.ONION File Virus (Restore Files)

This article is created to help you remove Dharma ransomware’s .onion variant and restore .id-{random}.[[email protected]].onion encrypted files.

A new version of Dharma ransomware has been reported to be spreading, this time using the .onion file extension added to the files it encrypts. The new version of Dharma ransomware is believed to be very similar to the old one and just like it, encrypt files on the compromised computer after which change the wallpaper on the compromised computer and then demand victims to pay a hefty ransom fee to restore their encrypted files. In case your computer has been infected by the .onion Dharma ransomware recommendations are to read this article thoroughly.

Threat Summary

Name

.onion file virus

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 .onion file virus

Download

Malware Removal Tool

User ExperienceJoin our forum to Discuss .onion file virus.
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 May 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 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:

.onion Recovery Instructions 2017

.Onion Dharma – How Does It Spread

For the distribution process of this variant of Dharma ransomware to be successful, an advanced combination of tools may be used by the cyber-criminals. These tools and software may include;

  • Obfuscators for executable files.
  • An exploit kit.
  • File joiner programs.
  • Multiple online hosts.
  • Malicious scripts (JavaScript).
  • Distribution websites for the download of the infection.
  • Spamming services as well as spam bots.

These tools, combined altogether may result in the successful distribution of the .onion Dharma variant In various online locations, such as:

  • Social media sites.
  • Spammed as a messages, portraying to be legitimate.
  • Spammed on chat services, such as Skype, Messenger, etc.
  • Uploaded on suspicious websites or via compromised torrent sites as fake setups, key generators or activators for software.

If by e-mail, deceptive techniques are used to trick users into either opening a malicious e-mail attachment or opening a malicious web link. This results in the dropping of the malicious files of Dharma .onion virus on the compromised system.

.Onion File Virus – Infection Activity

After the victim has opened the malicious file, one way or another, the files of Dharma ransomware are dropped on the infected computer. The files have different names and usually reside in the below-mentioned Windows location:

After the files of Dharma ransomware’s .onion file variant have been dropped, the virus may begin to modify the Run and RunOnce Windows Registry subkeys. In those sub-keys, custom values can be added with data in them that has the location of the malicious files that perform the encryption process. The sub-keys 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

In addition to those sub-keys, Dharma .onion virus may also modify other sub-keys that change the wallpaper and perform other desktop activity.

→ HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Desktop

After performing the modifications on the sub-keys, Dharma .onion ransomware may unlike the previous .wallet and .dharma variants delete the shadow volume copies on the infected computer with the purpose to eliminate any chance of restoring encrypted files via Windows Backup features. This is achievable by executing a script that enters the following administrative Windows commands in the background, without the victim noticing:

→ process call create “cmd.exe /c
vssadmin.exe delete shadows /all /quiet
bcdedit.exe /set {default} recoveryenabled no
bcdedit.exe /set {default} bootstatuspolicy ignoreallfailures

In addition to this, the Dharma .onion ransomware may also create a folder, named “data” in %SystemDrive% in which other files of Dharma with unique and random names as well as a crypkey.bin file may also be dropped. This is done to aid the encryption process which is quite unique as well.

Dharma Ransomware’s .onion Encryption Process

The encryption process of Dharma ransomware is quite unique. Initially, the virus begins to encrypt a wide variety of file types, but it carefully avoids the following Windows System folders:

  • %Windows%
  • %AppData%
  • %Local%
  • %LocalLow%
  • %System%
  • %System32%

This is done so that Windows OS is leaved intact and the user can still use the OS to contact the cyber-criminals. Among the encrypted files are important documents, music, videos, pictures and other types of files, for example:

→ “PNG .PSD .PSPIMAGE .TGA .THM .TIF .TIFF .YUV .AI .EPS .PS .SVG .INDD .PCT .PDF .XLR .XLS .XLSX .ACCDB .DB .DBF .MDB .PDB .SQL .APK .APP .BAT .CGI .COM .EXE .GADGET .JAR .PIF .WSF .DEM .GAM .NES .ROM .SAV CAD Files .DWG .DXF GIS Files .GPX .KML .KMZ .ASP .ASPX .CER .CFM .CSR .CSS .HTM .HTML .JS .JSP .PHP .RSS .XHTML. DOC .DOCX .LOG .MSG .ODT .PAGES .RTF .TEX .TXT .WPD .WPS .CSV .DAT .GED .KEY .KEYCHAIN .PPS .PPT .PPTX ..INI .PRF Encoded Files .HQX .MIM .UUE .7Z .CBR .DEB .GZ .PKG .RAR .RPM .SITX .TAR.GZ .ZIP .ZIPX .BIN .CUE .DMG .ISO .MDF .TOAST .VCD SDF .TAR .TAX2014 .TAX2015 .VCF .XML Audio Files .AIF .IFF .M3U .M4A .MID .MP3 .MPA .WAV .WMA Video Files .3G2 .3GP .ASF .AVI .FLV .M4V .MOV .MP4 .MPG .RM .SRT .SWF .VOB .WMV 3D .3DM .3DS .MAX .OBJ R.BMP .DDS .GIF .JPG ..CRX .PLUGIN .FNT .FON .OTF .TTF .CAB .CPL .CUR .DESKTHEMEPACK .DLL .DMP .DRV .ICNS .ICO .LNK .SYS .CFG”Source:fileinfo.com

The files are changed on the spot and they may appear with the file extension id-{uniqueID}.[[email protected]].onion

The encryption process of Dharma ransomware is similar to the CrySiS ransomware variants it is based on. However, it is more sophisticated than the RSA and AES ciphers used by CrySiS. In the past, many experienced users on forums have stated that they have attempted to use Kaspersky’s RakhniDecrypter to get their files back by renaming the extensions of Dharma to the same ones as CrySiS, but they failed to decode the data.

This is because the virus is created in a way that after the ransom is paid, the cyber-criminals send a scanner software for a key file, which may be located in the “data” folder of %SystemDrive%. From there, this software detects the public keys which the victim has to send back to the cyber-criminals and then based on this key, they generate a custom decryptor that only works for the victim’s computer and nobody else. It all points out to a cyber-criminal organization that has experience in ransomware viruses, like the people behind Locky and Cerber ransomware viruses that are still at large.

Whatever the case may be, Dharma’s .onion variant uses the e-mail [email protected] and when contacted, the cyber-criminals come up with a custom offer that the victim has to accept. For the previous variants of dharma, the ransom “fee” varied from the minimum of 2 BTC, all the way up to 14 BTC, depending on how important is the computer being hacker. For servers, reports indicated that the ransom payoff amount was even higher. Here is a transcript of the instructions provided by the cyber-criminals via e-mail:

Hello,
We can decrypt your data, here is price:
– 7 Bitcoins in 20 hours without any stupid questions and test decryption.
– 12 Bitcoins if you need more than 20 hours to pay us, but less than 48 hours.
– 14 Bitcoins if you need more than 48 hours to pay us.
Pay us and send payment’s screenshot in attachment.
In this way after you pay we will send you decryptor tool with instructions.
TIME = MONEY.
If you don’t believe in our service and you want to see a proof, you can ask about test decryption.
Test decryption costs extra 1.5 Bitcoin to final price.
About test decryption:
You have to send us 1 crypted file.
Use sendspace.com and Win-Rar to send file for test decryptions.
File have to be less than 5 MB.
We will decrypt and send you your decrypted files back.
Also, if you don’t wanna pay you can try to bruteforce cryptokey, but it will take about 1500+ days if you have powerful enough machine.
Answer us with your decision.
Time limit starts from this email.
Here is our bitcoin wallet:
{WALLET ID}
We can recommend easy bitcoin exchange service – localbitcons.com
or you can google any service you want.
Source: Affected users.

Whatever the case may be, security experts always recommend that ransom should not be paid to these cyber-criminals and alternative ways to get the files back should be sought out after removing Dharma .onion virus.

Remove Dharma Ransomware and Restore .onion Encrypted Files

Before initiating the removal process of Dharma ransomware, we strongly recommend you to backup all the files, despite them being encoded.

Then, recommendations are to follow the removal instructions below as they are specifically designed to isolate Dharma .onion ransomware and then remove the virus files.

In case you experience issues in removing the virus manually or want to remove Dharma effectively and swiftly, security experts advise using an advanced anti-malware program. It will scan for and delete all the files associated with Dharma ransomware and protect your computer in the future as well.

After removing Dharma ransomware, it is time to try and restore the files. We have suggested multiple methods that are an alternative to a direct decryption. They are located in step “2. Restore files encrypted by .onion File Virus” below. They are in no way guarantee you will get all your files back, but some of the methods might work to restore a big part of the files. Some users on forums have reported that they have managed to restore their files via software such as Shadow Explorer and we have also reports of people able to restore some of their files by using data recovery software.

Manually delete .onion file virus from your computer

Note! Substantial notification about the .onion file virus threat: Manual removal of .onion file virus requires interference with system files and registries. Thus, it can cause damage to your PC. Even if your computer skills are not at a professional level, don’t worry. You can do the removal yourself just in 5 minutes, using a malware removal tool.

1. Boot Your PC In Safe Mode to isolate and remove .onion file virus files and objects
2.Find malicious files created by .onion file virus on your PC

Automatically remove .onion file virus by downloading an advanced anti-malware program

1. Remove .onion file virus with SpyHunter Anti-Malware Tool and back up your data
2. Restore files encrypted by .onion file virus
Optional: Using Alternative Anti-Malware Tools

Vencislav Krustev

A network administrator and malware researcher at SensorsTechForum with passion for discovery of new shifts and innovations in cyber security. Strong believer in basic education of every user towards online safety.

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