By Andrew Brandt
When malware ends up on an infected machine, one of the first things it will do is to ensure that it will start up again after the victim reboots their computer. For a criminal it makes sense. After all, what good is malware that stops working after a reboot?
In Windows, there are tons of ways for malware to accomplish this small but critical task, most of which involve the Registry. Technical folks call the Registry keys that are used for this purpose load points or auto-start locations. There’s even a pretty good free app from Microsoft that will show you everything configured to start itself up using any of these load points.
The Threat Research Analysts here use their knowledge of load points to fine-tune definitions. Increasingly, we have to kill a load point then reboot the computer to remove a piece of malware. I wanted to call attention to some odd load point trends, where load points are stacked like dominoes, so the action that starts the execution process is several steps removed from the actual execution.