BlackHat Ransomware

Also Known As: BlackHat virus
Damage level: Severe

What is BlackHat?

Discovered by Michael Gillespie, the BlackHat virus is a ransomware-type infection that locks (encrypts) files and demands ransom payments in return for decryption keys/tools.

Once a computer is infected by BlackHat, it changes encrypted filenames by adding the ".BlackHat" extension (e.g., "sample.jpg" is renamed to "sample.jpg.BlackHat") and places a "ReadME-BlackHat.txt" ransom message in each folder containing encrypted files.

The "ReadME-BlackHat.txt" ransom note states that BlackHat has encrypted all data. To retrieve the files, users are required to contact BlackHat developers via the mehtihack051@gmail.com email address provided, or to use a Telegram account and contact them through ID: @C3NTER.

There is no information regarding the cryptography algorithm used to encrypt files or ransom amount required for decryption. The details are probably given when cyber criminals are contacted via the above email address. Despite these demands, do not trust ransomware-type virus developers.

These criminals often ignore victims, whether or not their demands are met. Unfortunately, there is no information about any tools capable of cracking BlackHat ransomware. Therefore, the only way to retrieve files free of charge is to use a previously-created backup and restore them from there.

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

BlackHat decrypt instructions

The number of ransomware viruses is growing daily. There are many other infections that are similar to BlackHat, such as .pptx, DataWait, XUY, etc. Typically, ransomware viruses serve the same purpose: to lock/encrypt files and make ransom demands. Note that the ransom amount and cryptography algorithm used sometimes differ.

Typically, ransomware developers employ algorithms that generate unique decryption keys (e.g., AES, RSA, and similar). Therefore, it is very unlikely that users will be able to decrypt their files without contacting cyber criminals (this is not recommended).

It might only be possible if the virus is in development or has bugs/flaws. To keep your files safe from being encrypted by viruses such as BlackHat, maintain regular backups and store them on remote servers or unplugged storage devices.

How did ransomware infect my computer?

It is still unknown exactly how cyber criminals (BlackHat developers) proliferate this ransomware-type virus, however, there are several common ways. Ransomware-type viruses are usually proliferated via trojans, spam email campaigns, untrustworthy third party software downloaders, and fake software updaters.

Trojans are computer infections that, once installed, proliferate other threats such as ransomware. Spam email campaigns are used to proliferate malicious attachments. Cyber criminals attempt to trick people into opening these attachment, which, once opened, download/install malware.

The attached files are usually Microsoft Office documents, executables (EXE files), archive files (RAR, ZIP), and so on. Various third party software downloaders are used to present malicious executable files as legitimate. By using these sources, cyber criminals attempt to trick people into installing malware or other infections.

Untrustworthy download sources are peer-to-peer (P2P) networks, free file hosting websites, freeware download sites and other similar channels. Fake software updaters infect systems by downloading malicious programs rather than the promised updates or exploiting outdated software bugs and flaws.

Threat Summary:
Name BlackHat virus
Threat Type Ransomware, Crypto Virus, Files locker
Symptoms Can't open files stored on your computer, previously functional files now have a different extension, for example my.docx.locked. A ransom demanding message is displayed on your desktop. Cyber criminals are asking to pay a ransom (usually in bitcoins) to unlock your files.
Distribution methods Infected email attachments (macros), torrent websites, malicious ads.
Damage All files are encrypted and cannot be opened without paying a ransom. Additional password stealing trojans and malware infections can be installed together with a ransomware infection.
Malware Removal (Windows)

To eliminate possible malware infections, scan your computer with legitimate antivirus software. Our security researchers recommend using Combo Cleaner.
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How to protect yourself from ransomware infections?

Be careful with email attachments or links that are presented in e-mail message received from unknown, suspicious addresses. If you suspect that the attachment or link is irrelevant, do not open it. Choose official, trustworthy sources and direct links rather than various third party downloaders such as torrents, eMule, and dubious websites, when downloading software.

Update software using tools or implemented functions provided by official developers only. Another effective way to keep your computer safe from infections is to have reputable anti-virus/anti-spyware software installed and enabled at all times.

If your computer is already infected with BlackHat, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows to automatically eliminate this ransomware.

Text presented in BlackHat ransomware text file ("ReadME-BlackHat.txt"):

All your data has been locked us.
You want to return? Contact to Email: mehtihack051@gmail.com
or ID Telegram: @C3NTER Your Personal KEY: -

Screenshot of files encrypted by BlackHat (".BlackHat" extension):

Files encrypted by BlackHat

Update 28 November, 2018 - An updated version of BlackHat ransomware now also displays a pop-up window which contains a ransom-demanding message. The price for decryption is either $500 or .084 BTC. The updated version also creates a text file named "ReadME-BLackHeart.txt" instead of "ReadME-BlackHat.txt". Message within the text file and the extension added to encrypted files remains the same.

Screenshot of pop-up window displayed by BlackHat ransomware:

BlackHat Ransomware pop-up

Text presented within this pop-up:


Personal Key:

Warning: Please Don't Restart or Shutdown Your PC ,
If do it Your Personal Files Permanently Crypted.

For Decrypt Your Personal Just Pay $500 or 0.084 . After Pay You Can send personal key to
Email: mehtihack051@gmail.com or ID Telegram: @C3NTER.

BTC Transfer Address: 39PAvwFUa4EZaUpZ1RLpXafSSxW2kX9sgC

BlackHat ransomware removal:

Instant automatic malware removal: Manual threat removal might be a lengthy and complicated process that requires advanced IT skills. Combo Cleaner is a professional automatic malware removal tool that is recommended to get rid of malware. Download it by clicking the button below:
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Quick menu:

Step 1

Windows XP and Windows 7 users: Start your computer in Safe Mode. Click Start, click Shut Down, click Restart, click OK. During your computer start process, press the F8 key on your keyboard multiple times until you see the Windows Advanced Option menu, and then select Safe Mode with Networking from the list.

Safe Mode with Networking

Video showing how to start Windows 7 in "Safe Mode with Networking":

Windows 8 users: Start Windows 8 is Safe Mode with Networking - Go to Windows 8 Start Screen, type Advanced, in the search results select Settings. Click Advanced startup options, in the opened "General PC Settings" window, select Advanced startup. Click the "Restart now" button.

Your computer will now restart into the "Advanced Startup options menu". Click the "Troubleshoot" button, and then click the "Advanced options" button. In the advanced option screen, click "Startup settings". Click the "Restart" button. Your PC will restart into the Startup Settings screen. Press F5 to boot in Safe Mode with Networking.

Windows 8 Safe Mode with networking

Video showing how to start Windows 8 in "Safe Mode with Networking":

Windows 10 users: Click the Windows logo and select the Power icon. In the opened menu click "Restart" while holding "Shift" button on your keyboard. In the "choose an option" window click on the "Troubleshoot", next select "Advanced options". In the advanced options menu select "Startup Settings" and click on the "Restart" button.

In the following window you should click the "F5" button on your keyboard. This will restart your operating system in safe mode with networking.

windows 10 safe mode with networking

Video showing how to start Windows 10 in "Safe Mode with Networking":

Step 2

Log in to the account infected with the BlackHat virus. Start your Internet browser and download a legitimate anti-spyware program. Update the anti-spyware software and start a full system scan. Remove all entries detected.

If you cannot start your computer in Safe Mode with Networking, try performing a System Restore.

Video showing how to remove ransomware virus using "Safe Mode with Command Prompt" and "System Restore":

1. During your computer start process, press the F8 key on your keyboard multiple times until the Windows Advanced Options menu appears, and then select Safe Mode with Command Prompt from the list and press ENTER.

Boot your computer in Safe Mode with Command Prompt

2. When Command Prompt mode loads, enter the following line: cd restore and press ENTER.

system restore using command prompt type cd restore

3. Next, type this line: rstrui.exe and press ENTER.

system restore using command prompt rstrui.exe

4. In the opened window, click "Next".

restore system files and settings

5. Select one of the available Restore Points and click "Next" (this will restore your computer system to an earlier time and date, prior to the BlackHat ransomware virus infiltrating your PC).

select a restore point

6. In the opened window, click "Yes".

run system restore

7. After restoring your computer to a previous date, download and scan your PC with recommended malware removal software to eliminate any remaining BlackHat ransomware files.

To restore individual files encrypted by this ransomware, try using Windows Previous Versions feature. This method is only effective if the System Restore function was enabled on an infected operating system. Note that some variants of BlackHat are known to remove Shadow Volume Copies of the files, so this method may not work on all computers.

To restore a file, right-click over it, go into Properties, and select the Previous Versions tab. If the relevant file has a Restore Point, select it and click the "Restore" button.

Restoring files encrypted by CryptoDefense

If you cannot start your computer in Safe Mode with Networking (or with Command Prompt), boot your computer using a rescue disk. Some variants of ransomware disable Safe Mode making its removal complicated. For this step, you require access to another computer.

To regain control of the files encrypted by BlackHat, you can also try using a program called Shadow Explorer. More information on how to use this program is available here.

shadow explorer screenshot

To protect your computer from file encryption ransomware such as this, use reputable antivirus and anti-spyware programs. As an extra protection method, you can use programs called HitmanPro.Alert and EasySync CryptoMonitor, which artificially implant group policy objects into the registry to block rogue programs such as BlackHat ransomware.

Note that Windows 10 Fall Creators Update includes a "Controlled Folder Access" feature that blocks ransomware attempts to encrypt your files. By default, this feature automatically protects files stored in the Documents, Pictures, Videos, Music, Favorites as well as Desktop folders.

Controll Folder Access

Windows 10 users should install this update to protect their data from ransomware attacks. Here is more information on how to get this update and add an additional protection layer from ransomware infections.

HitmanPro.Alert CryptoGuard - detects encryption of files and neutralises any attempts without need for user-intervention:

hitmanproalert ransomware prevention application

Malwarebytes Anti-Ransomware Beta uses advanced proactive technology that monitors ransomware activity and terminates it immediately - before reaching users' files:

malwarebytes anti-ransomware

  • The best way to avoid damage from ransomware infections is to maintain regular up-to-date backups. More information on online backup solutions and data recovery software Here.

Other tools known to remove BlackHat ransomware:

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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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