How to avoid installation of the Hackerz ransomware?

Also Known As: Hackerz mobile ransomware
Distribution: Low
Damage level: Severe

Hackerz ransomware removal guide

What is Hackerz ransomware?

Mobile ransomware can be used to steal sensitive information or lock a device (prevent victims from accessing the operating system or using files stored on a device). As a rule, cybercriminals behind ransomware demand payment in return for a decryption tool or key. Hackerz encrypts files, locks the screen, and displays a ransom note on it in a full-screen mode. It is known that this is open-source ransomware targeting Android users. It was developed two years ago and is still active. Moreover, Hackerz removes the victim's files from external media after 24 hours from its installation of if victims reboot the infected device.

Hackerz android malware

As mentioned in the first paragraph, the Hackerz ransomware displays its ransom note in a full-screen mode. The ransom note is written in Portugese language. It informs victims that all their photos and files are encrypted (locked) and can be decrypted only with a private decryption key that has to be purchased within 24 hours otherwise files and the decryption key will be automatically deleted. However, the ransom note does not include any email address or anything else that could be used to contact the attackers for payment details (such as price of a decryption key and how to pay for it). It means that victims of the Hackerz attack cannot purchase a decryption key even if they wanted to. It is important to know that it is not advisable to pay a ransom: very often victims who pay a ransom get scammed, the attackers do not send them any decryption tool even if they get paid.

It is impossible to unlock the device that is locked by Hackerz/encrypt files that are encrypted by Hackerz. The attackers behind this ransomware are the only ones who can help victims to decrypt their files and there is no way to contact them. Moreover, Hackerz actually removes files after 24 hours from the attack, or when victims reboot the infected device. Since it is not even possible to contact the attackers, victims can avoid losing their files only if they have them backed up. It is worthwhile to mention that in other cases, victims can save files that are not encrypted by removing ransomware from the operating system. It is not the option for victims of the Hackerz attack who have most of their important files stored on the external media because ransomware removal procedure requires system reboot and this particular ransomware removes data from the aforementioned media after rebooting the infected device.

Threat Summary:
Name Hackerz mobile ransomware
Threat Type Android malware, mobile ransomware.
Detection Names Avast (Android:Locker-JDC [Trj]), BitDefenderFalx (Android.Riskware.Locker.F), ESET-NOD32 (A Variant Of Android/Agent.BIO), Kaspersky (HEUR:Trojan-Ransom.AndroidOS.Agent.br), Microsoft (Trojan:Win32/Ditertag.A), Full List (VirusTotal)
Symptoms Cannot open files stored on your device, previously functional files now have a different extension (for example, my.docx.locked). A ransom demand message is displayed. Cyber criminals demand payment of a ransom (usually in bitcoins) to unlock your files.
Distribution methods Infected email attachments, malicious online advertisements, social engineering, deceptive applications, scam websites.
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. Stolen personal information (private messages, logins/passwords, etc.), decreased device performance, battery is drained quickly, decreased Internet speed, huge data losses, monetary losses, stolen identity (malicious apps might abuse communication apps).

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To eliminate malware infections our security researchers recommend scanning your Android device with legitimate anti-malware software. We recommend Avast, Bitdefender, ESET or Malwarebytes.

To summarize, ransomware is a type of malicious software that prevents victims from accessing, using their files unless a ransom is paid. Most ransomware attacks are more or less similar. The only main differences are the amount of cryptocurrency that the attackers demand to be paid for their decryption key or software and the cryptographic algorithm (symmetric or asymmetric) that ransomware uses to encrypt files. Typically, it is possible to avoid both monetary and data loss only when there is some decryption tool freely available on the Internet or ransomware has some vulnerabilities. Unfortunately, neither of these things happen often. Therefore, it is strongly recommended to be always ready for ransomware attack: to create data backups regularly and keep them on some unplugged storage device or remote server (e.g., Cloud). Another example of mobile ransomware targeting Android devices is Cyberpunk 2077 ransomware.

How did Hackerz infiltrate my device?

Typically, ransomware spreads through malspam emails, specific Trojans, unreliable channels for software downloading, software 'cracking' tools/installers for pirated software, and fake updating tools. Malspam emails contain malicious attachments or website links leading to download pages for malicious files. When recipients open those attachments (or downloaded files), they infect computers with malware. Files that can be used to deliver malware via emails are Microsoft Office, PDF documents, ZIP, RAR and other archive files, EXE and other executable files, JavaScript files. Trojans are malicious programs that usually are disguised as legitimate programs. They can infect computers only if they are installed. Once installed, those Trojans then can infect computers with other software of this kind (for example, ransomware).

Files that are available for download on various freeware download pages, free file hosting sites, Peer-to-Peer networks such as torrent clients, eMule, etc., unofficial web pages, third party downloaders can be used to spread ransomware too. In order to trick users into downloading (and opening) those files, cybercriminals disguise them as regular, legitimate (e.g., as installers for Adobe Flash Player). Software 'cracking' tools and installers for pirated software are never safe to use because cybercriminals often inject malicious code into them (they design them to install malware). Fake software updating tools, if used, infect computers by installing malware instead of installing some fixes, updates, or by exploiting bugs, flaws of the outdated software that is installed on computers.

How to avoid installation of malware?

Download all software (and files) from official websites and through direct links. Avoid using any other channels, sources (like the ones that are mentioned in the previous paragraph). Activate or update the operating system and installed software with implemented functions or tools from the official developers. Do not use unofficial tools to activate or update any installed software. Those tools can contain malware, and it is not legal to use any unofficial tools to activate licensed software or install and then use pirated (hacked) software. Furthermore, do not open files attached to irrelevant emails received from unknown senders. The same applies to website links that in emails of this kind. Scan the operating system is for viruses regularly and make sure to keep the installed antivirus or anti-spyware software up to date.

Text in the Hackerz's ransom note (written in Portugese):

VOCE FOI
HACKEADO
Script DE ransomware

Olá eu sou seu amigo. todas as suas fotos e arquivos estão criptografados (bloqueados) e você encontrará seu nome de usuário abaixo. envie um email aqui com seu nome de usuário kj.k.jk. e obtenha sua chave privada e descrip-tografe seus arquivos em menos de 2 minutos. Assim, você terá 24 horas para obter a chave. Sua chave será excluída automaticamente do nosso servidor e os arquivos também serão excluídos automaticamente e não serão recuperados para sempre ... Tenha um bom dia! !!

Username = -

TIME : [DESCRIPTAR]

Quick menu:

Delete browsing history from the Chrome web browser:

Deleting web browsing history from Chrome in Android operating system (step 1)

Tap the "Menu" button (three dots on the right-upper corner of the screen) and select "History" in the opened dropdown menu.

Deleting web browsing history from Chrome in Android operating system (step 2)

Tap "Clear browsing data", select "ADVANCED" tab, choose the time range and data types you want to delete and tap "Clear data".

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Disable browser notifications in the Chrome web browser:

Disabling browser notifications in the Chrome browser in Android operating system (step 1)

Tap the "Menu" button (three dots on the right-upper corner of the screen) and select "Settings" in the opened dropdown menu.

Disabling browser notifications in the Chrome browser in Android operating system (step 2)

Scroll down until you see "Site settings" option and tap it. Scroll down until you see "Notifications" option and tap it.

Disabling browser notifications in the Chrome browser in Android operating system (step 3)

Find the websites that deliver browser notifications, tap on them and click "Clear & reset". This will remove permissions granted for these websites to deliver notifications. However, once you visit the same site again, it may ask for a permission again. You can choose whether to give these permissions or not (if you choose to decline the website will go to "Blocked" section and will no longer ask you for the permission).

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Reset the Chrome web browser:

Resetting Chrome browser to default in Android operating system (step 1)

Go to "Settings", scroll down until you see "Apps" and tap it.

Resetting Chrome browser to default in Android operating system (step 2)

Scroll down until you find "Chrome" application, select it and tap "Storage" option.

Resetting Chrome browser to default in Android operating system (step 3)

Tap "MANAGE STORAGE", then "CLEAR ALL DATA" and confirm the action by taping "OK". Note that resetting the browser will eliminate all data stored within. This means that all saved logins/passwords, browsing history, non-default settings and other data will be deleted. You will also have to re-login into all websites as well.

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Delete browsing history from the Firefox web browser:

Delete browsing history from the Firefox in the Android operating system (step 1)

Tap the "Menu" button (three dots on the right-upper corner of the screen) and select "History" in the opened dropdown menu.

Delete browsing history from the Firefox in the Android operating system (step 2)

Scroll down until you see "Clear private data" and tap it. Select data types you want to remove and tap "CLEAR DATA".

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Disable browser notifications in the Firefox web browser:

Disable browser notifications in the Firefox web browser in the Android operating system (step 1)

Visit the website that is delivering browser notifications, tap the icon displayed on the left of URL bar (the icon will not necessarily be a "Lock") and select "Edit Site Settings".

Disable browser notifications in the Firefox web browser in the Android operating system (step 2)

In the opened pop-up opt-in the "Notifications" option and tap "CLEAR".

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Reset the Firefox web browser:

Resetting Firefox browser in the Android operating system (step 1)

Go to "Settings", scroll down until you see "Apps" and tap it.

Resetting Firefox browser in the Android operating system (step 2)

Scroll down until you find "Firefox" application, select it and tap "Storage" option.

Resetting Firefox browser in the Android operating system (step 3)

Tap "CLEAR DATA" and confirm the action by taping "DELETE". Note that resetting the browser will eliminate all data stored within. This means that all saved logins/passwords, browsing history, non-default settings and other data will be deleted. You will also have to re-login into all websites as well.

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Uninstall potentially unwanted and/or malicious applications:

Removing unwanted/malicious applications from the Android operating system (step 1)

Go to "Settings", scroll down until you see "Apps" and tap it.

Removing unwanted/malicious applications from the Android operating system (step 2)

Scroll down until you see a potentially unwanted and/or malicious application, select it and tap "Uninstall". If, for some reason, you are unable to remove the selected app (e.g., you are prompted with an error message), you should try using the "Safe Mode".

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Boot the Android device in "Safe Mode":

The "Safe Mode" in Android operating system temporarily disables all third-party applications from running. Using this mode is a good way to diagnose and solve various issues (e.g., remove malicious applications that prevent users you from doing so when the device is running "normally").

Booting Android device in Safe Mode

Push the "Power" button and hold it until you see the "Power off" screen. Tap the "Power off" icon and hold it. After a few seconds the "Safe Mode" option will appear and you'll be able run it by restarting the device.

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Check the battery usage of various applications:

Checking the battery usage of various applications in the Android operating system (step 1)

Go to "Settings", scroll down until you see "Device maintenance" and tap it.

Checking the battery usage of various applications in the Android operating system (step 2)

Tap "Battery" and check the usage of each application. Legitimate/genuine applications are designed to use as low energy as possible in order to provide the best user experience and to save power. Therefore, high battery usage may indicate that the application is malicious.

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Check the data usage of various applications:

Checking data usage of various applications in the Android operating system (step 1)

Go to "Settings", scroll down until you see "Connections" and tap it.

Checking data usage of various applications in the Android operating system (step 2)

Scroll down until you see "Data usage" and select this option. As with battery, legitimate/genuine applications are designed to minimize data usage as much as possible. This means that huge data usage may indicate presence of malicious application. Note that some malicious applications might be designed to operate when the device is connected to wireless network only. For this reason, you should check both Mobile and Wi-Fi data usage.

Checking data usage of various applications in the Android operating system (step 3)

If you find an application that uses a lot of data even though you never use it, then we strongly advise you to uninstall it as soon as possible.

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Install the latest software updates:

Keeping the software up-to-date is a good practice when it comes to device safety. The device manufacturers are continually releasing various security patches and Android updates in order to fix errors and bugs that can be abused by cyber criminals. An outdated system is way more vulnerable, which is why you should always be sure that your device's software is up-to-date.

Installing software updates in the Android operating system (step 1)

Go to "Settings", scroll down until you see "Software update" and tap it.

Installing software updates in the Android operating system (step 2)

Tap "Download updates manually" and check if there are any updates available. If so, install them immediately. We also recommend to enable the "Download updates automatically" option - it will enable the system to notify you once an update is released and/or install it automatically.

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Reset the system to its default state:

Performing a "Factory Reset" is a good way to remove all unwanted applications, restore system's settings to default and clean the device in general. However, you must keep in mind that all data within the device will be deleted, including photos, video/audio files, phone numbers (stored within the device, not the SIM card), SMS messages, and so forth. In other words, the device will be restored to its primal state.

You can also restore the basic system settings and/or simply network settings as well.

Resetting the Android operating system to its default (step 1)

Go to "Settings", scroll down until you see "About phone" and tap it.

Resetting the Android operating system to its default (step 2)

Scroll down until you see "Reset" and tap it. Now choose the action you want to perform:
"Reset settings" - restore all system settings to default;
"Reset network settings" - restore all network-related settings to default;
"Factory data reset" - reset the entire system and completely delete all stored data;

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Disable applications that have administrator privileges:

If a malicious application gets administrator-level privileges it can seriously damage the system. To keep the device as safe as possible you should always check what apps have such privileges and disable the ones that shouldn't.

Disabling Android applications that have administrator privileges (step 1)

Go to "Settings", scroll down until you see "Lock screen and security" and tap it.

Disabling Android applications that have administrator privileges (step 2)

Scroll down until you see "Other security settings", tap it and then tap "Device admin apps".

Disabling Android applications that have administrator privileges (step 3)

Identify applications that should not have administrator privileges, tap them and then tap "DEACTIVATE".

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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.

QR Code
Hackerz mobile ransomware QR code
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