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|
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|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.
What is Minotaur Ransomware?
Minotaur 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 Minotaur 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 Minotaur?
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 Minotaur Infect?
Via several ways.Minotaur 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 Minotaur 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 .Minotaur files?
You can't. At this point, the .Minotaur 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 .Minotaur files successfully, then do not despair, because this virus is still new.
Can I Restore ".Minotaur" Files?
Yes, sometimes files can be restored. We have suggested several file recovery methods that could work if you want to restore .Minotaur 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 Minotaur 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 Minotaur ransomware and then remove it without causing any additional harm to your important .Minotaur files.
Also, keep in mind that viruses like Minotaur 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 Minotaur 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 Minotaur Research
The content we publish on SensorsTechForum.com, this Minotaur 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.
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.
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