The LockMe virus is a new ransomware strain that is actively being pushed to computer victims worldwide. It seeks to cause a lot of dangerous system changes, steal sensitive files and process sensitive user files. The victims are left with encrypted data and several other malware installed on their computers. Read our in-depth removal guide to learn more about the threat.
|Short Description||The main goal of the LockMe virus is to encrypt sensitive user files and extort the victims for a ransom fee payment.|
|Symptoms||The LockMe ransomware component processes target files and renames them with the .lockme extension.|
|Distribution Method||Spam Emails, Email Attachments, Executable files|
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|User Experience||Join Our Forum to Discuss LockMe.|
|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.|
LockMe Virus – Infection Process
The LockMe virus is being distributed using different tactics. At the moment the attack campaigns are still in their infancy and the experts cannot judge which is the primary method. We presume that the most popular strategies are going to be used.
One of the most widely used strategies involves the coordination of spam email messages. They utilize social engineering tactics in order to coerce the victims into interacting with it. The criminals can bundle the malware files as attachments. They are disguised as useful software or may be placed inside archives. Another email tactic includes the inclusion of hyperlinks that often pose as password reset links, login pages and etc. In some cases the criminals can also use infected documents that contain malware scripts. They can be spreadsheets, presentations or rich text documents that when opened present a notification prompt. The targets are asked to enable the built-in scripts (macros). If this is done the virus infection follows.
Hacker-controlled pages can also serve the malware files using a similar methodology. They are often disguised using template engines that copy well-known web services and download portals. Various types of web scripts including banners, pop-ups, ads and others can supplement them to increase the infection ratio.
The other tactic involves the use of browser hijackers that represent counterfeit browser plugins. They are often distributed on the official software repositories of the most popular web browsers. Usually the code is made compatible with them and the majority of them: Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Safari, Internet Explorer, Opera and Microsoft Edge. Once installed they can modify the settings of the applications by redirecting the victims to a malware page. The virus infection is caused during the initial delivery.
LockMe Virus – Analysis and Activity
The initial security analysis of the LockMe virus does not reveal a correlation with any of the known malware families. This means that it is likely that the threat has been made by the criminals behind it. Another likely possibility is that this is a custom code acquired through the hacker underground forums.
The engine is built on a modular framework which can be customized according to the targets. The hacker operators can opt to start an information gathering module that can start extracting sensitive data from the compromised hosts. When used in conjunction with a stealth protection feature it can act against the discovered security software. In such cases the virus files start to look out for any installed sandbox environments, debuggers, virtual machines and anti-virus programs. They can be automatically bypassed or deleted. If the engine is unable to do so it may choose to delete itself to avoid detection. The other function performed by the data gathering module involves the extraction of information categorized into two main types:
- Anonymous Data — This type of information includes system hardware information and details on the operating system which are used by the malware operators for statistical purposes.
- Personally-Identifiable Information — This type of information can be used to directly expose the victim’s identity. The module can gather files that are related to the victim’s name, address, social security number and etc. The LockMe virus can also be programmed to extract strings related to online accounts, passwords and etc.
The LockMe virus has been observed to extract information related to the language settings set up by the victims. This is used later during the ransomware process to present an appropriate version of the ransom note. The analyzed samples reveals that there are a set of 54 specific language presets. A Trojan instance can also accompany the ransomware infection. It is used by the criminals to spy on the victims in real time, as well as take over control of the victim machines. Using the LockMe virus the hackers can also deliver additional threats>
LockMe Virus — Encryption Process
Once all modules have complete execution the ransomware component is launched. It uses a list of built-in target file extensions which are processed using a strong cipher. Usually the most popular file types are affected:
All processed files are renamed with the .lockme extension. The ransomware note is created in a file called README_FOR_DECRYPT_YOUR_FILES.txt which reads the following message:
All of your files have been Encrypted with military grade system and impossible to brute force, cracking, or reverse engineering it !
If you want all of your files back send me 0.03 BTC .
[+] Your Unique ID : [***] [+] Send BTC To This Address : 1LockMeEPLr4ZRsoht8Wp6idBsT5TuBXtX
[+] Send BTC : 0.03 BTC
[+] Contact Email : LockMecQqL3Ruyi7V0RfZ@tutamail.com | LockMe9hG1F7pbWqThUt9P8@mailfence.com
*) Don’t try change the ‘.lockme’ extensions , if you change it , your all files can be broken and can’t be restored forever .
*) If you’ve made a payment contact LockMecQqL3Ruyi7V0RfZ@tutamail.com | LockMe9hG1F7pbWqThUt9P8@mailfence.com .
*) If you not made a payment all of your private files will be leaked on internet (private photos, documents, videos, and more) .
Question : How to buy Bitcoin ?
Answer : You can buy Bitcoin at this Website : bitcoin.com , coinbase.com , cex.io , paxful.com , coinmama.com , etc .
[+] Your IP : [***] | Your ID : [***] [+]
The hackers use the standard blackmail tactics by demanding a ransom fee of 0.03 BTC which at the current currency conversion rate is about $230.
The security analysis reveals that the LockMe virus can generate a ransomware note in many languages — a total of 54 distinct versions have been found. The displayed versions is probably shown depending on the regional settings that have been selected during their operating system installation.
A second LockMe virus strain has been identified in recent attack campaigns which uses a slightly different ransomware note. It shows a red background screen with the following text written on it:
All of your file have been “Encrypted” wth “Military Grade System” and impossible to Brute Force it,
Cracking it, and Reverse Engineering It.
Your UNIQUE ID: ###################################3333
Address Bitcoin: 1LockMeEPLr4ZRsoht8Wp6idBsT5TuBXtX
SEND BITCOIN: 0.03 BTC
CONTACT ADDRESS: 1LockMeEPLr4ZRsoht8Wp6idBsT5TuBXtX
How to Remove LockMe Virus and Restore LockMe Encrypted Files
In order to make sure that this malware is permanently gone from your computer, you should follow the manual or automatic removal instructions down below. If you have the experience in removing ransomware manually, we advise you to focus on the first 2 steps from the manual removal and to look for the registry files which we have explained in the analysis part above. Otherwise, if you want a more automatic and faster solution and lack the expertise in malware removal, we urge you to download an advanced anti-malware program, which aims to automatically perform the removal operation of LockMe ransomware and secures your computer against future infections in real-time.
If you want to restore files that have been encrypted by this ransomware infection, we advise you to try out the alternative tools for file recovery down below in step “2. Restore files encrypted by LockMe Files Virus”. They may not guarantee fully that you will recover all of the files, but if you haven’t reinstalled your OS already, there is a good chance that you might just restore them.
What is LockMe Ransomware?
LockMe 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 LockMe Ransomware Cayse Damage?
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.
Ransomware can also damage your system, corrupt data and delete files, resulting in the permanent loss of important files.
Should I Ignore Viruses, Like LockMe?
No, you should never ignore ransomware. It 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.
How Does LockMe Infect?
Via several ways.LockMe 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 LockMe 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 .LockMe files?
You can't. At this point, the .LockMe files are encrypted. You can only open them once they are decrypted using a specific decryptionkey 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 .LockMe files successfully, then do not despair, because this virus is still new.
Can I Restore ".LockMe" Files?
Yes, sometimes files can be restored. We have suggested several file recovery methods that could work if you want to restore .LockMe 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 LockMe 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 LockMe ransomware and then remove it without causing any additional harm to your important .LockMe files.
Also, keep in mind that viruses like LockMe ransomware also install Trojans and keyloggers that can steal your passwords and accounts.
What to Do If I Cant Get The Files Back?
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 can be re-downloaded from the web.
- Another clever way 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 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 LockMe 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.
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 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 LockMe Research
The content we publish on SensorsTechForum.com, this LockMe 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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