What is Remote Access Trojan? Prevention, Detection & Removal discussed


Remote Access Trojans (RAT) have always proved to be a big risk to this world when it comes to hijacking a computer or just playing a prank with a friend. A RAT is a malicious software that lets the operator attack a computer and gain unauthorized remote access to it. RATs have been here for years, and they persist as finding some RATs is a difficult task even for the modern Antivirus software out there.

In this post, we will see what is Remote Access Trojan and talks about detection & removal techniques available. It also explains, in short, some of the common RATs like CyberGate, DarkComet, Optix, Shark, Havex, ComRat, VorteX Rat, Sakula and KjW0rm.

Remote Access Trojans

Remote Access Trojan

Most of the Remote Access Trojan are downloaded in malicious emails, unauthorized programs and web links that take you nowhere. RATs are not simple like Keylogger programs – they provide the attacker with a lot of capabilities such as:

  • Keylogging: Your keystrokes could be monitored, and usernames, passwords, and other sensitive information could be recovered from it.
  • Screen Capture: Screenshots can be obtained to see what is going on your computer.
  • Hardware Media Capture: RATs can take access to your webcam and mic to record you and your surroundings completely violating privacy.
  • Administration Rights: The attacker may change any settings, modify registry values and do a lot more to your computer without your permission. RAT can provide an administrator level privileges to the attacker.
  • Overclocking: The attacker may increase processor speeds, overclocking the system can harm the hardware components and eventually burn them to ashes.
  • Other system-specific capabilities: Attacker can have access to anything on your computer, your files, passwords, chats and just anything.

How do Remote Access Trojans work

Remote Access Trojans come in a server-client configuration where the server is covertly installed on the victim PC, and the client can be used to access the victim PC through a GUI or a command interface. A link between server and client is opened on a specific port, and encrypted or plain communication can happen between the server and the client. If the network and packets sent/received are monitored properly, RATs can be identified and removed.

RAT attack Prevention

RATs make their way to computers from spam emails, maliciously programmed software or they come packed as a part of some other software or application. You must always have a good antivirus program installed on your computer that can detect and eliminate RATs. Detecting RATs is quite a difficult task as they are installed under a random name that may seem like any other common application, and so you need to have a really good Antivirus program for that.

Monitoring your network can also be a good way to detect any Trojan sending your personal data over the internet.

If you don’t use Remote Administration Tools, disable Remote Assistance connections to your computer. You will get the setting in SystemProperties > Remote tab > Uncheck Allow Remote Assistance connections to this computer option.

Keep your operating system, installed software and particularly security programs updated at all times. Also, try not to click on emails that you don’t trust and are from an unknown source. Do not download any software from sources other than its official website or mirror.

After the RAT attack

Once you know you’ve been attacked, the first step is to disconnect your system from the Internet and the Network if you are connected. Change all your passwords and other sensitive information and check if any of your accounts has been compromised using another clean computer. Check your bank accounts for any fraudulent transactions and immediately inform your bank about the Trojan in your computer. Then scan the computer for issues and seek professional help for removing the RAT. Consider closing Port 80. Use a Firewall Port Scanner to check all your Ports.

You can even try to back-track and know who was behind the attack, but you’ll need professional help for that. RATs can usually be removed once they are detected, or you can have a fresh installation of Windows to complete remove it off.

Common Remote Access Trojans

Many Remote Access Trojans are currently active now and infecting millions of devices. The most notorious ones are discussed here in this article:

  1. Sub7: ‘Sub7’ derived by spelling NetBus (an older RAT) backward is a free remote administration tool that lets you have control over the host PC. The tool has been categorized into Trojans by security experts, and it can be potentially risky to have it on your computer.
  2. Back Orifice: Back Orifice and its successor Back Orifice 2000 is a free tool that was originally meant for remote administration – but it didn’t take time that the tool got converted into a Remote Access Trojan. There has been a controversy that this tool is a Trojan, but developers stand upon the fact that it is a legitimate tool that provides remote administration access. The program is now identified as malware by most of the antivirus programs.
  3. DarkComet: It is a very extensible remote administration tool with a lot of features that could be potentially used for spying. The tool also has its links with the Syrian Civil War where it is reported that the Government used this tool to spy on civilians. The tool has already been misused a lot, and the developers have stopped its further development.
  4. sharK: It is an advanced remote administration tool. Not meant for beginners and amateur hackers. It is said to be a tool for security professionals and advanced users.
  5. Havex: This trojan that has been extensively used against the industrial sector. It collects information including the presence of any Industrial Control System and then passes on the same information to remote websites.
  6. Sakula: A remote access Trojan that comes in an installer of your choice. It will depict that it is installing some tool on your computer but will install the malware along with it.
  7. KjW0rm: This Trojan comes packed with a lot of capabilities but already marked as a threat by many Antivirus tools.

These Remote Access Trojan have helped many hackers compromise millions of computers. Having protection against these tools is a must, and a good security program with an alert user is all it takes to prevent these Trojans from compromising your computer.

This post was meant to be an informative article about RATs and does not in any way promote their usage. There may be some legal laws about the usage of such tools in your country, in any case.

Read more about Remote Administration Tools here.