Also known as: QakBot, W32/QakBot, Qbot VBS, QuakBot, Pinkslipbot
Damage potential: Stolen usernames and passwords, data theft, unauthorized access, disruptions of network operations, botnet formation, ransomware distribution, identity theft, and financial fraud
Qbot is a sophisticated computer trojan that infects devices and steals sensitive information from Windows-based systems. The information it targets ranges from banking details to social security numbers. Qbot may also use the infected machines to form a botnet — a network of compromised computers.
Even though Qbot is designed to avoid detection, several possible symptoms may indicate an infection. The first one to watch out for is unusually slow system performance.
Other possible symptoms of a Qbot infection include:
- Suspicious pop-ups, advertisements, or redirects to sites.
- Unusual network activity (e.g., slow internet or firewall alerts).
- Unfamiliar software or connections to suspicious IP addresses.
- Strange email behavior (e.g., sending spam emails).
- New or modified existing files, especially in system directories.
- Unexpectedly disabled security software.
Sources of infection
Qbot can spread in several ways, from phishing emails to malicious attachments. Here are some common ways Qbot may infect your device:
Drive-by downloads. Users may unknowingly download Qbot when visiting a compromised website.
Malicious links. Clicking on a malicious link (e.g., in an email) may take a user to a website that exploits browser or software vulnerabilities to install Qbot.
Malvertising. Qbot may spread through malicious online advertisements. Malvertising often appears on legitimate websites alongside safe ads.
Botnet distribution. Qbot may use the existing network of infected machines to spread the malware to new targets (e.g., by sending phishing emails).
Network shares and removable drives. Qbot may copy itself to shared folders and infect other systems on the same network.
Take your digital security into your own hands. Here’s how you can minimize the chances of a Qbot infection:
Keep operating systems and software up to date. Attackers may use security vulnerabilities to infect devices with Qbot. Install security updates as soon as they’re available to protect yourself from the latest cyber threats.
Enable multi-factor authentication (MFA). Multi-factor authentication can help protect your sensitive accounts (e.g., banking and investment).
Be wary of suspicious emails. Phishing emails aren’t always easy to spot. If you get an email urging you to do something quickly — whether from someone you know or an unknown sender — don’t click on any links or attachments.
Browse with caution. Cybercriminals may create fake websites that look legitimate to spread Qbot and other trojans. Be mindful of the websites you visit and the information you share.
Disable macros in document files. Macros are small scripts embedded in documents and files that automate tasks. Even though they are handy, cybercriminals can exploit them to execute malicious code and install Qbot.
Use NordVPN’s Threat Protection. For extra peace of mind, use Threat Protection — NordVPN’s advanced feature that blocks malicious websites, intrusive trackers, and annoying ads. Plus, it checks the files you download for malware.