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Sage 2.0 Ransomware

Also Known As: Sage 2.0 virus
Distribution: Low
Damage level: Severe

Sage 2.0 ransomware removal instructions

What is Sage 2.0?

Sage 2.0 is an updated version of Sage - a ransomware-type virus. Following infiltration, Sage 2.0 encrypts various files and appends their filenames with the ".sage" extension. For instance, "sample.jpg" is renamed to "sample.jpg.sage". Following successful encryption, Sage 2.0 creates an HTML file ("Recovery_[3_random_characters].html"), places it in each folder containing encrypted files, and changes the desktop wallpaper.

The wallpaper and HTML file contain an identical ransom-demand message informing victims of the encryption and stating that files cannot be restored without the assistance of Sage 2.0's developers. To receive help, victims must pay a ransom equivalent of $2000 in Bitcoins. It is currently unknown whether Sage 2.0 uses symmetric or asymmetric cryptography. In either case, decryption without a unique key is impossible. This key is stored on a remote server controlled by Sage 2.0's developers and victims are encouraged to pay to receive it. Payment must be made via Sage 2.0's website (links are provided within the ransom-demand message). In addition, the ransom must be paid within the given time frame (the website contains a timer), otherwise the key is deleted permanently and decryption becomes impossible. Despite these demands and threats, you should never trust cyber criminals. Research shows that victims are often ignored once payments are submitted. There is no guarantee that your files will ever be decrypted and you will be scammed. Furthermore, you will support these criminals' malicious businesses. We strongly advise you to ignore all requests to pay or contact these people. Unfortunately, there are no tools capable of restoring files encrypted by Sage 2.0. The problem can only be resolved by restoring files/system from a backup.

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

Sage 2.0 decrypt instructions

Sage 2.0 shares many similarities with CTB-Locker, Locky, Cerber, and dozens of other ransomware-type viruses. Research reveals that these viruses encrypt files and make ransom demands. There are just two major differences between ransomware-type viruses: 1) type of encryption algorithm [symmetric/asymmetric] used, and; 2) size of ransom. The distribution methods are also identical. Cyber criminals proliferate ransomware via fake software updaters, trojans, third party software download sources (peer-to-peer networks, free file hosting websites, freeware download websites, etc.), and infectious files attached to spam emails. Therefore, keeping your installed applications up-to-date and using a legitimate anti-virus/anti-spyware suite is essential. Note, however, that cyber criminals often use fake software updaters to infect the system. Therefore, only use tools from official websites. Furthermore, never open files received from suspicious emails or download software from unofficial sources.

Special thanks to security researcher Brad Duncan for providing samples and research insights on this ransomware.

Screenshot of Sage 2.0 HTML file:

Sage 2.0 decrypt instructions

Ransom-demand message presented within Sage 2.0 HTML file and desktop wallpaper:

Need help with translation?? Use https://translate.google.com
ATTENTION! ALL YOUR FILES WERE ENCRYPTED!
PLEASE READ THIS MESSAGE CAREFULLY
All your important and critical files as well as databases, images and videos and so on were encrypted by software known as SAGE!
SAGE 2.0 uses military grade elliptic curve cryptography and you have no chances restoring your files without our help!
But if you follow our instructions we guarantee that you can restore all your files quickly and safely!
To get the instructions open any of this temporary links m your browser:
This links are temporary and will stop working after some time, so if you can't open these links, you can use TOR Browser
The TOR Browser is available on the official website https://www.torproiect.org/
Just open this site, click on the "Download Tor" button and follow the installation instructions, then use it to open the following link:
Please be sure to copy this instruction text and links to your notepad to avoid losing it.
This crypto ransomware encrypts user data using the AES, and then calls go to the Tor-site to pay a ransom in Bitcoin and get instructions on how to return the files. Redemption amount: $ 2,000 (~ 2.15550 Bitcoin). After 7 days, the amount of foreclosures doubled.

Sage 2.0 ransomware Tor website "Homepage":

Sage 2.0 website's Home

Text presented within this page:

Important Information! Please read very carefully!
Attention!
Sage 2.0 encrypted all your files!
All your files, images, videos and databases where have been encrypted and no longer accessible by software known as Sage 2.0!
To restore all your files you need to pay $2000 (≈2.17965) for the decryption.
The after full payment, you will be able to download the software to restore your data.
In the case of non-payment of the full commission within 5d 05h,
the amount of commission will be raised to $4000 (≈4.35929)
You have no chance to restore the files without our help!
The files will restored easily if you will follow our instructions!
In case of the repeated non-payment of the increased commission during the 5d 05h period,
the unique decryption code for your files will be blocked
and its recovery will be absolutely impossible!

Sage 2.0 ransomware Tor website "Payment" page:

Sage 2.0 website's Payment

Text presented within this page:

Payment procedure How to pay?
Payment can only be made using the BitCoin system.
So you can be sure that in the case of full payment of the commission, all your files will be decrypted.
Please note that BTC currency rate as any other currency rate in the world is not fixed. It tends to increase, therefore we advise you not to delay the BTC currency purchase and payment.
If you want to learn more what is Bitcoin, then watch this YouTube Video or visit WeUseCoins website.
How to pay within the BitCoin system?
Don't worry, the payment process in the BitCoin system is not difficult and requires few simple steps.
First of all, you need to create your Bitcoin currency (BTC) wallet.
We recommend to use most popular and easy-to-use online BlockChain.info wallet.
Or you can install Electrum software wallet for any OS you need
Next, you need to top-up your Bitcoin wallet's balance.
Below is the list of trusted services where you may buy Bitcoin. These services absolutely are not related to us!
If you can't find the option that suits you, then maybe you need to try find the solution in Google?
To receive the payment from you, we have created the unique Bitcoin wallet.
Further you need to make transaction from your own Bitcoin-wallet to the Bitcoin-wallet which we have prepared for you.
You can see it below (large font).
This wallet has been created especially for you and the amount paid can not be lost!
Send 2.17965 to the following wallet: 1EjHLfL5yy4o7pjG7sfvPrQfPwfMtVT4J8
If you already made the partial payment before, you can see there the remaining amount that you need to pay.
If you need to save or copy your BTC wallet address don't try to write it down by hand.
If while making the transaction you type the wrong BTC wallet number, the money will be lost!
Therefore, if necessary, print out the BTC wallet address you need or use the QR-code scanner on your smartphone/tablet.
Keep in mind that some Bitcoin purchase services are not work in real time and have the delay in payment processing.
The delay may last from 1 to 36 hours.
We therefore recommend you not to put aside the decision of payment until the last moment. Failure to pay on time may result in the increase of the payment amount!
After full payment you can download the decryption software from the Instructions section and use it with your personal decryption key.
We guarantee that all your files will be decrypted.
Note: Due to the configuration of some browsers simply reload this page does not always update the current information.
Please logout and relogin into your account to check the actually decryption status.

Sage 2.0 ransomware Tor website "Instructions" page:

Sage 2.0 website's Instructions

Text presented within this page:

Instructions What to do after the payment is made? How to decrypt all your data?
After payment you can download the decryption software from the home page. We guarantee that all your files will be decrypted.
Just follow these simple steps:
1. Login to your personal page
2. Copy the decryption key from field on the home page
3. Click "Download decryption software" button and save Sage2Decrypter.exe to your hard disk
4. Run Sage2Decrypter.exe
5. Paste the decryption key into "Key code" field in the decryption software window.
6. Select folder or disk you want to decrypt.
7. Click "Decrypt" button and wait for successfully completion of the decryption process
8. IMPORTANT: Don't turn off or reboot your PC before the process is completed!
9. Congratulations! Now all your files are restored!

Sage 2.0 ransomware Tor website "Support" page:

Sage 2.0 website's Support

Text presented within this page:

If you still have some questions on the work of our service, please use the special form to contact our support service.
We will be glad to answer any questions you may have.
Note: Due to the configuration of some browsers simply reload this page does not always update the current information.
Please logout and relogin into your account to check the actually decryption status.

Here's how Sage 2.0 Tor website looks like (GIF):

Sage 2.0 website gif

Screenshot of files encrypted by Sage 2.0 (".sage" extension):

Sage 2.0 decrypt instructions

Update 8 February, 2017 - Cyber criminals have updated this ransomware. Now the ransom demanding message that comes as a desktop wallpaper is in green color (was red before). Right after encrypting victim’s files this ransomware displays a ransom demanding message in a pop-up window named “Decryption Instructions” (!HELP_SOS.hta file) which is available in 11 languages (English, German, Italian, Portuguese, Spain, France, Korean, Dutch, Persian, Arabic, Chinese).

Screenshot of a ransom note presented in a wallpaper:

sage 2.0 ransomware updated wallapper

Decryption Instructions pop-up (!HELP_SOS.hta file):

sage2 !HELP SOS.hta file

Text presented in this pop-up:

File recovery instructions
You probably noticed that you can not open your files and that some software stopped working correctly. This is expected. Your files content is still there, but it was encrypted by "SAGE 2.0 Ransomware". Your files are not lost, it is possible to revert them back to normal state by decrypting. The only way you can do that is by getting "SAGE Decrypter" software and your personal decryption key. Using any other software which claims to be able to restore your files will result in files being damaged or destroyed. You can purchase "SAGE Decrypter" software and your decryption key at your personal page you can access by following links: -  If you are asked for your personal key, copy it to the form on the site. This is your personal key: -  You will also be able to decrypt one file for free to make sure "SAGE Decrypter" software is able to recover your files
If none of those links work for you for a prolonged period of time or you need your files recovered as fast as possible, you can also access your personal page using "Tor Browser". In order to do that you need to:
open Internet Explorer or any other internet browser;
copy the address https://www.torproject.org/download/download-easy.html.en into address bar and press "Enter";
once the page opens, you will be offered to download Tor Browser, download it and run the installator, follow installation instructions;
once installation is finished, open the newly installed Tor Browser and press the "Connect" button (button can be named differently if you installed non-English version);
Tor Browser will establish connection and open a normal browser window;
copy the address -
into this browser address bar and press "Enter";
your personal page should be opened now; if it didn't then wait for a bit and try again.
If you can not perform this steps then check your internet connection and try again. If it still doesn't work, try asking some computer guy for help in performing this steps for you or look for some video guides on YouTube.
You can find a copy of this instruction in files named "!HELP_SOS" stored next to your encrypted files.

Encrypted files now get an icon of a lock (the extension is the same as in the previous version - .sage):

sage 2.0 encrypted files lock icon

Update 21 February, 2017 - Cyber criminals have released another update for this ransomware. It’s now called "SAGE 2.2 Ransomware":

sage ransomware 2.2 hta file sage ransomware 2.2 wallpaper

The Tor website seems unchanged compared to the previous variant.

Sage 2.0 ransomware removal:

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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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