Computer security experts discovered a dangerous new malware known as the NazCrypt Virus. It has been programmed to process victim files witht a strong cipher and rename them with the .nazcrypt extension.
|Short Description||The main goal of the NazCrypt Virus is to encrypt sensitive user files and extort the victims for a ransom fee payment.|
|Symptoms||The NazCrypt Virus component processes target files and renames them with the .nazcrypt extension.|
|Distribution Method||Spam Emails, Email Attachments, Executable files|
|Detection Tool|| See If Your System Has Been Affected by NazCrypt |
Malware Removal Tool
|User Experience||Join Our Forum to Discuss NazCrypt.|
|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.|
NazCrypt Virus – Infection Process
The NazCrypt virus can be distributed using different tactics depending on the designated victims. At the moment the hacker operators do not have enough captured samples in order to judge which is the primary strategy. As such we presume that the most popular ones are being utilized.
A main method that is often employed is the distribution of spam email messages that are sent in bulk and contain social engineering tricks that manipulate the users into interacting with the NazCrypt virus component. They can be offered as direct file attachments to the relevant messages. They are masked as files of user interest and can even be placed in password-protected archives. The passwords are placed in the body content messages which is what a typical end user would do. The malware can be distributed using malware links that lead to the hosted samples on hacker-controlled sites.
Two related mechanisms that are used by the hackers also include the use of counterfeit files that contain scripts that lead to the NazCrypt virus infections:
- Malware Documents — The hackers behind the NazCrypt virus can construct and distribute email messages that can be of different types: spreadsheets, presentations and rich text documents. Once they are opened by the victims a notification prompt appears which asks them to enable the built-in scripts (macros). If this is done the NazCrypt sample is downloaded from a malware sample and started on the victim machine.
- Malware Software Installers — The criminals can opt to acquire legitimate software installers of popular user applications and modify them to include the dangerous NazCrypt infection module. This is a popular tactic that relies on the popularity of the applications and the spread of the dangerous setup files. They are sent using spam messages and are uploaded to file sharing services such as BitTorrent and fake download portals.
The criminals can also utilize browser hijackers that are made compatible with the most popular web browsers: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Safari and Opera. Their main goal is to redirect the victims to a hacker-controlled page by modifying the default configuration settings: search engine, new tabs page and home page. As part of the initial infection the NazCrypt virus can be installed.
The use of malware web scripts is popular among the creators of virus samples lately. This includes the creation of fake download portals, banners, ads and pop-ups that lead to the NazCrypt samples.
NazCrypt Virus – Analysis and Activity
Once the NazCrypt virus files have been deployed onto the victim systems they will start to execute their built-in behavior patterns. At the moment the detailed security analysis is not yet complete and we have no information about all of the engine’s capabilities. However from the symptoms and the execution patterns we can assume that this is the initial release version. It contains a basic infection engine that loads the ransomware module and encrypts the target user data. The updated versions can feature an expanded capabilities list.
Usually such malware begin their infections by launching an information gathering module that is programmed to hijack sensitive data such as the machine’s hardware components, operating system settings and private user information. The harvested information can be harvested into two main categories:
- Anonymous Data — This type of information consists of data harvested from the operating system. It usually includes a complete profile of the hardware and software configuration.
- Private Data — This data consists mainly of information about the victims, it can be used to directly expose their identity. This is done by extracting all related information: name, address, location, interests, account credentials and passwords.
The obtained information can be used to institute a stealth protection mechanism that can guard the NazCrypt virus from detection by anti-virus software and subsequent removal. This is done by looking up the system for any installed programs that match the description of popular software: anti-viruses, sandboxe, debugging environments and virtual machines. They can be bypassed or entirely removed depending on the command. Advanced ransomware have been found to remove themselves to avoid detection when high-profile targets have been chosen.
Follow up steps can lead to dangerous system modifications. Usually the reason for this is the virus’s installation as a persistent threat – this makes it harder for the victims to remove it by using manual methods. In these cases the malware engine can remove the recovery boot options which makes it impossible to enter into the troubleshooting menu. When this is combined with an automatic startup (done by creating certain Windows Registry values) the NazCrypt is started every time the computer starts. By manipulating the system services and user installed software the victims may find that some applications may stop working.
The next step would be to setup a network connection that report the infections to the hackers. When the infected machines establish a slave connection to a command&control server it can be used to load additional components to the victim computers. This includes Trojans that can spy on the victims in real time as well as take over control of their machines. The connection can also be used to execute arbitrary commands to the machines.
NazCrypt Virus — Encryption Process
As soon as all components have finished executing in their prescribed order the ransomware module of the NazCrypt virus is launched. It uses a built-in list of target file type extensions that aims to process data across a variety of files. Examples include the following:
All victim files are renamed with the .nazcrypt extension. A ransomware note is created in a file called NAZCRYPT_RECOVERY_INSTRUCTIONS.txt which contains the following message:
Your important files have been encrypted with NazCrypt ransomware. Send $300 worth of bitcoins to address 13ADfA738SDFHdceP7348DASin3se2 to retrieve your files back!!
How to Remove NazCrypt Virus and Restore .nazcrypt 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 NazCrypt 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 .nazcrypt 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.