If you receive a Facebook message from a friend saying: “I got you a surprise“, DO NOT CLICK ON THE LINK because it will lead you to a virus.
If you did click on the link and downloaded and executed the virus, without your antivirus stopping you, then you have been infected because the antivirus you are using is not yet aware of the existence of this virus.
If you have been infected, then you are already sending messages to all your Facebook friends, without your knowledge, urging them to get infected as well.
STEP #1: LOGOUT!
If you logout, then the virus will lose access to your Facebook account and will not be able to send any more messages. Do not just close the browser, log out first (in order for the session to end).
STEP #2: DELETE photo.exe
This is the virus file you downloaded from the website you were redirected to. It is probably stored together with all your downloaded files.
STEP #3: DELETE THE OFFSPRING OF photo.exe
As soon as you executed photo.exe, it created two new files to do its job. Those files were initially named 1.exe and 2.exe but they were immediately renamed to two other random names. In order to track them down you have to enter the folder where they are stored.
In the case I examined, the files were stored in the Application Data folder of the running Windows (XP/2000/NT) account. In order to gain access to this folder, you can either type it into the address bar: C:\Documents and Settings\USERNAME\Application Data (where USENAME is the name of your Windows account), or enter it manually from My Computer – Documents and Settings – USERNAME – Application Data if you first unhide the Hidden files and Folders. Note: for Windows 7 / Vista users, the path is C:\Users\USERNAME\AppData\Local .
(Windows XP/2000/NT: In order to make the hidden files and folders appear, open My Computer and click on Tools – Folder Options – View – Hidden Files and Folders – Show hidden files and folders – OK).
(Windows 7/Vista: In order to make the hidden files and folders appear, open My Computer and click on Organize – Folder and Search Options – View – Show hidden files, folders and drives – OK).
Inside Application Data you will find many subfolders but the only file that should be in this folder is the hidden file desktop.ini. Based on what I have seen, you will find the two funny named offspring of the virus in here. DO NOT EXECUTE THEM! Try and delete them using Shift Delete (so that they won’t even go to the Recycle Bin) but if the system won’t let you delete one of them because it is already running, then right click on the Start bar and select Task Manager (this also opens from Ctrl Alt Del). On this list, find the name of the executable file that you cannot delete (because it is already running), right click it and select End Task. As soon as it stops running delete it and make sure that both files are no longer in this folder.
Extra tip: Windows 7/Vista users will have to also look inside the subfolders C:\Users\USERNAME\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\ and C:\Users\USERNAME\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\ for executable files which were created on the day they were infected by the virus, because those are also offspring of the virus.
STEP #4: SCHEDULED TASKS
The names of these two files have also been inserted in the scheduled tasks of your computer so that they can be executed whenever they want. Even though you just deleted the files, it is good practice to also remove these two redundant tasks. Click on Control Panel – Scheduled Tasks and remove the two tasks that contain the funny names of the files you just deleted. Note: in Windows 7/Vista you will find this at Start – Control Panel – System and Security – Administrative Tools – Scheduled Tasks.
STEP #5.1: CLEAN THE SECURITY TOOL VIRUS
Based on the information I have gathered, the first executable uses the Facebook mobile messaging protocol to abuse your active Facebook session id and message all your friends, while the second executable installs the “Security Tool” virus, which will eventually slow down your computer and restrict your Web access. The second executable, though, will become active only after the messaging of the first executable completes so, based on this fact, you only have a limited amount of time to act before your computer becomes almost unresponsive.
If your antivirus hasn’t cleaned it already, use the free version of Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware or ComboFix but beware, the “Security Tool” virus can recognize their filenames and may stop you from installing them. Download the antivirus tools from a clean computer onto a flash USB stick, rename them to something else (combofix.exe -> notme.exe) and then install them on the infected computer. If the infected computer is too unresponsive already, log into Safe Mode using the F8 key when the computer boots up and try again there. The “Security Tool” virus can be completely removed without having to format your computer.
And, of course, do not even think of buying the fake antivirus that the “Security Tool” is offering because they will steal your credit card information.
STEP #5.2: THE TEMPORARY FILES
In some mutations of the virus, some files are left behind in the temp folder of your computer. The Windows temporary folder has lots of unneeded files inside, which have been left behind from some applications, and it is the best place for a virus file to hide. In order to delete those files, click Start – Run – type %Temp% and click OK. Inside the folder that just opened you can freely delete all the contained files and folders. If some .exe cannot be currently deleted, then there are high chances that it is part of the virus. End its task, as before, and then delete it.
STEP #5.3: THE WINDOWS FIREWALL
If you have not installed your own firewall then you are using the firewall of Windows. In many cases the “Security Tool” turns off the Windows firewall so that it can do whatever it wants freely, so you have to check that it is on. Click Start – Control Panel – Windows Firewall, make sure that it says On and click OK.
STEP #5.4: IF YOU CAN’T USE THE WEB
If you have done everything mentioned above but you still cannot access any websites, then maybe the virus has left a forgotten setting behind. While it was active, it rerouted all the sites you viewed via the virus, but now that it no longer exists, you cannot access anything. You have to disable the proxy settings of all the browsers in your computer so that they will not stop using proxies. Do Internet Explorer first because it affects your system the most: Tools – Internet Options – Connections – LAN Settings – uncheck Use a proxy server for your LAN – OK. Also, if you have Firefox: Tools – Options – Advanced – Network – Settings – No proxy – OK.
STEP #5.5: IF YOUR SYSTEM IS STILL SLOW
If everything has gone according to plan, then you have now removed all the files of the virus from your computer. But if your Internet connection is still way too slow, then maybe the “Security Tool” messed with the hosts file of your computer. Just in case, you can visit http://support.microsoft.com/kb/972034 offered by Microsoft, click on the “Fix it” button and the problem will be automatically fixed. In the same page you can find instructions on how to do the same thing manually, if you prefer.
STEP #6: MAINTENANCE
- Change your Facebook password (just in case).
- Empty your Recycle Bin.
- Clear the temporary cache of all the web browsers in your computer (history, cookies, temporary files, etc).
- Update your antivirus database and run a full computer scan for viruses.
- Update your Windows from the Control Panel update menu.
- DO NOT OPEN A LINK YOU ARE NOT SURE WHAT IT CONTAINS EVER AGAIN and if you open it DO NOT DOWNLOAD ANY FILES FROM IT, ESPECIALLY EXECUTABLES.
This virus started spreading around October 30 and it is still unknown where it is coming from. If I find out anything else concerning how to remove this virus, I will update this article. Good luck.
PS1: MacOS users are not affected by photo.exe (unless they are running Windows on Bootcamp)
PS2: If you have been infected, you should probably set a status message asking everyone to NOT open your messages
PS3: This specific virus is made specifically for Windows (.exe) and can only be executed on devices using the Windows operating system. The reason that the messages appear to be sent from mobile devices is because the virus abuses the mobile protocol of Facebook to send mass messages from an external application using a stolen session id from the browser. So, no, your iPhone will not turn into a zombie because it cannot execute this virus.
PS4: Future viruses which may propagate using the same way might make sure that they address all operating systems so, whichever device your are using, be careful what you open.