Dharma ransomware which was latter established to be a variant of the CrySiS ransomware family has come up with yet another .wallet file extension. The Dharma virus encrypts the files on the computer which it infects by likely using the AES (Advanced Encryption Algorithm) after which holds the encrypted files hostage. It also leaves behind a ransom note in a .txt and .jpg files that demands from the victim to pay a hefty “fee” to get the files back. In case you have become victim of the Dharma ransomware virus, we suggest that you read this article to learn how to remove Dharma and try to restore your files.
|Short Description||Dharma encrypts user files and leaves as contact e-mail addresses to contact the criminals behind it and pay the ransom fee.|
|Symptoms||Changes file extension of encrypted files to .wallet. Changes wallpaper to one with ransom instructions that have the backup ransom e-mail – firstname.lastname@example.org|
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|User Experience||Join our forum to Discuss Dharma.|
|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.|
Update May 2017 – New Data Recovery Method
Update May 2017. Our research indicates that this .wallet file virus continues to infect users in May 2017. In addition, there is a new ransomware infection, which uses the .wallet file extension. This new .Wallet infection encrypts the files by using the AES and RSA encryption algorithm. The ransom note is named #_Restoring_files_#.txt.
It has been brought to our attention that victims of the latest Dharma .wallet 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 encyrpted 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:
Which Techniques Dharma Virus Uses to Spread and Infect
In order to cause a successful infection, the Dharma’s .wallet variant may utilize a mixture of tools to obfuscate the malware, such as:
- Program obfuscators.
- Exploit kit.
- File Joiners.
- Infection URLs.
- A Database of distribution sites.
- Spamming services or spam bots.
The combination of those tools may spread Dharma ransomware in different places over the web, such as:
- Social media websites.
- Spam messages on e-mails.
- Messages on messaging services and communication programs(Skype, for example).
- Fake files uploaded on torrent websites as fake game key generators or cracks and patch-fixes.
The activation of either a malicious URL or a file leads to the devastating infection with Dharma ransomware, which makes the virus perform malicious script injection in legitimate Windows processes or services, such as sysdm.cpl or svchost.exe.
Dharma Ransomware – What Happens After Infection
After being infected by Dharma ransomware, the virus begins to perform several different tasks. For starters, it may initially create multiple objects in the Windows Registry editor. Those objects may make the ransomware virus run automatically on Windows startup and furthermore execute it’s files which it has created every time Windows boots up. Amongst the affected Windows registry entries may be the Run and RunOnce registry keys.
And when it comes to the files it creates, Dharma ransomware may create multiple files in the %Temp% and %AppData% folders. But it also may drop it’s ransom note files, which researchers claim to be named as the following:
Furthermore, Dharma ransomware may modify the registry key for the Desktop of the computer to change the wallpaper of the affected machine to Dharma’s ransom note.
Although not confirmed, the ransom note of the virus may be similar to the other version of Dharma:
“//hallo, our dear friend!
//looks like you have some troubles with your security.
//all your files are now encrypted.
//using third-party recovering software will corrupt your data.
//you have only one way to get them back safely – using our decryption tool.
//to get original decryption tool contact us with email. In subject like write your ID, which you can find in name of every crypted file, also attach to email 3 crypted files.
//it is in your interest to respond as soon as pissible to ensure the restoration of your files, because we won’t keep your decryption keys at our servers more than 72 hours in interest of our security.
//P.S. only in case you don’t receive a response from the first email address within 24 hours, please use this alternative email address.
In addition to this, this variant of Dharma also takes a similar approach to CrySiS XTBL when it comes to the structure of the files after encryption. They again contain the e-mail address requested for contact but they also have the unique for Dharma .wallet extension. Files encrypted by Dharma may look like the following:
After Dharma has already encrypted the files, they can no longer be opened. Their code is altered using a unique encryption algorithm.
Dharma Ransomware – Conclusion, Removal and File Restoration
Ransomware like Dharma has once proven that it can be fixed and patched to become more difficult to decrypt and for this to happen the cyber-criminals most likely have invested a lot. It is believed that the same people who are behind the notorious Shade .XTBL ransomware have managed to make a profit by simply releasing too many variants for malware researchers to track. This resulted in a lot of people paying the ransom instead of decrypting their files for free. One theory is that these money were used to create the modified version of Shade – Dharma which is currently non-decryptable.
Despite all, it is strongly advisable that you avoid paying the ransom at all costs. Malware researchers are constantly monitoring Dharma and we will update this article with free decryption instructions, just like we did with it’s previous version. In the meantime we advise you to perform the following if infected by Dharma:
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”.
What is Dharma Ransomware?
Dharma 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 algorithms 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.
Can Dharma Ransomware Cayse Damage?
Yes, ransomware can damage your computer. Ransomware is a malicious software that is designed to block access to your computer or files until a ransom is paid.
Ransomware can also damage your system, corrupt data and delete files, resulting in the permanent loss of important files.
Should I Ignore Viruses, Like Dharma?
No, you should never ignore ransomware. It can encrypt your data and block access to your computer, making it impossible to access your files until you pay a ransom.
Ignoring ransomware could lead to the permanent loss of your data, as well as the potential for the ransomware to spread to other computers on your network. Additionally, paying the ransom does not guarantee that your data will be recovered.
How Does Dharma Infect?
Via several ways.Dharma Ransomware infects computers by being sent via phishing emails, 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 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 files?
You can't. At this point, the .Dharma files are encrypted. You can only open them once they are decrypted using a specific decryptionkey for the particular algorithm.
What to Do If a Decryptor Does Not Work?
Do not panic, and backup the files. If a decryptor did not decrypt your .Dharma files successfully, then do not despair, because this virus is still new.
Can I Restore ".Dharma" Files?
Yes, sometimes files can be restored. We have suggested several file recovery methods that could work if you want to restore .Dharma files.
These methods are in no way 100% guaranteed that you will be able to get your files back. But if you have a backup, your chances of success are much greater.
How To Get Rid of Dharma Virus?
The safest way and the most efficient one for the removal of this ransomware infection is the use a professional anti-malware program.
It will scan for and locate Dharma ransomware and then remove it without causing any additional harm to your important .Dharma files.
Also, keep in mind that viruses like Dharma ransomware also install Trojans and keyloggers that can steal your passwords and accounts.
What to Do If I Cant Get The Files Back?
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 can be re-downloaded from the web.
- Another clever way 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.
How to Report Ransomware to Authorities?
In case your computer got infected with a ransomware infection, you can report it to the local Police departments. It can help authorities worldwide track and determine the perpetrators behind the virus that has infected your computer.
Below, we have prepared a list with government websites, where you can file a report in case you are a victim of a cybercrime:
Cyber-security authorities, responsible for handling ransomware attack reports in different regions all over the world:
Germany - Offizielles Portal der deutschen Polizei
United States - IC3 Internet Crime Complaint Centre
United Kingdom - Action Fraud Police
France - Ministère de l'Intérieur
Italy - Polizia Di Stato
Spain - Policía Nacional
Netherlands - Politie
Poland - Policja
Portugal - Polícia Judiciária
Greece - Cyber Crime Unit (Hellenic Police)
India - Mumbai Police - CyberCrime Investigation Cell
Australia - Australian High Tech Crime Center
Reports may be responded to in different timeframes, depending on your local authorities.
Can You Stop Ransomware from Encrypting Your Files?
Yes, you can prevent ransomware. The best way to do this is to ensure your computer system is updated with the latest security patches, use a reputable anti-malware program and firewall, backup your important files frequently, and avoid clicking on malicious links or downloading unknown files.
Can Dharma Ransomware Steal Your Data?
Yes, in most cases ransomware will steal your information. It is a form of malware that steals data from a user's computer, encrypts it, and then demands a ransom in order to decrypt it.
Can Ransomware Infect WiFi?
Yes, ransomware can infect WiFi networks, as malicious actors can use it to gain control of the network, steal confidential data, and lock out users. If a ransomware attack is successful, it could lead to a loss of service and/or data, and in some cases, financial losses.
Should I Pay Ransomware?
No, you should not pay ransomware extortionists. Paying them only encourages criminals and does not guarantee that the files or data will be restored. The better approach is to have a secure backup of important data and be vigilant about security in the first place.
What Happens If I Don't Pay Ransom?
If you don't pay the ransom, the hackers may still have access to your computer, data, or files and may continue to threaten to expose or delete them, or even use them to commit cybercrimes. In some cases, they may even continue to demand additional ransom payments.
Why Is the Ransom Paid in Crypto?
Cryptocurrency is a secure and untraceable form of payment, making it the ideal choice for ransom payments. It is difficult to trace, and the transactions are almost instantaneous. This means it is nearly impossible for authorities to track the payment and recover the money.
Can Ransomware Attack Be Detected?
Yes, ransomware can be detected. Anti-malware software and other advanced security tools can detect ransomware and alert the user when it is present on a machine.
It is important to stay up-to-date on the latest security measures and to keep security software updated to ensure ransomware can be detected and prevented.
Do Ransomware Criminals Get Caught?
Yes, ransomware criminals do get caught. Law enforcement agencies, such as the FBI, Interpol and others have been successful in tracking down and prosecuting ransomware criminals in the US and other countries. As ransomware threats continue to increase, so does the enforcement activity.
About the Dharma Research
The content we publish on SensorsTechForum.com, this Dharma how-to removal guide included, is the outcome of extensive research, hard work and our team’s devotion to help you remove the specific malware and restore your encrypted files.
How did we conduct the research on this ransomware?
Our research is based on an independent investigation. We are in contact with independent security researchers, and as such, we receive daily updates on the latest malware and ransomware definitions.
To better understand the ransomware threat, please refer to the following articles which provide knowledgeable details.
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.