A new Trojan-based virus is spreading online and attacking unsuspecting YouTube content creators. It’s called YTStealer, and, as the name suggests, it’s designed to attack a specific target: YouTubers. If you have the slightest suspicion that YTStealer might have infiltrated your computer, you must take immediate steps to detect and remove it. Otherwise, this malware can affect your entire system and all the data stored on it.

So what is YTStealer? How does it work? And how can you protect yourself from it?

How Does YTStealer Work?

There are numerous types of malware, and many have targeted YouTube as it has long been a valuable resource for criminals who can reach a large audience with their scams by stealing the accounts of major content creators.

YTStealer is a Trojan, sold on the Dark Web, and can steal authentication cookies from YouTube creators, meaning cookies are used to save a user’s memory to allow them to login in the future without re-entering credentials.

YTStealer does not take over other social networks; it is exclusively designed to steal YouTube credentials. In most cases, YTStealer infections do not have any particular symptoms, so its timely detection can be challenging. Victims may have no idea that they have been infected until the malware has caused severe problems. That’s why to detect and remove such malware before they do any real damage, you must run a full system scan using any reputable antivirus software.

YTStealer can also work as a backdoor to your computer for ransomware or spyware infections, or as a tool for espionage and data theft. So, if not removed in time, YTStealer will give cybercriminals access to your device and allow them to modify, corrupt, replace, and install whatever they want.

How Does a YTStealer Infection Happen?

Cybercriminals typically spread Trojans via enticing ads, phishing sites, legitimate-looking emails and attachments, supposed deals, and sometimes even bogus upgrade requests purporting to be sent by a legitimate software developer. Unfortunately, in many cases, users click on them without scanning them for hidden malware, which is how most infections occur.

In this case, YTStealer promotes a variety of specific applications designed to lure YouTube creators. These applications are usually fake versions or updates for video editing tools (good examples include OBS Studio, Adobe Premiere, HitFilm Express, Sony Vega, etc.).

Once a target has been infected, YTStealer will perform an environment check to ensure it is not running inside a virtual machine (or a sandbox) and is being analyzed by security programs. The code used by YTStealer to perform this comes from the Chacal open-source project hosted by GitHub. If YTStealer detects it is being analyzed, it will typically self-terminate. If it feels there is no threat to itself, YTStealer will start to harvest authentication cookies and credentials.

YTStealer will also open the browser in the background, i.e. without anything appearing on the computer screen. Hackers will then be able to swipe cookies into the phantom browser and remotely log into your YouTube Studio page. From here, hackers can either post whatever they want (this could be a fake promo, a malicious link, or an attempt to sell something) or harvest your data.

Once the malware steals everything it can—channel information, number of subscribers, which videos are monetized, and more—the stolen data is collated, encrypted, and sent to a private server registered with a legitimate company.

How to Get Rid of the YTStealer Virus

This malware can be quickly taken care of with a trusted antivirus or a malware removal tool. Any good antivirus program can effectively prevent interaction through such malicious transmitters by notifying you and prompting you to take the necessary steps to avoid or remove the threat. Most antivirus suites will remove any infections automatically and list what has been detected.

What Sets YTStealer Apart From Other Trojan Viruses?

YTStealer acts similar to other Trojans, except that its sole purpose is to steal YouTube credentials and authentication cookies; similar Trojans focus instead on harvesting credentials for everything they can get hold of. YTStealer does this to monetize your data, subscribers, and videos.

In every other aspect, it acts like every Trojan: it infects your computer through a fake app, runs an environmental check, and immediately starts stealing targeted data.