victim’s computer added to a botnet.
Similar BehavitorAgent Racoon, Kazuar
Fix ToolSee If Your System Has Been Affected by Spica Virus

Technical Analysis

Spica is adept at creating a backdoor access to infiltrate systems. Once inside, it connects to its Command and Control (C&C) server, ensuring its persistence. Its capabilities extend to receiving and executing commands from the C&C server. Key functionalities of this malware include executing Shell commands and managing files – it can search, exfiltrate (download), and infiltrate (upload) files. This capability allows the malware not just to steal data but also to inject and execute files, potentially leading to further infections by downloading and installing additional malicious programs.

A particularly alarming feature of Spica is its ability to extract internet cookies from popular browsers like Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Edge, and Opera. The impact of that backdoor on infected devices is profound, leading to multiple system infections, severe privacy breaches, financial losses, and even identity theft. The threat escalates when used against targets of high sensitivity, underlining the critical need for robust cybersecurity measures against such sophisticated malware.

Spreading Methods

Spica infiltrated your computer using tactics consistent with those of the COLDRIVER threat group, renowned for credential phishing. The cybercriminals initially establish contact with their targets, often individuals associated with government, military, NATO, or NGOs, posing as experts in related fields. These impersonators craft a facade of legitimacy and gradually build trust through communication. Once they have gained enough trust, they send links or files under various pretenses, such as seeking feedback or opinions on articles and op-eds.

Initially, COLDRIVER employed these strategies solely for phishing, aiming to steal login credentials or sensitive information. However, they have now adapted these methods for distributing malware, including the Spica backdoor. The typical approach involves sending seemingly innocuous PDF documents, which appear encrypted upon opening. When victims inquire about this, the attackers direct them to a supposed decryption tool, often named something like “Proton-decrypter.exe,” usually hosted on a cloud storage site. This fake decrypter is Spica in disguise, simultaneously displaying a decoy document to maintain the illusion of decrypting the fraudulent PDF.

It’s important to note that Spica might also be spread using other methods. Phishing and social engineering are common in malware distribution, with malicious software often hidden in or bundled with regular content. Infectious files can be archives, executables, documents, JavaScript, etc. Standard proliferation methods include malicious attachments or links in spam (emails, private messages, SMS, social media posts), stealthy or deceptive drive-by downloads, online scams, unreliable download sources (such as freeware, file-hosting websites, P2P networks), pirated media, illegal software activation tools (“cracks”), fake updates, and malvertising. Additionally, some malware can self-propagate through local networks and removable storage devices like external hard drives and USB flash drives.

How To Remove Malware

While removing malware manually is technically possible, I advise against it. Malware like Spica is designed to gain persistence by creating multiple copies of itself, making it highly challenging to track down every component. Consequently, manual removal can be time-consuming and often ineffective.

The most efficient way to eradicate malware from your device is by using a dedicated anti-malware tool. For this purpose, I recommend GridinSoft Anti-Malware. It’s fast, lightweight, and highly effective at neutralizing threats, including Spica. You can evaluate its capabilities during a 6-day free trial. For detailed steps on removing Spica, refer to the comprehensive guide I’ve prepared below.

Remove Spica with Gridinsoft Anti-Malware

We have also been using this software on our systems ever since, and it has always been successful in detecting viruses. It has blocked the most common Bakdooc as shown from our tests with the software, and we assure you that it can remove Spica as well as other malware hiding on your computer.

Gridinsoft Anti-Malware - Main Screen

To use Gridinsoft for remove malicious threats, follow the steps below:

1. Begin by downloading Gridinsoft Anti-Malware, accessible via the blue button below or directly from the official website gridinsoft.com.

2.Once the Gridinsoft setup file (setup-gridinsoft-fix.exe) is downloaded, execute it by clicking on the file.

setup-gridinsoft-fix.exe

3.Follow the installation setup wizard's instructions diligently.

Gridinsoft Setup Wizard

4. Access the "Scan Tab" on the application's start screen and launch a comprehensive "Full Scan" to examine your entire computer. This inclusive scan encompasses the memory, startup items, the registry, services, drivers, and all files, ensuring that it detects malware hidden in all possible locations.

Scan for Spica Bakdooc

Be patient, as the scan duration depends on the number of files and your computer's hardware capabilities. Use this time to relax or attend to other tasks.

5. Upon completion, Anti-Malware will present a detailed report containing all the detected malicious items and threats on your PC.

The Spica was Found

6. Select all the identified items from the report and confidently click the "Clean Now" button. This action will safely remove the malicious files from your computer, transferring them to the secure quarantine zone of the anti-malware program to prevent any further harmful actions.

The Spica has been removed

8. If prompted, restart your computer to finalize the full system scan procedure. This step is crucial to ensure thorough removal of any remaining threats. After the restart, Gridinsoft Anti-Malware will open and display a message confirming the completion of the scan.

Remember Gridinsoft offers a 6-day free trial. This means you can take advantage of the trial period at no cost to experience the full benefits of the software and prevent any future malware infections on your system. Embrace this opportunity to fortify your computer's security without any financial commitment.

Trojan Killer for “Spica” removal on locked PC

In situations where it becomes impossible to download antivirus applications directly onto the infected computer due to malware blocking access to websites, an alternative solution is to utilize the Trojan Killer application.

Trojan Killer - Main View

There is a really little number of security tools that are able to be set up on the USB drives, and antiviruses that can do so in most cases require to obtain quite an expensive license. For this instance, I can recommend you to use another solution of GridinSoft - Trojan Killer Portable. It has a 14-days cost-free trial mode that offers the entire features of the paid version. This term will definitely be 100% enough to wipe malware out.

Trojan Killer is a valuable tool in your cybersecurity arsenal, helping you to effectively remove malware from infected computers. Now, we will walk you through the process of using Trojan Killer from a USB flash drive to scan and remove malware on an infected PC. Remember, always obtain permission to scan and remove malware from a computer that you do not own.

Step 1: Download & Install Trojan Killer on a Clean Computer:

1. Go to the official GridinSoft website (gridinsoft.com) and download Trojan Killer to a computer that is not infected.

Download Trojan Killer

2. Insert a USB flash drive into this computer.

3. Install Trojan Killer to the "removable drive" following the on-screen instructions.

Install Trojan Killer to Removable Drive

4. Once the installation is complete, launch Trojan Killer.

Step 2: Update Signature Databases:

5. After launching Trojan Killer, ensure that your computer is connected to the Internet.

6. Click "Update" icon to download the latest signature databases, which will ensure the tool can detect the most recent threats.

Click Update Button

Step 3: Scan the Infected PC:

7. Safely eject the USB flash drive from the clean computer.

8. Boot the infected computer to the Safe Mode.

9. Insert the USB flash drive.

10. Run tk.exe

11. Once the program is open, click on "Full Scan" to begin the malware scanning process.

Searching Spica Virus

Step 4: Remove Found Threats:

12. After the scan is complete, Trojan Killer will display a list of detected threats.

Searching Spica Finished

13. Click on "Cure PC!" to remove the identified malware from the infected PC.

14. Follow any additional on-screen prompts to complete the removal process.

Restart needed

Step 5: Restart Your Computer:

15. Once the threats are removed, click on "Restart PC" to reboot your computer.

16. Remove the USB flash drive from the infected computer.

Congratulations on effectively removing Spica and the concealed threats from your computer! You can now have peace of mind, knowing that they won't resurface again. Thanks to Gridinsoft's capabilities and commitment to cybersecurity, your system is now protected.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

My computer is infected with Spica malware, should I format my storage device to get rid of it?

Reformatting your storage device should only be considered as a last resort for removing Spica malware. Before taking such drastic action, it is advisable to perform a comprehensive scan using trustworthy antivirus or anti-malware software.

What are the biggest issues that malware can cause?

Malware poses a significant risk to the security and privacy of sensitive information, potentially leading to identity theft, financial loss, and unauthorized access to personal accounts. Furthermore, it can disrupt the normal operation of a system, causing performance issues, system crashes, and data corruption.

What is the purpose of Spica?

The purpose of Spica is to enable remote access and control of compromised devices. It allows threat actors to perform various malicious activities, such as unauthorized access, data theft, system manipulation, and disabling security measures, potentially causing significant harm to individuals and organizations.

Will Gridinsoft Anti-Malware protect me from malware?

Gridinsoft Anti-Malware can identify and eliminate most malware infections. Nevertheless, it is crucial to recognize that sophisticated malware can remain hidden deep within the system. Consequently, conducting a complete system scan is imperative to detect and eradicate malware.
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About the author

Brendan Smith

I'm Brendan Smith, a passionate journalist, researcher, and web content developer. With a keen interest in computer technology and security, I specialize in delivering high-quality content that educates and empowers readers in navigating the digital landscape.

With a focus on computer technology and security, I am committed to sharing my knowledge and insights to help individuals and organizations protect themselves in the digital age. My expertise in cybersecurity principles, data privacy, and best practices allows me to provide practical tips and advice that readers can implement to enhance their online security.

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