A new updated version of the Mole ransomware virus has been released in the wild, encrypting files with the added .MOLE00 file extension. The cyber-security experts believe that it’s code is still based on the initial ransomware it has been created from – CryptoMix ransom family. The distribution of the .MOLE00 file virus is conducted via malicious e-mails sent all over the globe carrying malicious e-mail attachments or suspicious web links. Once the malicious infection file of .MOLE00 file virus is activated, it downloads the payload of the virus and begins encrypting files. The virus then leaves behind a ransom note, asking the victim to pay a hefty ransom fee for the recovery of the files.
|Name||.MOLE00 File Virus|
|Short Description||The ransomware virus is still believed to be a variant of CryptoMix. After encryption, it will display a detailed ransom note with payment instructions.|
|Symptoms||The ransomware will encrypt your files and then place the extension .MOLE00 on each encrypted file.|
|Distribution Method||Spam Emails, Email Attachments, Executable files|
|Detection Tool|| See If Your System Has Been Affected by .MOLE00 File Virus |
Malware Removal Tool
|User Experience||Join Our Forum to Discuss .MOLE00 File Virus.|
|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.|
How Is .MOLE00 File Ransomware Spread
The new version of Mole does not differ much by the methods of replicating itself on victim computers. The primary method for distributing .MOLE00 file virus may still be spam e-mail messages. Such e-mails may pose as shipping notification, fake invoices or other types of seemingly important notices. Inside those e-mails may be a fake Microsoft Word document, that may cause the infection via malicious macros, similar to what the graphic below displays:
If the files are downloaded and the virus is triggered, it’s payload is activated on the victim’s computer. It has been reported in VirusTotal to be with the following identification parameters:
Be advised to be careful what types of files you open when you receive an e-mail or download a torrent or a setup of a free program online. We also recommend to follow the ransomware protection tips for further safety.
.MOLE00 File Virus – More Information
The name of the virus originates from the file extension and primarily the malicious executable which it uses, called mole00.exe. It may reside in the usually targeted Windows folders, which are the following:
Besides the original payload file, the virus may also drop multiple other support files in those folders. These files have similar functions to the ransomware virus on which .MOLE00 is based on – CryptoMix.
When the malicious file is downloaded on your computer, it will immediately be ran as an administrator without you noticing and the virus will begin it’s malicious activities.
One of those activities is to possibly attack the Run and RunOnce registry sub-keys in Windows. In those keys, value strings belonging to .MOLE00 file virus may be created which aim for one thing only – to run the malicious file of the virus automatically on Windows startups. Those value strings have random names and based on them, you can find the file-encrypting malicious file’s location.
Another action that may be performed by this virus is to delete any backups on the computer. The .MOLE00 ransomware achieves this by aiming directly at the Volume Shadow Service. It may execute administrative commands in Windows Command prompt, that directly delete the shadow copies. Those commands may start with the vssadmin command:
Among the malicious activities of Mole ransomware is to drop a ransom note which contains URL’s that can only be opened via the TOR network. These URLs lead to an identification page, allowing victims to pay a hefty ransom fee to get the .MOLE00 encrypted files restored back to their working state:
The Encryption Used by .MOLE00
Similar to the MOLE02 version of the ransomware which was detected earlier this year, the .MOLE00 file virus may also employ a powerful combination of the following encryption algorithms:
- RSA (Rivest-Shamir-Adleman) cipher with bit strength of 2048 bits.
- AES Encryption (Advanced Encryption Algorithm) with a bit strength of 128 bits.
The first cipher (RSA) is likely used to generate public and private keys of the already encrypted files by the AES algorithm. This is like a doubled shield against direct file decryption. It can only be reverse-engineered if there is a master key or a bug in the code of the encryption file which may allow researchers to create a decrypter in the future.
The files which are attacked are usually often used type of files with the following file extensions:
.doc, .xls, .pub, .odt, .ods, .odp, .odm, .odc, .odb, .wps, .xlk, .ppt, .mdb, .accdb, .pst, .dwg, .dxf, .dxg, .wpd, .rtf, .wb2, .mdf, .dbf, .psd, .pdd, .eps, .ai, .indd, .cdr, .jpg, .dng, .3fr, .arw, .srf, .sr2, .bay, .crw, .cr2, .dcr, .kdc, .erf, .mef, .mrw, .nef, .nrw, .orf, .raf, .raw, .rwl, .rw2, .r3d, .ptx, .pef, .srw, .x3f, .der, .cer, .crt, .pem, .pfx, .p12, .p7b, .p7c
The virus begins the encryption process with the Favorites folder and then navigates it’s way to the other folders as well. The files are naturally added the .MOLE00 file extension after encryption, changing their appearance to the following:
Remove .MOLE00 File Virus and Restore Files
For the removal process of this ransomware infection, we strongly suggest that you focus on backing up the encrypted files beforehand. Then, it is recommended to follow the removal instructions below. Take into consideration that removing Mole ransomware may be a risky process due to the modifications in Windows it does, which may break your OS if care is not taken. This is why, experts suggest to use an advanced anti-malware software which will allow you to remove the malware automatically and safely.
If your files are encrypted, do not despair, because you can still recover some of them. This can be done with alternative methods such as the ones we have suggested in step “2. Restore files encrypted by .MOLE00 File Virus” below. Be advised to try them only after a backup and only with copies of the encrypted files.