THREAT REMOVAL

An article created to display how to remove the .onion variant of Dharma ransomware and how to restore files encrypted by this virus.

Dharma ransomware infection has been reported to be spread in a new ransomware variant that is using the .onion file extension and the e-mail address [felix_dies@aol.com]. The ransomware virus is believed to be extremely similar to the latest CrySiS Globe ransomware infection, using the file extension .[volantem_diem@aol.com].onion. The relation between the two ransomware viruses may be due to them both being part of the CrySiS ransomware family. In case you have become a victim of the Dharma .onion ransomware, we recommend you to read this article thoroughly.

Threat Summary

Name

Dharma .onion

TypeRansomware
Short Description.Onion virus, also calling itself Dharma encrypts user files and leaves as contact e-mail addresses to contact the criminals behind it and pay a ransom fee to restore encrypted files.
SymptomsChanges file extension of encrypted files to .onion. Changes wallpaper to one with ransom instructions that have ransom e-mail.
Distribution MethodVia an Exploit kit, Dll file attack, malicious JavaScript or a drive-by download of the malware itself in an obfuscated manner.
Detection Tool See If Your System Has Been Affected by malware

Download

Malware Removal Tool

User ExperienceJoin our forum to Discuss Dharma .onion.
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.

Update June 2017 – New Data Recovery Method

It has been brought to our attention that victims of the latest Dharma .onion ransomware infection variants have managed to restore a very high percentage (over 90%) of their files using a very unique method – converting files into virtual drives and then using partition recovery option on data recovery programs. This method takes advantage of the converting the files into a .VHD file type which is a virtual drive. Since there are new data recovery programs specifically designed to recover partitions, one approach is to restore files encrypted by Dharma ransomware is to convert the encrypted files into .VHD files and then try to recover them using partition recovery software. Since the algorithm that encrypts files actually alters only a small portion of the file, you have a much higher chance of recovering the files if you change them into .VHD type.

The methods have been reported to not be a full guarantee to recover all the files, but if you haven’t reinstalled your operating system yet, we advise you to follow them. But first, make sure to remove Dharma’s malicious files from the instructions at the bottom of these article. Here are the instructions:

.onion Recovery Instructions 2017

Step 1: Make sure to make copies of the .onion encrypted files on another drive or PC:

Step 2: After creating the copies, download a tool that converts files in .VHD format. One good tool is Microsoft’s VHD conversion software. You can download it, by clicking on the button below:


Download

VHDTOOL


Step 3: Now, make sure to rename a file that you want to recover in the .VHD file extension. For example, if the file is test.onion, it should be test.vhd

Step 4: Now you need to run the VHDTOOL you previously downloaded from Windows Command Prompt. To do this, run Windows Command Prompt as an administrator by typing “cmd” in Windows Search and right-clicking after which choosing “Run as administrator”.

Then type the following commands exactly as it they are:

→ cd {The location of the file, for example C:\Users\Lenovo\Desktop}
vhdtool.exe /convert “{the location of your file and the name goes here}

The final result should look like the following image:

Step 5: After you convert the drive into VHD, make sure to mount it on your computer. To do this:

Right-click on My Computer or This PC and then click on “Manage”

Then right-click on Disk Management after which click on Attach VHD

Then click on the Browse button in order to locate and open the .vhd file

After this, to initialize the disk, right-click on it and click New Simple Volume. After this click on Next and set it up:

At the end, the volume should appear like the following:

Step 6: Download and recover the .VHD image using data recovery software. The data recovery software you should download has to support the option “Partition Recovery”. Here is a comprehensive list of multiple data recovery programs that are able to recover partitions:

Another scenario with which we have reports of over 90% of recovered files includes the usage of a program for Virtual Drive Recovery, since .VHD is essentially a virtual drive. Such programs are created with the sole purpose of recovering .VHD files. One of those programs is called BitRecover Virtual Drive Recovery Wizard.

Dharma .onion File Virus – More Information

Dharma ransomware is a file-encrypting type of infection that aims for one thing only – to render important documents and other files on the infected computer corrupt and ask a ransom to be paid for their decryption.

Dharma .onion Virus Files – Distribution

The distribution of the .onion virus files is conducted in more than one way. For the distribution, different tools and programs may be utilized, like:

  • Exploit kit.
  • File Joiners.
  • Executable files that are obfuscated.
  • Droppers.
  • Downloaders.
  • Online hosts for distribution where the malicious files are stored.
  • Websites for the command and control server.
  • Spam services or spamming software.

The combination of these tools may result in the infection of Dharma ransomware’s .onion variant on multiple different locations:

  • Spammed as e-mail messages that contain malicious e-mail attachments or web links.
  • Sent via online chat programs.
  • Spammed via social media.

The most often used technique for the distribution of malicious files is via spammed e-mail messages that contain deceptive information, such as fake invoice of a purchase the victim has not made or other scamming claims. One example of such e-mail containing malicious attachment can be seen below:

Dharma .onion Ransomware – Malicious Activity

Once a malicious file or script has been activated, Dharma .onion ransomware’s payload may be dropped via a loader, dropper or a downloader malware which self-deletes afterwards. The malicious files off the virus may exist in the key Windows folders under different names:

As soon as this variant of Dharma ransomware has dropped it’s malicious files on the compromised computer, the virus could modify the Run and RunOnce Windows registry sub-keys. In those keys, values may be added that modify the wallpaper and automatically open files on system startup. One of those files may be the malicious file of Dharma .onion virus which causes the encryption process.

In addition to this process, Dharma ransomware may also execute multiple different iterations of the vssadmin command as an administrator. The command is for Windows Command Prompt and looks like the following:

Usually the delete-shadows part of the command, means that Dharma .onion ransomware may delete volume shadow copies to make file restoration via Windows backup impossible.

Other suspicious activity of the .onion Dharma ransomware include the creating of a folder, named “data” in %System Drive%.

.onion Dharma – Encryption Activity

The process of encoding files by Dharma is similar to the one used by the older variant of the virus. At the start, the virus begins to scan whether or not it is ran on a virtual drive and if so, it may shut down and self-delete. If not, the ransomware begins to scan your computer for important files, such as:

  • Microsoft Office documents.
  • Adobe .PDF documents.
  • Virtual drive images.
  • Photos and other image files.
  • Music and other audio data.
  • Videos.
  • System image files.
  • Files related to often used software.

As soon as these pre-configured set of files Dharma .onion is programmed to scan are detected, the virus may append the Advanced Encryption Algorithm on them, otherwise known as AES. The AES cipher replaces blocks of data on the files with symbols from the algorithm. This renders the files no longer openable and they seem corrupt. After the encryption process has completed, Dharma ransomware leaves the files with the .onion file extension, making them look like the following:

After the encryption process has completed, Dharma .onion ransomware generates unique keys and may leave a ransom note with clear demands to make a ransom payoff in BitCoin in order to restore the encrypted files. Upon payment from the victim, he or she receives via the mail in the extension a message with the software which scans for the key. After the key is scanned and copied and sent back to the cyber-crooks, they send back a unique decrypter with the embedded decryption key corresponding to the public one sent by the victim wo scanned it.

Remove Dharma Ransomware and Restore .onion Encrypted Files

Viruses like Dharma have previously been decrypted as it happened with the first variant using the .dharma file extension. This is why it is strongly recommended to backup your encrypted files before removing the virus.

For the removal process of Dharma ransomware, recommendations are to focus on following the removal instructions below. They will help isolate this variant of Dharma ransomware after which remove the malicious files. In case manual removal may represent difficulty to you, security experts always give recommendations to download and install an advanced anti-malware program on your computer. It will ensure that Dharma .onion ransomware is permanently removed automatically and will protect your computer in real-time as well.

Regarding the situation with the encrypted files, malware researchers advise not to pay any ransom to the virus. They keep monitoring the virus and hopefully should come up with decryption instructions soon. In the meantime, we advise you to perform the actions the following steps:

1. Backup the encrypted files and create several copies of them.
2. Remove Dharma, preferably by following the instructions below.
3. Focus on trying to restore the files using alternative methods, like the ones we have suggested below in step “2. Restore files encrypted by Dharma .onion”.

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 Dharma .onion from Windows.


Step 1: Boot Your PC In Safe Mode to isolate and remove Dharma .onion

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 Dharma .onion 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 Dharma .onion 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 Dharma .onion 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 Dharma .onion 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 Dharma .onion.

Ransomware infections and Dharma .onion 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 Dharma .onion from Mac OS X.


Step 1: Uninstall Dharma .onion 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 Dharma .onion:

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 Dharma .onion. 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 Dharma .onion. 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 Dharma .onion 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 Dharma .onion. 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.


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

Ransomware infections and Dharma .onion 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.


Dharma .onion FAQ

What is Dharma .onion ransomware and how does it work?

Dharma .onion 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 Dharma .onion ransomware infect my computer?

Via several ways.Dharma .onion 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 Dharma .onion 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 .Dharma .onion files?

You can't. At this point the .Dharma .onion 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 .Dharma .onion files successfully, then do not despair, because this virus is still new.

One way to restore files, encrypted by Dharma .onion 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 ".Dharma .onion" files (Other Methods)?

Yes, sometimes files can be restored. We have suggested several file recovery methods that could work if you want to restore .Dharma .onion 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 Dharma .onion 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 Dharma .onion ransomware and then remove it without causing any additional harm to your important .Dharma .onion files.

Also, keep in mind that viruses like Dharma .onion 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.

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