Already a print edition subscriber, but don’t have a login? Hackers are taking over thousands cryptoLocker Ransomware demands $300 or Two Bitcoins to decrypt your files computers in the U. A link has been sent to your friend’s email address. A link has been posted to your Facebook feed.
Joann Erenhouse, director of the Chamber of Commerce in Bennington, Vt. On a bitter cold Friday in January, an ominous warning popped up on a computer screen at the Chamber of Commerce in Bennington, Vt. Hackers operating on the Internet’s “Dark Web” are spreading a new, more sophisticated generation of the malicious software known as “ransomware,” anonymously shaking down anyone with an unprotected computer, from lawyers and cops to small businesses. Some victims get lost in the cumbersome details of the ransom payment process and run out of time, leaving their computers locked forever. Others pay right away and have their computers unlocked.
Still others pay up, only to have the hackers run off with the money — and with the secret key. An Italian researcher who traced ransoms paid by victims in the anonymous digital currency bitcoin discovered that the hackers had set up more than 2,000 online “wallets” to accept ransoms. This suggests that our estimate of their racket is very conservative,” researcher Michele Spagnuolo wrote. The amount doesn’t account for ransoms paid through anonymous credit cards, an option also offered by the hackers. The attacks are frustrating both computer experts, who can’t defeat the virus once it infiltrates a computer, and law enforcement agents, who have busted few of the underground rings that specialize in these attacks. Roel Schouwenberg, senior security researcher for Kaspersky Lab North America, a computer-security company. Security researchers believe the latest versions of ransomware were created by hackers in Eastern Europe and Russia.
The hackers conceal their identities by deploying the virus through The Onion Router, known by its TOR acronym. When the user opens the e-mail or file, the virus invades the PC. The crooks also implant the viruses on websites, called “watering holes,” and then try to lure people there, often with pornography or the promise of free goods. The tools are being continuously engineered to be more malicious, more harmful,” said FBI Agent Nick Savage, assistant special agent in charge of the cyberbranch in the criminal division at the FBI’s Washington, D. Ransomware crooks have also become bolder, demanding more money and targeting bigger fish, Savage said.
750 in bitcoin and LEAM Drilling Systems, a drilling company with 850 employees, based in Louisiana. Once a ransomware virus invades an unprotected computer, it worms through the files and then codes them with a complicated encryption so the owner can no longer access his or her data without a key to unlock the code. Then a pop-up screen appears with detailed instructions about how to pay the ransom and obtain the code to unlock the computer. The hackers provide detailed instructions, including a frequently asked questions link and a guide to purchasing bitcoin.
It’s a very cheap and effective way for cybercriminals to make an easy buck,” said JD Sherry, vice president of technology and solutions at Trend Micro, a computer security company based in Irving-Las Colinas, Texas. Wade Williamson, a senior threat research at Shape Security, says hackers deliberately seek only small sums of money and small- to mid-size targets because that is what the market will bear. If millions were stolen per transaction, you see a lot more interest from the FBI, from Interpol,” Williamson says. At Paul Goodson’s Charlotte law office, the virus came in through a brand new, top-of-line service that delivers voicemails directly to employee e-mail. An employee clicked on it, not noticing a slight alternation in the file name, and launched the virus. 300 to be paid with a Green Dot card within three days or the ransom would double.
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The IT staff wanted Goodson, a disability attorney, to simply pay the ransom and move on. My reaction was not that calm and not one that you can print,” Goodson said. When pushed, we don’t back up. It’s not in my nature to just roll over and see what happens. The ransom screen did not reappear and the files remained frozen. Think of it like a nuclear launch.
To get them to turn the key, you have to pay a ransom. The cybercrimes team examined the emails used to launch the virus and the malware itself. Law enforcement discourages victims from paying the ransom since it encourages the perpetrators to strike again. Sometimes, after the ransom is paid, the criminals send the key to decrypt the files, Savage said.
Other times, they take the money and run, leaving the files inaccessible. Some victims pay the ransom, only to get hit again. As they say, no honor among thieves,” Savage said. Ransomware emerged on the scene in 2006 in Russia. By 2009, computer-security experts had traced it to hackers in Russia and Eastern Europe.
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Since then, it’s moved steadily West, in various new-and-improved iterations. The earliest versions of ransomware did not lock computers. Instead, messages appeared to come from law enforcement, tax collectors or other official agencies. The messages threatened an arrest if the victim failed to pay a fine for some alleged infraction of the law, usually visiting a porn website.
In February 2013, Spanish Police and the European Cybercrime Center arrested a 27-year-old Russian and 10 accomplices who allegedly extorted millions of dollars using ransomware. The ransom notes, which appeared to be from police, demanded a “fine” of 100 euros, and first appeared in Spain in 2011. CERT, the Computer Emergency Readiness Team at the Department of Homeland Security, issued an alert about Cryptolocker on Nov. A day later, cybercriminals shook down police in Swansea, Mass.
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750 in bitcoin to unlock their hijacked police department files. The National Crime Agency in the United Kingdom issued an alert on Nov. The agency attributed the attack to organized crime groups. British authorities urged victims not to pay the ransom. Most computer security software can identify and block suspicious emails but the anti-virus patches must be scrupulously updated.
Sherry recommends what he calls a 3-2-1 strategy. Keep three copies of your data in two different media types and in one physically separate location. The FBI’s Savage urges victims to report any malware attacks. Often, it’s one piece of information that someone has — one puzzle piece — that can put it all together and unlock everything for us. At the Bennington Area Chamber of Commerce, unflappable director Joann Erenhouse sprang into action when the virus struck, following the bizarre instructions on the screen. Such cards are outlawed in Vermont. So Erenhouse drove to a Wal-Mart in Massachusetts, purchased the card and raced back to the office to pay the ransom.
It was such pandemonium,” Erenhouse recalls. Squires and Erenhouse tried to e-mail the cybercrook, but got no answer. Apparently, the crooks don’t work weekends,” Erenhouse said. Next, they tried purchasing bitcoins, a process that can take up to 48 hours for a new user.
The clock continued to tick down. By the time they tried to pay the ransom, it was too late. The crook had fled without providing the key, leaving the Chamber’s data inaccessible. There was no one to pay,” Erenhouse said. The cybercrooks wiped out the Chamber’s entire database — 130,000 files — including their membership directory and years of records on the city’s renowned Garlic Fest. 4,000 and dozens of hours of aggravation.
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6 Will paying the ransom actually decrypt your files? 10 What to do if your anti-virus software deleted the infection files and you want to pay the ransom! I thought it would be better to post all the known information about this infection in one place. In many ways this guide feels like a support topic on how to pay the ransom, which sickens me. Unfortunately, this infection is devious and many people have no choice but to pay the ransom in order to get their files back. I apologize in advance if this is seen as helping the developers, when in fact my goal is to help the infected users with whatever they decide to do. 300 in order to decrypt the files.
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The infection will also hijack your . EXE extensions so that when you launch an executable it will attempt to delete the Shadow Volume Copies that are on the affected computer. It does this because you can use shadow volume copies to restore your encrypted files. EXE hijack in the Registry will look similar to the following. Please note that registry key names will be random. Once the infection has successfully deleted your shadow volume copies, it will restore your exe extensions back to the Windows defaults. Some examples of domain names that the DGA will generate are lcxgidtthdjje.
300 dollars in order to decrypt your files. Warning: If you enter an incorrect payment code, it will decrease the amount of time you have available to decrypt your files. So if you plan on paying the ransom, please be careful as you type the code. More technical details about this infection can be at this blog post by Emsisoft.
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Examples of filenames using this path are: Rlatviomorjzlefba. For the above registry values, the current version is 0388. Newer version now include the version of the malware, which is currently 0388, in the key name. This key will not help you decrypt the encrypted files on your computer.
This list is then processed by the decryption tool to decrypt your files if you paid the ransom. For each file that is encrypted, a new REG_DWORD value will be created that is named using the full pathname to the encrypted file. The new decrypter provided by this service will instead scan your files and attempt to decrypt them using the embedded private decryption key. This will prevent it from further encrypting any files. If you do not need to pay the ransom, simply delete the Registry values and files and the program will not load anymore. You can then restore your data via other methods.
If you only terminate one process, the other process will automatically launch the second one again. Instead use a program like Process Explorer and right click on the first process and select Kill Tree. This will terminate both at the same time. In order to use the decryption you need to paste the entire decryption key they send you, quotes and all, after the –key argument of the Decryptolocker.
An example of how you would decrypt all of the folders and files under a particular folder can be found in this post. If your key is not available using the above methods, the only methods you have of restoring your files is from a backup or Shadow Volume Copies if you have System Restore enabled. More information about how to restore your files via Shadow Volume Copies can be found in this section below. If you do not have System Restore enabled on your computer or reliable backups, then you will need to pay the ransom in order to get your files back.
Will paying the ransom actually decrypt your files? When you pay the ransom you will be shown a screen stating that your payment is being verified. Reports from people who have paid this ransom state that this verification process can take 3-4 hours to complete. Once the payment has been verified, the infection will start decrypting your files.
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Once again, it has been reported that the decryption process can take quite a bit of time. At this point we have no information as how to resolve this. Visitors have reported that the infection will continue to decrypt the rest of the files even if it has a problem with certain files. This infection is typically spread through emails sent to company email addresses that pretend to be customer support related issues from Fedex, UPS, DHS, etc.
These emails would contain a zip attachment that when opened would infect the computer. These zip files contain executables that are disguised as PDF files as they have a PDF icon and are typically named something like FORM_101513. The original is retained by supervisor and copy goes to Accounting. Accounting need this form to approve mileage reimbursement. The form can be used for multiple years, however it needs to re-signed annually by employee and supervisor.
Not having a current copy of this form on file in Accounting may delay a travel reimbursement claim. 200 USD on some bitcoins exchanges. You can use the links above to see transactions into the wallet and out of the wallet. It is strongly suggested that you secure all open shares by only allowing writable access to the necessary user groups or authenticated users.
What to do if your anti-virus software deleted the infection files and you want to pay the ransom! There are numerous reports that this download will not double-encrypt your files and will allow you to decrypt encrypted files. Some people have reported that you can increase the time by rolling back the clock in your BIOS. So to increase the timer by 10 hours, you would change your clock in your BIOS to 10 hours earlier. The virus author has stated that using this method will not help. Tests by users, though, have shown that the private keys are not deleted and you can pay the ransom even if your time has run out. Once in the bios, change your clock to some time in the past to increase the timer.
People have asked how they can contact the author of this infection when their payment does not go through. There is no direct way to contact the developer of this computer infection. This decryption service can also be accessed via TOR at the address f2d2v7soksbskekh. This service allows you to upload an encrypted file that performs a search for your public key. When your public is found if you had previously paid the ransom, it will give you a link to your private key and decrypter. Click on the image above to see full size and other associated images.
Once a payment is made it must have 10-15 bitcoin confirmations before your private key and a decrypter will be made available for download. Once these confirmations have occurred a download link will be displayed that will allow you to download a standalone decrypter. This decrypter will already have your private decryption key stored in the program and can be used to scan for and decrypt encrypted files. If you had System Restore enabled on the computer, Windows creates shadow copy snapshots that contain copies of your files from that point of time when the system restore snapshot was created. These snapshots may allow us to restore a previous version of our files from before they had been encrypted. Thankfully, the infection is not always able to remove the shadow copies, so you should continue to try restoring your files using this method. In this section we provide two methods that you can use to restore files and folders from the Shadow Volume Copy.