Yet another variant of the notorious Dharma ransomware has been detected in the wild, this time using the .zzzzz file extension mimicking the notorious Locky ransomware. This ransomware which was recently discovered is claimed by malware researchers to be an updated version of CrySiS ransomware variants with more sophisticated encryption and decryption. Users who have paid the ransom of 3 BTC requested by the Dharma crooks after it encrypts the files report that they are provided software with which they scan their computer and get a unique key only to send it back to the cyber-criminals and then get the decryptor. Even though it is tempting, we highly advise against following any guidelines of the README.txt and .jpg files dropped by Dharma after the infection and instead read the following article to learn how to remove dharma ransomware from your computer and how to try and restore your missing files.
|Dharma encrypts user files and leaves as contact e-mail addresses to contact the criminals behind it and pay the ransom fee.
|Changes file extension of encrypted files to .zzzzz and the e-mail address for contact. Changes wallpaper to one with ransom instructions that have the backup ransom e-mail. Adds ransom notes in README.txt and README.jpg files.
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Dharma .zzzzz Ransomware – More Information
Distribution of Dharma
The first stage of getting infected by this virus is to interact with malicious objects. So far, concerning this variant of Dharma ransomware, it’s methods of infecting are similar to the other .wallet and .dharma variants. The virus may utilize a mixture of tools to cause an infection:
- Obfuscation malware to activate the payload dropper without any security software noticing it.
- Exploit kits to download the payload of the virus without the user noticing.
- Spamming software to spread spam messages with malicious attachments.
- Archivers to archive the malware and hide it from spam filters and malware checks online.
- Malicious scripts to cause an infection via a malicious web links or .hta, .htm, html, .js, .wsf or other similar files or macros in infected Microsoft Office or Adobe documents.
All of these tools may be used in a variety of combination to get users infected by this ransomware virus. It may come onto your computer via a malicious URL posted on social media websites, like Facebook, Twitter and other web pages, causing redirects to a scripted host. Another scenario is if you receive such a web link directly via a message from a compromised account, like a Skype message for example, saying “Check this out :D”. There is also the potential scenario of becoming infected with the .zzzzz variant of Dharma ransomware via spammed e-mail messages that contain a malicious attachment masked as a .zip .rar or other archived “document”, pretending to be an invoice. Furthermore, you can become infected by Dharma ransomware as a result of clicking on an advertisement caused by a potentially unwanted program (PUP) on your computer. Also, it is less likely but it is possible to become infected by the .zzzzz variant by simply opening a suspicious file downloaded via torrents uploaded by the hackers on a p2p website.
Dharma .zzzzz Version – Post-Infection Analysis
After having infected users with malware, Dharma ransomware is very specific on it’s activity. For starters, it may begin to kill any processes that might interfere with it’s encryption process or file dropping, using different versions of the taskkill command:
→ taskkill /pid 1230 /pid 1241 /pid 1253
taskkill /f /fi “USERNAME eq NT AUTHORITY\SYSTEM” /im notepad.exe
taskkill /s srvmain /f /im notepad.exe
taskkill /s srvmain /u maindom\hiropln /p p@ssW23 /fi “IMAGENAME eq note*” /im *
taskkill /s srvmain /u maindom\hiropln /fi “USERNAME ne NT*” /im *
taskkill /f /fi “PID ge 1000” /im *
After having done, this, Dharma .zzzzz ransomware may create different files in the dominant Windows folders. The files may have different functions and have different names, for example:
After this is done, Dharma .zzzzz variant may begin to scan a wide variety of file types to encrypt, including videos, photos, various documents, audio files, pictures and other types of files. Similar to CrySiS, it may begin to hunt for the following types of files:
After encryption, the files appear in proximity to the following:
In addition to this, the ransomware is also reported render the files completely non-openable after encoding and to leave behind a ransom note asking to contact an e-mail. The note is contained in a README.txt or README.jpg file and may be the following:
At the moment, your system is not protected.
We can fix it and restore files.
To restore the system write to this address:
When the e-mail associated with Dharma .zzzzz ransomware is contacted, the cyber-criminals request amount somewhere between 2 and 3 BTC depending on the importance of the files. In some instances they were also willing to bring down the price down to 1 BTC. After the victim pays the ransom, he is provided with a scanning software:
This scanning software aims to scan for and discover what seems to be a public key and appears like the following:
This key is then inputted into the decryption software after which it discovers a decryption key which is used again with the “help” of the cyber-crooks and the software to decrypt the encoded files.
Remove Dharma .zzzzz Ransomware and Restore Encrypted Files
Even though it seems tempting, malware researchers and cyber-security experts strongly advise the victims of Dharma’s .zzzzz ransomware variant to focus on removing the ransomware virus and using alternative methods like the ones in the instructions in step “2. Restore files encrypted by Dharma .zzzzz”. Paying the ransom will only cause support the cyber-criminals’ malicious activity and let them develop and further spread this ransomware to infect other people.
But, before trying the alternative decryption instructions, we strongly urge you to perform the actions below:
1. Backup the encrypted files and create several copies of them.
2. Remove Dharma, preferably by following the instructions below.
3. Focus on trying to restore the files using alternative methods, like the ones we have suggested below in step “2. Restore files encrypted by Dharma”.
What is Dharma .zzzzz Ransomware?
Dharma .zzzzz 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 Dharma .zzzzz 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 Dharma .zzzzz Infect?
Via several ways.Dharma .zzzzz 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 Dharma .zzzzz 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 .Dharma .zzzzz files?
You can't without a decryptor. At this point, the .Dharma .zzzzz 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 .Dharma .zzzzz files successfully, then do not despair, because this virus is still new.
Can I Restore ".Dharma .zzzzz" Files?
Yes, sometimes files can be restored. We have suggested several file recovery methods that could work if you want to restore .Dharma .zzzzz 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 Dharma .zzzzz 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 Dharma .zzzzz ransomware and then remove it without causing any additional harm to your important .Dharma .zzzzz 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 Dharma .zzzzz 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 Dharma .zzzzz Research
The content we publish on SensorsTechForum.com, this Dharma .zzzzz 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.
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