Yet another update has surfaced online concerning what appears to be one of the biggest ransomware viruses out there – the Cerber virus. Having a powerful scheme to redistribute it’s malicious files, the malware has become very sophisticated and it’s updates are not only on the surface as well. They also seem to include heavy modification of the Windows Registry entries related to the encrypted files. Since Cerber is a ransomware virus that aims to spread very fast users are advised not to open any e-mails that have archives and in them .hta or .wsf files because these are the methods the virus uses to infect computers. Anyone who has already been infected by the updated version of Cerber – 4.1.1 should immediately focus on eliminating the ransomware from your computer and learning more about the threat and how to restore your files by reading the information In this article.
|Short Description||This Cerber ransomware variant encrypts files with the RSA or AES ciphers adding four randomly generated A-Z 0-9 characters(ex. .z33f) as a file extension to the encrypted files and asks a ransom payoff for decryption.|
|Symptoms||Files are enciphered and become inaccessible by any type of software. A ransom note with instructions for paying the ransom shows as a “README.hta” file.|
|Distribution Method||Spam Emails, Email Attachments, File Sharing Networks, Malicious Executable in Torrent Trackers.|
|Detection Tool|| See If Your System Has Been Affected by Cerber 4.1.1 |
Malware Removal Tool
|Data Recovery Tool||Windows Data Recovery by Stellar Phoenix Notice! This product scans your drive sectors to recover lost files and it may not recover 100% of the encrypted files, but only few of them, depending on the situation and whether or not you have reformatted your drive.|
|User Experience||Join our forum to Discuss Cerber Ransomware.|
Cerber 4.1.1 Infection Process Analysis
To better explain how the infection process by this variant of Cerber works, we will take you through it methodologically, based on an average scenario of infection by the 4.1.1 version of this nasty ransomware threat.
Distributing Cerber 4.1.0
Another scenario, similar to Locky’s latest iteration is if a user opens a malicious e-mal attachment on a spam e-mail such as the picture below displays:
These massive spam messages are believed to be sent out via the same distributors who are behind the same hacking team who distributed the massive Dridex malware. Once you open the archived file, in there you may find another file that contains absolutely the same name of the malware and may be either .hta or .wsf type of file, but .js and .html files could also be spotted. Here is how a malicious file may look upon opening the archive:
As soon as the inexperienced user opens the malicious file, it may immediately connect to the many remote hosts that are related to Cerber ransomware and download the malicious payload onto the victim’s computer, which consists of the following types of files detected by Malware Traffic Analysis:
What appears to be RIG exploit kit may be used to cause a successful infection by Cerber ransomware. Malware researchers report the following infection process:
Stage 2: Post Infection Activities
After infection, Cerber v4.1.1 ransomware uses a very specific tactic to attack the unsuspecting user. The ransomware modifies a registry value string in the following location, named MachineGuid with random symbols amongst which is the 4 A-Z, 0-9 file extension randomly generated and used to encrypt files. The registry string is located in the following sub-key:
After this has been done, Cerber 4.1.1. may create additional helper files, known as modules in the following Windows location:
But this is not the only location where the modules may be located. The virus may create modules in the crucial Windows folders as well, like:
The malicious executables may contain very particular names, such as the date they are created, completely random names or the following reported names by all v4 version of Cerber.
In addition to the changes the Cerber 4.1.1 ransomware makes, another change is in the wallpaper that virus makes as well, which contains it’s version (4.1.1) in it:
The wallpaper contains URLs to Onion network hosts that lead to payment pages. We opened one particular URL which led us to the following web-page containing Captcha verification which is new for Cerber:
After we logged in the web page, we saw that the virus demands you to pay 0.1196 BTC (around 85 dollars) and the price will most likely double if the deadline of 5 days is not met:
The Cerber 4.1.1 ransomware also has very specific instructions that point to reputable web pages on how to convert money to BitCoin no matter where you are in the world:
“How to get «Cerber Decryptor»?
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).
Here are our recommendations:
btcdirect.eu – A good service for Europe
bittylicious.com – Get BTC via Visa / MC or SEPA (EU) bank transfer
localbitcoins.com – This service allows you to search for people that want to sell Bitcoins directly (WU, Cash, SEPA, Paypal, etc).
cex.io – Buy Bitcoins using Visa / Mastercard or Wire Transfer.
coincafe.com – It is recommended for the fast and easy service. Payment methods: Western Union, Bank of America, cash through FedEx, Moneygram, and/or wire transfer
bitstamp.net – Old and proven Bitcoin dealer
coinmama.com – Visa/Mastercard
btc-e.com – Bitcoins dealer (Visa/Mastercard, etc.)
Could not find Bitcoins in your region? Try searching here:
buybitcoinworldwide.com International catalog of Bitcoins exchanges
bitcoin-net.com – Another Bitcoins sellers catalog
howtobuybitcoins.info – International catalog of Bitcoins exchanges
bittybot.co/eu – A catalog for the European Union
3. Send 0.1196 to the following Bitcoin address:
Cerber 4.1.1 even has the ability to decrypt one file for free. What is also new about Cerber ransomware is the direct messaging system the virus offers to the victims in case there is a problem:
Similar to other v4 Cerber iterations, 4.1.1 also changes the names of the encrypted files and adds 4 random symbols for a file extension to make them non-recognizable. Encrypted files appear like the following:
Cerber 4.1.1 – Conclusion, File Decryption and Removal
Since this type of Cerber 4.1.1 ransomware is as advanced as the other v4 variants, many researchers feel convinced that it will get even more updates very soon, because of the huge attention Cerber ransomware has been receiving by cyber-security researchers lately. Since the first version of Cerber was successfully decrypted, the cyber-criminals have not only created a virus that is very difficult to decipher but they have also used very powerful distribution methods as well. Security experts strongly advise every user who has been infected by this instance of Cerber to immediately remove it from their computer, instructions for which we have prepared below.
For maximum effectiveness during the removal of Cerber 4.1.1 ransomware, we also strongly advise you to focus on a more automatic approach, using an advanced anti-malware program, that will ensure all of the registry entries and other malicious files belonging to Cerber 4.1.1 are permanently gone. Doing this will also protect your computer from further infections by Cerber 4.1.1 or other malware in the future.
If you are looking for a method to decrypt your files, the best suggestion we could give you is to wait, since this malware has not yet been cracked by malware research experts. It may never be cracked, but it may also be successfully reverse engineered in the near future, because as long as there is code there are also bugs. After the virus files are cracked, malware researchers should be able to develop a decryptor and help you successfully decipher the files.
This is why we have provided the methods that should help you restore your files providing the opportunity comes in step “2. Restore files decrypted by Cerber 4.1.1”. They include web links to two of the major decryptor developers – Kaspersky and Emsisoft, which we advise you to follow regularly. We will also update our blog with article on decryption instructions as soon as there are ones developed for this iteration of Cerber so we advise you to follow this page as well.