One of the most devastating viruses out there – Cerber ransomware has been released in a 3rd version, adding a .cerber3 file extension to encrypted files and changing the file-names as well, leaving the # HELP DECRYPT #.txt file after encryption. The Cerber ransomware viruses have been notorious for an immensely strong encryption and new versions of them are released as soon as malware researchers discover decryptors for them. Users who have been infected by this virus, should not comply by the ransom note dropped by this virus and not pay any type of ransom money to the cyber-criminals and not comply to any instructions in the ransom note of the virus. Instead, we advise you to follow this article, because we will update it with more information about Cerber ransomware’s 3rd version, how to remove it and alternative methods to try and restore your files.
|Short Description||The malware encrypts users files using a strong encryption algorithm, making direct decryption possible only via a unique decryption key available to the cyber-criminals.|
|Symptoms||The user may witness ransom notes and “instructions” and a sound message all linking to a web page and a decryptor. Changed file names and the file-extension cerber3 has been used.|
|Detection Tool|| See If Your System Has Been Affected by malware |
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|User Experience||Join our forum to Discuss Cerber 3 Ransomware.|
|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.|
Cerber 3 Virus – How Does It Infect
Similar to the other Cerber(Cerber Version 2) viruses, this ransomware does not limit itself to a simple executable that infects the user. Instead, it is a whole operation that is created to synchronize a variety of infection and spamming technologies and techniques into one big and successful operation, called Cerber ransomware. This includes several different tools that are being used to infect users with the virus:
- Malware obfuscators to hide Cerber 3 ransomware’s files from any real-time protections and firewalls.
- File joiners that may conceal the payload dropper of the virus by combining them with legitimate files, like Microsoft Office documents that have malicious macros, for instance.
- Exploit Kits which may be used for a successful download of the directly by connecting to the command and control server of the cyber-criminals from the infected machine itself.
Such tools may be used in combinatain with spamming bots or spamming services that may spread the malicious files belonging to Cerber 3 ransowmare via several different methods, mainly in the form of uploads on malicious URLs or as e-mail attachments.
Below is an example of a spam e-mail, the malicious URLs of which may lead to a browser redirect that could cause a drive-by download infection with Cerber ransomware:
Cerber Ransowmare – In-Depth Information
As soon as it has been dropped on the computer, Cerber 3 may be dropped on key Windows folders with files that have different names. Several directories it may exist in are the following Windows targeted locations:
Along with CryptoWall and Locky ransomware, Cerber may also modify the registry entries of infected computers, to make the malicious executable that may be different type of file (.tmp, .dll, .js, .exe) run when Windows boots up and encrypt a wide variety of files even before the antivrus program of the computer has started. The registry entries to make it run on system startup are the following keys in Windows Registry Editor:
As soon as Cerber 3 ransomware’s encryption, begins the user is doomed. The virus may immediately scan for a wide variety of file types and encrypt them as soon as it detects them:
Cerber ransomware may not only encrypt almost any file on your computer beside the files essential to run Windows, but the virus may also change the names of the files as well. Files encrypted by Cerber 3 ransomware do not only have the .cerber3 file extension but they also have completely random names, preventing them from being identified. A tweetpost by the malware researcher PhysicalDrive0 indicates how the files look after encryption by Cerber 3 ransomware:
To encipher the files, the 3rd variant of this virus may use RSA or AES encryption algorithms and the virus may even use the so-called Cipher Block Chaining(CBC) mode which protects the encrypted files by permanently breaking them if you try to tamper with their code structure (decrypt them, for example).
After encrypting the files, Cerber 3 ransomware drops a ransom note, named # HELP DECRYPT #.txt that is primarily focused on notifying the user his situation is very dire.
Another variant of Cerber 3 employs a different ransom note, known as @___readme___@.txt:
The ransom note may be located on every folder containing encrypted files or on the desktop and even on the %Startup% folder so that it opens every time Windows runs.
Furthermore, after the encryption and notification process is complete, Cerber ransomware may generate a unique decryption key which it sends to the cyber-criminals’ command and control servers. After this procedure is done, the malicious files of Cerber ransomware may be deleted to avoid any researchers from peeking into the virus.
The ransom instructions of the virus may lead to a Tor-based web page, similar to the following:
Cerber 3 Ransomware – Conclusion, Removal and File Restoration
The appearance of the 3rd version of this virus is a good indicator that it may either be a part of a large-scale ransomware operation that is well-organized or be sold by an organization as a service (RaaS). Either way, this is one of the biggest viruses out there and researchers strongly advise to immediately remove it and not pay any ransom money demanded.
To remove Cerber 3 ransowmare’s associated files, registry objects and other settings related to it, in case it is still residing on your computer, we advise following the step-by-step instructions below. They are designed so that they help in the best way possible to get rid of the virus methodologically. The most effective and fastest solution for complete removal of Cerber 3 ransowmare still remains to be the usage of an advanced anti-malware program. It will not only delete all associated files safely, but will also protect your computer in the future as well.
To try and restore files encoded by Cerber 3 ransomware, we strongly advise you to make sure that Cerber ransomware is fully deleted from your computer and then attempt using the file-restoration methods provided in step “3. Restore files encrypted by Cerber 3” below. They may not be 100% successful but, these methods are a good temporary solution until malware researchers release a decryptor. As soon as a decryptor has been released for this virus, we will update this article, so we advise you to check on it regularly.
- Guide 1: How to Remove Cerber 3 from Windows.
- Guide 2: Get rid of Cerber 3 from Mac OS X.
- Guide 3: Remove Cerber 3 from Google Chrome.
- Guide 4: Erase Cerber 3 from Mozilla Firefox.
- Guide 5: Uninstall Cerber 3 from Microsoft Edge.
- Guide 6: Remove Cerber 3 from Safari.
- Guide 7: Eliminate Cerber 3 from Internet Explorer.
How to Remove Cerber 3 from Windows.
Step 1: Boot Your PC In Safe Mode to isolate and remove Cerber 3
Step 2: Uninstall Cerber 3 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.
Step 3: Clean any registries, created by Cerber 3 on your computer.
The usually targeted registries of Windows machines are the following:
You can access them by opening the Windows registry editor and deleting any values, created by Cerber 3 there. This can happen by following the steps underneath:
Get rid of Cerber 3 from Mac OS X.
Step 1: Uninstall Cerber 3 and remove related files and objects
1. Hit the ⇧+⌘+U keys to open Utilities. Another way is to click on “Go” and then click “Utilities”, like the image below shows:
- 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 Cerber 3 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:
You can repeat the same procedure with the following other Library directories:
Tip: ~ is there on purpose, because it leads to more LaunchAgents.
Step 2: Scan for and remove malware from your Mac
When you are facing problems on your Mac as a result of unwanted scripts, programs and malware, the recommended way of eliminating the threat is by using an anti-malware program. Combo Cleaner offers advanced security features along with other modules that will improve your Mac’s security and protect it in the future.
Remove Cerber 3 from Google Chrome.
Step 1: Start Google Chrome and open the drop menu
Step 2: Move the cursor over "Tools" and then from the extended menu choose "Extensions"
Step 3: From the opened "Extensions" menu locate the unwanted extension and click on its "Remove" button.
Step 4: After the extension is removed, restart Google Chrome by closing it from the red "X" button at the top right corner and start it again.
Erase Cerber 3 from Mozilla Firefox.
Step 1: Start Mozilla Firefox. Open the menu window
Step 2: Select the "Add-ons" icon from the menu.
Step 3: Select the unwanted extension and click "Remove"
Step 4: After the extension is removed, restart Mozilla Firefox by closing it from the red "X" button at the top right corner and start it again.
Uninstall Cerber 3 from Microsoft Edge.
Step 1: Start Edge browser.
Step 2: Open the drop menu by clicking on the icon at the top right corner.
Step 3: From the drop menu select "Extensions".
Step 4: Choose the suspected malicious extension you want to remove and then click on the gear icon.
Step 5: Remove the malicious extension by scrolling down and then clicking on Uninstall.
Remove Cerber 3 from Safari.
Step 1: Start the Safari app.
Step 2: After hovering your mouse cursor to the top of the screen, click on the Safari text to open its drop down menu.
Step 3: From the menu, click on "Preferences".
Step 4: After that, select the 'Extensions' Tab.
Step 5: Click once on the extension you want to remove.
Step 6: Click 'Uninstall'.
A pop-up window will appear asking for confirmation to uninstall the extension. Select 'Uninstall' again, and the Cerber 3 will be removed.
Eliminate Cerber 3 from Internet Explorer.
Step 1: Start Internet Explorer.
Step 2: Click on the gear icon labeled 'Tools' to open the drop menu and select 'Manage Add-ons'
Step 3: In the 'Manage Add-ons' window.
Step 4: Select the extension you want to remove and then click 'Disable'. A pop-up window will appear to inform you that you are about to disable the selected extension, and some more add-ons might be disabled as well. Leave all the boxes checked, and click 'Disable'.
Step 5: After the unwanted extension has been removed, restart Internet Explorer by closing it from the red 'X' button located at the top right corner and start it again.