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Remove Cerber Ransomware and Restore .CERBER Encrypted Files

This article is to help you remove Cerber ransomware and decrypt .cerber encrypted files for free.

Cerber ransomware demands the user to pay around 500 USD in BTC for the decryption of the files encrypted by it. Cerber crypto virus has been reported to infect users massively, encrypting their files with a strong AES encryption. All users who have been affected by this ransomware and had their files encrypted with the .CERBER file extension should immediately remove this ransomware. It is advisable to use other methods to restore the data instead of paying funds to the cyber-crooks.

UPDATE! New _README_{RANDOMID}_.hta variant of Cerber ransomware has been discovered December 1st, 2016. More information about it here!
UPDATE! A free decryptor has been released for files encoded by Cerber ransomware. To learn how to decrypt your files, please visit the following article.

Threat Summary

Name

Cerber

TypeRansomware
Short DescriptionThe malware encrypts users’ files after force restarting their PC, dropping ransom messages, named “# DECRYPT MY FILES #”
SymptomsThe user may witness ransom messages and “instructions” and a sound message all linking to a web page and a decryptor.
Distribution MethodVia an Exploit kit.
Detection Tool See If Your System Has Been Affected by Cerber

Download

Malware Removal Tool

User ExperienceJoin our forum to Discuss Cerber 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.

CERBER-RANSOMWARE-SENSORSTECHFORUM

Update April 2017. Even though this version of Cerber has first landed more than a year ago, reports indicate that it is still making rounds in the wild, successfully infecting users. Emsisoft researchers discovered a new sample of Cerber ransomware several weeks ago. This new sample was found to leave the original filename the same and to only append a random extension. The sample is known as RED CERBER. Considering the intensity of Cerber’s multiple iterations, it is quite possible that a new version will be coded soon.

Update June 2017. Security researchers recently came across a new Cerber ransomware campaign being distributed with the help of Magnitude EK and RoughTed. RoughTed is a large malvertising operation that reached a peak in March this year. However, it has been active for over a year now. The campaign is rare in its structure as it includes various malicious techniques, from scams to exploit kits. The scope of victims is also quite broad, and is known to be very precise due to geolocation features. Research indicates that Cerber ransomware has been included in this campaign as one of the payloads delivered to victims.

Cerber Ransomware – Distribution

This crypto-malware may use a malicious exploit script do download itself on a computer. This method increases the probability of infecting the user successfully. Such Kits may usually be distributed via malicious macros in Microsoft Office or PDF documents. This means that when you open such a document and enable editing mode in it, there may have been a code infecting you with the kit. Most users get fooled into opening such spam e-mails because they may resemble a reputable or well-known sender. The most mimicked senders are usually:

  • Your boss.
  • Someone from your contact list.
  • PayPal.
  • Amazon.
  • eBay.
  • AliExpress or Alibaba.
  • Your bank.
  • Facebook or other social networks.

Cerber Ransomware In Detail

Once the ransomware has been executed it has been reported to create a folder with custom digits in the %AppData% Windows directory, for example:

  • {0219HH-S24NI2-NUS-2JISAI-PL0KK}

Not only this but in the folder, the ransomware names random executables which may be its different modules that perform different actions on the user PC. One of those modules has been reported by malware researchers to detect the location of the user PC. In case the victim PC is from certain countries in Eastern Europe, the ransomware does not activate encryption and self-deletes. However, in case the user is from any other country than that, Cerber executes the following command to restart your computer:

“C:\Windows\System32\bcdedit.exe /set {info} safeboot network”

This usually goes with a fake error message as a bonus, which gives it an excuse in front of the user to restart his computer. Error messages may be such as “A critical system process has denied access” with an exclamation mark icon on them and they notify that the system will log off.

Regarding, file encryption, Cerber uses different modules to encrypt the user’s files. One of the modules is a file containing the list of extensions the encryptor scans for. Here are the extensions, Cerber may target and encrypt:

.contact, .dbx, .doc, .docx, .jnt, .jpg, .mapimail, .msg, .oab, .ods, .pdf, .pps, .ppsm, .ppt, .pptm, .prf, .pst, .rar, .rtf, .txt, .wab, .xls, .xlsx, .xml, .zip, .1cd, .3ds, .3g2, .3gp, .7z, .7zip, .accdb, .aoi, .asf, .asp, .aspx, .asx, .avi, .bak, .cer, .cfg, .class, .config, .css, .csv, .db, .dds, .dwg, .dxf, .flf, .flv, .html, .idx, .js, .key, .kwm, .laccdb, .ldf, .lit, .m3u, .mbx, .md, .mdf, .mid, .mlb, .mov, .mp3, .mp4, .mpg, .obj, .odt, .pages, .php, .psd, .pwm, .rm, .safe, .sav, .save, .sql, .srt, .swf, .thm, .vob, .wav, .wma, .wmv, .xlsb, .3dm, .aac, .ai, .arw, .c, .cdr, .cls, .cpi, .cpp, .cs, .db3, .docm, .dot, .dotm, .dotx, .drw, .dxb, .eps, .fla, .flac, .fxg, .java, .m, .m4v, .max, .mdb, .pcd, .pct, .pl, .potm, .potx, .ppam, .ppsm, .ppsx, .pptm, .ps, .pspimage, .r3d, .rw2, .sldm, .sldx, .svg, .tga, .wps, .xla, .xlam, .xlm, .xlr, .xlsm, .xlt, .xltm, .xltx, .xlw, .act, .adp, .al, .bkp, .blend, .cdf, .cdx, .cgm, .cr2, .crt, .dac, .dbf, .dcr, .ddd, .design, .dtd, .fdb, .fff, .fpx, .h, .iif, .indd, .jpeg, .mos, .nd, .nsd, .nsf, .nsg, .nsh, .odc, .odp, .oil, .pas, .pat, .pef, .pfx, .ptx, .qbb, .qbm, .sas7bdat, .say, .st4, .st6, .stc, .sxc, .sxw, .tlg, .wad, .xlk, .aiff, .bin, .bmp, .cmt, .dat, .dit, .edb, .flvv, .gif, .groups, .hdd, .hpp, .log, .m2ts, .m4p, .mkv, .mpeg, .ndf, .nvram, .ogg, .ost, .pab, .pdb, .pif, .png, .qed, .qcow, .qcow2, .rvt, .st7, .stm, .vbox, .vdi, .vhd, .vhdx, .vmdk, .vmsd, .vmx, .vmxf, .3fr, .3pr, .ab4, .accde, .accdr, .accdt, .ach, .acr, .adb, .ads, .agdl, .ait, .apj, .asm, .awg, .back, .backup, .backupdb, .bank, .bay, .bdb, .bgt, .bik, .bpw, .cdr3, .cdr4, .cdr5, .cdr6, .cdrw, .ce1, .ce2, .cib, .craw, .crw, .csh, .csl, .db_journal, .dc2, .dcs, .ddoc, .ddrw, .der, .des, .dgc, .djvu, .dng, .drf, .dxg, .eml, .erbsql, .erf, .exf, .ffd, .fh, .fhd, .gray, .grey, .gry, .hbk, .ibank, .ibd, .ibz, .iiq, .incpas, .jpe, .kc2, .kdbx, .kdc, .kpdx, .lua, .mdc, .mef, .mfw, .mmw, .mny, .moneywell, .mrw, .myd, .ndd, .nef, .nk2, .nop, .nrw, .ns2, .ns3, .ns4, .nwb, .nx2, .nxl, .nyf, .odb, .odf, .odg, .odm, .orf, .otg, .oth, .otp, .ots, .ott, .p12, .p7b, .p7c, .pdd, .pem, .plus_muhd, .plc, .pot, .pptx, .psafe3, .py, .qba, .qbr, .qbw, .qbx, .qby, .raf, .rat, .raw, .rdb, .rwl, .rwz, .s3db, .sd0, .sda, .sdf, .sqlite, .sqlite3, .sqlitedb, .sr2, .srf, .srw, .st5, .st8, .std, .sti, .stw, .stx, .sxd, .sxg, .sxi, .sxm, .tex, .wallet, .wb2, .wpd, .x11, .x3f, .xis, .ycbcra, .yuv (Source: Bleeping Computer)

After it scans for, Cerber encodes the files with a 256-bit AES encryption algorithm which has been classified as Suite.B encryption which is used for encoding classified data by the US government. Not only this, but Cerber also changes the file extension to .CERBER. Here is how an encrypted file looks before and after:

Before encryption:
New Text Document.txt
After Cerber:
2308z2b.cerber

Not only this, but Cerber also drops several ransom note type of files on the user’s Desktop:

  • # DECRYPT MY FILES #.html
  • # DECRYPT MY FILES #.txt
  • # DECRYPT MY FILES #.vbs

The “.vbs” script is particularly interesting because it is reported by affected users to include the ransom message transcribed from text to speech in audio format. Cerber notifies the users by repeating several times “Attention! Your files have been encrypted!” along with quick instruction on what to do. This is considered to be a scare tactic by the creators of the Cerber Ransomware.

Unlike the other ransom messages, Cerber is very brief in its notification of the affected user:

“CERBER
Your documents, photos, databases and other important files have been encrypted!
To decrypt your files follow the instrucions:
1.Download and install the < from https://www.torproject.org/
2.Run it
3. In the <> open website:
//{the web link for decryption service here with an .onion domain}//
4.Follow the instructions at this website.”

On the decryption web link, the ransomware has support for 12 languages for different users to choose. It also features a reverse countdown timer and a service that provides information on how to pay the ransom money and detects whether or not they have been paid.

Remove Cerber Ransomware and Restore .CERBER Encrypted Files

Regarding the removal of the ransomware, it is highly recommended to use an advanced anti-malware software because the ransomware may self-delete itself after encryption, but the exploit kit may still be residing on the computer. For maximum effectiveness, it is recommended to use the step-by-step removal below.

If you want to successfully restore your files, direct decryption will simply not work, because it has not yet been created for this ransomware. However, we will keep you updated in our forum. Meanwhile, we have provided alternative file restoration methods in the accordion below.

Manually delete Cerber from your computer

Note! Substantial notification about the Cerber threat: Manual removal of Cerber 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 Cerber files and objects
2. Find malicious files created by Cerber on your PC
3. Fix registry entries created by Cerber on your PC

Automatically remove Cerber by downloading an advanced anti-malware program

1. Remove Cerber with SpyHunter Anti-Malware Tool
2. Back up your data to secure it against infections and file encryption by Cerber in the future
3. Restore files encrypted by Cerber
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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  • Sam

    Hi,

    My system got infected by a ransom malware and all images and important files got corrupted, and converted to be as .cerber files. I used spyhunter and removed the malware and viruses. But files got corrupted

    Need your support to get them decrypted and to recover the files. As I have the files in different drive other than c:, I havent mentioned windows protection ‘on’. Its my fault.

    I tried Stellar Data Recovery software, but even after restoring the .cerber files only exists. Unable to get my original files back.

    Also I have .cerber files and other files that are being corrupted. Is that ok, to have them? will that cause any issue?

    Can you please let me know any solution and your help needed for this.

    Thanks,

    Sam

    +44 7404463461

    • Hello Sam,

      Unfortunately, there is no direct solution at this point. I think that since you have Stellar Phoenix installed already you should try the following tactic.

      1. Move the encrypted files to a USB drive or somewhere else so that there is nothing on your computer.
      2. Try scanning for the files once more.

      Otherwise, you may want to follow our forum at

      http://sensorstechforum.com/forums/malware-removal-questions-and-guides/

      where we often post updates when a solution for ransomware like Cerber is available.

      Best Regards,
      Ventsi

  • Ivana

    Hi there,
    I also have the problem with cerber decription. the virus has been removed successfully, but no Shadows or System restore is available, as cerber firstly removes that. 🙁 no option from this suggestions work for me. Do you have any other idea? please help, i’m desparate. much appreciated, thank you

  • Hello,
    Have you ever tried using data recovery software? In step 4 of this tutorial there are such programs and you can also find plenty of others if you search online. We have tested several of those, here is more information on the matter:

    http://sensorstechforum.com/top-5-data-recovery-software-which-program-suits-me-best/

    Best Regards,
    Ventsi

  • Muhammad Mateen

    Hello,
    Respected sir,
    My system got infected by a ransom malware and all images and important files got corrupted, and converted to be as .cerber files.

    Need your support to get them decrypted and to recover the files. As I have the files in different drive other than c:

    Can you please let me know any solution and your help needed for this.

    Thanks,
    Muhammad Mateen

  • Hello,

    Your system has been infected by Cerber ransomware. Unfortunately decryption of your files is not yet available.

    However, if you did not format your hard drive, we recommend you to use data recovery software or if you have set up backup, to use a program, called Shadow Explorer. More information about restoring your files is available in Step number “4. Restore files encrypted by Cerber”. We hope this helps you.

    Best Regards,
    Vencislav

  • Jose Luis

    Muuy buenas,tengo todos mis archivos encriptados por cerber.Los tengo en disco duro externo y no se como recuperarlos ya que formatee el Pc y no tenia copia de seguridad.Algun programa que me ayude hacerlo?

  • Smokey

    What if there was a way to prevent files named *.cerber from being created?

    • Milena Dimitrova

      Do you know of such a method? 🙂

      • Luis PL

        No method so far. As soon as I know something, I’ll tell you.
        BTW, you must go to the police station to file a complaint reporting the facts as I’ve done, because it’s the only way to take part in this terrorist crime.
        We keep in touch on this webpage.

        • lokesh

          some files are able to play if you change the extension , i tried it but only mp3 file are play no video no jpg

  • Jarda

    8/5 2016- Do you know of such a method (decryptlocker)? My all discs is infected by cerber. My PC restarted/60 sec, only. This is for me disaster!!!!!!! Help!!!

  • Narayana

    despues de eliminar el virus basta con cambiar manualmente la extencion .cerber por la del archivo, el problema esta en saber que extencion tenia el archivo anteriormente. No es la manera mas adecuada pero de momento funciona.

    Espero les sirva.

    • Hello, Narayana
      From what you wrote I suppose you claim to be able to eliminate the encryption by removing the .cerber extension after deleting Cerber via an anti-malware tool? I am not sure this will work, because the structure of the file is encrypted, not just the extension changed.
      Regards,
      Ventsi

  • jose manuel

    efectivamente: no funciona con cambiar la extensión.
    it´s true: doesn´t work if only change the estension.

    • Rafael Polvillo

      hola Jose manuel, pudistes desemcriptar los archivos dañados por CERBER?
      A mi me acaban de infectar y esto y desesperado, he comprado un antivirus y he quitado el virus, pero los archivos los necesito desemcriptar, alguna solución?

  • fengken

    Hi,

    My friend’s external hard drives got cerber, and this infected computer was re-installed.
    If I paid money to get key, the infected files in external hard drives can be restored or not?

    Thanks for your help!

    • Hi fengken,

      Yes there is a chance you will get the files back, but we strongly advise you NOT to pay since (1)researchers may be close to decrypting Cerber, (2)you fund the cyber criminals to make it even more spread and (3)you may not get all your files back, only a part of them and the criminals may want even more money. Anyways if you reinstalled the computer, you will not be able to pay the ransom because you are no longer infected and they will not recognise you. Still, you can try contacting them if you remember the IP address, but we’d advise against that.

  • Buyung Tjia

    all discussion about cerber is useless . the only way just pay (and the fastest-youtube). you suggest doing a restore but many document files that can not be read. i see news spread of ransomware the last few months really sad . it looks like the problem is here only for money is not the solution .

    • MilenaDimitroff

      Hi Buyung,

      Are you seriously encouraging victims of ransomware to pay? Paying only monetizes the infection and encourages cyber crooks to expand their malicious campaigns. Moreover, paying doesn’t necessarily mean that the decryption key will be sent to the victim…

      You should encourage people to improve their online security instead, and look into ways to backup and secure their data 🙂 Just my two cents!

  • lokesh

    hey guys !
    i have got cerber decryptor v1.01 for free but the problem is whem you try to decrypt your file with it we get failed answer by not paid …so firstly we have to remove hacker private key and certificate registry which was done by hacker by using public key as a private key

    • Hey lokesh,

      Where did you find the decryptor you mentioned about?

      Thx,

      STForum

      • lokesh

        if you got solution so please inform
        as a humanity please

        • We assure you we will let you know if a solution is for any ransomware is available. Some ransomware cases are already “closed” because decryption tools were successfully developed.

    • minkimmik

      Hi lokesh,

      My neighbor have also got a cerber decryptor, he is 62 years old and is desesperate whith CERBER ransomware , he is not a specialist in computer.
      Could you please explain to me the instructions step by step and then i could explain to him.

      Thank you very much in advance

      • lokesh

        yes i have decryptor but it was unsable if you dont paid it server ,my data is still encrypted

        • KJ

          hey could you give me the decryptor
          I would check if it works for me
          Thanks in advance

          • Hi KJ,

            There’s no specific decryptor for Cerber. However, you can try alternative methods that are provided in the accordion below the article.

  • sumesh

    sir, I have got cerber decryptor v 3.0.1 but the problem is it answers not paid so how can I change to paid system

    • Sumesh, can you please type this again because i do not understand you. Thank you in advance, sir.

    • Sumesh, I have checked the Cerber decryptor v3.0.1 and do not use it. It wants money to be paid to get the files back, meaning that it is somewhat a scam. DO NOT DOWNLOAD IT!

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