How to avoid having files encrypted by Maze ransomware

Also Known As: Maze 2019 virus
Distribution: Moderate
Damage level: Severe

wMaze ransomware removal instructions

What is Maze?

There is more than one version of Maze ransomware (the previous version is also named Maze). The new version was discovered by nao_sec. Ransomware-type programs encrypt data and create ransom messages that contain information about how to decrypt files, however, victims cannot generally regain access to their files without tools held only by developers of the ransomware. This variant of Maze does not encrypt files if it detects the "C:\hutchins.txt" file on the system. If this is NOT the case, Maze encrypts files, renames them by adding a random extension (for example, "1.jpg" becomes "1.jpg.sA16PA"), creates the "DECRYPT-FILES.txt" file, and changes the desktop wallpaper.

The modified wallpaper contains a ransom message stating that the victim's files have been encrypted using RSA-2048 and ChaCha encryption algorithms. The only way to decrypt them is apparently to purchase a decryptor by following instructions provided in the "DECRYPT-FILES.txt" text file (ransom message). The message states that victims must pay the ransom through a website link, which can be opened with the Tor browser. Another way to make payment is to use another website (the link is also provided in the ransom message), which can be opened with any browser. In any case, it is made clear that victims cannot decrypt their files without the correct tool/key. The Tor website states that victims must pay $500 in Bitcoins using the BTC wallet address provided. It is mentioned that, unless victims pay the ransom within a particular time frame (a countdown timer is displayed at the top of the Tor web page), the size of the ransom is doubled. It is possible to decrypt three files free of charge through the same website. Generally, cyber criminals offer free decryption to 'prove' that they have tools/keys capable of decoding files. Despite this, people who design ransomware can never be trusted. Only they have a decryption tools/keys, however, they rarely provide these, even if victims pay the ransoms. Since there are no free tools capable of decoding files encrypted by Maze, we suggest that you restore them from a backup.

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

Maze decrypt instructions

This ransomware is similar to other programs of this type including, for example, Uta, MedusaLocker, and Leto. They encrypt data and create/display ransom demand messages. The main differences are usually cost of decryption tool/key and cryptographic algorithm used to encrypt data. Unfortunately, most encryptions are impossible to decrypt without using tools held only by the cyber criminals who designed the ransomware, unless the ransomware is not fully developed, contains bugs, flaws, etc. To avoid data loss caused by ransomware, maintain regular data backups and store them on remote servers or unplugged storage devices.

How did ransomware infect my computer

Research shows that cyber criminals distribute Maze using SpelevoEK (exploit kit). Exploit kits are tools used to initiate 'exploits' against vulnerable (usually outdated) software or to inject malicious code into vulnerable websites. Other ways to proliferate ransomware-type programs (and other malware) are via emails, Trojans, untrustworthy software download channels, software 'cracking' tools, and fake updaters. Emails/spam campaigns can be used to infect computers through files that are attached to email messages. Typically, cyber criminals attach Microsoft Office documents, archive files (ZIP, RAR), executable files (.exe and other files of this kind), PDF documents, JavaScript files, etc. Their main goal is to trick recipients into opening the attachments. If opened, they infect systems with malware. Another way to proliferate infections is via Trojans, which are malicious programs. If already installed, they open backdoors for other malware. In this way, they cause chain infections. Examples of untrustworthy download sources are file hosting, freeware download websites, Peer-to-Peer (P2P) networks such as torrent clients, eMule, and other similar channels/tools. Cyber criminals use them to upload malicious files that are disguised as legitimate or harmless. By downloading and opening/installing them, many people install malicious programs inadvertently. Software 'cracking' tools are used by people (illegally) to avoid having to pay for activation of licensed software. In fact, these tools often install malware rather than activating any installed software free of charge. Fake (unofficial) software updating tools cause damage by exploiting bugs/flaws of outdated software that is already installed on the system, or simply by installing malicious programs rather than updates.

Threat Summary:
Name Maze 2019 virus
Threat Type Ransomware, Crypto Virus, Files locker.
Encrypted Files Extension This ransomware appends a random extension.
Ransom Demanding Message DECRYPT-FILES.txt, wallpaper and Tor website.
Ransom Amount $500/$1000
Cyber Criminal Contact Victims can contact Maze developers via a chat window in a Tor website.
Detection Names Avast (FileRepMalware), AVG (FileRepMalware), ESET-NOD32 (Win32/Filecoder.NVY), Kaspersky (Trojan-Ransom.Win32.Gen.tno), 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.
Additional Information This ransomware does not encrypt files if it detects C:\hutchins.txt file on the system.
Distribution methods SpelevoEK (exploit kit), 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 open email attachments that are presented in emails received from unknown, suspicious addresses. Typically, these are irrelevant to recipients. To trick people into opening attachments or web links, cyber criminals often present their emails as official, important. Download all software from official, trustworthy websites and via direct links. All other channels/sources mentioned above should not be trusted or used. Unofficial/third party tools that supposedly update installed software are often used to proliferate malware. Therefore, they should not be used. The safest way to update software is to use tools and functions provided by official software developers. If installed software requires activation, this should NOT be done using 'cracking' tools. They are illegal and people who use them often end up installing malicious programs. Regularly scan the operating system with reputable antivirus or anti-spyware software and keep it up-to-date. If your computer is already infected with Maze, we recommend running a scan with Malwarebytes for Windows to automatically eliminate this ransomware.

Text presented in Maze ransomware desktop wallpaper:

Maze Ransomware

Dear *****, your files have been encrypted by RSA-2048 and ChaCha algorithms
The only way to restore them is to buy decryptor

These algorithms are one of the strongest
You can read about them at wikipedia

If you understand the importance of situation you can restore all files by following instructions in DECRYPT-FILES.txt file

You can decrypt files for free as a proof of work
We know that this computer is very valuable for you
So we will give you appropriate price for recovering

Screenshot of Maze text file ("DECRYPT-FILES.txt"):

Maze text file

Text in this file:

Attention!

----------------------------
| What happened?
----------------------------

All your files, documents, photos, databases, and other important data are safely encrypted with reliable algorithms.
You cannot access the files right now. But do not worry. You have a chance! It is easy to recover in a few steps.

----------------------------
| How to get my files back?
----------------------------

The only method to restore your files is to purchase a unique for you private key which is securely stored on our servers.
To contact us and purchase the key you have to visit our website in a hidden TOR network.

There are general 2 ways to reach us:

1) [Recommended] Using hidden TOR network.

  a) Download a special TOR browser: hxxps://www.torproject.org/
  b) Install the TOR Browser.
  c) Open the TOR Browser.
  d) Open our website in the TOR browser: hxxp://aoacugmutagkwctu.onion/1dcb0b851e857d00
  e) Follow the instructions on this page.

2) If you have any problems connecting or using TOR network

  a) Open our website: hxxps://mazedecrypt.top/1dcb0b851e857d00
  b) Follow the instructions on this page.

Warning: the second (2) method can be blocked in some countries. That is why the first (1) method is recommended to use.

On this page, you will see instructions on how to make a free decryption test and how to pay.
Also it has a live chat with our operators and support team.

----------------------------
| What about guarantees?
----------------------------

We understand your stress and worry.
So you have a FREE opportunity to test a service by instantly decrypting for free three files on your computer!
If you have any problems our friendly support team is always here to assist you in a live chat!


----------------------------
THIS IS A SPECIAL BLOCK WITH A PERSONAL AND CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION! DO NOT TOUCH IT WE NEED IT TO IDENTIFY AND AUTHORIZE YOU
---BEGIN MAZE KEY---
-
---END MAZE KEY---

Screenshot of Maze Tor website:

maze ransomware tor website

Text in this page:

Maze Ransomware

What's just happened?

If you see this page it means you are lucky, because we kindly give you the chance to recover your data. Please upload your ransom note using the form below and start recovering your data. If the ransom note is recognized by our parser, you will be successfully authorized and provided with further instructions.
Upload your ransom note DECRYPT-FILES.txt
Guarantees?

We can recover your files, as our ransomware is carefully designed to keep the integrity of your encrypted data.

Don't be afraid and start recovering!
Antivirus corporations?

If you are waiting for a free solution to come, we must disappoint you.

Our ransomware uses a strong combination of algorithms. It will require decades to crack.

Start working with us.
Price?

We understand that the customer cannot always pay the ransom. We have discounts and sometimes you might recover your files just by working with us.

Maze Ransomware 2019 ?Because we always give a second chance! î

To recover your files, you must pay the ransom.

Your current ransom price 500$ (USD)

You must hurry up because the ransom price will double after the counter at the top right of this page will reach zero. If you fail to pay until that time, the price will increase x2 (doubled), so if it was 500 USD it will become 1000 USD. You can send the money in chunks (parts), the price will be recalculated on each successful transaction.
Transaction will be completed after 3 confirmations from the network.

To pay the ransom you must buy bitcoin, and send exactly this amount of btc 0.0619667 BTC to address:

3JGqKRWSsXQsnHWDpHXXNg7TJcubszJher
To see how to buy the bitcoins, click Buy Bitcoins at the tab menu on top of the page.

We are providing 3 test decrypts, to prove that we can recover your files.
Click Test Decrypt at the menu on top of this the page to decrypt 3 files for free.
Attention! We are decrypting only image files for free, as they do not have any significant value to you.

Appearance of Tor website (GIF):

appearance of Maze Tor website

Screenshot of files encrypted by Maze (random extension):

Files encrypted by Maze

Update December 18, 2019 - The developers of Maze 2019 ransomware have recently started using a new method to threaten victims and to encourage them to pay ransoms. What crooks do is steal a certain amount of data with an intention making it public if the victim refuses to pay. They have developed a public website to store the stolen data of various victims. Although the developers use this tactic mainly against various businesses and companies (since these are way more likely to pay than regular users), there's no guarantee that the situation won't eventually change. At this current moment the aforementioned website contains 8 different entries.

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, and 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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Removal Instructions in other languages
Malware activity

Global malware activity level today:

Medium threat activity

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

QR Code
Maze 2019 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 2019 virus on your mobile device.
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