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.
|Short Description||CTB-Locker’s most recent variant targets web servers.|
|Symptoms||Part of the attack is website defacement. The website’s interface is replaced by what appears to be a ransom message with instructions.|
|Distribution Method||Quite likely – exploiting WordPress vulnerabilities; third-party WordPress plugins; spam emails.|
|Detection Tool||Download Malware Removal Tool, to See If Your System Has Been Affected by malware|
|User Experience||Join our forum to discuss CTB-Locker.|
|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.|
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 $300. Once the payment is finalized, the decryption key is generated and can be used to restore the server’s files.
Researchers were able to discover that the infection process took place because of security holes in the victims’ web servers. Once the vulnerabilities in question are exploited, the website is defaced.
What is website defacement?
Shortly, website defacement is a type of attack that changes the website’s interface. Attackers usually break into a web server and replace the hosted website with their own website (via Wikipedia). Researchers have concluded that most of the recent defacement attacks are not random but may have political or cultural motives.
As for the ransom message dropped by the server variant of CTB-Locker a.k.a. the website version of CTB-Locker, it is a detailed one that provides some interesting facts:
As visible, the website defacement is the ransom note itself. The original code is not deleted and is stored in an encrypted state on the web root. Its name is changed as well.
The exact security hole that initiates the attack on the victims’ web servers is not yet discovered. However, many of the attacks on the servers have one thing in common – WordPress.
It’s not a secret to anyone that WordPress websites that run outdated versions of the platform are full of vulnerabilities. In addition, WordPress has another weak spot – plugins. Using third-party, suspicious plugins put web servers at risk of various attacks and intrusions.
More on the Topic: TeslaCrypt Spreading via Compromised WordPress Websites
Once the vulnerability is located and exploited, and the ransomware operator is inside WordPress, the main website file is replaced and the encryption process is initiated. Then, the main file is renamed, encrypted and saved. Researchers were able to identify that two different AES-256 keys are used in the attacks.
1. create_aes_cipher($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.
- Guide 1: How to Remove CTB-Locker from Windows.
- Guide 2: Get rid of CTB-Locker from Mac OS X.
- Guide 3: Remove CTB-Locker from Google Chrome.
- Guide 4: Erase CTB-Locker from Mozilla Firefox.
- Guide 5: Uninstall CTB-Locker from Microsoft Edge.
- Guide 6: Remove CTB-Locker from Safari.
- Guide 7: Eliminate CTB-Locker from Internet Explorer.
How to Remove CTB-Locker from Windows.
Step 1: Boot Your PC In Safe Mode to isolate and remove CTB-Locker
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.
Step 3: Clean any registries, created by CTB-Locker on your computer.
The usually targeted registries of Windows machines are the following:
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:
Get rid of CTB-Locker from Mac OS X.
Step 1: Uninstall CTB-Locker and remove related files and objects
1. Hit the ⇧+⌘+U keys to open Utilities. Another way is to click on “Go” and then click “Utilities”, like the image below shows:
- 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:
You can repeat the same procedure with the following other Library directories:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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".
Step 4: After that, select the 'Extensions' Tab.
Step 5: Click once on the extension you want to remove.
Step 6: Click 'Uninstall'.
A pop-up window will appear asking for confirmation to uninstall the extension. Select 'Uninstall' again, and the CTB-Locker will be removed.
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.