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Moth Ransomware – Remove It and Restore .m0th Encoded Files

shutterstock_278999798Ransomware, named Moth, because it uses the file extension .m0th is the sole reason of users complaining in online forums. The ransomware uses an extremely strong AES-256 encryption algorithm to encipher the files of users, rendering them unusable and unable to be accessed via any software. More to it Moth ransomware leaves a ransom note which aims to scare users into paying the ransom. Security experts firmly believe that exactly the opposite of paying should be done – removing the virus and attempting to restore the files via any possible method besides this one. Unfortunately, direct decryption is not available at the moment, and this is why we advise you to read this article to delete Moth Ransomware and try to revert your files.

Threat Summary

Name Moth
Type Ransomware
Short Description The ransomware encrypts files with the AES-256 cipher and asks a ransom for decryption.
Symptoms Files are encrypted and become inaccessible. A ransom note with instructions for paying the ransom shows as a READMEPLEASE.TXT file.
Distribution Method Spam Emails, Email Attachments, File Sharing Networks.
Detection Tool See If Your System Has Been Affected by Moth

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User Experience Join our forum to Discuss Moth Ransomware.

Moth Ransomware – How Does It Spread

To be widespread, Moth Ransomware’s creators may have used a combination of several tools to assure successfully undetected infection to as many users as possible for them:

  • Spam bots or spamming services.
  • Program joiners.
  • Crypters otherwise known as obfuscators.
  • Malicious macros.
  • Exploit Kits.
  • Malicious .JS (JavaScript).

Such tools may be used to replicate spam e-mails under the pretext they come from a legitimate sender, like a well-respected company or other organizations and institutions. The e-mails may either contain malicious web links or other malicious files that may infect your computer.

Another possibility of infection which is less likely but still an option for crooks is to take advantage of a shady advertising platforms and programs, like ad-supported browser hijacking software which displays browser redirects on the user PC. One of those redirects may carry the malicious drive-by download script for Moth Ransomware.

Moth Ransomware – In-Depth Analysis

As soon as Moth Ransomware has been initiated on the user’s PC, it may create malicious files in several key Windows folders:

  • %AppData%
  • %Temp%
  • %Local%
  • %LocalRow%
  • %User’s Profile%

After it has created the malicious files, Moth Ransomware may also begin to modify Windows settings. The Moth virus may create registry values to run whenever the user boots up Windows:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run {value with the location of the malicious file in Windows}

To encrypt files, Moth Ransomware supports a scanning encryptor which may go through a wide variety of file extensions associated with videos, music, adio files, databases and other file types, for example:

“PNG .PSD .PSPIMAGE .TGA .THM .TIF .TIFF .YUV .AI .EPS .PS .SVG .INDD .PCT .PDF .XLR .XLS .XLSX .ACCDB .DB .DBF .MDB .PDB .SQL .APK .APP .BAT .CGI .COM .EXE .GADGET .JAR .PIF .WSF .DEM .GAM .NES .ROM .SAV CAD Files .DWG .DXF GIS Files .GPX .KML .KMZ .ASP .ASPX .CER .CFM .CSR .CSS .HTM .HTML .JS .JSP .PHP .RSS .XHTML. DOC .DOCX .LOG .MSG .ODT .PAGES .RTF .TEX .TXT .WPD .WPS .CSV .DAT .GED .KEY .KEYCHAIN .PPS .PPT .PPTX ..INI .PRF Encoded Files .HQX .MIM .UUE .7Z .CBR .DEB .GZ .PKG .RAR .RPM .SITX .TAR.GZ .ZIP .ZIPX .BIN .CUE .DMG .ISO .MDF .TOAST .VCD SDF .TAR .TAX2014 .TAX2015 .VCF .XML Audio Files .AIF .IFF .M3U .M4A .MID .MP3 .MPA .WAV .WMA Video Files .3G2 .3GP .ASF .AVI .FLV .M4V .MOV .MP4 .MPG .RM .SRT .SWF .VOB .WMV 3D .3DM .3DS .MAX .OBJ R.BMP .DDS .GIF .JPG ..CRX .PLUGIN .FNT .FON .OTF .TTF .CAB .CPL .CUR .DESKTHEMEPACK .DLL .DMP .DRV .ICNS .ICO .LNK .SYS .CFG”Source:fileinfo.com

After it detects the extensions it is preconfigured to encrypt Moth ransomware begins applying an AES-256 cipher on the files, generating a unique private key which is sent to the cyber-criminals’ C&C (Command and Control) center so that they can later ask BitCoins for them.

The encrypted files have the .m0th file extension, for example:

encrypted-file-Moth-Ransowmare-sensorstechforum

Furthermore, files encoded by Moth ransomware cannot be opened by any other software and fast and 100% direct decryption is only possible in case the user has obtained the private AES encryption key.

After encryption, Moth creates the READMEPLEASE.TXT file which contains the demands of the black hat hackers:

“Hello.
All your files have been encrypted using our extremely strong private key. There is no way to recover them without our assistance. If you want to get your files back, you must be ready to pay for them. If you are broke and poor, sorry, we cannot help you. If you are ready to pay, then get in touch with us using a secure and anonymous p2p messenger. We have to use a messenger because standard emails get blocked quickly and if our email gets blocked your files will be lost forever.
Go to http://bitmessage.org/, download and run Bitmessage. Click Your Identities tab > then click New > then click OK (this will generate your personal address, you need to do this just once). Then click Send tab.
TO:{Cyber-criminals’ BitCoin address}
Subject: name of your PC or your IP address or both.
Message: Hi, I am ready to pay.
Click Send button.
You are done.
To get the fastest reply from us with all further instructions, please keep your Bitmessage running on the computer at all times, if possible, or as often as you can because Bitmessage is a bit slow and it takes the time to send and get messages. If you cooperate and follow the instructions, you will get all your files back intact and very, very soon. Thank you.” Source: Affected User

As visible from the ransom note above, it is almost identical to another ransomware variant, known under the nickname BitMessage suggesting that Moth ransomware may be a variant of BitMessage virus. This particular threat is known to take advantage of the anonymous messaging service BitMessage to communicate with the victims of the virus undetected and in the same time faster and easier. Clever move from the cyber-criminals since they realize that “customer support” is important as well.

Moth Ransomware – Conclusion, How to Remove It and Restore the Files

To summarize and conclude, Moth Ransomware appears to be a variant of BitMessage ransomware – It uses the same AES-256 cipher, leaves the same ransom note and maybe has, even more, similarities. This is a strong indicator that this virus may have been sold on the black markets as a service (RaaS Scheme) or the same gang behind it created another virus with improvements, although it is way less likely because there is no working decryptor for BitMessage as well.

To remove Moth ransomware, we advise you to carefully follow the removal steps at the bottom of this page. In case you are having difficulties or are not sure that the manual removal instructions will help you, we advise following the automatic removal solution and download an advanced anti-malware program. It will swiftly find all files associated with Moth ransomware, remove them and protect your computer in the future as well.

To try and gain back access to your files, we advise you to be very careful, since this virus may have a CBC mode, which essentially “breaks” the files you are trying to decrypt with another decrypter directly. This is why we advise avoiding direct decryption and trying some of the alternative methods in step “3.Restore files encrypted by Moth” below. They may not be fully effective, but they may also help you recover little portion of the data you lost.

Manually delete Moth from your computer

Note! Substantial notification about the Moth threat: Manual removal of Moth requires interference with system files and registries. Thus, it can cause damage to your PC. Even if your computer skills are not at a professional level, don’t worry. You can do the removal yourself just in 5 minutes, using a malware removal tool.

1. Boot Your PC In Safe Mode to isolate and remove Moth files and objects
2.Find malicious files created by Moth on your PC
3.Fix registry entries created by Moth on your PC

Automatically remove Moth by downloading an advanced anti-malware program

1. Remove Moth with SpyHunter Anti-Malware Tool
2. Back up your data to secure it against infections and file encryption by Moth in the future
3. Restore files encrypted by Moth
Optional: Using Alternative Anti-Malware Tools

Vencislav Krustev

A network administrator and malware researcher at SensorsTechForum with passion for discovery of new shifts and innovations in cyber security. Strong believer in basic education of every user towards online safety.

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