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Hades Locker Ransomware

Also Known As: Hades Locker virus
Damage level: Severe

What is Hades Locker?

Hades Locker is an updated version of WildFire Locker ransomware that infiltrates systems and encrypts a variety of data types using AES encryption. Hades Locker appends the names of encrypted files with the ".~HL[5_random_characters] (first 5 characters of encryption password)" extension.

In addition, this ransomware deletes file shadow volume copies. Following encryption, Hades Locker creates three files ("README_RECOVER_FILES_[victim_id].html", "README_RECOVER_FILES_[victim_id].png", "README_RECOVER_FILES_[victim_id].txt"), placing them in each folder containing encrypted files.

The three files contain an identical ransom-demand message informing victims of the encryption and stating that the files can only be restored using a unique decryption key. Unfortunately, this is accurate information. The AES algorithm is symmetric and, thus, uses a unique key to encrypt/decrypt files.

This key is stored on remote servers controlled by cyber criminals. Therefore, payment of a 1 Bitcoin (currently, equivalent to ~$612) ransom must be made to receive the key. If payment is not submitted within the given time frame, the price will double to 2 Bitcoins.

Three different URLs (two publicly-accessible, and one Tor website) are also provided - these direct to sites that contain detailed information. Victims can test decryption by uploading a single selected file and sending it to cyber criminals. The selected file is then decrypted and returned.

The website also provides decryption instructions. Unfortunately, there are currently no tools capable of restoring files encrypted by Hades Locker. Therefore, this problem can only be solved by restoring your files/system from a backup.

Screenshot of a message encouraging users to pay a ransom to decrypt their compromised data:

Hades Locker decrypt instructions

Hades Locker is identical to WildFire Locker, and also shares many similarities with hundreds of other ransomware-type viruses such as Cerber, Odin, and CTB-Locker. All have essentially the same behavior - they encrypt files and make ransom demands. Unlike Hades Locker, most ransomware-type viruses use asymmetric cryptography.

Thus, there are no major differences, other than the size of ransom. Be aware, however, that paying does not guarantee that files will be decrypted. Cyber criminals often ignore victims, despite payments made. It is highly probable that victims will be scammed. Therefore, ignore requests to pay the ransom or to contact these people.

Ransomware is often distributed using spam emails (malicious attachments), various unofficial download sources (Torrents, freeware download websites, etc.), fake software update tools, and trojans. Be cautious when opening files received from suspicious/unrecognized email addresses, and downloading files/software from third party sources.

In addition, keep your installed applications up-to-date - cyber criminals are capable of exploiting software bugs to infiltrate the system. Using a legitimate anti-virus/spyware suite is also paramount.

Screenshot of Hades Locker ransomware text file ("README_RECOVER_FILES_[victim_id].txt"):

Hades Locker ransomware text file

Screenshot of Hades Locker ransomware .html file ("README_RECOVER_FILES_[victim_id].html"):

Hades Locker ransomware html file

Hades Locker's ransom-demand message (presented in .png, .txt, and .html files)

!! IMPORTANT INFORMATION !!
All your documents, photos, databases and other important files have been encrypted! In order to decrypt your files you will have to buy the decryption password belonging to your files There are 2 options to solve this problem
1. Format your hard disk and loose all your files for ever!
2. Pay to buy your decryption key. With this decryption key you can decrypt your files and use them again like before. To buy the decryption password you will have to visit our website. Pick a website below
hxxp://pfmydcsjib.ru/
hxxp://jdybchotfn.ru/
If these websites dont work you can visit our website on the TOR network follow the steps below to visit our TOR website.
1. Download and install the TOR browser: hxxps://www.torproject.org/projects/torbrowser.html.en
2. After installation run the TOR browser and wait for initialization
3. Inside the TOR browser (just like a normal browser) navigate to n7457xrhg5kibr2c.onion/
HWID (personal identification ID): -
!! you have until 12 Oct 2016 to buy the decryption key or the price will double !!

Screenshot of Hades Locker website "Home" page:

Hades Locker ransomware website's homepage

Text presented within this page:

[=] General information | READ ME [=]
In order to decrypt your files you will have to purchase the unique decryption password belonging to your files. The price for this decryption password is about 600 USD / 500 EUR / 400 GBP (depending on the current bitcoin price). You have until 13 October 2016 07:06:39 to purchase your decryption password. If you do not purchase the decryption password before this date the price will increase to 2 bitcoins which is about 1200 USD / 1000 EUR / 800 GBP The steps below will guide you through the process of buying bitcoins, confirming the payment and receiving the decryption password & software. If you have any questions check our FAQ or contact our helpdesk.
[1] Create a bitcoin wallet This step is optional. You can either choose to have the bitcoins sent to your own wallet first or to have them sent directly to your generated bitcoin address below.
[2] Purchasing bitcoins You have to buy 1 Bitcoins Below are several websites where you can purchase bitcoins.
hxxps://btcdirect.eu | Sofort - Giropay - iDeal - Bancontact
hxxps://cex.io | Wire Transfer - Debit / Credit card
hxxps://bitonic.nl | iDeal - MisterCash - MyBank
hxxps://www.litebit.eu | SOFORT - iDeal - Giropay - Bancontact - SEPA
hxxps://coinbase.com | Bank account (SEPA) - Credit / Debit card
hxxps://www.coinjar.com | Credit / Debit card
hxxps://anycoindirect.eu | Bancontact - Giropay - Mybank - Trustpay - Sofort
hxxps://localbitcoins.com | Bank transfer - PayPal - Credit / Debit card
[3] Paying the bitcoins Send 1 bitcoins to address:
[4] Confirm payment Once you have made the payment click the check payment status button below. You can view the balance of your bitcoin address here: hxxp://blockchain.info/address/1GYzQNmgNnwb4DGSYnCahSHCGb5igz8RjC Once your payment has been confirmed the decryption keys along with a download link to the decryption software will appear on this page.
Copyright 2016 - Hades Enterprises

Screenshot of Hades Locker website "FAQ" page:

Hades Locker ransomware website's FAQ

Text presented within this page:

FAQ
Q: How can I make sure you will actually give me the decryption password after I pay?
A: This is our business model, if we didn't keep our promise of giving the password word would spread fast and nobody would pay.
Q: How long does it take before you give me the password?
A: Everything is automated, once you have made the payment you will receive the password and decryption software immediately
Q: After payment how do I get the password and decryption software?
A: Just click the "Check Payment" button and your password along with a link to the decryption software will show on the bottom of the page.
Q: HELP my question is not listed here
A: You can contact our helpdesk and we will get back to you within 24 hours.

Screenshot of Hades Locker website "Test decrypt" page:

Hades Locker ransomware website's decryption test

Text presented within this page:

Test decrypt
To proof that we actually have the decryption password belonging to your files you are able to decrypt 1 file for free.
Step 1 - upload the file you want decrypted to expirebox.com
Step 2 - go to the helpdesk
Step 3 - paste the link in the helpdesk and we will send you back the decrypted file within 24 hours

Screenshot of Hades Locker ransomware website "Helpdesk" page:

Hades Locker ransomware website's helpdesk

Text presented within this page:

Helpdesk
If your question is not listed in our FAQ you can contact us using the form below.
Support is available in English. We will reply within 24 hours.
If you are unable to speak English use translate.google.com

Screenshot of Hades Locker website "Decryption Tutorial" page:

Hades Locker ransomware website's decryption instructions

Text presented within this page:

Decryption Tutorial
Copy and paste your key-block in the box and click next.
Choose whether you want to decrypt an entire drive or a single folder. Then click next.
Click start to start decrypting. Click stop to stop decrypting.

Screenshot of files encrypted by Hades Locker ransomware (".~HL[5_random_characters]" extension):

Hades Locker ransomware encrypting victim's files

File types targeted by Hades Locker:

.contact, .dbx, .doc, .docx, .jnt, .jpg, .mapimail, .msg, .oab, .ods, .pdf, .pps, .ppsm, .ppt, .pptm, .prf, .pst, .rar, .rtf, .txt, .wab, .xls, .xlsx, .xml, .zip, .1cd, .3ds, .3g2, .3gp, .7z, .7zip, .accdb, .aoi, .asf, .asp, .aspx, .asx, .avi, .bak, .cer, .cfg, .class, .config, .css, .csv, .db, .dds, .dwg, .dxf, .flf, .flv, .html, .idx, .js, .key, .kwm, .laccdb, .ldf, .lit, .m3u, .mbx, .md, .mdf, .mid, .mlb, .mov, .mp3, .mp4, .mpg, .obj, .odt, .pages, .php, .psd, .pwm, .rm, .safe, .sav, .save, .sql, .srt, .swf, .thm, .vob, .wav, .wma, .wmv, .xlsb, .3dm, .aac, .ai, .arw, .c, .cdr, .cls, .cpi, .cpp, .cs, .db3, .docm, .dot, .dotm, .dotx, .drw, .dxb, .eps, .fla, .flac, .fxg, .java, .m, .m4v, .max, .mdb, .pcd, .pct, .pl, .potm, .potx, .ppam, .ppsm, .ppsx, .pptm, .ps, .pspimage, .r3d, .rw2, .sldm, .sldx, .svg, .tga, .wps, .xla, .xlam, .xlm, .xlr, .xlsm, .xlt, .xltm, .xltx, .xlw, .act, .adp, .al, .bkp, .blend, .cdf, .cdx, .cgm, .cr2, .crt, .dac, .dbf, .dcr, .ddd, .design, .dtd, .fdb, .fff, .fpx, .h, .iif, .indd, .jpeg, .mos, .nd, .nsd, .nsf, .nsg, .nsh, .odc, .odp, .oil, .pas, .pat, .pef, .pfx, .ptx, .qbb, .qbm, .sas7bdat, .say, .st4, .st6, .stc, .sxc, .sxw, .tlg, .wad, .xlk, .aiff, .bin, .bmp, .cmt, .dat, .dit, .edb, .flvv, .gif, .groups, .hdd, .hpp, .log, .m2ts, .m4p, .mkv, .mpeg, .ndf, .nvram, .ogg, .ost, .pab, .pdb, .pif, .png, .qed, .qcow, .qcow2, .rvt, .st7, .stm, .vbox, .vdi, .vhd, .vhdx, .vmdk, .vmsd, .vmx, .vmxf, .3fr, .3pr, .ab4, .accde, .accdr, .accdt, .ach, .acr, .adb, .ads, .agdl, .ait, .apj, .asm, .awg, .back, .backup, .backupdb, .bank, .bay, .bdb, .bgt, .bik, .bpw, .cdr3, .cdr4, .cdr5, .cdr6, .cdrw, .ce1, .ce2, .cib, .craw, .crw, .csh, .csl, .db_journal, .dc2, .dcs, .ddoc, .ddrw, .der, .des, .dgc, .djvu, .dng, .drf, .dxg, .eml, .erbsql, .erf, .exf, .ffd, .fh, .fhd, .gray, .grey, .gry, .hbk, .ibank, .ibd, .ibz, .iiq, .incpas, .jpe, .kc2, .kdbx, .kdc, .kpdx, .lua, .mdc, .mef, .mfw, .mmw, .mny, .moneywell, .mrw, .myd, .ndd, .nef, .nk2, .nop, .nrw, .ns2, .ns3, .ns4, .nwb, .nx2, .nxl, .nyf, .odb, .odf, .odg, .odm, .orf, .otg, .oth, .otp, .ots, .ott, .p12, .p7b, .p7c, .pdd, .pem, .plus_muhd, .plc, .pot, .pptx, .psafe3, .py, .qba, .qbr, .qbw, .qbx, .qby, .raf, .rat, .raw, .rdb, .rwl, .rwz, .s3db, .sd0, .sda, .sdf, .sqlite, .sqlite3, .sqlitedb, .sr2, .srf, .srw, .st5, .st8, .std, .sti, .stw, .stx, .sxd, .sxg, .sxi, .sxm, .tex, .wallet, .wb2, .wpd, .x11, .x3f, .xis, .ycbcra, .yuv

Hades Locker ransomware removal:

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Video suggesting what steps should be taken in case of a ransomware infection:

Quick menu:

Reporting ransomware to authorities:

If you are a victim of a ransomware attack we recommend reporting this incident to authorities. By providing information to law enforcement agencies you will help track cybercrime and potentially assist in the prosecution of the attackers. Here's a list of authorities where you should report a ransomware attack. For the complete list of local cybersecurity centers and information on why you should report ransomware attacks, read this article.

List of local authorities where ransomware attacks should be reported (choose one depending on your residence address):

Isolating the infected device:

Some ransomware-type infections are designed to encrypt files within external storage devices, infect them, and even spread throughout the entire local network. For this reason, it is very important to isolate the infected device (computer) as soon as possible.

Step 1: Disconnect from the internet.

The easiest way to disconnect a computer from the internet is to unplug the Ethernet cable from the motherboard, however, some devices are connected via a wireless network and for some users (especially those who are not particularly tech-savvy), disconnecting cables may seem troublesome. Therefore, you can also disconnect the system manually via Control Panel:

Navigate to the "Control Panel", click the search bar in the upper-right corner of the screen, enter "Network and Sharing Center" and select search result: Disconnecting computer from the Internet (step 1)

Click the "Change adapter settings" option in the upper-left corner of the window: Disconnecting computer from the Internet (step 2)

Right-click on each connection point and select "Disable". Once disabled, the system will no longer be connected to the internet. To re-enable the connection points, simply right-click again and select "Enable". Disconnecting computer from the Internet (step 3)

Step 2: Unplug all storage devices.

As mentioned above, ransomware might encrypt data and infiltrate all storage devices that are connected to the computer. For this reason, all external storage devices (flash drives, portable hard drives, etc.) should be disconnected immediately, however, we strongly advise you to eject each device before disconnecting to prevent data corruption:

Navigate to "My Computer", right-click on each connected device, and select "Eject": Ejecting external storage devices

Step 3: Log-out of cloud storage accounts.

Some ransomware-type might be able to hijack software that handles data stored within "the Cloud". Therefore, the data could be corrupted/encrypted. For this reason, you should log-out of all cloud storage accounts within browsers and other related software. You should also consider temporarily uninstalling the cloud-management software until the infection is completely removed.

Identify the ransomware infection:

To properly handle an infection, one must first identify it. Some ransomware infections use ransom-demand messages as an introduction (see the WALDO ransomware text file below).

Identify ransomware-type infection (step 1)

This, however, is rare. In most cases, ransomware infections deliver more direct messages simply stating that data is encrypted and that victims must pay some sort of ransom. Note that ransomware-type infections typically generate messages with different file names (for example, "_readme.txt", "READ-ME.txt", "DECRYPTION_INSTRUCTIONS.txt", "DECRYPT_FILES.html", etc.). Therefore, using the name of a ransom message may seem like a good way to identify the infection. The problem is that most of these names are generic and some infections use the same names, even though the delivered messages are different and the infections themselves are unrelated. Therefore, using the message filename alone can be ineffective and even lead to permanent data loss (for example, by attempting to decrypt data using tools designed for different ransomware infections, users are likely to end up permanently damaging files and decryption will no longer be possible even with the correct tool).

Another way to identify a ransomware infection is to check the file extension, which is appended to each encrypted file. Ransomware infections are often named by the extensions they append (see files encrypted by Qewe ransomware below).

Identify ransomware-type infection (step 2)

This method is only effective, however, when the appended extension is unique - many ransomware infections append a generic extension (for example, ".encrypted", ".enc", ".crypted", ".locked", etc.). In these cases, identifying ransomware by its appended extension becomes impossible.

One of the easiest and quickest ways to identify a ransomware infection is to use the ID Ransomware website. This service supports most existing ransomware infections. Victims simply upload a ransom message and/or one encrypted file (we advise you to upload both if possible).

Identify ransomware-type infection (step 3)

The ransomware will be identified within seconds and you will be provided with various details, such as the name of the malware family to which the infection belongs, whether it is decryptable, and so on.

Example 1 (Qewe [Stop/Djvu] ransomware):

Identify ransomware-type infection (step 4)

Example 2 (.iso [Phobos] ransomware):

Identify ransomware-type infection (step 5)

If your data happens to be encrypted by ransomware that is not supported by ID Ransomware, you can always try searching the internet by using certain keywords (for example, a ransom message title, file extension, provided contact emails, crypto wallet addresses, etc.).

Search for ransomware decryption tools:

Encryption algorithms used by most ransomware-type infections are extremely sophisticated and, if the encryption is performed properly, only the developer is capable of restoring data. This is because decryption requires a specific key, which is generated during the encryption. Restoring data without the key is impossible. In most cases, cybercriminals store keys on a remote server, rather than using the infected machine as a host. Dharma (CrySis), Phobos, and other families of high-end ransomware infections are virtually flawless, and thus restoring data encrypted without the developers' involvement is simply impossible. Despite this, there are dozens of ransomware-type infections that are poorly developed and contain a number of flaws (for example, the use of identical encryption/decryption keys for each victim, keys stored locally, etc.). Therefore, always check for available decryption tools for any ransomware that infiltrates your computer.

Finding the correct decryption tool on the internet can be very frustrating. For this reason, we recommend that you use the No More Ransom Project and this is where identifying the ransomware infection is useful. The No More Ransom Project website contains a "Decryption Tools" section with a search bar. Enter the name of the identified ransomware, and all available decryptors (if there are any) will be listed.

Searching for ransomware decryption tools in nomoreransom.org website

Restore files with data recovery tools:

Depending on the situation (quality of ransomware infection, type of encryption algorithm used, etc.), restoring data with certain third-party tools might be possible. Therefore, we advise you to use the Recuva tool developed by CCleaner. This tool supports over a thousand data types (graphics, video, audio, documents, etc.) and it is very intuitive (little knowledge is necessary to recover data). In addition, the recovery feature is completely free.

Step 1: Perform a scan.

Run the Recuva application and follow the wizard. You will be prompted with several windows allowing you to choose what file types to look for, which locations should be scanned, etc. All you need to do is select the options you're looking for and start the scan. We advise you to enable the "Deep Scan" before starting, otherwise, the application's scanning capabilities will be restricted.

Recuva data recovery tool wizard

Wait for Recuva to complete the scan. The scanning duration depends on the volume of files (both in quantity and size) that you are scanning (for example, several hundred gigabytes could take over an hour to scan). Therefore, be patient during the scanning process. We also advise against modifying or deleting existing files, since this might interfere with the scan. If you add additional data (for example, downloading files/content) while scanning, this will prolong the process:

Recuva data recovery tool scan time

Step 2: Recover data.

Once the process is complete, select the folders/files you wish to restore and simply click "Recover". Note that some free space on your storage drive is necessary to restore data:

Recuva data recovery tool recovering data

Create data backups:

Proper file management and creating backups is essential for data security. Therefore, always be very careful and think ahead.

Partition management: We recommend that you store your data in multiple partitions and avoid storing important files within the partition that contains the entire operating system. If you fall into a situation whereby you cannot boot the system and are forced to format the disk on which the operating system is installed (in most cases, this is where malware infections hide), you will lose all data stored within that drive. This is the advantage of having multiple partitions: if you have the entire storage device assigned to a single partition, you will be forced to delete everything, however, creating multiple partitions and allocating the data properly allows you to prevent such problems. You can easily format a single partition without affecting the others - therefore, one will be cleaned and the others will remain untouched, and your data will be saved. Managing partitions is quite simple and you can find all the necessary information on Microsoft's documentation web page.

Data backups: One of the most reliable backup methods is to use an external storage device and keep it unplugged. Copy your data to an external hard drive, flash (thumb) drive, SSD, HDD, or any other storage device, unplug it and store it in a dry place away from the sun and extreme temperatures. This method is, however, quite inefficient, since data backups and updates need to be made regularly. You can also use a cloud service or remote server. Here, an internet connection is required and there is always the chance of a security breach, although it's a really rare occasion.

We recommend using Microsoft OneDrive for backing up your files. OneDrive lets you store your personal files and data in the cloud, sync files across computers and mobile devices, allowing you to access and edit your files from all of your Windows devices. OneDrive lets you save, share and preview files, access download history, move, delete, and rename files, as well as create new folders, and much more.

You can back up your most important folders and files on your PC (your Desktop, Documents, and Pictures folders). Some of OneDrive’s more notable features include file versioning, which keeps older versions of files for up to 30 days. OneDrive features a recycling bin in which all of your deleted files are stored for a limited time. Deleted files are not counted as part of the user’s allocation.

The service is built using HTML5 technologies and allows you to upload files up to 300 MB via drag and drop into the web browser or up to 10 GB via the OneDrive desktop application. With OneDrive, you can download entire folders as a single ZIP file with up to 10,000 files, although it can’t exceed 15 GB per single download.

OneDrive comes with 5 GB of free storage out of the box, with an additional 100 GB, 1 TB, and 6 TB storage options available for a subscription-based fee. You can get one of these storage plans by either purchasing additional storage separately or with Office 365 subscription.

Creating a data backup:

The backup process is the same for all file types and folders. Here’s how you can back up your files using Microsoft OneDrive

Step 1: Choose the files/folders you want to backup.

Click the OneDrive icon in the taskbar

Click the OneDrive cloud icon to open the OneDrive menu. While in this menu, you can customize your file backup settings.

Select Help & Settings and click Settings

Click Help & Settings and then select Settings from the drop-down menu.

Select the Backup tab and click Manage backup

Go to the Backup tab and click Manage backup.

Select folders to backup and click Start backup

In this menu, you can choose to backup the Desktop and all of the files on it, and Documents and Pictures folders, again, with all of the files in them. Click Start backup.

Now, when you add a file or folder in the Desktop and Documents and Pictures folders, they will be automatically backed up on OneDrive.

To add folders and files, not in the locations shown above, you have to add them manually.

Select a file manually and copy it

Open File Explorer and navigate to the location of the folder/file you want to backup. Select the item, right-click it, and click Copy.

Paste the copied file in the OneDrive folder to create a backup

Then, navigate to OneDrive, right-click anywhere in the window and click Paste. Alternatively, you can just drag and drop a file into OneDrive. OneDrive will automatically create a backup of the folder/file.

File statuses in OneDrive folder

All of the files added to the OneDrive folder are backed up in the cloud automatically. The green circle with the checkmark in it indicates that the file is available both locally and on OneDrive and that the file version is the same on both. The blue cloud icon indicates that the file has not been synced and is available only on OneDrive. The sync icon indicates that the file is currently syncing.

Click Help & Settings and click View Online

To access files only located on OneDrive online, go to the Help & Settings drop-down menu and select View online.

Click the Settings cog and click Options

Step 2: Restore corrupted files.

OneDrive makes sure that the files stay in sync, so the version of the file on the computer is the same version on the cloud. However, if ransomware has encrypted your files, you can take advantage of OneDrive’s Version history feature that will allow you to restore the file versions prior to encryption.

Microsoft 365 has a ransomware detection feature that notifies you when your OneDrive files have been attacked and guide you through the process of restoring your files. It must be noted, however, that if you don’t have a paid Microsoft 365 subscription, you only get one detection and file recovery for free.

If your OneDrive files get deleted, corrupted, or infected by malware, you can restore your entire OneDrive to a previous state. Here’s how you can restore your entire OneDrive:

restore-your-onedrive

1. If you're signed in with a personal account, click the Settings cog at the top of the page. Then, click Options and select Restore your OneDrive.

If you're signed in with a work or school account,  click the Settings cog at the top of the page. Then, click Restore your OneDrive.

2. On the Restore your OneDrive page, select a date from the drop-down list. Note that if you're restoring your files after automatic ransomware detection, a restore date will be selected for you.

3. After configuring all of the file restoration options, click Restore to undo all the activities you selected.

The best way to avoid damage from ransomware infections is to maintain regular up-to-date backups.

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About the author:

Tomas Meskauskas

Tomas Meskauskas - expert security researcher, professional malware analyst.

I am passionate about computer security and technology. I have an experience of over 10 years working in various companies related to computer technical issue solving and Internet security. I have been working as an author and editor for pcrisk.com since 2010. Follow me on Twitter and LinkedIn to stay informed about the latest online security threats. Contact Tomas Meskauskas.

PCrisk security portal is brought by a company RCS LT. Joined forces of security researchers help educate computer users about the latest online security threats. More information about the company RCS LT.

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Malware activity

Global malware activity level today:

Medium threat activity

Increased attack rate of infections detected within the last 24 hours.

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