This is an article that provides specific details on Minotaur ransomware infection as well as a step-by-step removal and data recovery guide.
The recently detected Minotaur ransomware invades computer systems with the purpose to encrypt valuable files and extort ransom from infected users. For data encryption stage it utilizes a symmetric block cipher algorithm called AES. After it transforms the code of target files and generates a possibly working decryption key, the ransomware marks corrupted files with .Lock extension. Currently, hackers demand a ransom of 0.125 BTC for the decryption key they possess. To extort victims the ransomware drops ransom note file called How To Decrypt Files.txt.
|Short Description||A data locker ransomware that utilizes AES cihper algorithm to encrypt valuable files on stored on the infected computer and demands a ransom for thier decryption.|
|Symptoms||Important files are corrupted and renamed with .Lock extension. A ransom message demands ransom payment (0.125 BTC).|
|Distribution Method||Spam Emails, Email Attachments|
|Detection Tool|| See If Your System Has Been Affected by Minotaur |
Malware Removal Tool
|User Experience||Join Our Forum to Discuss Minotaur.|
|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.|
Minotaur Ransomware – Distribution
The spread of Minotaur ransomware across the web could happen with the help of common distribution techniques such as massive spam email campaigns, URLs of corrupted web pages, compromised freeware installers, fake software updates notifications and other.
Among all of the mentioned spread techniques, the most popular one remains malwspam. Hackers prefer it due to several factors. The first one is the convenient option for them to spoof email addresses and senders so that users could be misled to open them and interact with the provided content. The second factor is the chance for uploading their malicious ransomware payload as an email attachment. With an appropriate text message, they could attempt to trick users to download the attached file and start it on their devices. Malicious email attachments are usually presented as:
- Tax receipts
- Delivery notes
- And some kind of legal statements
However, since these files contain the malicious code of Minotaur they trigger the ransomware soon after users open them on their devices. Another advantage associated with this spread channel is the possibility of adding a link in the email text message. Once followed this link could load a corrupted web page that is set to activate specific scripts and download the ransomware directly on the computer.
Combined all these factors provide for the desired efficiency. This in turn makes this spread technique the most preferred by cyber criminals. So it is highly possible that hackers behind Minotaur ransomware could be using it as well.
As identified by security experts malvertising campaigns that lead to fake dating website domain of which starts with datingittlive are also used for the distribution of Minotaur ransomware. Infected websites were detected to activate the Fallout EK that in turn infects target systems with Minotaur. According to recent reports the same exploit kit was also part of the spread campaigns of the infamous GandCrab ransomware.
Minotaur Ransomware – Overview
An infection with Minotaur ransomware begins with the execution of a file of the same name – Minotaur.exe. This file is designed to access certain system directories and components in order to implement changes that will lead to a successful attack.
At first, the ransomware is likely to drop or create several malicious files placing them of system directories like:
Once is establishes all needed malicious files it could start manipulating various system functionalities in order to evade active security detection tools and continue with the completion of all remaining infection stages. The Registry Editor is likely to be among the affected system components due to the fact that it stores all essential system settings as well as user preferences.
By adding malicious values under the registry sub-keys Run and RunOnce, Minotaur ransomware could become able to load its infection files on each system start. As these keys manage the automatic execution of all files and services that support the regular system performance, the crypto virus could manipulate their functionalities when it’s time for its ransom note to appear on the screen.
The ransom message dropped by Minotaur is contained in a text file called How To Decrypt Files.txt. As revealed by the analysis of its samples, the message informs the following:
(KEY) : J3oLtCrE14ELmziDhz1lPgRMxBvcPiW01t4eI63Ffk8kqMaL7SSRrI***
(EMAIL) : minotaur0428blaze.it
ALL YOUR FILES ARE ENCRYPTED BY (MINOTAUR) RANSOMWARE!
FOR DECRYPT YOUR FILES NEED TO PAY US A (0.125 BTC)!
FILES ARE ENCRYPTED BY (MINOTAUR) RANSOMWARE!
Minotaur Ransomware – Encryption Process
Like all other data locker ransomware Minotaur ransomware has the primary purpose to encrypt predefined types of files. This process happens with the help of strong symmetric cipher algorithm called AES. Once it transforms the original code of target files, the ransomware marks them with the extension .Lock.
Unfortunately, all files that store valuable data are likely to be mentioned in the encryption module of Minotaur ransomware. So in case of infection with this crypto virus users could not be able to access their:
- Audio files
- Video files
- Document files
- Image files
- Backup files
- Banking credentials, etc
Following encryption, the ransomware generates unique decryption key that that could possibly restore .Lock files. This key could be either stored somewhere on the infected device or transferred to a hackers’ controlled server. Either way hackers attempt to blackmail infected users into paying a ransom of 0.125 BTC for their encrypted files. Since there is no evidence that Minotaur’s code is fully functional there is no guarantee that they keys it generates are capable of decoding .Lock files. So the help of alternative data recovery tools is much better option than ransom payment.
Remove Minotaur Ransomware and Restore .Lock Files
Below you could find how a step-by-step removal guide that may be helpful in attempting to remove Minotaur ransomware. The manual removal approach demands practice in recognizing traits of malware files. Beware that ransomware is a threat with highly complex code that plagues not only your files but your whole system. So it should be secured properly before it could be used regularly again.
For alternative data recovery methods make sure to read thoroughly the information under “Restore Files” step form our guide. Beware that before recovery process you should back up all encrypted files to an external drive in order to prevent their irreversible loss.