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Remove Alfa Ransomware and Restore .bin Encrypted Files

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Alfa-decryptor-sensorstechforum-ransomwareNew ransom virus, carrying the name Alfa has appeared. It uses a strong cipher to encrypt files adding .bin file extension to them and making them no longer accessible. To restore access to the files, Alfa demands via a ransom message the sum of 1.5 BTC from its victims to buy a so-called Alfa Decryptor. This ransomware spreads via a malicious executable and all users who have been infected should be advised not to pay any money to cyber-criminals. Instead, it is strongly recommended to try removing the malware with the instructions provided in this article and try our suggested alternative solutions to attempt restoring the damage done by Alfa Ransomware.

Threat Summary

NameAlfa
TypeRansomware
Short DescriptionThe ransomware encrypts files using a strong encryption and asks for 1 to 1.5 BTC in ransom payoff.
SymptomsFiles are encrypted and become inaccessible and the .bin file extensions added. Ransom note files appear as .TXT and .HTML files.
Distribution MethodSpam Emails, Email Attachments
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User ExperienceJoin our forum to Discuss Alfa Ransomware.
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.

Alfa Ransomware’s Distribution Methods

If it is to be widespread and infect maximum amount of users, Alfa Ransomware has to have a very powerful distribution technique. This is why it may use massively spread spam message campaigns to distribute its malicious files. The spam campaign may include the distribution of various files attached to e-mails that seem legitimate. An example of topics of spam e-mails which have the malicious payload of Alfa Ransomware are:

  • “Your confirmation mail.”
  • “Your free software installation.”
  • “Payment confirmation.”
  • “Your account has been suspended.”

Upon opening the malicious attachment in the e-mail, the user may open an exploit kit or a Trojan.Downloader which is obfuscated to conceal itself from real-time shields of antivirus programs. To prevent further infections, it may be a good solution to download second generation cloud-based antivirus-software, like Heimdal Pro, for example.

Alfa Ransomware – In Depth Analysis

As soon as a computer has been infected by Alfa Ransomware, it gives the virus the permissions to create its malicious files:

  • In %UserProfile%\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Essential\, the file msestl32.exe
  • README HOW TO DECRYPT YOUR FILES.HTML
  • README HOW TO DECRYPT YOUR FILES.TXT

Pretending to be Microsoft Essentials free antivirus security software, Alfa Ransomware also creates registry entries so that it runs everytime Windows is booted up:

  • HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run\MSEstl “%UserProfile%\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Essential\msestl32.exe”
  • HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\ {random value string}

As soon as the encryptor (msestl32.exe) is ran on the infected computer, Alfa Ransomware starts to scan the computer and encrypt the files in it. It looks for videos, audio files, databases, different document file formats, etc. The file extensions that may be affected could be the following:

→ .c, .h, .m, .ai, .cs, .db, .nd, .pl, .ps, .py, .rm, .3dm, .3ds, .3fr, .3g2, .3gp, .ach, .arw, .asf, .asx, .avi, .bak, .bay, .cdr, .cer, .cpp, .cr2, .crt, .crw, .dbf, .dcr, .dds, .der, .des, .dng, .doc, .dtd, .dwg, .dxf, .dxg, .eml, .eps, .erf, .fla, .flvv, .hpp, .iif, .jpe, .jpg, .kdc, .key, .lua, .m4v, .max, .mdb, .mdf, .mef, .mov, .mp3, .mp4, .mpg, .mrw, .msg, .nef, .nk2, .nrw, .oab, .obj, .odb, .odc, .odm, .odp, .ods, .odt, .orf, .ost, .p12, .p7b, .p7c, .pab, .pas, .pct, .pdb, .pdd, .pdf, .pef, .pem, .pfx, .pps, .ppt, .prf, .psd, .pst, .ptx, .qba, .qbb, .qbm, .qbr, .qbw, .qbx, .qby, .r3d, .raf, .raw, .rtf, .rw2, .rwl, .sql, .sr2, .srf, .srt, .srw, .svg, .swf, .tex, .tga, .thm, .tlg, .txt, .vob, .wav, .wb2, .wmv, .wpd, .wps, .no, .xlk, .xlr, .xls, .yuv, .back, .docm, .docx, .flac, .indd, .java, .jpeg, .pptm, .pptx, .xlsb, .xlsm, .xlsx Source: Hackmag.com

In addition to those, Alfa ransomware may also delete shadow volume copies, by executing a privileged command in Windows Command Prompt:

shadow-command-sensorstechforum-3

The encrypted files may be scrambled with either RSA or AES cipher or even both at the same time. Encrypted files’ names are changed and they are appended the .bin file extension. The name is a unique identification number for the infected computer, for example:

  • 23039593.bin

After encryption, Alfa drops its ransom message on the compromised computer in the form of a .TXT and .HTML files:

readme-files-alfa-ransowmare-sensorstechforum

The files both have the same content:

Untitled-2

They also have instructions on how to open the page of Alfa ransomware which contains its “Alfa Decryptor” and additional instructions on how to use Tor Networking to pay the ransom:

alfa-decryptor-main-page-sensorstechforum

Alfa Ransomware – Conclusion, Removal and File Decryption

In conclusion, Alfa Ransomware appears to be an entirely new ransomware virus and it may use advanced encryption. The virus may also delete backups and include a so called CBC mode which breaks the files permanently if you try to directly encrypt them. Cyber-criminals behind Alfa Ransomware have created this virus for one and only purpose – to make profit. Since by paying to them, you support the development of their operation and there may not be a guarantee that you are getting access to the files again, malware experts strongly advise against it.

If you want to fully erase Alfa Ransomware from your computer, we urge you to follow the instructions posted after this article. They will help you find the files of this ransomware and erase them permanently. For best results, experts advise the usage of an anti-malware program that will assist you with automatically detecting and removing all files and registry objects created by Alfa Ransomware and protect you from future infections as well.

In case you wish to decrypt your files, at this point, there is no direct solution. However, we will post an update in this article if a decryptor has been released to the public. In the meantime, we advise you to follow step “3. Restore files encrypted by Alfa” to help you with restoring at least some of your files. You may also use the free decryption of Alfa Ransomware’s main page to at least restore one file for free.

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