How to avoid encryption of data caused by DoppelPaymer ransomware

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

DoppelPaymer ransomware removal instructions

What is DoppelPaymer?

DoppelPaymer is ransomware-type malware designed to prevent victims from accessing their files by encryption. To regain access, victims are encouraged to pay cyber criminals a ransom. Research shows that criminals use DoppelPaymer in targeted attacks. I.e., they target specific companies and/or industries. Criminals who have a specific target often seek to infiltrate (infect) the whole network (for example, all computers used within a particular company). This ransomware appends the ".locked" extension to the filename of each encrypted file. For example, "1.jpg" becomes "1.jpg.locked". Each encrypted file receives an associated ransom message within a .txt file. For instance, the message for "1.jpg.locked" is contained within "1.jpg.readme2unlock.txt", and so on. Updated variants of this ransomware use ".doppeled" extension for encrypted files.

All ransom messages contain identical text stating that victims should not shut down or restart their computers, rename/delete encrypted files or ransom messages, or try to restore files using other software. According to cyber criminals, these actions might lead to permanent data loss. To get instructions about how to decrypt data, victims must install the Tor browser and open a link, which is provided in each created ransom message. It is mentioned that victims have seven days to use the link, after which it becomes invalid. Furthermore, it is stated that the faster victims contact DoppelPaymer's developers, the lower the cost of decryption. The aforementioned link opens a Tor website on which victims can contact cyber criminals via online chat. A screenshot of the Tor website, which was generated when cyber criminals targeted the Ohio Gratings Inc. company, is provided below. Typically, malware such as DoppelPaymer ransomware encrypts files with strong algorithms, and thus it is impossible for victims to decrypt data without specific tools held only by the developers of the ransomware. Unfortunately, even if cyber criminals have these tools, they tend not to send them - victims who pay are generally scammed. In most cases, the only free way to recover files without using tools purchased from cyber criminals is to restore them from a backup (provided is was not also encrypted). Files remain encrypted even if victims uninstall ransomware from the system. Uninstalling this malware simply prevents further encryption.

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

DoppelPaymer decrypt instructions

More examples of ransomware-type software include Nvram, Major, and Lokf. In most cases, it is designed to encrypt data and create or display a ransom message with instructions about how to pay for a decryption tool and/or key. Common differences are size of ransom and cryptographic algorithm (symmetric or asymmetric) that ransomware uses to encrypt data. Most of these programs use strong encryption and thus it is impossible to decrypt files without tools held only by the developers of the ransomware, unless the program has bugs, flaws, etc. Therefore, maintain a backup of data and keep it on a remote server or unplugged storage device.

How did ransomware infect my computer?

Most cyber criminals proliferate malicious programs (including ransomware) through spam campaigns, Trojans, fake software updaters, untrustworthy software download channels/tools and unofficial software 'cracking' (activation) tools. Cyber criminals send emails with files attached. If opened, these install malicious software. Examples of files they usually attach are Microsoft Office and PDF documents, archive files such as ZIP, RAR, executable files (.exe and others), and JavaScript files. They disguise the emails as important, official, and so on. Trojans infect systems by installing additional malware. These are malicious programs that often cause chain infections, however, they they are only effective if already installed. Fake software updaters are tools that install malware rather than fixes/updates, or they exploit bugs/flaws of outdated software installed on the operating system. Untrustworthy software download channels/sources are used to proliferate malware. Some examples of dubious download channels are free file hosting and freeware download websites, Peer-to-Peer networks (torrent clients, eMule, etc.), unofficial websites, and third party downloaders. They often include malicious files that are disguised as legitimate and harmless. By downloading and opening these files, people often install malicious software. Unofficial activation tools supposedly bypass paid activation of licensed software, however, they are commonly designed by cyber criminals to spread malicious programs - they can cause installation of various high-risk malware.

Threat Summary:
Name DoppelPaymer virus
Threat Type Ransomware, Crypto Virus, Files locker.
Encrypted Files Extension .locked
Ransom Demand Message readme2unlock.txt text files appointed to each encrypted file and on the Tor website.
Ransom Amount This depends on how fast victims contact cyber criminals.
Cyber Criminal Contact btpsupport@protonmail.com and online chat on Tor website.
Detection Names Avast (Win32:MalwareX-gen [Trj]), BitDefender (Trojan.Agent.EFPT), ESET-NOD32 (A Variant Of Win32/Kryptik.GXEG), Kaspersky (Trojan.Win32.DelShad.ayr), Full List Of Detections (VirusTotal)
Rogue Process Name SpotLife WebAlbum Service Plugin.
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 It is known that cyber criminals use DoppelPaymer in targeted attacks.
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.
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How to protect yourself from ransomware infections

Do not open attachments or web links included in irrelevant emails, especially if they are sent from suspicious, unknown addresses. Do not download software using third party downloaders, unofficial web pages, or the other sources mentioned above. The safest way to download is using official websites and direct download links. Keep installed software up to date, however, it should be updated properly using tools and/or functions provided by the official software developers. Third party tools should never be used. The same applies to software activation ('cracking') tools. Note that it is illegal to use these tools. Finally, 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 DoppelPaymer, we recommend running a scan with Malwarebytes for Windows to automatically eliminate this ransomware.

Text presented in DoppelPaymer ransomware text files:

Your network has been penetrated.

All files on each host in the network have been encrypted with a strong algorythm.

Backups were either encrypted or deleted or backup disks were formatted.
Shadow copies also removed, so F8 or any other methods may damage encrypted data but not recover.

We exclusively have decryption software for your situation
No decryption software is available in the public.

    DO NOT RESET OR SHUTDOWN - files may be damaged.
    DO NOT RENAME OR MOVE the encrypted and readme files.
    DO NOT DELETE readme files.
    DO NOT use any recovery software with restoring files overwriting encrypted.
    This may lead to the impossibility of recovery of the certain files.


To get info (decrypt your files) contact us at your personal page:

    1. Download and install Tor Browser: hxxps://www.torproject.org/download/
    2. After a successful installation, run the browser and wait for initialization.
    3. Type in the address bar:

        *************

    4. Follow the instructions on the site
    5. You should get in contact in 48 HOURS since your systems been infected.
    6. The link above is valid for 7 days.
       After that period if you not get in contact
       your local data would be lost completely.
    7. Questions? e-mail: btpsupport@protonmail.com
       If email not working - new one you can find on a tor page.


The faster you get in contact - the lower price you can expect.

DATA
-

Screenshot of DoppelPaymer Tor website (in this case, the targeted company was Ohio Gratings Inc.):

DoppelPaymer web page

Text in this page:

DoppelPaymer
Ohio Gratings Inc. Your network has been penetrated.
This link and your decryption key will expire in 14 days after your systems were infected.
Sharing this link or email will lead to the irreversible removal of the decryption keys.

NO TIME remains for special price.

All files on each host in the network have been encrypted with a strong algorythm.
Backups were either encrypted or deleted or backup disks were formatted.
No any working decryption software is available from other sources.
Do not rename the encryted or informational text files. Do not move the encrypted or informational text files.
This may lead to the impossibility of recovery of the certain files.

Also, we have gathered all your private sensitive data.
So if you decide not to pay, we would share it.
It may harm your business reputation.

    Your reference ID: 135
    (we recommend to put the reference ID as the subject when contacting us)
    BTC wallet for payment:
    ********************
    you can check the status here: hxxps://www.blockchain.com/btc/address/17rJmFiKyYbNZmt9xiz8yTScX1QvWpt7pz
    Contact email: btpsupport@protonmail.com
    Use chat in the right bottom of this page to contact us. You have 48 hours to do that to be able to discuss the price.
    We do not reply immediately, it may take a few hours for you to see first reply. You may also need to sometimes refresh this page in tor browser.

To get the files in your network decrypted you should pay for the decryption software.
The price for the decryptor is based on the network size, number of employees, annual revenue. Please feel free to contact us for amount of BTC should be paid.

You need to pack 2 pairs of files that is unique for you ( somefile1.locked & somefile1.readme2unlock.txt and somefile2.locked & somefile2.readme2unlock.txt which have no sensitive information but only you own it) into ZIP and send to us.
And you'll have those 2 unlocked and would be sure it's working.

Some sensetive information was stolen from the file servers and will be uploaded in the public in case you won't pay us.

You should get in contact with us within 2 days after you noticed the encryption. If this doesn't happen the price is increased by 25% after 2 days.

The price would be increased by 100% (double price) in 1 week.

Your key would be completely erased in 2 weeks.
Online chat

Screenshot of files encrypted by DoppelPaymer (".locked" extension):

Files encrypted by DoppelPaymer

Malicious DoppelPaymer process running in Task Manager as "SpotLife WebAlbum Service Plugin":

DoppelPaymer process in Task Manager

Update February 4, 2020 - Crooks have released an updated version of DoppelPaymer ransomware which is virtually the same. The main difference is threats that are written on its website. Originally, developers claimed that they've stolen some data and will make it public unless the ransom is paid. However, the current version claims that the data will be either made public or sold in the dark web to other cyber criminals. Which one is worse depends on who gets their hands on the data. If your information is public, but no one is there to search for or abuse it, then the harm may not be done. However, cyber criminals who buy personal information do this with an intention of gaining value - stealing credit cards, identities, etc. Therefore, users who have their personal data stolen may face a lot of issues.

Update February 27, 2020 - The developers of DoppelPaymer ransomware have recently started leaking information stolen from various victims. The data is stored in a public website named "Dopple Leaks" hosted in the Tor network:

Dopple Leaks - a website used to leak information stolen by DoppelPaymer ransomware

Update June 10, 2020 - The developers of DoppelPaymer ransomware have recently breached a network belonging to one of NASA's contractors' - a company named Digital Management Inc. Once infiltrated, crooks stole thousands of files containing classified information, such as HR documents, project details, information about employees, and so forth. As a proof, ransomware developers have leaked a small portion of stolen files in the dark web. There's no doubt that the rest will be used for extortion purposes.

DoppelPaymer ransomware removal:

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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 DoppelPaymer 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 DoppelPaymer 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 DoppelPaymer 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 DoppelPaymer 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 DoppelPaymer, 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 DoppelPaymer 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 DoppelPaymer 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.

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