How to avoid having files encrypted by Maze ransomware?

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

Maze ransomware removal instructions

What is Maze?

There is more than one version of Maze ransomware, previous version is named Maze too. The new version was discovered by nao_sec. Typically, ransomware-type programs encrypt data and create ransom notes that contain information on how decrypt files. However, most of the times victims cannot decrypt their files without tools that only developers of a particular ransomware have. It is worth mentioning that this variant of Maze does not encrypt files if it detects "C:\hutchins.txt" file on a system. If that is not the case, then Maze encrypts files, renames them by adding a random extension (for example, it renames "1.jpg" to "1.jpg.sA16PA"), creates the "DECRYPT-FILES.txt" file and changes victim's desktop wallpaper.

Changed wallpaper contains text, a ransom note stating that victim's files have been encrypted using RSA-2048 and ChaCha encryption algorithms and the only way to decrypt files is to buy a decryptor. It can be purchased by following instructions that are provided in the "DECRYPT-FILES.txt" text file (ransom note). As stated in this note, victims must to pay a ransom through a website link that can be opened with the Tor browser. Another way to make a payment is to use another website (its link is provided in the ransom note as well) that can be opened with any browser. Either way, it is made clear that victims cannot decrypt their files without the right tool/key. As stated in the Tor website, victims must pay $500 in Bitcoins using the provided BTC wallet address. Also, it is mentioned that if victims will not pay a ransom in a particular amount of time (there is a countdown counter at the top of the Tor page), then size of a ransom will be doubled. Also, it is possible to decrypt 3 files for free, it can be done through the same website. As a rule, cyber criminals offer free decryption to prove that they have a tool/key that can decrypt victim's files. However, it does not mean that people who designed ransomware can be trusted. In most cases it is true that they are the only ones who help with a decryption, however, quite often they do not do it even if victims pay a ransom. Since there are no free tools that could decrypt files encrypted by Maze, we advise to 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 quite similar to other programs of this type, for example, Uta, MedusaLocker and Leto. They encrypt data and display ransom demanding messages or/and create ransom notes. The main differences usually are price of a decryption tool or/and key and cryptographic algorithm that is used to encrypt data. Unfortunately, most encryptions are impossible to decrypt without using tools that only cyber criminals who designed ransomware have. Unless ransomware is not fully developed, contains bugs, flaws, etc. To avoid data loss caused by ransomware we recommend to create data backups regularly and to 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 that are being used to initiate exploits against some vulnerable (usually outdated) software or inject malicious codes into vulnerable websites. Other ways to spread ransomware-type programs and other malware are 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 them. Typically, cyber criminals attach Microsoft Office documents, archive files (like 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 those attachments. If opened, they infect systems with malware. Another way to spread it is via Trojans. Trojans are malicious programs that, if already installed, open backdoors for other malware. Simply said, they cause chain infections. Examples of untrustworthy download sources are: file hosting, freeware download websites, Peer-to-Peer (P2P) networks like torrent clients, eMule, and other similar channels/tools. Cyber criminals use them to upload malicious files that are disguised as legitimate, harmless. By downloading and opening/installing them people install malicious programs by themselves. Software 'cracking' tools are programs that people use when they want avoid having to pay for activation of licensed software. However, these tools often install malware instead of activating some installed software for free. Fake (unofficial) software updating tools cause damage by exploiting bugs, flaws of outdated software that is already installed on a system, or by simply installing malicious programs instead of 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 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.
Removal

To eliminate Maze 2019 virus our malware researchers recommend scanning your computer with Spyhunter.
▼ Download Spyhunter
Free scanner checks if your computer is infected. To remove malware, you have to purchase the full version of Spyhunter.

How to protect yourself from ransomware infections?

We advise agains opening email attachments that are presented in emails received from unknown, suspicious addresses. Typically, these emails are irrelevant to their recipients. Typically, to trick people into opening attachments or web links cyber criminals present their emails as official, important. Furthermore, all software should be downloaded from official, trustworthy websites and via direct links. All other channels/sources that we mentioned above should not be trusted/used. Unofficial/third party tools to that supposed to update installed software are often used to spread malware. Therefore, they should not be used as well. The safest way to update software is to use tools (or/and functions) that are provided by official software developers. If installed software requires to be activated, it should not be done using 'cracking' tools. They are illegal and people who use them often install malicious programs. One more important thing is to regularly scan the operating system with a 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 Spyhunter for Windows to automatically eliminate this ransomware.

Text presented in Maze ransomware's 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's 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's 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

Maze ransomware removal:

Instant automatic removal of Maze 2019 virus: Manual threat removal might be a lengthy and complicated process that requires advanced computer skills. Spyhunter is a professional automatic malware removal tool that is recommended to get rid of Maze 2019 virus. Download it by clicking the button below:
▼ DOWNLOAD Spyhunter By downloading any software listed on this website you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. Free scanner checks if your computer is infected. To remove malware, you have to purchase the full version of Spyhunter.

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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Malware activity

Global virus and spyware activity level today:

Medium threat activity
Medium

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

QR Code
Maze 2019 virus QR code
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