Cerber Ransomware [Updated]

Also Known As: Cerber virus
Distribution: Low
Damage level: Severe

Cerber ransomware removal instructions

What is Cerber?

Cerber (also called CRBR Encryptor) is a ransomware-type malware that infiltrates systems, encrypting various file types including .jpg, .doc, .raw, .avi, etc. Cerber adds a .cerber (some variants add .cerber2 or .cerber3) extension to each encrypted file. Notice that some variants of this ransomware add random file extensions - for example: “.ba99”, ”.98a0", ".a37b", ".a563" etc. There are also variants of this ransomware that add .beef extension to encrypted files. Following successful infiltration, Cerber demands a ransom payment to decrypt these files. It is stated that payment of the ransom must fall within the given time frame (seven days), otherwise the ransom amount will double. Some variants of this ransomware disclose their versions - for example: "Cerber Ransomware 4.1.3", "Cerber Ransomware 4.1.5", "Cerber Ransomware 4.1.6", "Cerber Ransomware 5.0.0"  ( the latest variant demands a ransom of $499) etc.

During encryption, Cerber creates three different files (#DECRYPT MY FILES#.txt, #DECRYPT MY FILES#.html, and #DECRYPT MY FILES#.vbs) containing step-by-step payment instructions (never variants use "_READ_THI$_FILE_.hta", "_HELP_HELP_HELP_random.hta", "_READ_THIS_FILE.hta", “_HELP_HELP_HELP_random.jpg", _R_E_A_D___T_H_I_S___random_.txt, _R_E_A_D___T_H_I_S___random_.hta and “_!!!_README_!!!_random_.hta”, “_!!!_README_!!!_random_.txt” files) in each folder containing the encrypted files. The message within these files states that users can only decrypt their files using a decryptor developed by cyber criminals (called 'Cerber Decryptor'). The #DECRYPT MY FILES#.vbs file contains a VBScript, which when executed, plays the message, “Your documents, databases and other important files have been encrypted!” through the computer speakers. To download the decryptor, a ransom payment of 1.24 BitCoin (at time of research, equivalent to $546.72) is required. If the ransom is not paid within seven days, it doubles to 2.48 BTC. It is also stated that users can only pay using the Tor browser and by following instructions within the indicated website. Unfortunately, at time of research, there were no tools capable of decrypting files affected by Cerber. Therefore, the only solution to this problem is to restore your system from a backup.

After encrypting files, Cerber ransomware changes desktop wallpaper:

cerber ransomware

Update 1 December, 2016 - Cerber ransomware was updated by cyber criminals. The most noticeable changes include the use of red colour for the desktop wallpaper. The ransom demanding message is now presented in _README_[RANDOM]_.hta file. Cyber criminals no longer provide the version number of this ransomware. The ransom amount at the time of writing this article was $499 payable in Bitcoins.

cerber ransomware red version

Update June 15, 2017 - Cyber criminals have updated their ransom demanding message presented in a .txt file (_R_E_A_D___T_H_I_S___random_.txt). Here’s a screenshot of this updated file:

cerber ransomware _R_E_A_D___T_H_I_S___random_.txt file

Text presented in _R_E_A_D___T_H_I_S___random_.txt file:

Hi, I'am CERBER RANSOMWARE ;)
 -----
 Y0UR D0CUMENTS, PHOTOS, DATABASES AND OTHER IMPORTANT FILES HAVE BEEN ENCRYPTED!
 -----
 The only way to decrypt your files is to receive the private key and decryption program.
 To receive the private key and decryption program go to any decrypted folder,
 inside there is the special file (*_R_E_A_D___T_H_I_S_*) with complete instructions
 how to decrypt your files.
 If you cannot find any (*_R_E_A_D___T_H_I_S_*) file at your PC, follow the instructions below:
 -----
 1. Download "Tor Browser" from https://www.torproject.org/ and install it.
 2. In the "Tor Browser" open your personal page here:
 http://p27dokhpz2n7nvgr.onion/
 Note! This page is available via "Tor Browser" only.
 -----
 Also you can use temporary addresses on your personal page without using "Tor Browser".
 -----
 1. http://p27dokhpz2n7nvgr.12nwsv.top/
 -----
 Note! These are temporary addresses! They will be available for a limited amount of time!
 -----

Victims of Cerber ransomware can use a decrypter called “Trend Micro Ransomware File Decryptor tool” to decrypt their files for free. Download is HERE. (Unfortunately this tool is no longer available) You can view a video tutorial of how to use this tool HERE. Here’s a screenshot of this tool:

trend micro ransomware file decryptor tool

Update 17 August 2016 - Check Point Software Technologies Ltd. company has released a decrypter for Cerber ransomware. At the time of testing it was able to decrypt files with .cerber and .cerber2 extensions. To decrypt their files victims should visit THIS website and follow the simple 7 steps to decrypt their files for free. Unfortunately cyber criminals have updated their ransomware and this tool no longer works. Here’s a screenshot of Cerber Ransomware Dceryption Tool website:

cerber ransomware decryptor website

Text presented on the wallpaper of Cerber ransomware:

You documents, photos, databases and other important files have been encrypted!
If you understand all importance of the situation then we propose to you to go directly to your personal page where you will receive the complete instructions and guarantees to restore your files. There is a list of temporary addresses to go on your personal page.

A screenshot of Cerber ransomware website (used to provide victims with ransom payment instructions, provide support, etc.):

cerber ransomware website homepage

Text presented in the homepage of Cerber ransomware:

Your documents, photos, databases and other important files have been encrypted! To decrypt your files you need to buy the special software – «Cerber Decryptor». All transactions should be performed via Bitcoin network only. Within 5 days you can purchase this product at a special price:  0.750 (≈ $518). After 5 days the price of this product will increase up to:  1.500 (≈ $1036).

As with other crypto ransomware, Cerber shares many similarities with many other malware infections such as Locky, CryptoWall, CTB-Locker, Crypt0L0cker, and TeslaCrypt. All have identical behavior - they encrypt files and encourage users to pay a ransom to decrypt them. The only difference between these viruses is the algorithm used to encrypt the files and size of ransom. Be aware that there is no guarantee that your files will ever be decrypted even after paying the ransom. Paying is equivalent to sending your money for cyber criminals - you merely support their malicious businesses. Therefore, never pay the ransom and do not attempt to contact these people. Malware such as Cerber is mostly proliferated via malicious e-mail attachments, peer-to-peer (P2P) networks (for example, Torrent), fake software updates, and trojans. Be cautious when opening attachments from unrecognized emails and ensure that your chosen files are downloaded from trusted sources. Furthermore, keep all installed software up-to-date and use a legitimate anti-virus or anti-spyware suite.

Threat Summary:
Name Cerber virus
Threat Type Ransomware, Crypto Virus, Files locker
Symptoms Can't open files stored on your computer, previously functional files now have a different extension, for example my.docx.locked. A ransom demanding message is displayed on your desktop. Cyber criminals are asking to pay a ransom (usually in bitcoins) to unlock your files.
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.
▼ Download Malwarebytes
To use full-featured product, you have to purchase a license for Malwarebytes. 14 days free trial available.

Screenshot of README.hta file (updated variant of Cerber ransomware now uses this file to open it's ransom demanding website):

cerber ransomware README.hta file

Cerber website FAQ:

cerber website faq

Question: How can i decrypt my files after payment?
Answer: After payment, you can download the «Cerber Decryptor» from your personal page. We guarantee that all your files will be decrypted!
Question: My files was infected more then month ago, can i still decrypt it with your software?
Answer: Yes, you can still decrypt your files after the payment!

Cerber website Support:

cerber website support

In case of any problems with payment or having any other questions, please contact us via the contact form.

Cerber website “Decrypt 1 files for Free”:

cerber website decrypt 1 file free

We give you the opportunity to decipher 1 file free of charge! You can make sure that the service really works and after payment for the «Cerber Decryptor» program you can actually decrypt the files!

Cerber ransomware distributed via spam e-mail attachments (using infected .WSF and .DOC files):

cerber ransomware distributing email

Cerber ransomware is delivered by a rogue document attached to spam emails. Once users open the document, they are encouraged to enable malicious macros - the ransomware then starts to encrypt victims' data:

cerber ransomware delivered by a malicious macro

Screenshot of a folder that was compromised by Cerber ransomware (all files are renamed and have a .cerber extension):

cerber ransomware encrypted folder

A variant of Cerber ransomware that appends ".beef" extension to encrypted files:

cerber ransomware adding .beef extension to encrypted files

After infiltrating the victim's computer, Cerber ransomware targets files with these extensions:

.gif, .groups, .hdd, .hpp, .log, .m2ts, .m4p, .mkv, .mpeg, .ndf, .nvram, .ogg, .ost, .pab, .pdb, .pif, .png, .qed, .qcow, .qcow2, .rvt, .st7, .stm, .vbox, .vdi, .vhd, .vhdx, .vmdk, .vmsd, .vmx, .vmxf, .3fr, .3pr, .ab4, .accde, .accdr, .accdt, .ach, .acr, .adb, .ads, .agdl, .ait, .apj, .asm, .awg, .back, .backup, .backupdb, .bay, .bdb, .bgt, .bik, .bpw, .cdr3, .cdr4, .cdr5, .cdr6, .cdrw, .ce1, .ce2, .cib, .craw, .crw, .csh, .csl, .db_journal, .dc2, .dcs, .ddoc, .ddrw, .der, .des, .dgc, .djvu, .dng, .drf, .dxg, .eml, .erbsql, .erf, .exf, .ffd, .fh, .fhd, .gray, .grey, .gry, .hbk, .ibd, .ibz, .iiq, .incpas, .jpe, .kc2, .kdbx, .kdc, .kpdx, .lua, .mdc, .mef, .mfw, .mmw, .mny, .mrw, .myd, .ndd, .nef, .nk2, .nop, .nrw, .ns2, .ns3, .ns4, .nwb, .nx2, .nxl, .nyf, .odb, .odf, .odg, .odm, .orf, .otg, .oth, .otp, .ots, .ott, .p12, .p7b, .p7c, .pdd, .pem, .plus_muhd, .plc, .pot, .pptx, .psafe3, .py, .qba, .qbr, .qbw, .qbx, .qby, .raf, .rat, .raw, .rdb, .rwl, .rwz, .s3db, .sd0, .sda, .sdf, .sqlite, .sqlite3, .sqlitedb, .sr2, .srf, .srw, .st5, .st8, .std, .sti, .stw, .stx, .sxd, .sxg, .sxi, .sxm, .tex, .wallet, .wb2, .wpd, .x11, .x3f, .xis, .ycbcra, .yuv, .contact, .dbx, .doc, .docx, .jnt, .jpg, .msg, .oab, .ods, .pdf, .pps, .ppsm, .ppt, .pptm, .prf, .pst, .rar, .rtf, .txt, .wab, .xls, .xlsx, .xml, .zip, .1cd, .3ds, .3g2, .3gp, .7z, .7zip, .accdb, .aoi, .asf, .asp, .aspx, .asx, .avi, .bak, .cer, .cfg, .class, .config, .css, .csv, .db, .dds, .dwg, .dxf, .flf, .flv, .html, .idx, .js, .key, .kwm, .laccdb, .ldf, .lit, .m3u, .mbx, .md, .mdf, .mid, .mlb, .mov, .mp3, .mp4, .mpg, .obj, .odt, .pages, .php, .psd, .pwm, .rm, .safe, .sav, .save, .sql, .srt, .swf, .thm, .vob, .wav, .wma, .wmv, .xlsb,3dm, .aac, .ai, .arw, .c, .cdr, .cls, .cpi, .cpp, .cs, .db3, .docm, .dot, .dotm, .dotx, .drw, .dxb, .eps, .fla, .flac, .fxg, .java, .m, .m4v, .max, .mdb, .pcd, .pct, .pl, .potm, .potx, .ppam, .ppsm, .ppsx, .pptm, .ps, .r3d, .rw2, .sldm, .sldx, .svg, .tga, .wps, .xla, .xlam, .xlm, .xlr, .xlsm, .xlt, .xltm, .xltx, .xlw, .act, .adp, .al, .bkp, .blend, .cdf, .cdx, .cgm, .cr2, .crt, .dac, .dbf, .dcr, .ddd, .design, .dtd, .fdb, .fff, .fpx, .h, .iif, .indd, .jpeg, .mos, .nd, .nsd, .nsf, .nsg, .nsh, .odc, .odp, .oil, .pas, .pat, .pef, .pfx, .ptx, .qbb, .qbm, .sas7bdat, .say, .st4, .st6, .stc, .sxc, .sxw, .tlg, .wad, .xlk, .aiff, .bin, .bmp, .cmt, .dat, .dit, .edb, .flvv

Screenshot of #DECRYPT MY FILES#.html file:

cerber ransomware decrypt my files html

Screenshot of #DECRYPT MY FILES#.txt file:

cerber ransomware “# DECRYPT MY FILES #.txt” file

Cerber Decryptor download instructions:

How to get ?
1. Create a Bitcoin Wallet (we recommend Blockchain.info)
2. Buy necessary amount of Bitcoins
Do not forget about the transaction commission in the Bitcoin network (0.0005 BTC).
3. Send 1.24 Bitcoins to the following Bitcoin address: -
4. Control the amount transaction at he panel below.
5. Get a link and download the software.

Text presented in #DECRYPT MY FILES#.txt file:

CERBER

Cannot your find the files you need? Is the content of the files that you looked for not readable? It is normal because the files’ names, as well as the data in your files have been encrypted. Great!!! You have turned to be a part of a big community #CerberRansomware.

#########################################################################

!!! If you are reading this message it means the software
!!! “Cerber Ransomware” has been removed from your computer.

#########################################################################

What is encryption? Encryption is a reversible modification of information for security reasons but providing full access to it for authorised users. To become an authorised user and keep the modification absolutely reversible (in other words to have a possibility to decrypt your files) you should have an individual private key. But not only it. It is required also to have the special decryption software (in your case “Cerber Decryptor” software) for safe and complete decryption of all your files and data.

#########################################################################

Everything is clear for me but what should I do? The first step is reading these instructions to the end. Your files have been encrypted with the “Cerber Ransomware” software; the instructions (“#DECRYPT MY FILES #.html” and “# DECRYPT MY FILES #.txt”) in the folders with your encrypted files are not viruses, they will help you. After reading this text the most part of people start searching in the Internet the words the “Cerber Ransomware” where they find a lot of ideas, recommendation and instructions. It is necessary to realise that we are the ones who closed the lock on your files and we are the only ones who have this secret key to open them.

!!! Any attempts to get back you files with the third-party tools can
!!! be fatal for your encrypted files.

The most part of the tried-party software change data with the encrypted files to restore it but this cases damage to the files. Finally it will be impossible to decrypt your files. When you make a puzzle but some items are lost, broken or not put in its place - the puzzle items will never match, the same way the third-party software will ruin your files completely and irreversibly. You should realise that any intervention of the third-party software to restore files encrypted with the “Cerber Ransomware” software may be fatal for your files.

#########################################################################

!!! There are several plain steps to restore your files but if you do
!!! not follow them we will not be able to help you, and we will not try
!!!since you have read this warning already.

#########################################################################

For you information the software to decrypt your files (as well as the private key provided together) are paid products. After purchase of the software package you will be able to:

1. decrypt all you files;
2. work with your documents;
3. view you photos and other media;

#########################################################################

What should you do with these addresses? If you read the instructions in TXT format (if you have instructions in HTML (the file with an icon of you Internet browser) then the easiest way is to run it): 1. take a look at the first address 2. select it with the mouse cursor holding the left mouse button and moving the cursor to the right; 3. release the left mouse button and press the right one; 4. select “Copy” in the appeared menu; 5. run you Internet browser (if you do not know what it is run the Internet Explorer); 6. move the mouse cursor to the address bar of the browser (this is the place where the site address is written); 7. click the right mouse button in the field where the site address is written; 8. select the button “Insert” in the appeared menu; 9. then you will see the address appeared there; 10. press ENTER; 11. the site should be loaded; if it is not loaded repeat the same instructions with the second address and continue until the last address if falling. If for some reason the site cannot be opened check the connection to the Internet; if the site still cannot be opened take a look at the instructions on omitting the post about working with the addresses in the HTML instructions.

#########################################################################

Additional information: You will find the instructions for restoring your files in those folders where you have encrypted files only. The instructions are made in two file formats - HTML and TXT for your convenience. Unfortunately antivirus companies cannot protect or restore your files but they can make the situation worse removing the instructions how to restore your encrypted files. The instructions are not viruses; they have informative nature only, so any claims on the absence of any instruction files you can send to your antivirus company.

#########################################################################

Cerber Ransomware Project is not malicious and is not intended to harm a person and his/her information data. The project is created for the sole purpose of instruction regarding information security, as well as certification of antivirus software for their suitability for data protection. Together we make the Internet a better and safer place.

#########################################################################

If you look through this text in the Internet and realise that something is wrong with your files but you do not have any instructions to restore your files, please contact your antivirus support.

#########################################################################

Remember that the worst situation already happened and not it depends on your determination and speed of you actions the further life of your files.

Another variant of Cerber ransomware (goes by the name of CRBR):

Screenshot of the pop-up window:

Cerber new version pop-up window

Text within the pop-up (available in multiple languages):

CRBR ENCRYPTOR
Instructions

Select your language:

 

English
العربية
中文
Nederlands
Français
Deutsch
Italiano
日本語
한국어
Polski
Português
Español
Türkçe


Can't you find the necessary files?
Is the content of your files not readable?

It is normal because the files' names and the data in your files have been encrypted by "CRBR Encryptor".

It meoans your files are NOT damaged! Your files are modified only. This modification is reversible.
FiF4MUrom now it is not possible to use your files until they will be decrypted.

The only way to dectrypt your files safely is to buy the special decryption software "CRBR Decryptor".

Any attempts to restore your files with the third-party software will be fatal for your files!


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

You can protected with purchasing of the decryption software at your personal page:

Please wait...hxxp://xpcx6erilkjced3j.14pxvn.top/F16B-26B2-FF51-0006-4A31


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
hxxp://xpcx6erilkjced3j.onion.link/F16B-26B2-FF51-0006-4A31
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
hxxp://xpcx6erilkjced3j.onion.nu/F16B-26B2-FF51-0006-4A31
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
hxxp://xpcx6erilkjced3j.onion.cab/F16B-26B2-FF51-0006-4A31
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
hxxp://xpcx6erilkjced3j.onion.to/F16B-26B2-FF51-0006-4A31
If this page cannot be opened  click here  to get a new address of your personal page.

If the addre1YLUwEss of your personal page is the same as before after you tried to get a new one,
you can try to get a new address in one hour.

At thZhHis page you will receive the complete instructions how to buy the decryption software for restoring all your files.

Also at this page you will be able to restore any one file for free to be sure "CRBR Decryptor" will help you.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

If your personal page is not availakble for a long period there is another way to open your personal page - instamoW9ZJMEEllation and use of Tor Browser:

1. run your Internet browser (if you do not know what it is run the Internet Explorer);
2. enter or copy the address hxxps://www.torproject.org/download/download-easy.html.en into the address bar of your browser and press ENTER;
3. wait for the site loading;
4. on the site you will be offered to download Tor Browser; download and run it, follow the installation instructions, wait until the installation is completed;
5. run Tor Browser;
6. connect with the buttNon "Connect" (if you use the English version);
7. a normal Internet browser window will be opened after the initialization;
8. type or copy the address
hxxp://xpcx6erilkjced3j.onion/F16B-26B2-FF51-0006-4A31
in this browser address bar;
9. press ENTER;
10.
the site shohuuld be loaded; if for some reason the site is not loyLading wait for a moment and try again.
If you have any problems during installation or use of Tor Browser, please, visit hxxps://www.youtube.com and type request in the search bar "Install Tor Browser Windows" and you will find a lot of training videos about Tor Browser installation and use.

Screenshot of the created text file ("_R_E_A_D___T_H_I_S_[random_string].txt"):

Cerber new version text file

Text within this file:

Hi, I'am CRBR ENCRYPTOR ;)
 
 -----
 
 ALL YOUR DOCUMENTS, PHOTOS, DATABASES AND OTHER IMP0RTANT FILES HAVE BEEN ENCRYPTED!
 
 -----
 
 The only one way to decrypt your files is to receive the private key and decryption program.
 
 To receive the private key and decryption program go to any decrypted folder,
 inside there is the special file (*_R_E_A_D___T_H_I_S_*) with complete instructions
 how to decrypt your files.
 
 If you cannot find any (*_R_E_A_D___T_H_I_S_*) file at your PC, follow the instructions below:
 
 -----
 
 1. Download "Tor Browser" from hxxps://www.torproject.org/ and install it.
 
 2. In the "Tor Browser" open your personal page here:
 
 hxxp://xpcx6erilkjced3j.onion/F16B-26B2-FF51-0006-4A31
 
 Note! This page is available via "Tor Browser" only.
 
 -----
 
 Also you can use temporary addresses on your personal page without using "Tor Browser".
 
 -----
 
 1. hxxp://xpcx6erilkjced3j.tor2web.org/F16B-26B2-FF51-0006-4A31
 
 2. hxxp://xpcx6erilkjced3j.onion.link/F16B-26B2-FF51-0006-4A31
 
 3. hxxp://xpcx6erilkjced3j.onion.nu/F16B-26B2-FF51-0006-4A31
 
 4. hxxp://xpcx6erilkjced3j.onion.cab/F16B-26B2-FF51-0006-4A31
 
 5. hxxp://xpcx6erilkjced3j.onion.to/F16B-26B2-FF51-0006-4A31
 
 -----
 
 Note! These are temporary addresses! They will be available for a limited amount of time!
 
 -----

Screenshot of desktop wallpaper:

Cerber new version desktop wallpaper

Text within this image:

CRBR ENCRYPTOR
 
 YOUR DOCUMENTS, PHOTOS, DATABASES AND OTHER IMPORTANT FILES HAVE BEEN ENCRYPTED!
 
 The only way to decrypt your files is to receive the private key and decryption program.
 
 To receive the private key and decryption program go to any decrypted folder - inside there is special file (*_R_E_A_D___T_H_I_S_*) with complete instructions how to decrypt your files.
 
 If you cannot find any (*_R_E_A_D___T_H_I_S_*) file at your PC, follow the instructions below:
 
 1. Download "Tor Browser" from hxxps://www.torproject.org/ and install it.
 2. In the "Tor Browser" open your personal page here:
 
hxxp://xpcx6erilkjced3j.onion/F16B-26B2-FF51-0006-4A31

Note! This page is available via "Tor Browser" only.

Screenshot of files encrypted by this variant ("[random_name].[random_extension]" filename pattern):

Cerber new version encrypted files

Cerber 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:

Isolating the infected device:

Some ransomware-type infections are designed to encrypt files within external storage devices, infect them, and even spread throughout the entire local network. For this reason, it is very important to isolate the infected device (computer) as soon as possible.

Step 1: Disconnect from the internet.

The easiest way to disconnect a computer from the internet is to unplug the Ethernet cable from the motherboard, however, some devices are connected via a wireless network and for some users (especially those who are not particularly tech-savvy), disconnecting cables may seem troublesome. Therefore, you can also disconnect the system manually via Control Panel:

Navigate to the "Control Panel", click the search bar in the upper-right corner of the screen, enter "Network and Sharing Center" and select search result: Disconnecting computer from the Internet (step 1)

Click the "Change adapter settings" option in the upper-left corner of the window: Disconnecting computer from the Internet (step 2)

Right-click on each connection point and select "Disable". Once disabled, the system will no longer be connected to the internet. To re-enable the connection points, simply right-click again and select "Enable". Disconnecting computer from the Internet (step 3)

Step 2: Unplug all storage devices.

As mentioned above, ransomware might encrypt data and infiltrate all storage devices that are connected to the computer. For this reason, all external storage devices (flash drives, portable hard drives, etc.) should be disconnected immediately, however, we strongly advise you to eject each device before disconnecting to prevent data corruption:

Navigate to "My Computer", right-click on each connected device and select "Eject": Ejecting external storage devices

Step 3: Log-out of cloud storage accounts.

Some ransomware-type might be able to hijack software that handles data stored within "the Cloud". Therefore, the data could be corrupted/encrypted. For this reason, you should log-out of all cloud storage accounts within browsers and other related software. You should also consider temporarily uninstalling the cloud-management software until the infection is completely removed.

Identify the ransomware infection:

To properly handle an infection, one must first identify it. Some ransomware infections use ransom-demand messages as an introduction (see the WALDO ransomware text file below).

Identify ransomware-type infection (step 1)

This, however, is rare. In most cases, ransomware infections deliver more direct messages simply stating that data is encrypted and that victims must pay some sort of ransom. Note that ransomware-type infections typically generate messages with different file names (for example, "_readme.txt", "READ-ME.txt", "DECRYPTION_INSTRUCTIONS.txt", "DECRYPT_FILES.html", etc.). Therefore, using the name of a ransom message may seem like a good way to identify the infection. The problem is that most of these names are generic and some infections use the same names, even though the delivered messages are different and the infections themselves are unrelated. Therefore, using the message filename alone can be ineffective and even lead to permanent data loss (for example, by attempting to decrypt data using tools designed for different ransomware infections, users are likely to end up permanently damaging files and decryption will no longer be possible even with the correct tool).

Another way to identify a ransomware infection is to check the file extension, which is appended to each encrypted file. Ransomware infections are often named by the extensions they append (see files encrypted by Qewe ransomware below).

Identify ransomware-type infection (step 2)

This method is only effective, however, when the appended extension is unique - many ransomware infections append a generic extension (for example, ".encrypted", ".enc", ".crypted", ".locked", etc.). In these cases, identifying ransomware by its appended extension becomes impossible.

One of the easiest and quickest ways to identify a ransomware infection is to use the ID Ransomware website. This service supports most existing ransomware infections. Victims simply upload a ransom message and/or one encrypted file (we advise you to upload both if possible).

Identify ransomware-type infection (step 3)

The ransomware will be identified within seconds and you will be provided with various details, such as the name of the malware family to which the infection belongs, whether it is decryptable, and so on.

Example 1 (Qewe [Stop/Djvu] ransomware):

Identify ransomware-type infection (step 4)

Example 2 (.iso [Phobos] ransomware):

Identify ransomware-type infection (step 5)

If your data happens to be encrypted by a ransomware that is not supported by ID Ransomware, you can always try searching the internet by using certain keywords (for example, ransom message title, file extension, provided contact emails, cryptowallet addresses, etc.).

Search for ransomware decryption tools:

Encryption algorithms used by most ransomware-type infections are extremely sophisticated and, if the encryption is performed properly, only the developer is capable of restoring data. This is because decryption requires a specific key, which is generated during the encryption. Restoring data without the key is impossible. In most cases, cyber criminals store keys on a remote server, rather than using the infected machine as a host. Dharma (CrySis), Phobos, and other families of high-end ransomware infections are virtually flawless, and thus restoring data encrypted without the developers' involvement is simply impossible. Despite this, there are dozens of ransomware-type infections that are poorly developed and contain a number of flaws (for example, the use of identical encryption/decryption keys for each victim, keys stored locally, etc.). Therefore, always check for available decryption tools for any ransomware that infiltrates your computer.

Finding the correct decryption tool on the internet can be very frustrating. For this reason, we recommend that you use the No More Ransom Project and this is where identifying the ransomware infection is useful. The No More Ransom Project website contains a "Decryption Tools" section with a search bar. Enter the name of the identified ransomware, and all available decryptors (if there are any) will be listed.

Searching for ransomware decryption tools in nomoreransom.org website

Restore files with data recovery tools:

Depending on the situation (quality of ransomware infection, type of encryption algorithm used, etc.), restoring data with certain third-party tools might be possible. Therefore, we advise you to use EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard Pro. This tool supports over a thousand data types (graphics, video, audio, documents, etc.) and it is very intuitive (little knowledge is necessary to recover data).

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EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard Pro

By downloading any software listed on this website you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. Trial version of EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard Pro is capable of scanning drives and listing recoverable files - to restore them, you must purchase a license.

Step 1: Perform a scan.

Hover your mouse over the partition you wish to scan and select "Scan". You can also select a specific folder, or click shortcut icons to scan the Desktop or Recycle Bin: Scanning the storage drive with EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard PRO (step 1)

Wait for EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard Pro to complete the scan. The scanning duration depends on the volume of files (both in quantity and size) that you are scanning (for example, several hundreds gigabytes could take over an hour to scan). Therefore, be patient during the scanning process. We also advise against modifying or deleting existing files, since this might interfere with the scan. If you add additional data (for example, downloading files/content) while scanning, this will prolong the process: Scanning the storage drive with EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard PRO (step 2)

Step 2: Recover data.

Once the process is complete, select the folders/files you wish to restore and simply click "Recover". Note that some free space on your storage drive is necessary to restore data. Note also that the trial version of EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard Pro is only capable of scanning drives and listing recoverable files - to restore them, you must purchase a license: Recovering data with EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard Pro

Step 3: Save the scan session (optional).

We recommend that you save the scanning session once you have completed recovery, in case you decide to recover additional files later. Simply click the "Save Scan Session" icon in the upper-right corner of the screen and choose the location for the file to be saved. This will save a lot of time, since you will not need to re-scan the storage drive the next time you wish to restore something. Bear in mind, however, that data removed after the scanning session has finished will not be listed: Saving scan session in EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard Pro

Create data backups:

Proper file management and creating backups is essential for data security. Therefore, always be very careful and think ahead.

Partition management: We recommend that you store your data in multiple partitions and avoid storing important files within the partition that contains the entire operating system. If you fall into a situation whereby you cannot boot the system and are forced to format the disk on which the operating system is installed (in most cases, this is where malware infections hide), you will lose all data stored within that drive. This is the advantage of having multiple partitions: if you have the entire storage device assigned to a single partition, you will be forced to delete everything, however, creating multiple partitions and allocating the data properly allows you to prevent such problems. You can easily format a single partition without affecting the others - therefore, one will be cleaned and the others will remain untouched, and your data will be saved. Managing partitions is quite simple and you can find all necessary information on Microsoft's documentation web page.

Data backups: The most reliable backup method is to use an external storage device and keep it unplugged. Copy your data to an external hard drive, flash (thumb) drive, SSD, HDD, or any other storage device, unplug it and store it in a dry place away from sun and extreme temperatures. This method is, however, quite inefficient, since data backups and updates need to be made regularly. You can also use a cloud service or remote server. Here, an internet connection is required and there is always the chance of a security breach. Therefore, you should consider using an application to create data backups locally.

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EaseUS Todo Backup

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 EaseUS Todo Backup. 30 days free trial available.

We recommend using the EaseUS Todo Backup application. The "Home" edition of EaseUS Todo Backup is usually more than adequate for regular users, however, the "Business" edition is more suitable for companies and large computer networks. The EaseUS Todo Backup application provides extensive data protection features. You can easily create backups, and encrypt and compress them for enhanced protection and storage saving purposes. It also allows you to set backup schedules, create bootable devices, and restore the system if a crash occurs. You can easily choose where to store the created backup: locally; uploaded to an external drive; FTP; cloud storage, or elsewhere. In summary, EaseUS Todo Backup is an all-in-one tool, which provides all features required to properly backup your data.

Creating a data backup:

The backup process is virtually identical regardless of the item (file, partition, entire system) you wish to backup. Taking the File Backup feature as an example:

Step 1: Choose which item to backup.

Click on the "Menu" icon in the upper-left corner of the screen to reveal the menu and select "File Backup": Creating data backups with EaseUS Todo Backup tool (step 1)

Select the files you want to backup. You can also enter a name and description of the backup that will be created: Creating data backups with EaseUS Todo Backup tool (step 2)

Step 2: Change the default settings.

The EaseUS Todo Backup application provides a variety of additional options that can be added/modified while creating the backup. For example, you can encrypt data (add a password), select the compression rate (how much the backup should be compressed), performance (how many system resources should be allocated), add an email notification (you receive an email once the process is complete) and so on.

To open the options window, click the "Backup options" button in the lower-left corner of the screen: Creating data backups with EaseUS Todo Backup tool (step 3)

Select the settings you want to change and click "Save". You can also reset your changes by clicking "Reset to initial settings": Creating data backups with EaseUS Todo Backup tool (step 4)

Step 3: Select the backup destination.

As mentioned above, EaseUS Todo Backup allows you to choose where backups are saved - locally or externally.

Click the "Browse..." button and select the location you want the backup to be saved: Creating data backups with EaseUS Todo Backup tool (step 5)

Step 4: Safety measures and process completion.

Depending on the location you have chosen, there are a number of measures you should or should not take. If you are uploading to an internet-connected location (for example, Cloud storage, FTP, etc.), be sure to maintain your internet connection, otherwise you will have to start again. The same applies to external storage devices - do not unplug them until the process is complete.

The progress bar displays estimated time remaining until completion. Large backups (hundreds of gigabytes) can take hours to create (depending on storage device speed, internet connection, etc.). Therefore, the application also allows you to optionally choose what the system should do (shut down, sleep or hibernate) once the process has finished: Creating data backups with EaseUS Todo Backup tool (step 6)

The best way to avoid damage from ransomware infections is to maintain regular up-to-date backups.

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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