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”.