What Is ESXiArgs Ransomware?
ESXiArgs is a new ransomware that emerged recently and is already making rounds in the wild. According to statistics, more than 500 hosts have been infected with the ransomware, predominantly in France, Germany, the Netherlands, and the UK.
Security researchers detected several campaigns with slightly different ransom note, all of which share a striking similarity with a previous ransomware which targeted ESXi servers – CheerScrypt. We should mention that VMWare ESXi servers have been targeted by other ransomware families as well, including LockBit, Hive, and RansomEXX.
ESXiArgs Ransomware – Details
|Short Description||The ransomware encrypts files on your computer system and demands a ransom to be paid to allegedly recover them.|
|Symptoms||Files are encrypted and a ransom note with instructions is dropped.|
|Distribution Method||Spam Emails, Email Attachments|
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ESXiArgs Ransomware – What Is Known So Far?
According to Censys researchers, earlier this month, “reports of a ransomware campaign affecting VMWare ESXi servers began circulating online, including notices from the Austrian CERT, the Italian CSIRT, and French hosting provider OVH.” The advisories informed that a security flaw in VMWare ESXi, known under CVE-2021-21974, has been exploited by malicious actors to spread ransomware.
Given the information outlined in the VMWare advisory, this vulnerability could allow a threat actor to execute remote code, if they have access to a system within the same network segment as ESXi and can access port 427. More specifically, given these conditions, the attacker could be able to trigger the heap-overflow issue in OpenSLP service resulting in remote code execution. The CVE-2021-21974 vulnerability was identified two years ago, with a patch available shortly after. This raises the question of how the threat actor initially gained access to the system, as local network access is required to carry out the attack.
It was also odd to find that some of the hacked servers had SNMP enabled with public access, which allowed researchers to determine which ports were open. Surprisingly, not all of the compromised servers were running the SLP service.
The researchers’ suspicion that the OpenSLP issue (CVE-2021-21974) was not the source of the attack appears to be confirmed, as there have been reports of compromised servers that were not running the SLP protocol. This suggests that the initial observation that the devices were breached using old VMware SLP vulnerabilities was incorrect, as some victims have stated that SLP was disabled on their devices, yet they were still breached and encrypted.
It is also noteworthy that in the newest variant, the ransom note has been updated so that the Bitcoin address is no longer present in the HTTP body, making it harder for researchers to monitor the transactions. The image below shows the modifications made to a compromised host’s services when the attackers implemented the new variant. Now, victims are asked to contact the attackers directly to get the BTC wallet.
Can ESXiArgs Ransomware Be Decrypted?
Yes, CISA created and openly released their “ESXiArgs Ransomware Virtual Machine Recovery Guidance”.
It appears that this update was made in direct reaction to CISA’s decryptor and the findings of security researchers we described above. It is likely the ransomware operators had been monitoring the security community’s updates and were aware that researchers were tracing their transactions. Another possibility is that the criminals were already informed of the fact that the encryption in the original version of the ransomware was simple to bypass prior to its release, which implies they are observing the situation closely.
ESXiArgs Prevention: How to Prevent Ransomware Attacks
CISA’s guidance includes the following tips:
- Restrict access to servers within the network with the Server Message Block (SMB) Protocol to only those necessary, and remove or disable outdated versions of SMB (i.e., SMB version 1). As threat actors often use SMB to propagate malware, enforce phishing-resistant MFA for webmail, VPNs, accounts that access critical systems, and privileged accounts that manage backups.
- Review and monitor all connections between third-party vendors and outside software or hardware for suspicious activity.
- Implement allow-listing policies for applications and remote access that only allow systems to execute known and permitted programs.
- Educate users on the risks of phishing emails, and use strong passwords that are not reused for multiple accounts.
- Require administrator credentials to install software, audit user accounts with elevated privileges, and configure access controls with least privilege in mind.
- Install and regularly update antivirus and antimalware software on all hosts, consider adding email banners to messages from outside the organization, disable hyperlinks in emails, and consider participating in CISA’s AIS program.
Remove ESXiArgs Ransomware
To remove the ransomware, it is best to scan the infected system with an anti-malware program.
Step 1: Boot Your PC In Safe Mode to isolate and remove
Step 2: Uninstall and related malware from Windows
Here is a method in few easy steps that should be able to uninstall most programs. No matter if you are using Windows 10, 8, 7, Vista or XP, those steps will get the job done. Dragging the program or its folder to the recycle bin can be a very bad decision. If you do that, bits and pieces of the program are left behind, and that can lead to unstable work of your PC, errors with the file type associations and other unpleasant activities. The proper way to get a program off your computer is to Uninstall it.
Step 3: Clean any registries, created by on your computer.
The usually targeted registries of Windows machines are the following:
You can access them by opening the Windows registry editor and deleting any values, created by there. This can happen by following the steps underneath:
Before starting "Step 4", please boot back into Normal mode, in case you are currently in Safe Mode.
This will enable you to install and use SpyHunter 5 successfully.
Step 4: Scan for with SpyHunter Anti-Malware Tool
Ransomware Automatic Removal - Video Guide
Step 5 (Optional): Try to Restore Files Encrypted by .
Ransomware infections and aim to encrypt your files using an encryption algorithm which may be very difficult to decrypt. This is why we have suggested a data recovery method that may help you go around direct decryption and try to restore your files. Bear in mind that this method may not be 100% effective but may also help you a little or a lot in different situations.
Simply click on the link and on the website menus on the top, choose Data Recovery - Data Recovery Wizard for Windows or Mac (depending on your OS), and then download and run the tool.
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.
Can Ransomware Damage My Computer?
Yes, ransomware can damage your computer. Ransomware is a malicious software that is designed to block access to your computer or files until a ransom is paid. It can encrypt your files and make them inaccessible, preventing you from using your computer or accessing your data. Ransomware can also damage your system, corrupt data and delete files, resulting in the permanent loss of important files.
Should I Ignore Ransomware, like ?
No, you should never ignore ransomware. Ransomware can encrypt your data and block access to your computer, making it impossible to access your files until you pay a ransom. Ignoring ransomware could lead to the permanent loss of your data, as well as the potential for the ransomware to spread to other computers on your network. Additionally, paying the ransom does not guarantee that your data will be recovered. The best way to protect yourself is to invest in robust cyber security measures, such as backup solutions and anti-malware software.
How Does Ransomware Infect My Computer?
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.
After you download and execute this attachment, a drive-by download occurs and your computer is infected with the ransomware virus.
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. At this point, the . files are encrypted. You can only open them once they are decrypted using a specific decryptionkey for the particular algorithm.
What to Do If Ransomware 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.
One way to restore files, encrypted by ransomware is to use a decryptor for it. But since it's a new virus, be advised that the decryption keys for it may not be out yet and available to the public. We will update this article and keep you posted as soon as this decryptor is released.
Can I Restore "." Files (Other Methods)?
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 Do I Get Rid of Ransomware 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.
Also, keep in mind that viruses like ransomware also install Trojans and keyloggers that can steal your passwords and accounts. Scanning your computer with anti-malware software will make sure that all of these virus components are removed and your computer is protected in the future.
What to Do If I Cannot Recover Ransomware Encrypted Files?
There is still a lot you can do. If none of the above methods seem to work for you, then try these methods:
-Try to find a safe computer from where you can can login on your own line accounts like One Drive, iDrive, Google Drive and so on.
-Try to contact your friends, relatives and other people so that they can check if they have some of your important photos or documents just in case you sent them.
-Also, check if some of the files that were encrypted it can be re-downloaded from the web.
-Another clever way to get back some of your files is to find another old computer, a flash drive or even a CD or a DVD where you may have saved your older documents. You might be surprised what will turn up.
-You can also go to your email account to check if you can send any attachments to other people. Usually what is sent the email is saved on your account and you can re-download it. But most importantly, make sure that this is done from a safe computer and make sure to remove the virus first.
More tips you can find on our forums, where you can also asks any questions about your ransomware problem.
How to 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 Prevent 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. In addition, it is also important to keep your passwords secure and to avoid visiting websites or downloading applications from untrusted sources. Finally, ensure you have adequate backup and recovery procedures in place to restore your system to its pre-attack state, should a ransomware attack occur.
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. In many cases, the malware authors or attackers will threaten to delete the data or publish it online unless the ransom is paid. This means that if a user is infected with ransomware, their data can be stolen and held for ransom. It is important to be aware of this threat and take precautions to protect yourself and your data.
Can Ransomware Affect WiFi?
Yes, ransomware can affect 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 to use them to commit cybercrimes. In some cases, they may even continue to demand additional ransom payments.
Why Is the Ransom Paid in Crypto?
Cryptocurrency is a secure and untraceable form of payment, making it the ideal choice for ransom payments. It is difficult to trace, and the transactions are almost instantaneous. This means it is nearly impossible for authorities to track the payment and recover the money.
Can Ransomware 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, 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.
What is a File Virus and How Do You Remove it?
A "file virus" (ransomware) is a type of malicious software that infects a computer system and encrypts its files and data, preventing the user from accessing them unless they pay a ransom. The virus is usually spread through malicious links, emails, and downloads from untrusted websites. To remove such a virus, it is best to use professional security software to detect and remove it, as well as to restore any encrypted files. It is also important to practice safe computing by avoiding suspicious links, emails, and downloads, and keeping your computer and software up to date with the latest security patches.
Different Types of File Viruses and How to Understand Them?
File viruses are a type of malicious software that can attach themselves to files, such as documents, spreadsheets, and images, and then spread themselves to other computers. The most common types of file viruses are boot sector, macro, file-infecting (ransomware), and multipartite. Each type of virus has its own set of characteristics and behaviors, which can help users identify them and take the necessary steps to protect their data from infection.
What Steps Should You Take to Protect Your Computer from File Viruses?
To protect your computer from file viruses, the first step is to install up-to-date antivirus software. Make sure you keep the software updated and run regular scans to detect and remove any viruses. Additionally, you should be careful when downloading and opening files from unknown sources. If you receive an email with an attachment, be sure to scan the file before opening it. Finally, you should back up all of your important data regularly in case a virus wipes out your files.
How to Identify and Remove Common File Viruses?
Identifying and removing common file viruses can be a tricky process. The first step is to ensure you have an up-to-date anti-virus program installed on your computer. This will help to identify any malicious software on your system. Once identified, it is important to remove the virus as soon as possible.
To do this, you can use a variety of tools such as anti-virus scanners, malware removal programs and system restore points. It is also important to keep your computer up-to-date with the latest security patches to protect your system from future infections.
How to Diagnose and Treat File Viruses?
Ransomware file viruses are a type of malicious software that can cause serious damage to a computer system. To diagnose and treat a ransomware file virus, you must first identify the type of virus and its source. Once identified, you can then use an antivirus program to scan the system and remove the malicious files. Finally, you should create a backup of your system in case the virus returns and update your system's security settings to prevent future infections.
What is the Most Common File Virus?
The most common ransomware virus is called CryptoLocker. It is a malicious software that encrypts files on a computer and demands a ransom in order to unlock them. It is spread through malicious emails, malicious attachments and links, and other malicious websites. CryptoLocker is considered one of the most dangerous ransomware viruses because it can encrypt important documents and data, making them inaccessible unless the ransom is paid.
What Causes File Viruses and How Can They Be Prevented?
File viruses are malicious software that infect computers and encrypt data until a ransom is paid. These viruses are typically spread through malicious emails, websites, and software downloads. To prevent them, it is important to only download software and documents from trusted sources, keep your operating system and applications up to date, and use a reliable anti-malware program.
How to Repair Corrupted Files Due to File Viruses?
Repairing corrupted files due to file viruses is possible, but it requires the use of specialized file recovery or decryptor software. The first step is to scan the system for malicious files and then use the software to repair any affected files. Additionally, it is important to ensure that the system is regularly updated and scanned for any new threats. Finally, it is important to ensure that the system is regularly backed up so that any lost files can be recovered.
How To Avoid File Viruses When Downloading Files From the Internet?
To protect yourself from file viruses when downloading from the web, firstly, only download files from trusted websites or sources. Additionally, use anti-virus software or firewalls to help protect your system from malicious software. Before downloading a file, always make sure to scan it with an anti-malware program to check for any viruses. It is also important to keep your operating system up to date with the latest security patches. Finally, make sure to backup your important files regularly to ensure you can restore them in the event of a ransomware attack.
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.
Furthermore, the research behind the ransomware threat is backed with VirusTotal and the NoMoreRansom project.
To better understand the ransomware threat, please refer to the following articles which provide knowledgeable details.
1. How to Recognize Spam Emails with Ransomware
2. How Does Ransomware Encryption Work?
3. How to Decrypt Ransomware Files
4. Ransomware Getting Greedier and Bigger, Attacks Increase by 40%
5. 1 in 5 Americans Victim of Ransomware
Attention! SensorsTechForum strongly recommends that all malware victims should look for assistance only by reputable sources. Many guides out there claim to offer free recovery and decryption for files encrypted by ransomware viruses. Be advised that some of them may only be after your money.
As a site that has been dedicated to providing free removal instructions for ransomware and malware since 2014, SensorsTechForum’s recommendation is to only pay attention to trustworthy sources.
How to recognize trustworthy sources:
- Always check "About Us" web page.
- Profile of the content creator.
- Make sure that real people are behind the site and not fake names and profiles.
- Verify Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter personal profiles.