If you haven’t been infected by ransomware, ever, you are either very good at taking care of your data, or you have been incredibly lucky. Ransomware has been continuously evolving, and has become incredibly widespread thanks to the ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS) model. Things on this department are getting even worse as a new dark web scheme was just unearthed. This new scheme, dubbed Dot Ransomware, allows any wannabe cybercrook to use ransomware for free under only one condition: to split the profits 50/50.
Until now we have seen many RaaS schemes enabling unprofessional cybercriminals to spread ransomware for a fee or based on a subscription service, and make money out of it. However, this new campaign takes things to a whole new level – now anyone can operate with ransomware without investing anything. The only condition needed is to split the profits of successful infections with the authors on a 50/50 basis.
The scheme was discovered by researchers at Fortinet, who stumbled upon it while “lurking in hacking forums”:
While lurking in hacking forums, we came across a post for this new ransomware service. RaaS services are now switching from a one-time fee or subscription payment model to a commission based strategy. One advantage of this scheme is that the up front price for the ransomware is free, and any profits realized are just split 50/50 between the author and affiliate. This is an easy, no pressure gateway for aspiring affiliates since nothing is invested in obtaining the ransomware.
How Does the Dot Ransomware Scheme Work?
To start off, the potential criminal needs to go to a specific Tor link which will redirect them to the Dot ransomware homepage, a relatively new website. Researchers say that the ad they came across was published on February 21, and the project itself was launched just a couple of days before that. “Recent updates to the site show that this RaaS variant has continued to receive support and refinements from the author in order to improve the product,” Fortinet adds.
To participate in the free program, the wannabe affiliate will have to register via Bitcoin Address. Then, the about-to-become a cybercriminal will be able to download the malware builder, together with the core component. The core component is nothing but the ransomware payload with a default configuration. There is also a statistics page, where participants can track the number and status of infections.
During our testing we found that the statistics only counts an infection as successful if the victim visits the decryption page. This has the advantages of eliminating automated infections and providing a more realistic return from real victims, researchers say.
Since RaaS is a marketing model, be it an underground one, the authors have even included recommendations on the prices for certain countries and regions. There is also a list containing 380 file target extensions as suggestions for encryption.
In conclusion, Dot ransomware comes with a simplistic and easy-to-understand design that makes it easy for anyone to turn to the dark side of cybercrime. There is also support for bugs and constant developments which makes it even harder for security researchers to stay on top of things. The worst is that it has become increasingly easy for any wannabe to join in a RaaS model, especially here as no fee or subscription is needed.
Finally, Dot ransomware hasn’t been caught in active campaigns yet but considering the amount of ads on underground forums, perhaps it won’t take long before Dot starts hitting victims.
Stay Away from (Dot) Ransomware: Protect Your System and Back Up Your Data
Those are the basics of a secure system nowadays. Having an anti-malware program is a necessity, but you can also consider employing additional anti-ransomware protection. In terms of data hygiene, systematically backing up your files is absolutely needed.
More tips on how to avoid and counter ransomware are available in our forum, in the Helpful Tips about Ransomware topic.
Spy Hunter scanner will only detect the threat. If you want the threat to be automatically removed, you need to purchase the full version of the anti-malware tool.Find Out More About SpyHunter Anti-Malware Tool / How to Uninstall SpyHunter
What is Ransomware?
is a ransomware infection - the malicious software that enters your computer silently and blocks either access to the computer itself or encrypt your files.
Many ransomware viruses use sophisticated encryption algorithms to make your files inaccessible. The goal of ransomware infections is to demand that you pay a ransom payment to get access to your files back.
What Does Ransomware Do?
Ransomware in general is a malicious software that is designed to block access to your computer or files until a ransom is paid.
Ransomware viruses can also damage your system, corrupt data and delete files, resulting in the permanent loss of important files.
How Does Infect?
Via several ways. Ransomware infects computers by being sent via phishing emails, containing virus attachment. This attachment is usually masked as an important document, like an invoice, bank document or even a plane ticket and it looks very convincing to users.
Another way you may become a victim of is if you download a fake installer, crack or patch from a low reputation website or if you click on a virus link. Many users report getting a ransomware infection by downloading torrents.
How to Open . files?
You can't without a decryptor. At this point, the . files are encrypted. You can only open them once they are decrypted using a specific decryption key for the particular algorithm.
What to Do If a Decryptor Does Not Work?
Do not panic, and backup the files. If a decryptor did not decrypt your . files successfully, then do not despair, because this virus is still new.
Can I Restore "." Files?
Yes, sometimes files can be restored. We have suggested several file recovery methods that could work if you want to restore . files.
These methods are in no way 100% guaranteed that you will be able to get your files back. But if you have a backup, your chances of success are much greater.
How To Get Rid of Virus?
The safest way and the most efficient one for the removal of this ransomware infection is the use a professional anti-malware program.
It will scan for and locate ransomware and then remove it without causing any additional harm to your important . files.
Can I Report Ransomware to Authorities?
In case your computer got infected with a ransomware infection, you can report it to the local Police departments. It can help authorities worldwide track and determine the perpetrators behind the virus that has infected your computer.
Below, we have prepared a list with government websites, where you can file a report in case you are a victim of a cybercrime:
Cyber-security authorities, responsible for handling ransomware attack reports in different regions all over the world:
Germany - Offizielles Portal der deutschen Polizei
United States - IC3 Internet Crime Complaint Centre
United Kingdom - Action Fraud Police
France - Ministère de l'Intérieur
Italy - Polizia Di Stato
Spain - Policía Nacional
Netherlands - Politie
Poland - Policja
Portugal - Polícia Judiciária
Greece - Cyber Crime Unit (Hellenic Police)
India - Mumbai Police - CyberCrime Investigation Cell
Australia - Australian High Tech Crime Center
Reports may be responded to in different timeframes, depending on your local authorities.
Can You Stop Ransomware from Encrypting Your Files?
Yes, you can prevent ransomware. The best way to do this is to ensure your computer system is updated with the latest security patches, use a reputable anti-malware program and firewall, backup your important files frequently, and avoid clicking on malicious links or downloading unknown files.
Can Ransomware Steal Your Data?
Yes, in most cases ransomware will steal your information. It is a form of malware that steals data from a user's computer, encrypts it, and then demands a ransom in order to decrypt it.
Can Ransomware Infect WiFi?
Yes, ransomware can infect WiFi networks, as malicious actors can use it to gain control of the network, steal confidential data, and lock out users. If a ransomware attack is successful, it could lead to a loss of service and/or data, and in some cases, financial losses.
Should I Pay Ransomware?
No, you should not pay ransomware extortionists. Paying them only encourages criminals and does not guarantee that the files or data will be restored. The better approach is to have a secure backup of important data and be vigilant about security in the first place.
What Happens If I Don't Pay Ransom?
If you don't pay the ransom, the hackers may still have access to your computer, data, or files and may continue to threaten to expose or delete them, or even use them to commit cybercrimes. In some cases, they may even continue to demand additional ransom payments.
Can a Ransomware Attack Be Detected?
Yes, ransomware can be detected. Anti-malware software and other advanced security tools can detect ransomware and alert the user when it is present on a machine.
It is important to stay up-to-date on the latest security measures and to keep security software updated to ensure ransomware can be detected and prevented.
Do Ransomware Criminals Get Caught?
Yes, ransomware criminals do get caught. Law enforcement agencies, such as the FBI, Interpol and others have been successful in tracking down and prosecuting ransomware criminals in the US and other countries. As ransomware threats continue to increase, so does the enforcement activity.
About the Research
The content we publish on SensorsTechForum.com, this how-to removal guide included, is the outcome of extensive research, hard work and our team’s devotion to help you remove the specific malware and restore your encrypted files.
How did we conduct the research on this ransomware?
Our research is based on an independent investigation. We are in contact with independent security researchers, and as such, we receive daily updates on the latest malware and ransomware definitions.
To better understand the ransomware threat, please refer to the following articles which provide knowledgeable details.
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