Maze Ransomware

Also Known As: Maze virus
Distribution: Moderate
Damage level: Severe

Maze ransomware removal instructions

What is Maze?

Discovered by Jérôme Segura, Maze is a ransomware-type program. People who have computers infected with Maze cannot access their files/data - the program encrypts files and keeps them in that state until a ransom is paid. Furthermore, it renames all encrypted files by adding a random extension to the filenames. For example, "1.jpg" might become "1.jpg.ILnnD", and so on. Maze also changes the desktop wallpaper and creates the "DECRYPT-FILES.html" file, a ransom message with instructions about how to decrypt files.

The wallpaper states that Maze encrypts files with RSA-2048 and ChaCha algorithms, and the only way to restore locked/encrypted files is to purchase a decryption tool. Files can apparently be restored by following the instructions in the "DECRYPT-FILES.HTML" file. The message states that these people must first be contacted to purchase this tool and a unique key. This can be done by sending an email to koreadec@tutanota.com or yourrealdecrypt@airmail.cc. These two email addresses can also be used for a 'test decryption' - victims can send one file to them and they will decrypt and return it free of charge. To proceed with decryption, victims must send an entire sequence of characters, which can be found at the bottom of the "DECRYPT-FILES.HTML" ransom message (under "Base64"). Maze's developers will then provide all further instructions. Despite this, do not trust these and other other cyber criminals. Typically, they cooperate only until they are paid (a decryption tool/key is purchased), and then they ignore victims and send no decryption tools/keys. Only Maze's developers have the ability to decrypt files. Encryptions caused by ransomware-type programs are usually impossible to decrypt without the correct tools held only by the ransomware developers. The best, free option in such cases is to restore all files using a backup created beforehand.

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

Maze decrypt instructions

Maze is similar to many other ransomware-type programs including, for example, 2k19sys, Virus Hermes, and Mogera. They encrypt data and force victims to pay a ransom/buy a decryption tool. The main differences between these programs are cryptography algorithms used to encrypt files and cost of decryption. Despite any similarities or differences, most ransomware-type programs encrypt files with strong algorithms. Therefore, encoded files cannot be decrypted without tools held only by ransomware developers. To avoid data and financial loss, maintain data backups and keep them stored on an unplugged storage device or remote server (for example, Cloud).

How did ransomware infect my computer?

Typically, malicious software is distributed through spam campaigns, trojans, untrustworthy software download sources, third party activation tools and unofficial software updaters. Spam campaigns can be used to proliferate viruses through files (or links leading to them) attached to emails. Typically, cyber criminals send emails that contain Microsoft Office or PDF documents, archive files, executables (.exe files), JavaScript or other files. The main aim is to trick recipients into downloading and opening them. If opened, these files download and install malware. Trojans are malicious programs that often cause chain infections by proliferating malicious programs. To achieve this, however, the trojan must already be installed. Furthermore, cyber criminals often upload their malicious files onto untrustworthy, unofficial software download websites, freeware download websites, free file hosting pages, Peer-to-Peer networks such as torrent clients, eMule and so on. They disguise malicious files as harmless and legitimate. People who download and open them cause installation of various high-risk viruses. Another way to distribute malware is through fake/unofficial software updaters. If used, they often infect systems rather than installing updates, or they exploit bugs/flaws of the outdated software. People who activate software with 'cracking' tools can be tricked into installing malware. Cyber criminals often use these tools to proliferate viruses. Rather than activating software, these tools download and install malicious programs.

Threat Summary:
Name Maze virus
Threat Type Ransomware, Crypto Virus, Files locker
Encrypted Files Extension Random string.
Ransom Demanding Message Desktop wallpaper, DECRYPT-FILES.html
Cyber Criminal Contact koreadec@tutanota.com, yourrealdecrypt@airmail.cc
Detection Names Avast (Win32:Adware-gen [Adw]), BitDefender (Gen:Variant.Adware.Kazy.734873), ESET-NOD32 (a variant of Win32/Kryptik.GTLN), Kaspersky (Trojan-Ransom.Win32.Gen.qqa), Full List Of Detections (VirusTotal)
Symptoms Cannot open files stored on your computer, previously functional files now have a different extension (for example, my.docx.locked). A ransom demand message is displayed on your desktop. Cyber criminals demand payment of 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 Malwarebytes.
▼ Download Malwarebytes
To use full-featured product, you have to purchase a license for Malwarebytes. 14 days free trial available.

How to protect yourself from ransomware infections?

Do not download or install software using third party software downloaders/installers, from dubious pages, and so on. The safest way to download is using official and trustworthy websites, and direct download links. Update installed software using implemented functions or tools provided by official software developers. Do not open files that are attached to emails received from unknown/suspicious email addresses, especially if these emails are irrelevant. Software should be activated properly, and not with 'cracking' tools that supposedly bypass activation free of charge. It is illegal to use these tools. Additionally, have reputable anti-spyware or anti-virus software installed and keep it enabled at all times. If your computer is already infected with Maze, we recommend running a scan with Malwarebytes for Windows to automatically eliminate this ransomware.

Screenshot of Maze HTML file:

Maze html file

Text presented in the HTML file:

*********************************************************************************************************************

Attention! Your documents, photos, databases, and other important files have been encrypted!

*********************************************************************************************************************

What is going on?
Your files have been encrypted using strong reliable algorithms RSA-2048 and ChaCha20 with an unique private key for your system

You can read more about this cryptosystem here: hxxps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RSA_(cryptosystem)

The only way to recover (decrypt) your files is to buy decryptor with the unique private key

Attention! Only we can recover your files! If someone tell you that he can do this, kindly ask him to proof!

By us you can decrypt one of your files for free as a proof of work that we have the method to decrypt the rest of your data.

In order to either buy the private key or make test decryption contact us via email:
Main e-mail: koreadec@tutanota.com
Reserve e-mail: yourrealdecrypt@airmail.cc

Remember to hurry up as email address may not be available for very long as soon as law enforcements of different countries always trying to seize emails used in ransom companies

If you are willing to pay but you are not sure knock us and we will save your e-mail address. In case the listed addresses are seized we will write you from the new one

Below you will see a big base64 blob, you will need to email us and copy this blob to us.
you can click on it, and it will be copied into the clipboard.

If you have troubles copying it, just send us the file you are currently reading, as an attachment.

Base64:

-

Appearance of Maze ransomware (GIF):

maze ransomware appearance

Screenshot of files encrypted by Maze (random "ILnnD" extension):

Files encrypted by Maze

Update May 15, 2020 - The developers of Maze ransomware have recently started looking for affiliates and offering Maze as ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS). This business model is basically based on the work distribution - the affiliate is responsible for malware distribution, while the developer provides affiliates with necessary tools to perform malicious actions. The revenue is distributed either in percentage (the developers get a certain share) or either affiliate pays a subscription fee.

Screenshot of Maze ransomware's admin panel:

Maze ransomware-as-a-service admin panel

Maze ransomware removal:

Instant automatic malware removal: Manual threat removal might be a lengthy and complicated process that requires advanced computer skills. Malwarebytes is a professional automatic malware removal tool that is recommended to get rid of malware. Download it by clicking the button below:
▼ DOWNLOAD Malwarebytes By downloading any software listed on this website you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. To use full-featured product, you have to purchase a license for Malwarebytes. 14 days free trial available.

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 Maze 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 Maze 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 Maze 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 Maze 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 Maze, 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 Maze 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 Maze ransomware:

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.

QR Code
Maze virus QR code
A QR code (Quick Response Code) is a machine-readable code which stores URLs and other information. This code can be read using a camera on a smartphone or a tablet. Scan this QR code to have an easy access removal guide of Maze virus on your mobile device.
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