Xorist Ransomware [Updated]

Also Known As: Xorist virus
Damage level: Severe

What is Xorist?

Xorist (EnCiPhErEd) is a family of ransomware-type malware. After stealth system infiltration, ransomware from this family encrypts various files stored on the computer and adds one of the following extensions to each encrypted file: ....VeraCrypt_System_Error2019-You_need_to_make_payment_in_maxmin_24_hours_if_you_dont_the_decryptor_license_will_be_deleted_this_is_not_a_joke, .NEED-TO-MAKE-PAYMENT-OR-ALL-YOUR-FILLES-WILL-BE-DELETED-CRITICAL-SITUATION-URGENT-ATTENTION-24-HOURS-TO-PAY-OR-EVERYTHING-WILL-BE-PERMANENTLY-DELETED-FOREVER, .mbrcodes, ...DATA_IS_SAFE_YOU_NEED_TO_MAKE_THE_PAYMENT_IN_MAXIM_24_HOURS_OR_ALL_YOUR_IMPORTANT_FILES_WILL_BE_LOST_FOREVER_PLEASE_BE_REZONABLE_IS_NOT_A_JOKE_TIME_IS_LIMITED, .PrOtOnIs, ...Files-Frozen-NEED-TO-MAKE-PAYMENT-FOR-DECRYPTOR-OR-ALL-YOUR-FILES-WILL-BE-PERMANENLTY-DELETE, .cryptedx, .CerBerSysLocked0009881, ....error77002017111, .Blocked2.TaRoNiS, .Cerber_RansomWare@qq.com, .hello, .brb, .RusVon, .fast_decrypt_and_protect@tutanota.com, .xdata, .SaMsUnG, .zixer2, .antihacker2017, .error.errorfiles, .@EnCrYpTeD2016@, .pa2384259, .encoderpass, .fileiscryptedhard, .6FKR8d, .EnCiPhErEd, .73i87A, .p5tkjw, .PoAr2w.xwz, .ava or .DECRYPT-ID-[victim's_ID].

After encrypting the files, this ransomware creates a 'How to Decrypt Files.txt text file on the victim's desktop. The file contains a message stating that the files can only be restored by paying a ransom.

The victim is then encouraged to contact cyber criminals by SMS and using a phone number provided. It is stated that victims have a limited number of attempts to send an SMS message with the specified text. This number diminishes each time the victim sends an SMS with text that does not conform to a pattern provided within the 'How to Decrypt Files.txt' file.

Ransomware from this family is created using Encoder Builder (purchased from the darkweb malware and exploit forums). This ransomware builder allows cyber criminals to input their ransom-demand message, choose their file encryption algorithm (XOR or TEA), choose the file types to be encrypted on victims' computers, etc.

After a simple configuration, cyber criminals are presented with a ransomware executable file that they can distribute (through spam email messages, malwertising, etc.), and potentially make money from computer users who pay the ransom to recover their data.

Fortunately, an Emsisoft employee, Fabian Wosar, managed to developed a tool capable of decrypting files compromised by Xorist ransomware. To receive this decryptor, contact Fabian Wosar via email: fw (at) emsisoft.com Note that the decryptor only works if you still have the malware file on your system. A copy can usually be found in your %temp% folder.

The main reason why Fabian does not release the decrypt tool for public download is to prevent cyber criminals discovering weak points in their malware and updating it. Another way to decrypt files compromised by ransomware from this family is by using an XoristDecryptor created by security researchers from Kaspersky - you can download it here.

Screenshot of a message encouraging users to contact the developers of Xorist ransomware to decrypt their compromised data:

Xorist decrypt instructions

An updated variant of Xorist ransomware changes the victim's desktop to this wallpaper:

xorist updated variant wallpaper

Research shows that ransomware-type viruses are often very similar. As with the Xorist family, CTB-Locker, Locky, TeslaCrypt, and other similar malware also encrypts files and then makes ransom demands. There are just two main differences between these viruses - the encryption algorithm used and size of ransom.

Ransomware is often distributed via infectious email attachments, P2P (peer to peer) networks (for example, Torrent), fake software updates, and trojans. Therefore, be cautious when opening attachments sent from unrecognized/suspicious emails and downloading files from untrusted sources.

It is also important to keep all installed software up-to-date and use a legitimate anti-spyware or anti-virus suite. Be aware that paying the ransom does not guarantee that your files will ever be decrypted. Therefore, you should never attempt to pay the ransom or contact cyber criminals.

emsisoft xorist decrypterTo decrypt your files free, download Emsisoft Decrypter for Xorist ransomware (Download it HERE).

How to Decrypt Files.txt file:

xorist ransomware how to decrypt files txt

Text presented in How to Decrypt Files.txt file:

Encryption was produced using unique KEY generated for this computer.

To decrypted files, you need to obtain private key.
The single copy of the private key, with will allow you to decrypt the files, is locate on a secret server on the internet;
The server will destroy the key within 24 hours after encryption completed.
Payment have to be made in maxim 24 hours
To retrieve the private key, you need to pay 3 BITCOINS

Bitcoins have to be sent to this address: 1NJNG57hFPPcmSmFYbxKmL33uc5nLwYLCK

After you've sent the payment send us an email to : fast_decrypt_and_protect@tutanota.com with subject : ERROR-ID-(3BITCOINS)
If you are  not familiar with bitcoin you can buy it from here :

SITE : www.localbitcoin.com

After we confirm the payment , we send the private key so you can decrypt your system.

Here are the features of Encoder Builder:

Encrypting files using XOR and TEA;
Configuring masks of files search which are needed to process;
A pile of all sorts of different settings, such as the number of attempts to enter the password (see the screenshot);
Encoder was written in MASM32 but builder in Delphi 7;
The password for decryption is not stored in clear text in the build, but its MD5x5-hash is there;
A random offset from beginnings of files for each build for encryption;

Ransom demand message targeting PC users from Russia (КАК РАСШИФРОВАТЬ ФАЙЛЫ.txt file):

Внимание! Все Ваши файлы зашифрованы!
Чтобы восстановить свои файлы и получить к ним доступ,
свяжитесь с нами по email: nikosdd@yandex.ru

У вас есть 5 попыток ввода кода. При превышении этого
количества, все данные необратимо испортятся. Будьте
внимательны при вводе кода!

Screenshots of Encoder Builder (English and Russian versions):

Encoder Builder english version Encoder Builer russian version

Update 1 June, 2016 - Cyber criminals have updated this ransomware with a new ransom demand message (now presented in ‘READ TO DECRYPTIONS_.txt’) and a new extension that is added to the encrypted files (‘.fileiscryptedhard’). Here is a screenshot of the READ TO DECRYPTIONS_.txt file:

xorist new ransom demanding message READ-TO-DECRYPTIONS_.txt

Text presented within READ TO DECRYPTIONS_.txt file:

All your data files are crypted. To decrypt files and gain access to them, please send 0,5 Bitcoin to address - and email to fn1573917917ja@163.com proof (screen or TransID) of your payment. After receiving  the money, I will send you your password and decrypt instructions via email. You can also send a single cryptic files and I will send you the decryption for your peace of mind.

Update 13 July, 2016 - Cyber criminals have released a variant of Xorist ransomware that claims to be CERBER ransomware and adds the .cerber extension to encrypted files.

Fortunately, Xorist decryptor developed by Fabian Wosar can decrypt victim’s files free of charge. You can download it here. Here is a screenshot of the HOW TO DECRYPT FILES.HTML file generated by this fake CERBER ransomware:

xorist fake cerber ransomware

Another variant of this ransomware appends the .EnCiPhErEd file extension to encrypted files and uses the locker@riseup.net contact email address:

locker@riseup.net ransomware pop-up

Update: 21 March, 2018 - Cyber criminals have released an updated variant of this ransomware. It adds the ".wxz" extension to encrypted files and presents its ransom demand message in the READ ME FOR DECRYPT.txt file. Screenshot of a pop-up message displayed after victims' files are encrypted:

xorist ransomware .wxz variant pop-up

Another pop-up window requesting a password that victims will supposedly receive after paying the ransom:

xorist enter password pop-up

Text in the ransom demand message(s):

All your files is encrypted using an unknown algorithm!
Do not try decrypt manualy!
You can destroy your files!!
To decrypt, please contact us BlackStarMafia@qq.com

Your personal ID: IN1O-2OYU-O98O-K1JJ

How to buy Bitcoins?

Screenshot of files encrypted by this variant of Xorist ransomware (.wxz extension):

xorist encrypted files .xwz extension

Xorist ransomware removal:

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Video suggesting what steps should be taken in case of a ransomware infection:

Quick menu:

Reporting ransomware to authorities:

If you are a victim of a ransomware attack we recommend reporting this incident to authorities. By providing information to law enforcement agencies you will help track cybercrime and potentially assist in the prosecution of the attackers. Here's a list of authorities where you should report a ransomware attack. For the complete list of local cybersecurity centers and information on why you should report ransomware attacks, read this article.

List of local authorities where ransomware attacks should be reported (choose one depending on your residence address):

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 ransomware that is not supported by ID Ransomware, you can always try searching the internet by using certain keywords (for example, a ransom message title, file extension, provided contact emails, crypto wallet 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, cybercriminals 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 the Recuva tool developed by CCleaner. 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). In addition, the recovery feature is completely free.

Step 1: Perform a scan.

Run the Recuva application and follow the wizard. You will be prompted with several windows allowing you to choose what file types to look for, which locations should be scanned, etc. All you need to do is select the options you're looking for and start the scan. We advise you to enable the "Deep Scan" before starting, otherwise, the application's scanning capabilities will be restricted.

Recuva data recovery tool wizard

Wait for Recuva 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 hundred 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:

Recuva data recovery tool scan time

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:

Recuva data recovery tool recovering data

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 the necessary information on Microsoft's documentation web page.

Data backups: One of the most reliable backup methods 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 the 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, although it's a really rare occasion.

We recommend using Microsoft OneDrive for backing up your files. OneDrive lets you store your personal files and data in the cloud, sync files across computers and mobile devices, allowing you to access and edit your files from all of your Windows devices. OneDrive lets you save, share and preview files, access download history, move, delete, and rename files, as well as create new folders, and much more.

You can back up your most important folders and files on your PC (your Desktop, Documents, and Pictures folders). Some of OneDrive’s more notable features include file versioning, which keeps older versions of files for up to 30 days. OneDrive features a recycling bin in which all of your deleted files are stored for a limited time. Deleted files are not counted as part of the user’s allocation.

The service is built using HTML5 technologies and allows you to upload files up to 300 MB via drag and drop into the web browser or up to 10 GB via the OneDrive desktop application. With OneDrive, you can download entire folders as a single ZIP file with up to 10,000 files, although it can’t exceed 15 GB per single download.

OneDrive comes with 5 GB of free storage out of the box, with an additional 100 GB, 1 TB, and 6 TB storage options available for a subscription-based fee. You can get one of these storage plans by either purchasing additional storage separately or with Office 365 subscription.

Creating a data backup:

The backup process is the same for all file types and folders. Here’s how you can back up your files using Microsoft OneDrive

Step 1: Choose the files/folders you want to backup.

Click the OneDrive icon in the taskbar

Click the OneDrive cloud icon to open the OneDrive menu. While in this menu, you can customize your file backup settings.

Select Help & Settings and click Settings

Click Help & Settings and then select Settings from the drop-down menu.

Select the Backup tab and click Manage backup

Go to the Backup tab and click Manage backup.

Select folders to backup and click Start backup

In this menu, you can choose to backup the Desktop and all of the files on it, and Documents and Pictures folders, again, with all of the files in them. Click Start backup.

Now, when you add a file or folder in the Desktop and Documents and Pictures folders, they will be automatically backed up on OneDrive.

To add folders and files, not in the locations shown above, you have to add them manually.

Select a file manually and copy it

Open File Explorer and navigate to the location of the folder/file you want to backup. Select the item, right-click it, and click Copy.

Paste the copied file in the OneDrive folder to create a backup

Then, navigate to OneDrive, right-click anywhere in the window and click Paste. Alternatively, you can just drag and drop a file into OneDrive. OneDrive will automatically create a backup of the folder/file.

File statuses in OneDrive folder

All of the files added to the OneDrive folder are backed up in the cloud automatically. The green circle with the checkmark in it indicates that the file is available both locally and on OneDrive and that the file version is the same on both. The blue cloud icon indicates that the file has not been synced and is available only on OneDrive. The sync icon indicates that the file is currently syncing.

Click Help & Settings and click View Online

To access files only located on OneDrive online, go to the Help & Settings drop-down menu and select View online.

Click the Settings cog and click Options

Step 2: Restore corrupted files.

OneDrive makes sure that the files stay in sync, so the version of the file on the computer is the same version on the cloud. However, if ransomware has encrypted your files, you can take advantage of OneDrive’s Version history feature that will allow you to restore the file versions prior to encryption.

Microsoft 365 has a ransomware detection feature that notifies you when your OneDrive files have been attacked and guide you through the process of restoring your files. It must be noted, however, that if you don’t have a paid Microsoft 365 subscription, you only get one detection and file recovery for free.

If your OneDrive files get deleted, corrupted, or infected by malware, you can restore your entire OneDrive to a previous state. Here’s how you can restore your entire OneDrive:


1. If you're signed in with a personal account, click the Settings cog at the top of the page. Then, click Options and select Restore your OneDrive.

If you're signed in with a work or school account,  click the Settings cog at the top of the page. Then, click Restore your OneDrive.

2. On the Restore your OneDrive page, select a date from the drop-down list. Note that if you're restoring your files after automatic ransomware detection, a restore date will be selected for you.

3. After configuring all of the file restoration options, click Restore to undo all the activities you selected.

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

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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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