THREAT REMOVAL

New Cerber README.hta Ransomware Remove and Restore Encrypted Files

new-cerber4-ransomware-remove-sensorstechforum-com-2016This is an instructive article to help you remove Cerber README.hta Ransomware and restore encrypted files.

Cerber ransomware virus has appeared out into the wild in a new variant using a README.hta file, according to malware researcher Michael Gillespie. What differs in this version of Cerber is that it drops a the .hta file with completely new ransom demands and encrypts the files of infected computers with random file extensions with 4 alpha numerical characters, for example .a123 or .y2k2. Since there have already been three versions of the notorious ransomware virus plus it’s massive affiliate campaign is running wild all over the world, this is a strong indicator that the developers of the virus may have created a completely new version or heavily modified the older Cerber ransomware. The Cerber virus’ purpose is to extort infected users to make a ransom payoff ranging from 0.5 to 1.5 BTC by following the instructions in the readme file. Anyone who has been affected by this or any other versions of the virus should not pay any type of ransom since malware researchers are constantly on the lookout for a free decryption solution. Instead, we advise you to back up your files, remove this ransomware and try several alternative methods to revert your files by following the instructions below.

UPDATE! New _README_{RANDOMID}_.hta variant of Cerber ransomware has been discovered December 1st, 2016. More information about it on the web link below:
Updated Cerber Ransomware _README_.hta Remove and Restore Encrypted Files

Threat Summary

Name Cerber
Type Ransomware Virus
Short Description This Cerber ransomware variant encrypts files with the RSA or AES ciphers adding four randomly generated A-Z 0-9 characters(ex. .z33f) as a file extension to the encrypted files and asks a ransom payoff for decryption.
Symptoms Files are enciphered and become inaccessible by any type of software. A ransom note with instructions for paying the ransom shows as a “README.hta” file.
Distribution Method Spam Emails, Email Attachments, File Sharing Networks, Malicious Executable in Torrent Trackers.
Detection Tool See If Your System Has Been Affected by malware

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Malware Removal Tool

Data Recovery Tool Stellar Phoenix Data Recovery Technician’s License 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.
User Experience Join our forum to Discuss Cerber Ransomware.
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.

The Latest Cerber Virus – How Does it Spread

There is not much change in how Cerber causes infections. Just like the 1st Cerber as well as the second and of course Cerber 3 ransomware, the virus uses affiliate campaigns to be widespread. This widely broadens the spreading methods because the creators of the ransomware do not spread it themselves, but instead may use a complex network of affiliates all over the world who want to make profits illegally.

The developers of Cerber may, however, sell the ransomware as a service along with an advanced exploit kit which is “the bottleneck” of the infection process. This is primarily because it guarantees a successful infection by exploiting bugs in Windows or obfuscating a malicious executable so that it runs undetected by firewalls or antivirus programs.

Given that Cerber may already have a huge affiliate network, a different set of tools and approaches may have been undertaken to spread the virus. Some of those tools may include:

  • Malware obfuscators to hide the malicious file.
  • Spam bots and fake online accounts to spread the virus via malicious web links as comments on websites or via social media.
  • Temporary self-destructible e-mail service to remain untraceable.
  • Spamming software to massively send e-mails to a pre-modified list of users.
  • A pre-configured set of fake, phishing e-mails.

All of those tools may be used to replicate Cerber ransomware’s malicious executable under different forms. One of the forms may be as a malicious attachment uploaded in an e-mail, disguised as an Invoice or another important document. It may also be drive-by downloaded via a malicious URL posted in the phishing message.

Cerber Ransomware – What Does This Variant Do

After having compromised a computer, the Cerber malware may attempt a connection with the C&C (Command and Control) servers belonging to the cyber-criminals. After this has been performed, Cerber then may download and drop one or more malicious files of the following file types:

.vbs, .exe, .dll, .tmp, .bat, .cmd, .hta

The malicious files may have different purposes and may be dropped in important Windows directories, most likely believed to be:

  • %AppData%
  • %SystemDrive%
  • %Temp%
  • %Roaming%
  • %System%
  • %Local%
  • %LocalRow%

After the malicious files have been dropped, Cerber ransomware gets down to the point. The virus may use an administrative command to delete the shadow copies of the infected computer, erasing all types of previous file versions. The command is the following:

cerber-ransomware-shadow-command-sensorstechforum-3

Cerber may also immediately begin encrypting files on the compromised computer. It usually looks for widely used types of files, such as videos, photos, audio files, documents and others that may be important to you.

In addition to this, Cerber may also add value strings with a path to the malicious executables in the Run and RunOnce keys of Windows and make the virus run every time Windows starts and encrypt every newly added files as well.

After encryption, Cerber ransomware renders the files unusable and generates a unique decryption key. This key may be encrypted additionally and sent to the C&C server of the ones controlling the malware.

Files encrypted by this Cerber variant usually look like the following:

cerber-ransomware-new-encrypted-files-sensorstechforum

The ransom note of Cerber ransomware also suggests that a CBC (Cipher Block Chaining) mode may be used when encrypting the files which essentially breaks the files if a third-party decryption software is directly used on them.

Cerber’s ransom note is also dropped in a README.hta file and it has the following brief message with a web link to a payment page:

“CERBER RANSOMWARE
Instructions
Can’t you find the necessary files?
Is the content of your files not readable?
It is normal because the files’ names and the data in your files have been encrypted by “Cerber Ransomware”.
It means your files are NOT damaged! Your files are modified only. This modification is reversible.
From now it is not possible to use your files until they will be decrypted.
The only way to decrypt your files safely is to buy the special decryption software “Cerber Decryptor”.
Any attempts to restore your files with the third-party software will be fatal for your files!
You can proceed with purchasing of the decryption software at your personal page:
Please wait…
{Unique link for the victim}”

Remove New Cerber Ransomware and Restore Encrypted Files

Whatever the case may be, it is very important to get rid of Cerber as soon as possible instead of paying any form of ransomware to cyber-criminals for obvious reasons:

  • You support the cyber-criminals’ organization.
  • No guarantee you will receive your files back.

Malware researchers often recommend to users infected by Cerber to create copies of the encrypted files and backing them up on an external drive if a decryptor is released for free, like it happened with the 1st version of Cerber.

To remove Cerber ransomware, please follow the instructions posted below. In case you are having a tough time removing the files manually, the best solution for you is to use an advanced anti-malware software which will automatically take care of the malicious files and registry objects created by the ransomware.

To attempt alternative file restoration methods, we advise you to take a look at our suggestions in step “2. Restore Files Encrypted by Cerber” below. They may or may not work in your situation, and the outcome may vary, but we have users who report restoring at least some of their important files. The outcome of how many files you will be able to revert comes down to whether or not you have a backup, whether or not you have reformatted your hard drive and other variables.

Avatar

Ventsislav Krastev

Ventsislav is a cybersecurity expert at SensorsTechForum since 2015. He has been researching, covering, helping victims with the latest malware infections plus testing and reviewing software and the newest tech developments. Having graduated Marketing as well, Ventsislav also has passion for learning new shifts and innovations in cybersecurity that become game changers. After studying Value Chain Management, Network Administration and Computer Administration of System Applications, he found his true calling within the cybersecrurity industry and is a strong believer in the education of every user towards online safety and security.

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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.


OFFER

REMOVE IT NOW (PC)
with Anti-Malware
We recommend you to download SpyHunter and run free scan to remove all virus files on your PC. This saves you hours of time and effort compared to doing the removal yourself.
SpyHunter 5 free remover allows you, subject to a 48-hour waiting period, one remediation and removal for results found. Read EULA and Privacy Policy


Windows Mac OS X

How to Remove Cerber from Windows.


Step 1: Boot Your PC In Safe Mode to isolate and remove Cerber

OFFER

Manual Removal Usually Takes Time and You Risk Damaging Your Files If Not Careful!
We Recommend To Scan Your PC with SpyHunter

Keep in mind, that SpyHunter’s scanner is only for malware detection. If SpyHunter detects malware on your PC, you will need to purchase SpyHunter's malware removal tool to remove the malware threats. Read our SpyHunter 5 review. Click on the corresponding links to check SpyHunter's EULA, Privacy Policy and Threat Assessment Criteria

1. Hold Windows key() + R


2. The "Run" Window will appear. In it, type "msconfig" and click OK.


3. Go to the "Boot" tab. There select "Safe Boot" and then click "Apply" and "OK".
Tip: Make sure to reverse those changes by unticking Safe Boot after that, because your system will always boot in Safe Boot from now on.


4. When prompted, click on "Restart" to go into Safe Mode.


5. You can recognise Safe Mode by the words written on the corners of your screen.


Step 2: Uninstall Cerber and related software 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. To do that:


1. Hold the Windows Logo Button and "R" on your keyboard. A Pop-up window will appear.


2. In the field type in "appwiz.cpl" and press ENTER.


3. This will open a window with all the programs installed on the PC. Select the program that you want to remove, and press "Uninstall"
Follow the instructions above and you will successfully uninstall most programs.


Step 3: Clean any registries, created by Cerber on your computer.

The usually targeted registries of Windows machines are the following:

  • HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run
  • HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run
  • HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\RunOnce
  • HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\RunOnce

You can access them by opening the Windows registry editor and deleting any values, created by Cerber there. This can happen by following the steps underneath:

1. Open the Run Window again, type "regedit" and click OK.


2. When you open it, you can freely navigate to the Run and RunOnce keys, whose locations are shown above.


3. You can remove the value of the virus by right-clicking on it and removing it.
Tip: To find a virus-created value, you can right-click on it and click "Modify" to see which file it is set to run. If this is the virus file location, remove the value.

IMPORTANT!
Before starting "Step 4", please boot back into Normal mode, in case you are currently in Safe Mode.
This will enable you to install and use SpyHunter 5 successfully.

Step 4: Scan for Cerber with SpyHunter Anti-Malware Tool

1. Click on the "Download" button to proceed to SpyHunter's download page.


It is recommended to run a scan before purchasing the full version of the software to make sure that the current version of the malware can be detected by SpyHunter. Click on the corresponding links to check SpyHunter's EULA, Privacy Policy and Threat Assessment Criteria.


2. After you have installed SpyHunter, wait for it to update automatically.

SpyHunter5-update-2018


3. After the update process has finished, click on the 'Malware/PC Scan' tab. A new window will appear. Click on 'Start Scan'.

SpyHunter5-Free-Scan-2018


4. After SpyHunter has finished scanning your PC for any files of the associated threat and found them, you can try to get them removed automatically and permanently by clicking on the 'Next' button.

SpyHunter-5-Free-Scan-Next-2018

If any threats have been removed, it is highly recommended to restart your PC.

Step 5 (Optional): Try to Restore Files Encrypted by Cerber.

Ransomware infections and Cerber 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.

1. Download the reccomended Data Recovery software by clicking on the link underneath:

Simply click on the link and on the website menus on top, choose Data Recovery - Data Recovery Wizard for Windows or Mac (depending on your OS), and then download and run the tool.


Windows Mac OS X

Get rid of Cerber from Mac OS X.


Step 1: Uninstall Cerber and remove related files and objects

OFFER
Manual Removal Usually Takes Time and You Risk Damaging Your Files If Not Careful!
We Recommend To Scan Your Mac with SpyHunter for Mac
Keep in mind, that SpyHunter for Mac needs to purchased to remove the malware threats. Click on the corresponding links to check SpyHunter’s EULA and Privacy Policy


1. Hit the ⇧+⌘+U keys to open Utilities. Another way is to click on “Go” and then click “Utilities”, like the image below shows:


2. Find Activity Monitor and double-click it:


3. In the Activity Monitor look for any suspicious processes, belonging or related to Cerber:

Tip: To quit a process completely, choose the “Force Quit” option.


4. Click on the "Go" button again, but this time select Applications. Another way is with the ⇧+⌘+A buttons.


5. In the Applications menu, look for any suspicious app or an app with a name, similar or identical to Cerber. If you find it, right-click on the app and select “Move to Trash”.


6: Select Accounts, after which click on the Login Items preference. Your Mac will then show you a list of items that start automatically when you log in. Look for any suspicious apps identical or similar to Cerber. Check the app you want to stop from running automatically and then select on the Minus (“-“) icon to hide it.


7: Remove any left-over files that might be related to this threat manually by following the sub-steps below:

  • Go to Finder.
  • In the search bar type the name of the app that you want to remove.
  • Above the search bar change the two drop down menus to “System Files” and “Are Included” so that you can see all of the files associated with the application you want to remove. Bear in mind that some of the files may not be related to the app so be very careful which files you delete.
  • If all of the files are related, hold the ⌘+A buttons to select them and then drive them to “Trash”.

In case you cannot remove Cerber via Step 1 above:

In case you cannot find the virus files and objects in your Applications or other places we have shown above, you can manually look for them in the Libraries of your Mac. But before doing this, please read the disclaimer below:

Disclaimer! If you are about to tamper with Library files on Mac, be sure to know the name of the virus file, because if you delete the wrong file, it may cause irreversible damage to your MacOS. Continue on your own responsibility!

1: Click on "Go" and Then "Go to Folder" as shown underneath:

2: Type in "/Library/LauchAgents/" and click Ok:

3: Delete all of the virus files that have similar or the same name as Cerber. If you believe there is no such file, do not delete anything.

You can repeat the same procedure with the following other Library directories:

→ ~/Library/LaunchAgents
/Library/LaunchDaemons

Tip: ~ is there on purpose, because it leads to more LaunchAgents.


Click the button below below to download SpyHunter for Mac and scan for Cerber:


Download

SpyHunter for Mac



Step 3 (Optional): Try to Restore Files Encrypted by Cerber.

Ransomware infections and Cerber 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.

1. Download the reccomended Data Recovery software by clicking on the link underneath:

Simply click on the link and on the website menus on top, choose Data Recovery - Data Recovery Wizard for Windows or Mac (depending on your OS), and then download and run the tool.


Cerber FAQ

What is Cerber ransomware and how does it work?

Cerber 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 algorithm how 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.

How does Cerber ransomware infect my computer?

Via several ways.Cerber Ransomware infects computers by being sent via phishing e-mails, 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 Cerber 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 .Cerber files?

You can't. At this point the .Cerber files are encrypted. You can only open them once they are decrypted.

Decryptor did not decrypt my data. What now?

Do not panic and backup the files. If a decryptor did not decrypt your .Cerber files successfully, then do not despair, because this virus is still new.

One way to restore files, encrypted by Cerber ransomware is to use a decryptor for it. But since it's a new virus, 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.

How Do I restore ".Cerber" files (Other Methods)?

Yes, sometimes files can be restored. We have suggested several file recovery methods that could work if you want to restore .Cerber files.

These methods are in no way 100% guarantee 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 Cerber ransomware virus?

The safest way and the most efficient one for the removal of this ransomware infection is the use a professional anti malware software. It will scan for and locate Cerber ransomware and then remove it without causing any additional harm to your important .Cerber files.

Also, keep in mind that viruses like Cerber ransomware also install Trojans and keyloggers that can steal your passwords and accounts. Scanning your computer with an 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 nothing works?

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.

15 Comments

  1. AvatarVISHAL GOYAL

    Hi, yesterday my computer infected by this cerber ransomware and encrypted .doc and .mdb (accounting software) files and the extension after encyption is .B712. Please suggest what to do, how to delete the ransomware from my pc and how to decrypt my data

    Reply
    1. SensorsTechForumSensorsTechForum

      Hello VISHAL,

      Unfortunately, there’s still no decryption solution for this new version. However, you can still try to restore some of your data by using data recovery software. As stated in the article:

      To remove Cerber ransomware, please follow the
      instructions posted below the article. In case you are having a tough time removing the files manually, the best solution for you is to use an advanced
      anti-malware software which will automatically take care of the
      malicious files and registry objects created by the ransomware.

      To attempt alternative file restoration methods, we advise you to take a look at our suggestions in step “2. Restore Files Encrypted by Cerber” below.
      They may or may not work in your situation, and the outcome may vary,
      but we have users who report restoring at least some of their important
      files.

      Reply
      1. AvatarNurun Nabi

        i have two important folder . you told that you have some users but which one?

        Reply
  2. AvatarNurun Nabi

    please urgent need help, yesterday my computer infected by this cerber
    ransomware and
    encrypted .doc and .xl and .pdf files and the extension
    after encryption is .9cff. Please give me a suggestion or any solution
    for decrypt it. already i have deleted all cerber ransomware but i can
    not decrypt my data. all file look like the following picture

    Reply
    1. AvatarNurun Nabi

      already i have followed all procedure that is described in this page above but i can not recover my file..please suggest me what can i do?

      Reply
      1. AvatarVencislav Krustev

        Hello, Nurun.

        At this point, there is not much that can be done about it. Simply back up your files store them somewhere safe after which remove the virus. If a decryptor is released in public, we will update this article or create a new one with links to it here. Make sure to check regularly.

        Reply
  3. AvatarVencislav Krustev

    Hello, thanks for asking. There is no decryptor for this virus, but you can try with the older version, although i do not believe this will work.

    Here is the link: http://sensorstechforum.com/decrypt-encrypted-files-cerber-ransomware/

    I strongly suggest you TO MAKE COPIES of the encrypted files because direct decryption may break them permanently and they will become destroyed forever.

    Reply
  4. AvatarKent Yau

    Hi, I’ve got infected and I could find the readme.hta files in my Google drive. So after sync, it’s everywhere – Google drive in my other devices. How to tackle this problem? Thanks.

    Reply
    1. AvatarVencislav Krustev

      wow, i have never head cerber spread to Google Drive, this is new.. for now you can back up the encrypted files on a flash drive or other external memory carrier (USB stick, CD drive, etc.) and wait for a decryptor to be released. GIven how many cerber instances were decrypted you may have to wait longer. In the meantime you can try using data recovery software. And next time do not use Google Drive, but use a third-party cloud-backup program, like SOS Online Backup, for example: http://sensorstechforum.com/sos-online-backup-software-review/

      Reply
  5. AvatarDarshan Panchal

    hi, i have same problem as like STEPAN FIKRLE’S iSSUE.
    In my Pc All Files are Encrypted, The encryption Looks like 2in0sY9NQU.9175.
    this renamed Extension .9175 is by every encrypted file.
    i tried With All Data Recovery Tolls of Older Version & All Articles But it do not Work.

    So,Please Also Suggest me How To Solve it?

    Reply
    1. SensorsTechForumSensorsTechForum

      Hi Darshan,

      Unfortunately there is no working decrypter for this ransomware. Always back up your data to avoid ransomware damage.

      Reply
  6. AvatarPawi Pal

    Hello, I need help my files turn to .8d28 and have Readme.hta file.
    please help how to recover these files.

    Reply
  7. AvatarWendy

    Hello, my server has been infected with this virus. The files turned to .java.

    Can someone help me?

    Thank you

    Reply
    1. Milena DimitrovaMilena Dimitrova

      Hi Wendy,

      Unfortunately, there is no decryption available for this ransomware. Have you tried alternative restoration file methods such as the ones described in this article?

      Reply
  8. AvatarSwapnil Gilbile

    hi, In my lapi all files are encrypted with .lokf extension. Wasn’t able to install any software. So formatted and installed win 8.1. Please need help if there is any decryptor do suggest. Tried all data recovery but no result.

    Reply

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