THREAT REMOVAL

New EREBUS Ransomware Virus (Restore Files)

This article aims to help you remove the newly released EREBUS ransomware and try to get the encrypted files with .grf, .msj and .sqj extensions back.

ROT-23 or the so-called Caesar mode has been used by a newly discovered ransomware, known as EREBUS. The virus uses this algorithm to replace data of important files on the computers infected by it. This data is then no longer openable, and the virus appends different file extensions to the files, for example, .grf, .msj, .sqj and several others. The virus then drops a ransom note, named README.html which explains to the user that the files are encrypted, and he or she has to pay to get them back. In case you have been infected by EREBUS ransomware, we recommend not to pay any ransom and read this article instead.

Threat Summary

Name

EREBUS

TypeRansomware
Short DescriptionUses “UAC bypass” type of attack to infect computers. Encrypts files and demands a ransom of 0.85 BTC.
SymptomsThe files are encrypted with different file extension corresponding to different set of files. A ransom note, named README.html is dropped that leads to a TOR-based web-page with instruction son how to pay BTC to get the files back.
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

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Malware Removal Tool

User ExperienceJoin our forum to Discuss EREBUS.
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.

EREBUS Ransomware – Technical Analysis

EREBUS ransomware is believed to either be an evolved version of a previous virus, also having the same name but using the .ecrypt file extension when it encodes files. However, this specific ransomware is using multiple file extensions and has a completely different ransom note and source code, in comparison to the other version, also named Erebus.

EREBUS Ransomware – Infection Process

The infection by EREBUS ransomware is a unique process. The virus takes advantage of the .msc types of files which can be executable if configured in a malicious way. What EREBUS does is it hijacks critical MSC processes, related to User Account Control in Windows. One of those may be the process lusrmgr.msc which is crucal to the Local Users and Groups, but there are other critical .msc processes that may also be hijacked by this ransomware to cause a bypass and hence an infection:

Potentially affected .msc processes:
admgmt.msc, azman.msc, certmgr.msc ciadv.msc, comexp.msc, compmgmt.msc, devmgmt.msc, dfrg.msc, dhcpmgmt.msc, diskmgmt.msc, eventvwr.msc, fsmgmt.msc, gpedit.msc, ipaddrmgmt.msc, lusrmgr.msc, ntmsmgr.msc, ntmsoprq.msc, perfmon.msc , rsop.msc, secpol.msc , services.msc, tsmmc.msc, uddi.msc, wmimgmt.msc, winsmgmt.msc

The virus exploits the .msc situation further focusing of the Windows objects related to UAC via the Windows Registry Editor. The sub-keys in the registry editor which it may target are the following:

→ HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\.msc
HKCU\Software\Classes\mscfile

The virus has also been reported by malware researchers to start the process of Event Viewer which will open the .msc file, called “eventvwr.msc”. This file has scripts which bypass the original files that the Event Viewer should execute upon starting, but instead the malicious EREBUS encryptor starts working in an obfuscated mode that bypasses defenses.

EREBUS Virus – File Encryption

When it comes to encrypting files, the virus first connects to multiple remote hosts, which have tracking technologies. These determine where are you located and what is your system and they may reveal more information as well.

The virus will also start scanning the computer which has been infected. It looks for the following types of files:

→ ‘.accdb’, ‘.arw’, ‘.bay’, ‘.cdr’, ‘.cer’, ‘.crt’, ‘.crw‘, ‘.dbf‘, ‘.dcr‘, ‘.der‘, ‘.dng‘, ‘.doc‘, ‘.docm‘, ‘.docx‘, ‘.dwg‘, ‘.dxf‘, ‘.dxg‘, ‘.eps‘, ‘.erf‘, ‘.indd‘, ‘.jpe‘, ‘.jpg‘, ‘.kdc‘, ‘.mdb‘, ‘.mdf‘, ‘.mef‘, ‘.mrw‘, ‘.nef‘, ‘.nrw‘, ‘.odb‘, ‘.odm‘, ‘.odp‘, . ‘ods‘, ‘.odt‘, ‘.orf‘, ‘.pdd‘, ‘.pef‘, ‘.pem‘, ‘.pfx‘, ‘.png,‘ ‘.ppt‘, ‘.pptm‘, ‘.pptx‘, ‘.psd‘, ‘.pst‘, ‘.ptx‘, ‘.raf‘, ‘.raw‘, ‘.rtf‘, ‘.rwl‘, ‘.srf‘, ‘.srw‘, ‘.txt‘, ‘.wpd‘, ‘.wps‘, ‘.xlk‘, ‘.xls‘, ‘.xlsb‘, ‘.xlsm‘, ‘.xlsx‘

For the encryption a ROT-23 mechanism is used, also known as Caesar encryption is used to replace bytes of the files with the AES encryption algorithm, making them, no longer able to be opened. The virus ads a different extension for each set of files, for example a .jpg image would become .msj and so on. The files appear like the following:

The EREBUS virus also does not forget to delete the shadow volume copies of the infected computer, to eliminate any chance of backups. This happens by executing the following command in Windows command prompt with a “/all”, “/quet” and then “exit” script.

EREBUS Ransomware – Post-Encryption Activity

After having already done the damage, this nasty virus makes sure the user knows of it’s presence, by dropping an .html file, named README.html. This file has the following ransom note:

The virus also displays a small pop-up box, named “Files crypted !”. The box has a similar message as well:

“Every important file on this computer was crypted. Please look on your document or desktop folder for a file called README.html for instructions on how to decrypt them.”

The virus also shows which files were encrypted in it’s ransom note and has a button that says “Recover my files” with a web link to it’s website on the Onion network (TOR):

Once a unique ID which is on the ransom note is entered, the EREBUS virus provides detailed instructions on how to pay the ransom:

“Your files are still Encrypted
Your files have been Encrypted and are unusable unless you purchase a decryption key. The key will be deleted in 96 hours.
You still have 95 hours 07 minutes 24 seconds before the key deletion, once the key is destroyed, you will not be able to recover your files
Pay via Bitcoin
To buy the private key (decryption key) and decryptor you will need some bitcoins.
Bitcoin is a currency, just like dollars and euros but entirely on the internet.
1 : Get a wallet
Just like In real life you need a wallet to hold your coins when you’ll buy them. We suggest https://blockchain.info/ it’s a website easy to use, you’ll be set in no time !
2 : Buy some bitcoins
Depending on your country you can buy tem using various ways(paypal/credit card/ cash etc).
Look at tthis website https://www.buybitcoinworldwide.com to find where to buy some or ust search on google yourself.
Note that one of the fastest and easiest way is via https://localbitcoins.com because you buy bitcoins directly to other people. You could have a meeting tomorrow and buy them using cash instantly
3 : Payment
You need to buy 0.085 btc (bitcoins) and send them to this addres: {crooks’ BITCOIN url}
Once you’ve paid, wait a bit. The process can take up to 24 hours for us to check the payment. Then, you will receive on this same page your private key and a link to the decryption program that will automatically decrypt all your files so you can use them as before
you still have 0.085 bitcoins left to pay”

Remove EREBUS Ransomware and Restore Encrypted Files

Malware experts advise removing this ransomware virus and backing up the encrypted files somewhere else.

One of the best methods to remove this malware is if you hunt down the files responsible for the encryption, the touched files and the Windows Registry keys yourself.

One way to do this is if you follow the removal instructions below. In case you do not have experience for that, do not worry. Malware analysts claim that the best way of removing EREBUS ransomware is via an advanced anti-malware program, which will make sure you perform the removal automatically and will protect your system in the future.

At this current moment, there is no decryption available for this specific ransomware. However, there are several alternative methods that you can try. They are located in step “2. Restore files encrypted by EREBUS” below and they are no guarantee for file restoration, but you may get some of the data back. In the meantime, you can track this web page for any updates on the situation or simply write in our assistance forum topic about Erebus ransomware.

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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 EREBUS from Windows.


Step 1: Boot Your PC In Safe Mode to isolate and remove EREBUS

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 EREBUS 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 EREBUS 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 EREBUS 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 EREBUS 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 EREBUS.

Ransomware infections and EREBUS 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 EREBUS from Mac OS X.


Step 1: Uninstall EREBUS 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 EREBUS:

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 EREBUS. 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 EREBUS. 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 EREBUS 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 EREBUS. 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.


Click the button below below to download SpyHunter for Mac and scan for EREBUS:


Download

SpyHunter for Mac



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

Ransomware infections and EREBUS 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.


EREBUS FAQ

What is EREBUS ransomware and how does it work?

EREBUS 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 EREBUS ransomware infect my computer?

Via several ways.EREBUS 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 EREBUS 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 .EREBUS files?

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

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

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

Also, keep in mind that viruses like EREBUS 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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