Spicy Hot Pot Malware

Spicy Hot Pot Malware Description

The Spicy Hot Pot Malware is a rootkit and browser hijacker that resets the user's homepage to one that the attacker designates. It also includes significant stealth features for its components, system persistence and some anti-security features. Windows users can protect themselves by removing the Spicy Hot Pot Malware through recommended solutions and software and should change their homepages back to normal at the first opportunity.

A Browser Hijacker that's Hotter than the Usual

Browser hijackers are, mostly, classifiable as Potentially Unwanted Programs or PUPs: minor nuisances that convey their symptoms through visible extensions and add-ons. The Spicy Hot Pot Malware is a noteworthy exception that targets Chinese Windows pirates with unusually sophisticated, browser-hijacking attacks. This threat's structure makes it more akin to a high-level threat, as a bona fide rootkit.

Although technically adaptable to other regions, the Spicy Hot Pot Malware's campaign concentrates on China, with anti-AV features and language preferences in its installation tactic using layouts specific to that country. The threat is an apparent evolution of an older rootkit and bundles itself with Windows software cracks. Due to effective camouflage, such as numerous digital certificate signatures (albeit expired), rootkit-based hidden Registry entries and files, and misleading names and locations for its components, the Spicy Hot Pot Malware leaves few clues for the victim's notice.

In the end, malware researchers trace the Spicy Hot Pot Malware's core purpose to nothing other than resetting the user's browser homepages to (probably, corrupted) domains at the threat actor's preference. However, along the way, the Spicy Hot Pot Malware also implements other attacks:

  • It uploads system dump files to the threat actor's C&C server (probably, for bug-fixing)
  • It blocks callbacks to known security and anti-virus products actively
  • It may update its pre-Windows-loading automatically, rootkit drivers and other components
  • It disables the hibernation mode feature
  • It uses a mini-filter that can modify or block the user's input and output requests

Toning Down the Level of Spice in Your Browser

Interestingly, victims have workarounds to the hidden components aspect of the Spicy Hot Pot Malware's rootkit features. By renaming the WindowsApp directory, users can temporarily make visible the files that the rootkit drivers are hiding. Users should keep in mind that the files still bear misleading names referring to legitimate software. Also, an additional system reboot is necessary for disabling the drivers and deleting the files.

Although malware analysts have yet to analyze properly the sites that the Spicy Hot Pot Malware promotes, its campaign's sophistication suggests significant financial investment and programming expertise. Exposure to websites affiliated with rootkits and other threats can bring Web surfers into contact with phishing sites that imitate bank login pages, drive-by-download attacks from Exploit Kits, or advertising pay-per-click revenue schemes. Updating software and disabling features like JavaScript and Flash will improve one's protection against browser-based exploits.

Users should also avoid depending on the above instructions for the total removal of the Spicy Hot Pot Malware. Circumventing a rootkit's built-in defenses will not remove all files or system changes necessarily. Any strategy for deleting the Spicy Hot Pot Malware should include appropriate security solutions to determine the presence of other threats and remaining components.

The rest of the world should count itself lucky if the Spicy Hot Pot Malware stays content in molesting the homepages of Chinese Windows pirates. Whether it's for money, espionage, or other motives entirely, the Spicy Hot Pot Malware is an impressively powerful tool for the relatively straightforward goal of taking over a homepage.