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What is Redline Stealer, and how does it work?

A relatively new type of malware, RedLine Stealer has security enthusiasts on their toes. It’s evasive and hard to detect by various security tools. It’s also easily accessible for threat actors to purchase, making it malware to be aware of. Let’s look into what threats RedLine Stealer brings, how it works, and the best ways to avoid it.

What is Redline Stealer, and how does it work?

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

What is RedLine Stealer?

RedLine Stealer is a malicious information-stealing software that uses a customizable file-grabber to collect victims’ sensitive data from web browsers, applications, emailing and messaging apps, and cryptocurrency wallets. This malware can gather detailed information about the infected device, such as its programs, antivirus products, and running processes, and proceed to elaborate ransomware attacks.

In essence, RedLine Stealer works as a remote access trojan that exfiltrates data and transfers sensitive user information to hackers who sell it on dark web forums afterward. Threat actors can make use of RedLine Stealer relatively easily because it works on a malware-as-a-service (MaaS) model: Cybercriminals can purchase it from hacker forums. The fairly low cost and efficiency of the RedLine infostealer make it one of the most popular current malware infections.

RedLine Stealer first appeared in March 2020, stealing an abundance of login details and sensitive data from unwitting victims. This malware was delivered through an email campaign, faking a legitimate coronavirus cure research company’s email and luring people into downloading malicious software that was supposed to help perform various calculations for the research.

How does RedLine Stealer infect my computer?

RedLine Stealer can infect a victim’s device in a number of ways — here are the most common methods used by threat actors to distribute RedLine Stealer:

  • Phishing emails. Infecting devices through social engineering schemes is a technique favored by hackers, and RedLine Stealer is no exception. Using phishing emails, threat actors can send malicious attachments or links to a large number of recipients all at once. Thanks to the latest advancements in AI technology, such as the introduction of ChatGPT, emails can be made to look legitimate without much effort.
  • Compromised websites. Web users can be redirected to compromised websites through malicious ads or when hackers typosquat well-known domain names. It only takes a visit to an infected website to get tricked into downloading legitimate-looking software from a seemingly official website but getting RedLine Stealer instead.
  • Legitimate-looking applications. Being a trojan, RedLine Stealer malware can disguise itself as a legitimate-looking app or software program that is actually cracked and hides malware. In the most bizarre cases, victims can download malware thinking they are getting new antivirus software for their device or an update for their operating system.

What type of information does RedLine Stealer target?

The RedLine Stealer malware typically targets sensitive information, such as login data, passwords, and credit card information. It also aims to collect user data, such as usernames or location, and detailed information about the device’s operating system, such as hardware configurations, antivirus software, and IP address. Recently, RedLine Stealer has started to target crypto wallets, too.

RedLine malware is more likely to target and steal sensitive information from Chromium-based web browsers, including Chrome and Opera, and Gecko-based web browsers, the most popular of which is Mozilla Firefox. RedLine Stealer can collect authentication cookies and card numbers through these browser extensions and invade users’ crypto wallets. This malware also attacks various applications, including email apps, Discord, Telegram, VPNs, and online banking apps.

How can I detect RedLine Stealer on my device?

Though RedLine Stealer is specifically built to steal sensitive information, its effects on the computer system are similar to those of other malware variants. Let’s take a look into the most common signs that RedLine Stealer has infected your device:

  • Unauthorized access. Created to steal login credentials, RedLine Stealer may trigger unauthorized login attempts, unrecognized account activity, or transactions. All of these are an indication of malware on its way to steal your sensitive data.
  • Impaired security software. Particular types of malware, such as RedLine Stealer, have built-in anti-detection features that help to circumvent antivirus programs and avoid detection. This means that various security solutions may get turned off without your knowledge or may not function properly.
  • Intrusive pop-up ads. An increase in pop-up ads, banners, and other online advertisements, even when you’re not browsing, may indicate that malware is trying to trick you into clicking on hidden links to download more malicious payloads.
  • Unusual network activity and system behavior. If you notice suspicious connections or unexpected device activity, RedLine Stealer may be communicating with command-and-control servers attempting to transfer your data. You should also take notice if unrecognized icons or shortcuts appear on your device’s screen or if your files are modified or deleted without your knowledge.
  • Slower performance. It’s typical for malware to make infected computers sluggish and unresponsive and slow down their performance because it consumes system resources to run malicious processes.
  • Unsolicited browser changes. If your browser settings, such as the default search engine or homepage, get modified without you remembering ever changing them, it is a sign of a malware infection trying to steer you to malicious websites.

How long does RedLine Stealer stay in the system?

The RedLine Stealer can stay in your computer system as long as it is detected and removed. Naturally, the longer the malware stays, the more damage it can do. For this reason, it’s important to implement trustworthy cybersecurity tools, be aware of security threats online, and never engage in any suspicious activity online.

How to prevent RedLine Stealer infecting your computer

Here are the most efficient ways to prevent RedLine Stealer from getting into your device:

  • Use reputable antivirus software. Even though RedLine Stealer may be evasive with some installed security solutions, trustworthy antivirus software from a reputable provider is the best tool to detect malware intrusions.
  • Use online security tools. Additional security software can benefit your security online by detecting malware before it gets into your device’s system. It can also prevent you from landing on malicious websites and help you to avoid intrusive ads or download malicious executable files. For instance, NordVPN offers its Threat Protection Pro for an extra layer of security and privacy online.
  • Keep your software and operating system up to date. Regularly updating your computer systems will enable your device and security software to become aware of new cyber threats, implement new functionalities to battle them, and make your device less susceptible to many types of malware.
  • Maintain safe browsing habits. Never click on any suspicious-looking links or pop-up ads on websites that you accidentally land on or if the official webpage you’ve intended to visit looks somewhat unusual.
  • Download apps from official sources. Official app stores like Google Play or Apple’s App Store have rigorous security protocols that thread actors can hardly bypass and implement malicious programs.
  • Use safe password-storing solutions. nstead of saving your passwords in the browser, use a password manager that offers high-end encryption, such as NordPass. Using password-storing solutions significantly lowers the chances of hackers cracking your passwords, or at the very least gives you time to notice any unsolicited attempt to enter your account.
  • Use two-factor authentication (2FA). Whenever you log in to your account using 2FA, the system introduces an additional step to verify your identity: It may ask you to enter a one-time code sent by text or email or verify your biometric data. Thanks to this step, a hacker won’t be able to get into your account even with a stolen password.

How to remove RedLine Stealer

Removing RedLine Stealer might seem a complicated task for an inexperienced device owner. This malware doesn’t install browser extensions or create entries in Control Panel’s “Add/Remove programs” section and typically uses random file names to disguise itself. Meanwhile, using third-party apps to delete malware may cause additional risks of further malware infections.

However, the Windows operating system offers a pre-installed feature called Windows Malicious Software Removal Tool, allowing users to detect and remove malware themselves.

You can follow these steps to remove RedLine Stealer from your computer:

  1. Write “mrt” in the search box in the Menu and click to run it.
  2. Click the “Next” button.
  3. You can choose from three scan modes: “Quick scan,” “Customize scan,” and “Full scan.” We recommend choosing a full scan of your system.
  4. Click the “Next” button.
  5. Click on “View detailed results of the scan link,” examine the scan results, and remove malicious programs if they are found.
  6. Click the “Finish” button.