GANDCRAB 5.2 (v5.2) Ransomware Virus – How to Remove It
THREAT REMOVAL

GANDCRAB 5.2 (v5.2) Ransomware Virus – How to Remove It

This analysis and removal article has been made to inform you and provide instructions on deleting GANDCRAB 5.2 ransomware infection from your computer and also add methods via which you can try and restore files, encrypted by this cryptovirus on your computer.

Following the successful decryption of

What is GANDCRAB 5.1? How to open files, encrypted by GANDCRAB 5.1? How to remove GANDCRAB 5.1 ransomware virus? How to try and restore GANDCRAB 5.1 files?
GandCrab 5.1, ransomware, an updated and undetectable version of the notorious ransomware, called GANDCRAB 5.2 has been released. The virus was active for over a year and it has now been released constantly in newer and newer variants, most of which aim to encrypt the files of infected computers and ask their owners to visit a TOR web page, where victims are extorted to pay ransom in the BitCoin or DASH cryptocurrencies. In the unfortunate events that your computer was infected by GANDCRAB 5.2 ransomware, we would suggest that you read this removal article.

Threat Summary

NameGANDCRAB 5.2
TypeRansomware Infection
Short DescriptionAn updated virus, belonging to the
What is GandCrab ransomware? How to remove GandCrab ransomware? How to open files encrypted by GandCrab ransomware? How to try and restore encrypted files?
GANDCRAB ransomware family. The threat aims to extort victims to pay BitCoin or Dash by encrypting their files.
SymptomsFiles are encrypted with changed names to random letters. A ransom note is dropped with the file extension for it’s name and it ends in “-DECRYPT.txt”.
Distribution MethodMalcious URLs, Email Attachments, Executables
Detection Tool See If Your System Has Been Affected by GANDCRAB 5.2

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Malware Removal Tool

User ExperienceJoin Our Forum to Discuss GANDCRAB 5.2.
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.

Update April 2019

According to CrowdStrike researchers, the criminal group behind the infamous GandCrab ransomware is nicknamed Pinchy Spider. The group has been selling access to the ransomware in a partnership program with a limited number of accounts. In their most recent endeavors, Pinchy Spider criminals have been advertising GandCrab to individuals with remote desktop protocol (RDP) and VNC (Virtual Network Computing) skills, and spam operators who have experience in corporate networking. In short, the change in deployment tactics along with Pinchy Spider’s advertising for individuals with skills in RDP/VNC and experience in corporate networking, point to the fact that the criminal gang and their affiliates are expanding to adopt big game hunting tactics.

Related:
The GandCrab criminal group has been selling access to the ransomware in a partnership program with a limited number of accounts.
Beware: GandCrab Criminals Recruiting Affiliates with RDP/VNC Skills.

GANDCRAB 5.2 – Infection Methods

GANDCRAB 5.2 has not deviated much from the rest of the GandCrab ransomware family in terms of infection ways. The most recent infection files of GANDCRAB 5.2 ransomware were reported by security researchers to spread via two main methods:

  • Via files, uploaded on compromised websites.
  • Via files sent to victims via e-mail.

If GANDCRAB 5.2 ransomware is spread via e-mail, then the virus may infect computers as a result of a file, embedded within an archive, containing a malicious .JS (JavaScript) type of files. The e-mail that may be sending the archive may pretend to be an e-mail sending a picture, like the recent malspam e-mail we caught to spread GandCrab:

2019/01.28 10:40
Giovanni Price [email protected]
Attachment: PIC0101302924102-jpg.zip (69 KB)
E-mail Body: ;)

Once the victim sees that someone sent a picture with the text “;)” written in the e-mail body, it might raise interest. If the victim downloads the .ZIP archive and extracts the picture, infection with GANDCRAB 5.2 may be inevitable.

Another scenario via which victims can get infected by e-mail with GANDCRAB 5.2 ransomware is to open Microsoft Word or .PDF files also sent as attachment, but this time pretending to be invoices, receipts and other seemingly important documents, also contained in a .ZIP archive. Once the victim downloads and extracts the Microsoft Word file and opens it, the file may ask to enable Macros, like the image below shows.

This is done with the pretext that you cannot see what is in the document, unless you click on “Enable Editing” or “Enable Content” button. Once you click this button, infection with GANDCRAB 5.2 may occur. If the file is a .PDF file, the same may occur, only that the PDF Adobe Reader file may automatically open the Microsoft Word file once you open it.

Another method that is also known to cause infections with GANDCRAB 5.2 ransomware virus was recently reported to be used very often. The infection method includes uploading files on compromised or malicious WordPress sites, and make them seem that they are legitimate software cracks. Some of the programs which are supposed to be cracked, but infect with GANDCRAB 5.2 are reported by victims to be the following:

  • KMSPico(activator for Windows).
  • Securitask(security tool).
  • SysTools PST Merge(file merger).
  • Merging Image to PDF(file merger).

More info on how GANDCRAB ransomware infects victims via files uploaded on sites can be found in the related web link we have added underneath:

Related:
The creators of GandCrab ransomware do not sleep as the virus has been detected to infect users via what appears to be game and other software cracks, according to recent reports. The GandCrab ransowmare has been steadily updated with more...Read more
GandCrab Ransomware Now Infects Via Software Cracks

GANDCRAB 5.2 Ransomware – Background and Activity Report

GANDCRAB 5.2 ransomware belongs to the GANDCRAB ransomware family of viruses, which has spread in the following versions up until this variant:

When we come to the current GANDCRAB 5.2 version, there have been a lot of infection files reported so far by malware researchers to have the following names and identifiers:

→ MD5:ba2960ce267dc0f11e2683679ce038f7
SHA-1:7a6997490eea5ad21ec17367fb7a64fa5916f5e3
SHA-256:fb136c8360d1a5ab80f61109c55c5a788aa1d8796d1e75aca8c1a762b598d3f
Size: 99KB
—————————
SHA256:329b3ddbf1c00b7767f0ec39b90eb9f4f8bd98ace60e2f6b6fbfb9adf25e3ef9
Name:rlxsbp.exe
—————————-
MD5:78efe80384fa759964c9ea8bada3ac8d
SHA-1:6300dca046dee2d99f8429bdb9b5f3edc4d5ec1c
SHA-256:329b3ddbf1c00b7767f0ec39b90eb9f4f8bd98ace60e2f6b6fbfb9adf25e3ef9
Size: 99KB
—————————-
SHA256:bd16b703cd20e622e3e70e71bb4c68d1d1a3e14462f4b09978bbbb14e41625dc
Name:ctbxlz.exe
—————————-
SHA256:f70d73b6c3f61f412567bf74d4f1fba052ddccf0f8b2e61a6c69de9c8c5e6ec1
Name:jmdgzc.exe
—————————-
SHA256:16c64e91d8c1efa91d11a52557f2dc012caa3830a18bb57e6da5cae2d9cda583
Name:lqxcya.exe
—————————-
SHA256:d7ffa0d8566702474790d7cbbbf9d51e9937d82582f82e1a00ddb1c489700d62
Name:cmfmze.exe
Samples provided by malware researcher @tamas_boczan

Once the GANDCRAB 5.2 ransomware virus causes an infection on the computers, compromised by it, the virus immediately spaws the randomly named executable file. In it’s turn, the randomly named .exe file creates a child process in wmic.exe(Windows Management Instrumentation) as the VMRay graphic below shows:

Image Source: VMRay

From there, GandCrab v5.2 ransomware may begin it’s malicious activity to encrypt the files on the compromised machine. The activity begins with dropping the ransom note of GANDCRAB 5.2 ransomware, which is a .txt file that has a randomly generated name and ends with “-DECRYYPT.txt”. The ransom note file has the following message to victims, asking them to visit a TOR-based web page:

—= GANDCRAB V5.2 =—

UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES DO NOT DELETE THIS FILE, UNTIL ALL YOUR DATA IS RECOVERED
FAILING TO DO SO WIL RESULT IN YOUR SYSTEM CORRUPTION, IF THERE ARE DECRYPTION ERRORS

Attention!

All your files, documents, photos, databases and other important files are encrypted and have the extension:

The only method of recovering files is to purchase an unique private key. Only we can give you this key and only and only we can recover your files.

The server with your key is in a closed network TOR. You can get there by the following ways:

—————————————————————————————–

| 0. Download Tor browser – https://www.torproject.org/

| 1. Install Tor Browser
| 2. Open Tor Browser
| 3. Open link in TOR browser http://gandcrabmfe6mnef.onion/ b6314679c4ba3647/
| 4. Follow the instructions on this page

—————————————————————————————–

On our page you will see instructions on payment and get the opportunity to decrypt 1 file for free.

ATTENTION!
IN ORDER TO PREVENT DATA DAMAGE:
* DO NOT MODIFY ENCRYPTED FILES
* DO NOT CHANGE DATA BELOW

The web link in the GANDCRAB 5.2 “DECRYPT.txt” file leads to a ransom payment website that wants you to pay hundreds of dollars in DASH or BTC. The site is opened with TOR browser and looks like the following:

The final activity of GANDCRAB 5.2 ransomware is to change your wallpaper. The wallpaper that is changed appears like the following on computers that were infected with the virus:

GANDCRAB 5.2 ransomware may also execute the following command as an administrator in order to delete the backed up files on the infected computer:

→“C:\Windows\system32\wbem\wmic.exe” shadowcopy delete

GANDCRAB 5.2 Ransomware – Encryption Report

Probably the biggest change in GANDCRAB so far is that the ransomware virus does not add a random file extension, but renames the whole encrypted file to A-Z, a-z, 0-9 randomly generated name. And what is even worse is that each file is renamed differently with different file name length. The files, encrypted by GANDCRAB ransomware are transformed to the following after encryption:

The encryption of GANDCRAB 5.2 ransomware is done via Salsa20 encryption algorithm. This cipher aims to replace data from the files on the infected computer with blocks of encrypted data. The virus does not encrypt the whole file, but rather only portions of it, enough to make it seem corrupt and unstable. And what is worse, GANDCRAB 5.2 ransomware uses CBC mode for its file encryption procedures. This mode looks like the image we posted below and it basically breaks your files if you try to change their extension or tamper with them:

Remove GANDCRAB 5.2 and Try to Restore Files

If you want to remove GANDCRAB 5.2 ransomware virus, we would strongly suggest that you follow the removal instructions which are posted underneath this article. They have been created with the primary idea to help you remove this virus by using the information in this article or automatically.

But before starting removal, we would strongly recommend that you make an image of your computer so that you can be able to restore the infection once a decryptor of the virus has been released and your files are restored. You can also try backing up your files on a flash drive or somewhere else. Whatever you do, DO NOT tamper with the files, since this will break them.

For manual removal of GANDCRAB 5.2 ransomware, you can follow the first two instructional steps and remove the infection by using the information in this article. For automatic removal, you can download an anti-malware program, which can take care of the GANDCRAB 5.2 ransomware’s malicious files automatically. Installing the recommended anti-malware software also makes sure that your computer remains protected against any infections on your computer that might occur in the future too.

Ventsislav Krastev

Ventsislav has been covering the latest malware, software and newest tech developments at SensorsTechForum for 3 years now. He started out as a network administrator. Having graduated Marketing as well, Ventsislav also has passion for discovery of new shifts and innovations in cybersecurity that become game changers. After studying Value Chain Management and then Network Administration, he found his passion within cybersecrurity and is a strong believer in basic education of every user towards online safety.

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5 Comments

  1. KC

    I also got the Gandgrab 5.2
    It DID NOT change the filename, ONLY the extension.

    Reply
    1. MarcosC

      A mí también me atacó, solo añadió una extensión .cyooz
      Hay manera de recuperar los archivos?

      Reply
  2. NotYourBro

    Couple comments:
    1. Author needs to correct error, as KC points out, that the original filename is *not* changed, although encrypted files are given are given random 8-digit, all caps letter extension.

    2. There are plenty of *free* anti-virus/malware programs out there (MBAM, ESET, Baidu Antivirus) OTHER THAN SPYHUNTER that will remove the virus if you’re infected. I researched GandCrab 5.2 fairly extensively and I’m blown away by the number of articles out there pushing Spyhunter like it’s something special (it’s not). The software company must be giving out a huge commission to those selling Spyhunter.

    3. You can negotiate with the ransomers, if you decide to pay the ransom. My ransom amount doubled from $600 to $1,200 because I waited until the day of the deadline (trying to show files not that important to me – but they were) and it passed because of time zone differences. I emphasized most files were photos, complained about the USD/Dash exchange rate they’re using is impossible to get in real world, I’ll just wait for Bitdefender’s next decryptor to come out, etc. and went from $1,200 to $425. The lowest reported ransom I found was $350.

    Reply
  3. Pierre

    Buenas noches, tengo una duda con respecto a este virus, justo en estos momentos estoy sufriendo de contagio. La verdad no se como detenerlo. Me doy cuenta que cuando ejecuto algun programa en una carpeta no infectada este comienza a infectarse y a generar los archivos con la extencion modificada. Como detengo esto? luego puedo ocuparme de desencriptar mis datos pero por ahora como lo detengo?

    Reply
    1. Milena Dimitrova

      Hi Pierre,

      You should download an anti-virus program, update it with the latest virus definitions, disconnect your computer from the internet and clean your PC. Advice: if you have other devices connected to this network, clean them up as well.

      Reply

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