Ransowmare virus, going by the name CryptoWire has been reported to cause infections and encrypt files of affected comptuers by appending the .encrypted file extension after that. The virus uses AES encryption algorithm to encipher the files of its victims rendering them no longer openable. It also leaves a lockscreen in addition to the encryption where the demands are to pay approximately 0.29 BTC in ransom by buying decryption keys via pressing a button. Anyone who has become victim of the CrytoWire ransomware are strongly advised to not pay the ransom and follow the information in this article to help you learn more about the virus, remove it and hopefully restore your files.
|Short Description||The ransomware encrypts files with the AES ciphers and asks a ransom payoff for decryption.|
|Symptoms||Files are encrypted and become inaccessible. A ransom note with instructions for paying the ransom shows as a lockscreen.|
|Distribution Method||Spam Emails, Email Attachments, File Sharing Networks.|
|Detection Tool|| See If Your System Has Been Affected by CryptoWire |
Malware Removal Tool
|User Experience||Join our forum to Discuss CryptoWire 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.|
CryptoWire Ransom Virus – Distribution Vectors
Similar to other crypto-viruses, the CryptoWire threat could use the following tools to help it cause successful infections:
- Malicious HTML files (.html, .htm, .hta and others)
- Malware obfuscators that hide the malware from any security software on the victim computer.
- File Joiners that may combine the virus with legitimate documents, such as Microsoft Office documents or Adobe documents containing malicious macros.
- Malicious servers (for command and control and the download of the payload).
- Tools used to help the virus spread via different spam, also known as spam bots.
- External spamming services of other cyber-crooks as a form of collaboration.
These tools may successfully spread CryptoWire on your e-mail, your social media accounts and even as comments on forums, like reddit and others. Sometimes spam bots may be used to take over Facebook accounts , create duplicate accounts or other devious activities and spam the virus via posts or messages this way. Whatever the case may be, once you open CryptoWire’s malicious payload, you become “cryptowired” and so far there seems to be no turning back.
CryptoWire Ransomware – Technical Analysis
The virus interestingly enough uses a combination of lockscreen techniques as well as techniques that directly cause file encryption via the AES encryption algorithm which is one of the strongest publicly available. The encryption is originally designed for military defensive purposes when it comes down to classified files and depending on how strong it is lies the outcome of the decryption of your data.
After infection by CryptoWire, the virus may download it’s payload via several different names, but most researchers who detected it know its malicious file to be named completely randomly with the following technical information about it:
The malicious files belonging to CryptoWire may be located In several key Windows folders:
After executed, the malicious file of CryptWire immediately begins malicious process injection in key Windows processes:
It may use those key Windows modules for different malicious activities:
- To communicate online with the C&C(Command and Control) servers of the cyber-criminals.
- To execute the privileged vssadmin command in “/quiet” mode and delete all shadow volume copies of the infected computer.
- To heavily modify subkeys and add custom values in the Windows Registry Editor. These may be used to lock the screen and run on system startup before any protection software blocks it while it encrypts user data.
After the module which is responsible for encrypting files is ran, it may immediately attack types of files that are used very often, like videos, images, audio files, databases and others. We have summed up commonly used file extensions to give you a vague overview of what file extensions this virus may be pre-programmed to encipher:
After the encryption process by CryptWire has completed, the virus begins to immediately lock the screen of the user PC and display it’s unique message:
The virus even has a button that leads directly to a Bitcoin trading platform where victims will be able to buy BTC, making it more convenient.
The worse news about CryptoWire, however are not related either to the AES-256 algorithm It uses neither to the fact that it uses lockscreen messages. They are related to the fact that the virus has been uploaded directly for free with all of it’s “features” advertised in GitHub which may be an opportunity for coders who want to create their own variant of CryptoWire. Here are some of the extras being advertised:
- Encrypts files on stored USB drives, other external drives, OneDrive, Dropbox, Google Drive (cloud services), Google Games(Steam), Network shares.
- Not specifically extension based, encrypts all files besides critical Windows files that are maximum 30 MB in size.
- Deletes shadow volume copies.
- Overwrites old versions of the files which are non-encrypted several times, 10 to be prices to make them permanently deleted and unable to be recovered by any type of data recovery software.
- Avoids heuristic scans using custom algorithms.
- Runs on startup.
- Checks the domain of the victim PC and if the computer is an eneterprise machine belonging to a business network the ransom payoff amount significantly rises ten times.
April 2018 New CryptoWire Release
Even though the CryptoWire ransomware family is not among the most advanced ones it is frequently used by beginner malware actors against users worldwide. A recent active attack campaign bearing its signatures was detected in April 2018, the analysis reveals that the virus payload is a customized version of the main version. The strain is compiled on April 10 2018 and shortly after that we have received reports of infected users.
By following the already established behavior patterns the virus engine proceeds into certain system modifications that make it more difficult to restore the affected system and data:
- Shadow Volume Copies Removal — The malware engine has the ability to remove all found shadow volume copies of the victim data. The impacted files can be restored with a quality recovery software. Refer to our instructions below.
- Boot Options Modification — The CryptoWire malware engine modifies the boot options thereby removing the possibility to boot into the recovery menu.
- Persistent State of Execution — CryptoWire creates a scheduled task that executes the virus every time the computer boots.
The captured samples have been found to affect the following file type extensions:
3fr, 7z, EPS, M3U, M4A, PEM, PSD, WPS, XLSX, abw, accdb, afsnit, ai, aif, arc, arw, as, asc, asd, asf,
ashdisc, asm, asp, aspx, asx, aup, avi, bay, bbb, bdb, bibtex, bkf, bmp, bmp, bpn, btd, bz2, c, cdi, cdr,
cer, cert, cfm, cgi, cpio, cpp, cr2, crt, crw, csr, cue, dbf, dcr, dds, dem, der, dmg, dng, doc, docm, docx, dsb,
dwg, dxf, dxg, eddx, edoc, eml, emlx, eps, epub, erf, fdf, ffu, flv, gam, gcode, gho, gpx, gz, h, hbk, hdd, hds,
himmel, hpp, ics, idml, iff, img, indd, ipd, iso, isz, iwa, j2k, jp2, jpeg, jpf, jpg, jpm, jpx, jsp, jspa, jspx,
jst, kdc, key, keynote, kml, kmz, lic, lwp, lzma, m4v, max, mbox, md2, mdb, mdbackup, mddata, mdf, mdinfo, mds,
mef, mid, mov, mp3, mp4, mpa, mpb, mpeg, mpg, mpj, mpp, mrw, msg, mso, nba, nbf, nbi, nbu, nbz, nco, nef, nes,
note, nrg, nri, nrw, odb, odc, odm, odp, ods, odt, ogg, one, orf, ova, ovf, oxps, p12, p2i, p65, p7, p7b, p7c,
pages, pct, pdd, pdf, pef, pem, pfx, php, php3, php4, php5, phps, phpx, phpxx, phtm, phtml, pl, plist, pmd, pmx,
png, ppdf, pps, ppsm, ppsx, ppt, pptm, pptx, ps, psd, pspimage, pst, ptx, pub, pvm, qcn, qcow, qcow2, qt, r3d, ra,
raf, rar, raw, rm, rtf, rtf, rw2, rwl, s, sbf, set, skb, slf, sme, smm, snp, spb, sql, sr2, srf, srt, srw, ssc, ssi,
stg, stl, svg, swf, sxw, syncdb, tager, tc, tex, tga, thm, tif, tiff, til, toast, torrent, txt, vbk, vcard, vcd, vcf,
vdi, vfs4, vhd, vhdx, vmdk, vob, vsdx, wav, wb2, wbk, wbverify, webm, wmb, wpb, wpd, wps, x3f, xdw, xlk, xlr, xls, xlsb,
xlsm, xlsx, xz, yuv, zip, zipx
As a consequence all affected data is renamed with the .encrypted extension. Like some of its previous versions this particular sample launches an application-based lockscreen with the “CryptoWire” title. It reads the following message:
The only way you can recover your files is to buy a decryption key
The payment method is: Bitcoins. The price is: $1000 = Bitcoins
When you are ready, send a message by email to email@example.com
We will send you our BTC wallet for the transfer
After confirmation we will send you the decryption key
Click on the ‘Buy decryption key’ button.
CryptoWire Ransomware – The Bottom Line, Removal and How to Restore the Files
In conclusion, this is a very ambitious ransomware project, that not only has evasive techniques but may also prove to be well coded as well. With the source code being released into the open on GitHub, many opportunist blackhats may take advantage of the malware and begin infecting users with their own variants of it. Malware researchers, however are also aware of the virus and are working on methods to decrypt it by reverse engineering it’s code. This is the primary reason we recommend not paying the ransoma and focusing on removing the ransomware yourself while waiting for a decryptor for your files.
In case you feel convinced that CryptoWire malware must go(recommended), we advise you to follow the instructions below and hunt for it’s malicious files and other objects in Windows Safe Mode. Security experts always advise that the best method to fully remove viruses like CryptoWire is to use an advanced anti-malware program, instructions for which we have posted below as well. This will allow for the automatic detection off all the CryptoWire objects and other malware it may have slithered onto your system as well.
Furthermore, even though restoring files encriphered by CryptoWire may not be easy, we still advise you to try the alternative methods in step “2. Restore files encrypted by CryptoWire” below. They are not guarantee of successful file reversing but they are the best temporary alternative to choose from while a free decryptor is released. When free decryptor is released, we will post instructions on our blog and post a web link in this article for you to see and recover your files for free.