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How to avoid installation of Hackerz ransomware

Also Known As: Hackerz mobile ransomware
Damage level: Severe

What is Hackerz ransomware?

Mobile ransomware is used to steal sensitive information or lock devices (prevent victims from accessing the operating system or using files stored on devices). Generally, cyber criminals behind ransomware demand payment in return for a decryption tool or key.

Hackerz encrypts files, locks the screen, and displays a ransom message on it in a full-screen mode. This is open-source ransomware targeting Android users. It was developed two years ago and is still active.

Furthermore, Hackerz removes the files from external media after 24 hours of installation or if victims reboot the infected device.

Hackerz android malware

As mentioned, Hackerz ransomware displays its ransom message in full-screen mode. The ransom message is in Portugese and informs victims that all of their photos and files have been encrypted (locked) and can be decrypted only with a private decryption key, which must be purchased within 24 hours, otherwise files and decryption keys are automatically deleted.

In fact, the ransom message does not include any email address or other means to contact the attackers for payment details (such as cost of decryption key and how to pay for it). Therefore, victims of the Hackerz attack cannot purchase a decryption key even if they wanted to. Despite this, it is not advisable to pay any ransoms - victims who pay these ransoms are scammed and the attackers do not send any decryption tools.

It is virtually impossible to unlock devices compromised by Hackerz or recover the files. Only the attackers behind this ransomware can unlock machines and decrypt the files. Furthermore, Hackerz removes files after 24 hours of the attack or when victims reboot the infected device.

Since it is not even possible to contact the attackers, victims can only recover files from a backup.

In such cases, further encryption of any unaffected files can generally be prevented by uninstalling the ransomware, however, already compromised files remain encrypted even after removal of the rogue software. Note, however, the ransomware removal procedure of Hackerz requires a 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).
Malware Removal (Android) 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 and using their files unless a ransom is paid. Most ransomware attacks are similar. Main differences are the amount of cryptocurrency that the attackers demand to be paid for their decryption key/software and 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 a decryption tool freely available on the internet or the ransomware has vulnerabilities. Unfortunately, neither of these cases are common.

Therefore, always ready for ransomware attacks. Create data backups regularly and keep them on an 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 and other malware is distributed through malspam campaigns, fake software updating tools, untrusted download sources, unofficial (third party) software activation tools and Trojans. Users infect computers with malware when they open malicious files that they receive via email.

These emails often contain malicious attachments or websites designed to download dangerous files. In most cases, cyber criminals send emails that have Microsoft Office documents, archive files (ZIP, RAR), PDF documents, JavaScript files, and executable files such as .exe attached to them. Fake software updating tools do not update or fix any installed software - they simply install malware instead.

They can also infect systems by exploiting bugs/flaws of outdated software. Examples of dubious file/software download channels are Peer-to-Peer networks such as torrent clients, eMule, various free file hosting sites and freeware download websites.

Users infect computers through these channels when they download and execute malicious files, which are often disguised as legitimate and regular. Software 'cracking' tools supposedly activate licensed software free of charge (illegally), however, rather than activating anything, they often install malicious programs.

Trojans are rogue programs that, if installed, install other malware (causing chain infections).

How to avoid installation of malware

Download software and files from official websites and via direct links. It is not safe to use torrent clients, eMule (or other Peer-to-Peer networks), third party downloaders, unofficial websites or other sources of this kind.

Avoid third party installers. Check "Advanced", "Custom" and other settings, and decline offers to download or install unwanted software. Do not click ads that are displayed on dubious websites, since they can open other untrusted websites or even cause unwanted downloads and installations.

Remove any unwanted, suspicious applications (extensions, add-ons, and plug-ins) that are installed on the browser. The same should be applied to programs of this kind that are installed on the operating system.

Regularly scan your computer with reputable antivirus or anti-spyware software and keep this software up to date.

Text in the Hackerz ransom message (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 drop-down 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 drop-down 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 revisit the same site, it may ask for permission again.

You can choose whether to give these permissions (if you choose to decline, the website will go to the "Blocked" section and will no longer ask you for 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.

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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 drop-down 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".

[Back to Table of Contents]

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.

[Back to Table of Contents]

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 "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 will 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 little 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 significant data usage may indicate the presence of a 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 for 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 much more vulnerable, which is why you should always be sure that your device 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 - this will allow 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 settings to default and clean the device in general, however, bear 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 on.

In other words, the device will be restored to its factory state.

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

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;

[Back to Table of Contents]

Disable applications that have administrator privileges:

If a malicious application gains administrator-level privileges it can seriously damage the system. To keep the device as safe as possible, you should always check which apps have such privileges and disable ones that should not.

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.

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