Damage potential: Stolen credentials, unauthorized transactions, financial loss, future payloads, network spread
PrivateLoader is a malware family primarily targeting Windows devices. PrivateLoaders are a type of downloader malware that enters a system through common infection methods and waits for instructions from its command-and-control server to install another malware. This allows cybercriminals to choose what kind of additional malware to install onto the infected device based on a victim’s location, financial activity, or networks they’re part of.
The PrivateLoader family emerged in 2021 as a pay-per-install service and quickly became popular for distributing multiple types of malware, ranging from banking trojans to ransomware.
Symptoms may vary depending on which type of malware cybercriminals embedded into PrivateLoader, but here are some general signs of infection to watch out for:
Slower computer performance, frequent crashes, or sudden rebooting.
Unexpected mouse movements and typing or programs opening and closing without user interaction.
Encrypted files and ransom notes.
Unusually high data usage.
Suspicious files and programs on your computer.
Changes in system settings.
Webcam or microphone activating unexpectedly.
Unauthorized transactions in your accounts.
Sources of infection
PrivateLoader typically infiltrates systems through SEO poisoning, a technique for manipulating search engine rankings to promote malicious websites and spread malware.
You may also accidentally infect your device with PrivateLoader while downloading software from unofficial sources or transferring files from infected removable media such as USB drives. Another, although not as common, source of infection is phishing emails.
To protect yourself against threats like PrivateLoader, you must be cautious while browsing the web and downloading files.
Block malware-hosting websites and scan your downloads for malware with NordVPN’s Threat Protection feature.
Do not open email attachments or links from unknown senders.
Install a reputable antivirus program and keep it updated.
Connect to a NordVPN server for extra security on public Wi-Fi hotspots.
Update all software you use.
Back up important data regularly.
Use a firewall to prevent unauthorized access to your network, which can help stop PrivateLoader from communicating with the attacker’s server.
Manually removing PrivateLoader from your device might be challenging, so it’s best to use a reliable antivirus program to isolate and remove the threat.
Disconnect your device from the internet to prevent malware from communicating with its command-and-control server.
Restart your device in safe mode.
Back up important data.
Run a full system scan with antivirus software. Your software will help you identify what kind of malware PrivateLoader deployed onto your device.
Change your passwords.
Make sure your operating system and all software are updated.