Open-source ransomware is a real issue which is continuously evolving. Over the past few weeks, researchers have caught three open-source crypto virus strains, based on Hidden Tear and EDA2. What all of the three strains have in common is that they all look for files related to web servers and databases. This could easily mean that the ransomware viruses are specifically targeting business. This is not news – BEC (business email compromise) and ransomware have been “working together” for some time now, proving that no business is safe enough against malware attacks.
Three Ransomware Strains Based on Open-Source Code Detected in the Wild
Interestingly, Hidden Tear and EDA2 are widely accepted as the first open-source ransomware coded for educational purposes. This idea quickly turned out to be fishy, as it didn’t take long for cyber criminals to exploit the code for malicious operations.
As pointed out by TrendMicro researchers:
RANSOM_CRYPTEAR.B is one of the many Hidden Tear spinoffs that infect systems when users access a hacked website from Paraguay. Magic ransomware https://sensorstechforum.com/magic-the-open-source-ransomware-that-emerged-from-github/ (detected as RANSOM_MEMEKAP.A), based on EDA2, came soon after CRYPTEAR.B’s discovery.
It’s not hard to guess why open-source ransomware is becoming so popular among crooks – it offers the ease and convenience of not having to be tech-savvy. What is more, before the source codes of Hidden Tear and EDA2 were taken down, they were publicly available long enough for cyber criminals to modify the code according to their needs.
Not only are cyber criminals using open-source code but they are also using elements from pop culture.
For example, RANSOM_KAOTEAR.A is built on the Hidden Tear code, uses the filename kaoTalk.exe and includes KakaoTalk icon. KakaoTalk is a popular messaging app in South Korea with 49.1 million active users globally.
Another example here is the POGOTEAR or PokemonGo ransomware.
The ransomware was found in the wild by the malware researcher Michael Gillespie. It is thought that the virus might still be in development or could be tweaked more in the near future, but it looks nasty enough from now.
The PokemonGO ransomware places the .locked file extension on each of the encrypted files. After that process is complete, the file هام جدا.txt is placed on the desktop, containing the ransom instructions. The name of the file is translated as “very important”.
Let’s not forget FSociety ransomware (RANSOM_CRYPTEAR.SMILA) which is an EDA2-based ransomware and is “inspired” by the hacker group in the Mr.Robot.
Fsociety ransomware is based on the EDA2 ransomware project which is an open source ransomware code uploaded online and created by Utku Sen. Since then, many variants of the EDA2 project have popped up, because all it takes is someone who knows coding to take this source code and design own version of ransomware, just like Fsociety ransomware variant is.
What Else Do KaoTear, POGOTEAR, and Fsociety Ransomware Share?
TrendMicro researchers point out that these three ransomware cases have other striking similarities.
They target almost the same file types to encrypt: *.txt, *.doc, *.docx, *.xls, *.xlsx, *.ppt, *.pptx, *.odt, *.jpg, *.png, *.csv, *.sql, *.mdb, *.hwp, *.pdf, *.php, *.asp, *.aspx, *.html, *.xml, and *.psd.
As mentioned in the beginning, some of these file extensions (such as XML, PHP, and ASPX) are related to web servers which points to attacks targeting businesses. Moreover, all three ransomware search for SQL and MDB files, associated with databases.
[…] POGOTEAR and FSociety may still be under development. One indicator for this is POGOTEAR’s use of a private IP for its command-and-control (C&C) server. Since it uses a private IP, the information sent stays within the organization’s network. On the other hand, FSociety searches for a folder named ‘test’ in the %Desktop%. If the said folder is not found, FSociety does not encrypt any files.
The Dangers of Open-Source, Educational Malware
Open-source ransomware has raised a red flag in the cyber security community. Hidden Tear and EDA2 were both exploited by cyber crooks who used the public source code, modified it and attacked users.
Another educational ransomware spotted is ShinoLocker (detected as RANSOM_SHINOLOCK.A). Aside from file encryption, it can also uninstall itself and restore files it has encrypted. The developer created it for simulation purposes.
The moral here is that cyber security researchers have to address the possible risks and consequences of developing educational malware. Leaving the source-code in the public space available to anyone has proven to be a bad idea. Instead, researchers should distribute these only to credible recipients through secure channels. Before releasing anything to the public, researchers need to assess its benefits against the potential threats that it can introduce if it goes into the wrong hands, TrendMicro concludes.
If you are a ransomware victim, refer to the steps below to remove the virus and try to restore your files.
What is ransomware Ransomware?
ransomware 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.
What Does ransomware Ransomware Do?
Ransomware in general is a malicious software that is designed to block access to your computer or files until a ransom is paid.
Ransomware viruses can also damage your system, corrupt data and delete files, resulting in the permanent loss of important files.
How Does ransomware Infect?
Via several ways.ransomware 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.
Another way you may become a victim of ransomware 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 .ransomware files?
You can't without a decryptor. At this point, the .ransomware files are encrypted. You can only open them once they are decrypted using a specific decryption key 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 .ransomware files successfully, then do not despair, because this virus is still new.
Can I Restore ".ransomware" Files?
Yes, sometimes files can be restored. We have suggested several file recovery methods that could work if you want to restore .ransomware 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 ransomware 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 ransomware ransomware and then remove it without causing any additional harm to your important .ransomware files.
Can I 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 ransomware 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.
Can a 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 ransomware Research
The content we publish on SensorsTechForum.com, this ransomware 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.