THREAT REMOVAL

New CTB-Locker Variant Targets Vulnerable Web Servers

Ransomware, just like any other cyber threat, is constantly evolving and adding new features to its set of capabilities. Ransomware affiliate programs are also a big factor, as any wannabe cyber criminal with basic skills can now join and make some (ransom) money.

NameCTB-Locker
TypeRansomware
Short DescriptionCTB-Locker’s most recent variant targets web servers.
SymptomsPart of the attack is website defacement. The website’s interface is replaced by what appears to be a ransom message with instructions.
Distribution MethodQuite likely – exploiting WordPress vulnerabilities; third-party WordPress plugins; spam emails.
Detection ToolDownload Malware Removal Tool, to See If Your System Has Been Affected by malware
User Experience Join our forum to discuss CTB-Locker.
Data Recovery ToolWindows 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.

Sometimes, it’s quite obvious for cyber researchers that the particular ransomware was made by ‘beginners’ or ‘amateurs’. And such cases usually end up with decryption software released and available for victims to restore their files. However, in other instances, the ransomware endures.

CTB-Locker, or Onion, is a perfect example of malicious coders that never give up and seek new ways to reinvent their ransomware. Considering its high infection rates and overall destructiveness, CTB-Locker was even named one of the top ransomware families of 2015. In 2016, CTB-Locker continues to be a player, with a new variant just released in the wild.

What’s New in CTB-Locker’s New Variant?

Essentially, the latest variant of the infamous ransomware targets exclusively web servers. According to researchers at Kaspersky Lab, more than 70 servers (possibly even more) in 10 countries have already been attacked successfully. Fortunately, Kaspersky researchers were able to conduct a detailed technical analysis as several victims contacted them and sent them the ‘cryptors’ that compromised their web servers.

CTB-Locker Server Edition: Technical Resume

The ransom demanded by the new variant is approximately $150, or less than a half bitcoin. However, if the ransom payment is not transferred on time, the sum is doubled to $300. Once the payment is finalized, the decryption key is generated and can be used to restore the server’s files.

Researchers were able to discover that the infection process took place because of security holes in the victims’ web servers. Once the vulnerabilities in question are exploited, the website is defaced.

What is website defacement?

Shortly, website defacement is a type of attack that changes the website’s interface. Attackers usually break into a web server and replace the hosted website with their own website (via Wikipedia). Researchers have concluded that most of the recent defacement attacks are not random but may have political or cultural motives.

As for the ransom message dropped by the server variant of CTB-Locker a.k.a. the website version of CTB-Locker, it is a detailed one that provides some interesting facts:

ransomware-message-CTB-Locker-stforum-kaspersky-lab

As visible, the website defacement is the ransom note itself. The original code is not deleted and is stored in an encrypted state on the web root. Its name is changed as well.

The exact security hole that initiates the attack on the victims’ web servers is not yet discovered. However, many of the attacks on the servers have one thing in common – WordPress.

It’s not a secret to anyone that WordPress websites that run outdated versions of the platform are full of vulnerabilities. In addition, WordPress has another weak spot – plugins. Using third-party, suspicious plugins put web servers at risk of various attacks and intrusions.

More on the Topic: TeslaCrypt Spreading via Compromised WordPress Websites

Once the vulnerability is located and exploited, and the ransomware operator is inside WordPress, the main website file is replaced and the encryption process is initiated. Then, the main file is renamed, encrypted and saved. Researchers were able to identify that two different AES-256 keys are used in the attacks.

1. create_aes_cipher($keytest) – encrypts the two files which can be decrypted free.
2. create_aes_cipher($keypass) – encrypts the rest of the files hosted on the server web root.

Another peculiar feature present in the server edition of CTB-Locker is that the ransomware operators will decrypt two files for free. However, the victim doesn’t have the option to choose the files for decryption. A chat room for communication with the malicious operators is also available.

Ransomware Removal Manual and Data Backup Tips

For more technical details about the attack, visit Kaspersky Lab.

As with all ransomware cases, security experts’ advice is backing up all important data, not opening suspicious, unexpected emails, and not using third-party software. Or in the case of WordPress – plugins.

If you have been attacked by this particular variant of CTB-Locker, or another currently active ransomware, you can follow the steps below the article.

1. Boot Your PC In Safe Mode to isolate and remove CTB-Locker

Boot Your PC Into Safe Mode

1. For Windows 7,XP and Vista. 2. For Windows 8, 8.1 and 10.

For Windows XP, Vista, 7 systems:

1. Remove all CDs and DVDs, and then Restart your PC from the “Start” menu.
2. Select one of the two options provided below:

For PCs with a single operating system: Press “F8” repeatedly after the first boot screen shows up during the restart of your computer. In case the Windows logo appears on the screen, you have to repeat the same task again.

donload_now_140

For PCs with multiple operating systems: Тhe arrow keys will help you select the operating system you prefer to start in Safe Mode. Press “F8” just as described for a single operating system.

donload_now_140

3. As the “Advanced Boot Options” screen appears, select the Safe Mode option you want using the arrow keys. As you make your selection, press “Enter“.

4. Log on to your computer using your administrator account

donload_now_140

While your computer is in Safe Mode, the words “Safe Mode” will appear in all four corners of your screen.

Step 1: Open the Start Menu

donload_now_140

Step 2: Whilst holding down Shift button, click on Power and then click on Restart.
Step 3: After reboot, the aftermentioned menu will appear. From there you should choose Troubleshoot.

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Step 4: You will see the Troubleshoot menu. From this menu you can choose Advanced Options.

donload_now_140

Step 5: After the Advanced Options menu appears, click on Startup Settings.

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Step 6: Click on Restart.
donload_now_140

Step 7: A menu will appear upon reboot. You should choose Safe Mode by pressing its corresponding number and the machine will restart.

2. Remove CTB-Locker with SpyHunter Anti-Malware Tool

Remove CTB-Locker with SpyHunter Anti-Malware Tool

1. Install SpyHunter to scan for and remove CTB-Locker.2. Scan with SpyHunter to Detect and Remove CTB-Locker.
Step 1:Click on the “Download” button to proceed to SpyHunter’s download page.

donload_now_140
It is highly 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.

Step 2: Guide yourself by the download instructions provided for each browser.
Step 3: After you have installed SpyHunter, wait for it to automatically update.

pets-by-myway-ads-virus

Step1: After the update process has finished, click on the ‘Scan Computer Now’ button.
pets-by-myway-ads-virus
Step2: After SpyHunter has finished scanning your PC for any CTB-Locker files, click on the ‘Fix Threats’ button to remove them automatically and permanently.
pets-by-myway-ads-virus
Step3: Once the intrusions on your PC have been removed, it is highly recommended to restart it.

3. Back up your data to secure it against infections and file encryption by CTB-Locker in the future

Back up your data to secure it against attacks in the future

IMPORTANT! Before reading the Windows backup instructions, we highly recommend to back up your data automatically with cloud backup and insure it against any type of data loss on your device, even the most severe. We recommend reading more about and downloading SOS Online Backup .

To back up your files via Windows and prevent any future intrusions, follow these instructions:

1. For Windows 7 and earlier 1. For Windows 8, 8.1 and 10 1. Enabling the Windows Defense Feature (Previous Versions)

1-Click on Windows Start Menu
backup-1
2-Type Backup And Restore
3-Open it and click on Set Up Backup
w7-backup3
4-A window will appear asking you where to set up backup. You should have a flash drive or an external hard drive. Mark it by clicking on it with your mouse then click on Next.
backup-3
5-On the next window, the system will ask you what do you want to backup. Choose the ‘Let Me Choose’ option and then click on Next.
backup-4
6-Click on ‘Save settings and run backup’ on the next window in order to protect your files from possible attacks by CTB-Locker.
backup-5

1-Press Windows button + R
filehistory-1
2-In the window type ‘filehistory’ and press Enter
filehistory-2
3-A File History window will appear. Click on ‘Configure file history settings’
filehistory-3
4-The configuration menu for File History will appear. Click on ‘Turn On’. After its on, click on Select Drive in order to select the backup drive. It is recommended to choose an external HDD, SSD or a USB stick whose memory capacity is corresponding to the size of the files you want to backup.
filehistory-4
5-Select the drive then click on ‘Ok’ in order to set up file backup and protect yourself from CTB-Locker.

1- Press Windows button + R keys.
sysdm
2- A run windows should appear. In it type ‘sysdm.cpl’ and then click on Run.
windows-defense2
3- A System Properties windows should appear. In it choose System Protection.
windows-defense3
5- Click on Turn on system protection and select the size on the hard disk you want to utilize for system protection.
6- Click on Ok and you should see an indication in Protection settings that the protection from CTB-Locker is on.
windows-defense1
Restoring a file via Windows Defense feature:
1-Right-click on the encrypted file, then choose Properties.
file-restore1
2-Click on the Previous Versions tab and then mark the last version of the file.
file-restore2
3-Click on Apply and Ok and the file encrypted by CTB-Locker should be restored.

4. Restore files encrypted by CTB-Locker

Restore Files Encrypted by CTB-Locker

Since PadCrypt 2.0 deletes Shadow Copies in Windows, security engineers strongly advise users NOT to pay the ransom money and attempt restoring the files using other methods. Here are several suggestions:

Kaspersky have provided a decryptors for files encrypted with the this and other encryption algorithms:

Kaspersky Decryptors

A decent method of restoring your files is by trying to bring back your files via data recovery software. Here are some examples of data recovery programs:

There is also the technical option to use a network sniffer:

Another way to decrypt the files is by using a Network Sniffer to get the encryption key, while files are encrypted on your system. A Network Sniffer is a program and/or device monitoring data traveling over a network, such as its internet traffic and internet packets. If you have a sniffer set before the attack happened you might get information about the decryption key.

Optional: Using Alternative Anti-Malware Tools

Remove CTB-Locker Using Other Alternative Tools

STOPZilla Anti Malware
1. Download and Install STOPZilla Anti-malware to Scan for And Remove CTB-Locker.
Step 1: Download STOPZilla by clicking here.
Step 2: A pop-up window will appear. Click on the ‘Save File’ button. If it does not, click on the Download button and save it afterwards.
pets-by-myway-ads-virus
Step 3: After you have downloaded the setup, simply open it.
Step 4: The installer should appear. Click on the ‘Next’ button.
pets-by-myway-ads-virus
Step 5: Check the ‘I accept the agreement’ check circle if not checked if you accept it and click the ‘Next’ button once again.
pets-by-myway-ads-virus
Step 6: Review and click on the ‘Install’ button.
pets-by-myway-ads-virus
Step 7: After the installation process has completed click on the ‘Finish’ button.

2. Scan your PC with STOPZilla Anti Malware to remove all CTB-Locker associated files completely.
Step 1: Launch STOPZilla if you haven’t launched it after install.
Step 2: Wait for the software to automatically scan and then click on the ‘Repair Now’ button. If it does not scan automatically, click on the ‘Scan Now’ button.
pets-by-myway-ads-virus
Step 3: After the removal of all threats and associated objects, you should Restart your PC.

Milena Dimitrova

Milena Dimitrova

An inspired writer and content manager who has been with SensorsTechForum since the beginning. Focused on user privacy and malware development, she strongly believes in a world where cybersecurity plays a central role. If common sense makes no sense, she will be there to take notes. Those notes may later turn into articles! Follow Milena @Milenyim

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Windows Mac OS X Google Chrome Mozilla Firefox Microsoft Edge Safari Internet Explorer

How to Remove CTB-Locker from Windows.


Step 1: Boot Your PC In Safe Mode to isolate and remove CTB-Locker

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 CTB-Locker 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 CTB-Locker 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 CTB-Locker 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 CTB-Locker 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.


Windows Mac OS X Google Chrome Mozilla Firefox Microsoft Edge Safari Internet Explorer

Get rid of CTB-Locker from Mac OS X.


Step 1: Uninstall CTB-Locker 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 CTB-Locker:

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 CTB-Locker. 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 CTB-Locker. 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 CTB-Locker 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 CTB-Locker. 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.


Step 2: Scan for and remove malware from your Mac

When you are facing problems on your Mac as a result of unwanted scripts, programs and malware, the recommended way of eliminating the threat is by using an anti-malware program. Combo Cleaner offers advanced security features along with other modules that will improve your Mac’s security and protect it in the future.



Windows Mac OS X Google Chrome Mozilla Firefox Microsoft Edge Safari Internet Explorer


Remove CTB-Locker from Google Chrome.


Step 1: Start Google Chrome and open the drop menu


Step 2: Move the cursor over "Tools" and then from the extended menu choose "Extensions"


Step 3: From the opened "Extensions" menu locate the unwanted extension and click on its "Remove" button.


Step 4: After the extension is removed, restart Google Chrome by closing it from the red "X" button at the top right corner and start it again.


Windows Mac OS X Google Chrome Mozilla Firefox Microsoft Edge Safari Internet Explorer


Erase CTB-Locker from Mozilla Firefox.

Step 1: Start Mozilla Firefox. Open the menu window


Step 2: Select the "Add-ons" icon from the menu.


Step 3: Select the unwanted extension and click "Remove"


Step 4: After the extension is removed, restart Mozilla Firefox by closing it from the red "X" button at the top right corner and start it again.



Windows Mac OS X Google Chrome Mozilla Firefox Microsoft Edge Safari Internet Explorer


Uninstall CTB-Locker from Microsoft Edge.


Step 1: Start Edge browser.


Step 2: Open the drop menu by clicking on the icon at the top right corner.


Step 3: From the drop menu select "Extensions".


Step 4: Choose the suspected malicious extension you want to remove and then click on the gear icon.


Step 5: Remove the malicious extension by scrolling down and then clicking on Uninstall.



Windows Mac OS X Google Chrome Mozilla Firefox Microsoft Edge Safari Internet Explorer


Remove CTB-Locker from Safari.


Step 1: Start the Safari app.


Step 2: After hovering your mouse cursor to the top of the screen, click on the Safari text to open its drop down menu.


Step 3: From the menu, click on "Preferences".

stf-safari preferences


Step 4: After that, select the 'Extensions' Tab.

stf-safari-extensions


Step 5: Click once on the extension you want to remove.


Step 6: Click 'Uninstall'.

stf-safari uninstall

A pop-up window will appear asking for confirmation to uninstall the extension. Select 'Uninstall' again, and the CTB-Locker will be removed.


How to Reset Safari
IMPORTANT: Before resetting Safari make sure you back up all your saved passwords within the browser in case you forget them.

Start Safari and then click on the gear leaver icon.

Click the Reset Safari button and you will reset the browser.


Windows Mac OS X Google Chrome Mozilla Firefox Microsoft Edge Safari Internet Explorer


Eliminate CTB-Locker from Internet Explorer.


Step 1: Start Internet Explorer.


Step 2: Click on the gear icon labeled 'Tools' to open the drop menu and select 'Manage Add-ons'


Step 3: In the 'Manage Add-ons' window.


Step 4: Select the extension you want to remove and then click 'Disable'. A pop-up window will appear to inform you that you are about to disable the selected extension, and some more add-ons might be disabled as well. Leave all the boxes checked, and click 'Disable'.


Step 5: After the unwanted extension has been removed, restart Internet Explorer by closing it from the red 'X' button located at the top right corner and start it again.


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