Locky ransomware is the latest devastating member of the ransomware family that employs strong encryption and is used in targeted campaigns.
For example, the Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center was indeed attacked by Locky, as disclosed by security researchers.
Thanks to the attack on the Hollywood Presbyterian, Locky’s authors gained $17,000 in ransom money. Thousands of dollars have flooded into the cyber criminals’ account just by a single targeted attack.
Locky’s Financially Sound Targets
Besides hitting the HPMC, Locky has been observed to target victims primarily in the following countries:
- The United States
Research from Palo Alto reveals that the US was the main target, the Hollywood Presbyterian being the first big target. However, new evidence indicates that Locky’s creators are currently expanding the list of preferred countries. A malicious email written in German shows that Locky’s operators are now pointing at German-speaking countries.
Palo Alto wrote that:
We observed approximately 446,000 sessions for this threat, over half of which targeted the United States (54%). For comparison, the next most impacted countries, Canada and Australia, only accounted for another nine percent combined.
No wonder such countries are preferred by cyber criminal gangs – those are ‘high-level’ communities with enough financial resources to transfer ransom payments. In other words, both the regular, tax-paying citizens and the various organizations in those regions are much more likely to pay than the ones, say, in Eastern Europe. Or even worse, the Balkans! We haven’t seen many ransomware campaigns targeting those regions, have we?
Locky is currently being spread in aggressive spam campaigns that resemble a lot the techniques previously used by Dridex’s operators. In fact, there are enough similarities to make us believe that Locky has been crafted by the same hands that created the Dridex banking malware.
Learn More about Spam and Ransomware
The Similarities between Dridex and Locky
There’s enough logic in security researchers’ suspicions linking Locky to Dridex’s operators. Palo Alto’s point of view:
Researchers suspect there is a link between the Dridex botnet affiliate 220 and Locky due to similar styles of distribution, overlapping filenames, and an absence of campaigns from this particularly aggressive affiliate coinciding with the initial emergence of Locky.
Learn More about Botnets
Moreover, as pointed out by ProofPoint, the botnet delivering Locky’s spam emails is the same one that distributes most of the spam emails linking to Dridex. Besides Dridex, this botnet has been observed to install other malware such as Ursnif, Nymaim, Shifu, and, interestingly, TeslaCrypt.
Even if Locky’s operators are not Dridex’s ones, they have borrowed quite a lot from the banking malware, especially in terms of distribution. Unfortunately, the number of Locky infections may even outrun the number of Dridex-themed campaigns registered to this date.
Why Keeping Macros Disabled Is Crucial
First of all, let us clarify what macros are.
A macro is a series of commands and actions that automate certain tasks. No matter how they are created, macros need to be executed by a system that will interpret the stored commands. Some macro systems are self-contained programs, but others are built into complex applications (such as word processors) to allow users to repeat sequences of commands easily, or to allow developers to modify and adapt the particular application (via Wikipedia).
In the aspect of Microsoft Word, macros are a trusted method to automate certain common tasks in MS Office. Unfortunately, malware can also employ the macro functionality in order to install malware onto a targeted PC.
Here we get to macro malware.
In most cases, macro malware resides in Microsoft Word or Microsoft Excel documents. Many malware infections have started this way. The malicious documents are usually spread via spam email attachments, or inside ZIP files attached to the spam email.
Indeed, aggressive spam campaigns are the current distribution method employed by Locky. The malware operators are spreading cleverly crafted spam messages that appear to be sent from trustworthy sources in accordance with the targeted country. The infection process requires the user enabling the Macros within the Word document. This is when the actual infection takes place.
A Locky spam email. Image Source: ProofPoint
For obvious security-related concerns, macros are usually disabled by Microsoft by default. However, cyber criminals know that and always find ways to make potential victims enable macros and subsequently get infected.
In short, to stay safe against macro malware, and respectively ransomware, follow these steps:
- Disable macros in Microsoft Office applications.The very first thing to do is check if macros are disabled in Microsoft office. For more information, visit Microsoft Office’s official page. Keep in mind that if you are an enterprise user, the system administrator is the one who is in charge of the macro default settings.
- Don’t open suspicious emails. Simple as that. If you receive an unexpected email from an unknown sender – like an invoice – don’t open it before making sure it is legitimate. Spam is the primary way of distributing macro malware.
- Employ anti-spam measures. Use anti-spam software, spam filters, aimed at examining incoming email. Such software isolates spam from regular emails. Spam filters are designed to identify and detect spam, and prevent it from reaching your inbox. Make sure to add a spam filter to your email. Gmail users can refer to Google’s support page.
And don’t forget to keep your anti-malware program updated and running at all times!
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
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.