What is QakBOT, QBot, QuakBot or Pinkslipbot?

QakBot, also known as QBot, QuakBot, or Pinkslipbot, is a sophisticated and highly adaptable banking trojan that has been active since around 2007. It is primarily designed to steal sensitive financial data, such as banking credentials and other personal information. Over time, QakBot has evolved to incorporate a wide range of malicious capabilities, making it a significant threat to both individuals and organizations.

Key Characteristics of QakBot:

  • Data Theft: The primary purpose of QakBot is to steal financial information from its victims, including bank login credentials, account numbers, and other personal data.
  • Modular Architecture: QakBot has a modular design, allowing cybercriminals to add or remove functionalities as needed. This flexibility makes it adaptable to various attack scenarios.
  • Persistence: QakBot employs numerous techniques to maintain persistence on infected systems, such as creating scheduled tasks, adding registry entries, and using rootkit capabilities to evade detection.
  • Network Propagation: QakBot can spread across networks, infecting multiple machines and expanding the reach of the attack.
  • Command and Control (C2) Communication: The malware connects to remote servers controlled by the attackers to receive commands, exfiltrate data, and download additional payloads.
  • Email Harvesting and Spamming: QakBot can harvest email addresses from infected systems and use them to send out spam emails, often as part of phishing campaigns to spread the malware further.
  • Credential Dumping: It can extract stored credentials from web browsers and other applications, broadening the scope of the data it can steal.
  • Evasion Techniques: QakBot employs various evasion techniques to avoid detection by antivirus software and other security measures, including code obfuscation, encryption, and dynamic analysis evasion.

Infection Methods:

QakBot is typically distributed through phishing emails containing malicious attachments or links. These emails often appear to be legitimate communications from trusted entities to trick users into opening the attachments or clicking on the links, which then download and execute the malware.


The impact of a QakBot infection can be severe, leading to financial loss, identity theft, and significant disruption to business operations. Its ability to spread across networks can also result in widespread infection within an organization, requiring extensive efforts to remediate.

Prevention and Mitigation:

  • Awareness and Training: Educate users about phishing attacks and the importance of not opening unsolicited email attachments or clicking on unknown links.
  • Email Filtering: Implement robust email filtering solutions to block malicious emails before they reach users' inboxes.
  • Antivirus and Anti-malware: Use updated antivirus and anti-malware solutions to detect and prevent infections.
  • Network Segmentation: Segment networks to limit the spread of malware and protect sensitive data.
  • Regular Updates: Ensure that operating systems, software, and security tools are regularly updated to protect against known vulnerabilities.
  • Backup Data: Regularly back up important data to recover in case of an infection.

How To Remove QakBOT, QBot, QuakBot or Pinkslipbot

Removing QakBot can be challenging due to its sophisticated techniques for persistence and evasion. Here are the general steps to effectively remove QakBot from an infected system:

1. Disconnect from the Network

Immediately disconnect the infected machine from the network to prevent the malware from spreading and to stop further data exfiltration.

2. Enter Safe Mode

Restart the computer in Safe Mode to prevent QakBot from starting automatically. This can be done by pressing F8 (or a similar key) during the boot process and selecting Safe Mode from the menu.

3. Run an Antivirus Scan

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4. Use Specialized Removal Tools

Some security companies provide specialized removal tools for QakBot. Download BadBadgerAntiMalware To Clean And Protect Your PC.

5. Manual Removal Steps (Advanced Users)

  • Check Running Processes: Look for suspicious processes and terminate them.
  • Delete Scheduled Tasks: QakBot often creates scheduled tasks for persistence. Open Task Scheduler and remove any suspicious tasks.
  • Registry Cleanup: Open the Windows Registry Editor (regedit) and search for suspicious entries related to QakBot. Focus on the following keys:
    • HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run
    • HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run
  • Delete Malicious Files: Locate and delete any files related to QakBot. These files are often located in:
    • C:\Users\[Your Username]\AppData\Local\
    • C:\Users\[Your Username]\AppData\Roaming\
    • C:\ProgramData\

6. Restore from Backup

If you have backups of your important data, consider restoring your system to a previous state before the infection occurred. Ensure that the backups are clean and not infected.

7. Update and Patch

Ensure that all software, including the operating system and applications, is up to date with the latest security patches.

8. Change Passwords

After removing the malware, change all passwords for accounts that may have been compromised. Use a secure, unique password for each account.

9. Monitor for Re-Infection

Monitor your system for any signs of re-infection. Continue to run regular scans and keep your security software updated.

10. Professional Assistance

If the infection is severe or if you are unsure about performing these steps, consider seeking help from cybersecurity professionals.

Prevention Tips

  • Email Vigilance: Be cautious with email attachments and links from unknown sources.
  • Security Awareness: Regularly train and educate users about cybersecurity best practices.
  • Multi-Layered Security: Implement multi-layered security measures including firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and endpoint protection.
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