THREAT REMOVAL

GandCrab Ransomware Virus – How to Remove It

This article is made in order to best explain what is the GandCrab Ransomware infection, what are it’s versions and how to make sure and remove this ransomware virus effectively from your computer.

GandCrab ransomware is a cryptovirus for Windows machines, which aims to encrypt the files on the computers that are infected by it and then demands a ransom to be paid either in the cryptocurrency DASH or the BitCoin currency. The ransomware has been active since January 2018 and It has changed it’s versions a lot since it first started infecting computers, using new encryption algorithms, like Salsa20 and TEA(Tiny Encryption Algorithm). GandCrab ransomware has reached the point where security experts call it “The New King of Ransomware”, since the virus has been infecting users on a global scale. If your computer has been infected by GandCrab ransomware or you want to learn more about it and how you can tackle this virus, we suggest that you read this article. It contains all information available on the GandCrab ransomware and we keep it updated, since the virus is also constantly updated too.

Threat Summary

NameGandCrab
TypeRansomware
Short DescriptionGandCrab ransomware encrypts your files and you cannot open them, unless you pay a lot of cryptocurrency money to the cyber-criminals. The ransom is paid in Dash or BitCoin currencies.
SymptomsGandCrab ransomware renders the files on your computer unopenable and changes the wallaper to it’s version name. Sets an extension based on it’s variant.
Distribution MethodSpam Emails, Email Attachments, Executable files, .JS Files, Malicious Macros
Detection Tool See If Your System Has Been Affected by malware

Download

Malware Removal Tool

User ExperienceJoin Our Forum to Discuss GandCrab.
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.

GandCrab Ransomware – Update February 2019

Update! February 2019 brings good news as malware researchers from BitDefender have released a new version for their GandCrab Decryption tool, which is available from the link leading to the BitDefender GandCrab 5.1 Decryptor.

GandCrab Ransomware – How Does It Infect

For the GandCrab ransomware to be spread, the virus uses different forms of replication and infection methods. Below, we have summarised each method and we show you more about them.

Method 1: Via e-mail.

This is the most commonly used method to infect a computer with GandCrab ransomware. The virus’s infection file may be of various

file types and these file types may be uploaded in e-mails where they may pretend to be legitimate documents. Below you can see an example of such case, taking advantage of a .JS (JavaScript) file that pretends to be an image:

2019/01.28 10:40
Giovanni Price Giovanni33@4311.com
Attachment: PIC0101302924102-jpg.zip (69 KB)
E-mail Body: ;)

When the user opens the e-mail, he or she will see the file contained in an archive. When this infection file is extracted and ran, it causes the infection with GandCrab ransomware:

Another method used by GandCrab is to make it as if the JavaScript file is an actual document and this file may be contained in a .7z archive that automatically extracts and executes the virus when you open it – clever indeed.

But .JS files are not the only way of spreading GandCrab ransomware, since the malware authors have also used malicious Microsoft Office documents as well as Adobe .PDF files to infect victims. The way they use them is by disguising the actual document’s malicious nature with obuscators and infecting it with malicious Macros. These macros are basically a code that is triggered each time when you click on “Enable Content” or “Enable Editing” in a document and once this is done, infection with GandCrab is inevitable. Below, you can see how such an attack can occur over e-mail:

Method 2: Via Malicious Files Uploaded on Sites

This method is also very commonly used and we have seen GandCrab developers to use it before. As Fortinet researchers have already reported, they have detected multiple compromised WordPress websites that contained GandCrab ransoware’s infection file directly uploaded on websites that offer software cracks for the following programs:

  • Crack SysTools PST Merge 3.3
  • Crack Securitask 2005 1.40H
  • Crack Merging Image to PDF 2.8.0.4
  • Crack for Windows Password Key Enterprise 9.6.2.

Thanks to Fortinet researchers, you can see some of the screenshots of these virus sites below:

Besides cracks, other infection files may also be uploaded with new versions that are likely to appear in the future too, like fake setups, portable versions of programs, freeware app installers and many other seeming legitimate programs, that turn out to be malicious.

GandCrab Ransomware – Background and Activity

GandCrab ransomware is a very persistent threat, which has evolved with many new versions over the years. To summarise these versions, we will pay attention to the most significant changes for each version. This will better help you understand what kind of virus you are dealing with.

GandCrab Ransomware – Variants

GandCrab v1 (.GDCB)

The first version which we can call GandCrab appeared back in January, 2018. Security experts at Comodo have established that the virus encrypted victims’ files and generated a unique decryption key. The GandCrab v1 was the first ransomware to ever use DASH in a cyber-extortion scheme. The GandCrab ransomware v1 used to copy it’s malicious files in the %AppData%\Microsoft directory and then inject malicious code in the a system process, called nslookup.exe. The virus used to communicate to pv4bot.whatismyipaddress.com in order to see what is the IP on the infected PC and then run the nslookup service to connect to gandcrab.bit.a.dnspod.com, using the .bit domain. The version spread rapidly, but it did not last long. Researchers were able to devise a decryptor for the virus and shortly after that, the crooks stopped spreading the infection files.

GandCrab v2 (.CRAB)

This variant quickly came out a week after the researchers were able to decrypt the first version. It used the .CRAB extension which it added to the files, that the virus encrypted by using a brand new encryption algorithm. To spread it, researchers used spam e-mails and after an infection was done, the domains for communications used were hardcoded to ransomware.bit and zonealarm.bit.

GandCrab v3

The cyber-criminals behind GandCrab did not stop evolving and in April they have started infection campaigns featuring new version of the virus, a v3. The GandCrab v3 iteration aimed to make sure that the victims know it’s there by changing the desktop wallpaper on the compromised computers to it’s ransom note. The virus also aimed to introduce fear in victims by having scripts that were added in the RunOnce key:

→HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\RunOnce\whtsxydcvmtC:\Documents and Settings\Administrator\Application Data\Microsoft\yrtbsc.exe

These scrips aimed to switch between the wallpaper and the ransom note text file of the virus automatically in order to pressure victims into paying the ransom.

GandCrab v4

The 4th version of GandCrab ransomware was made to perform quite the activities and besides the new .KRAB extension used by it, it also added a lot of new updates and changes to it. As researchers at Comodo have found out, GandCrab v4 used the Tiny Encryption Algorithm, also known in the trade as TEA in order to avoid being detected by the cyber-criminals. The name of this cypher suggests that it is used to be very fast in encrypting files affter infection.

Besides a newly-made wallpaper, the crooks, behind GandCrab ransomware now have started using new methods to spread the virus – software cracks. As we mentioned in the “distribution” section above, the crooks uploaded cracks and once the victims downloaded and ran them, the ransomware is dropped on the PC. One malicious file was detected to pose as Crack_Merging_Image_to_PDF.exe. The virus also had added new features, like the ability to create a custom URL for it’s Tor payment page based on the unique ID of the infected computer. The virus also used to relay data from the infected machine to it’s Command and Control server and this data is also XOR encrypted for a secure communication. Not only this, but researchers believe that the virus was likely made in Russia, since it used a very specific key string, called “jopochlen”, which is a combination of two russian words.

The ransom note of GandCrab ransomware i was called KRAB-DECRYPT.txt and the virus checks for multiple Windows files and system folders which it skips encrypting If they are created in the victim machine, like it’s ransom note. GandCrab v4 did not change the file names of the encrypted files. This was the first time, where the payment page of GandCrab started appearing with an updated and new design:

Other interesting changes of the virus were that it started targeting users of older Windows OS’s, like Windows XP as well:

Related: GandCrab Ransomware Updated – Targets Windows XP and Older Servers

GandCrab v5

The 5th version of GandCrab is the most significant one and is still being used today. The ransomware virus has updated it’s wallpaper and in all of it’s v5 variants it uses random file extensions with scrambled letters. This is the most significantly changed version of the virus, since it ditched the previous encryption algorithms used by it and added the Salsa20 encryption mode. Not only this, but the cyber-criminals have also managed to find out that the ransom page of the virus was also changed to the following:

The main text file with the ransom note was also changed and is currently looking like the following:

—= GANDCRAB V5 =—

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 wallpaper of the 5.0 versions was also changed having the version, the ransom note and the extensions added to it in a red screen:

gandcrab v5 desktop ransom wallpaper sensorstechforum

The main ransom note in the wallpaper of the virus started looking like the following:

ENCRYPTED BY GANDCRAB 5.0
DEAR
YOUR FILES ARE UNDER STRONG PROTECTION BY OUR SOFTWARE IN ORDER TO RESTORE IT YOU MUST BUY DECRYPTIOR
For further steps read [extension letters].DECRYPT.html that is located in every encrypted folder.

GandCrab Ransomware – Encryption Process

The encryption of GandCrab ransomware has changed quite a bit over the years, and a lot of it’s versions have so far been decrypted:

Related: How to Decrypt Files Encrypted by GandCrab Ransomware (Free)

However, the newer v5 variants of the virus are still undetectable and researchers are still trying to make progress towards decoding files.

The encryption routing of this virus begins with the Salsa20 encryption mode which is strong and fast and is made in such way to avoid detection. The virus aims to encrypt absolutely all usable file types in Windows, besides the ones on it’s White list. Before starting the actual encryption, GandCrab ransomware checks your computer for the following data:

  • Username.
  • Name of the computer.
  • Group the computer belongs to.
  • If an antivirus is installed.
  • It’s language.
  • It’s keyboard languages.
  • Operating system information.
  • Hard Drive Information.
  • IP address.

The virus then relays the gathered information to it’s command and control server via encrypted communication modes. Then, the ransomware proceeds to encrypt all of the files on the victimized PC, where it excludes the following files and folders:

Files:
It’s ransom note {Extension}-DECRYPT.txt
Desktop.ini
Autorun.inf
Ntuser.dat
Iconcahce.db
Bootsect.bak
Boot.ini
Ntuser.dat.log
Thumbs.db
Ntl dr
NTDETECT.COM
Bootfont.bin
Folders:
\ProgramData\
\IETldcache\
\Boot\
\Program Files\
\Tor Browser\
\All Users\
\Local Settings\
\Windows\

After encryption has been completed, depending on the version it is in, GandCrab ransomware may self-delete it’s files.

Remove GandCrab Ransomware and Try to Restore Encrypted Files

We have always believed that GandCrab and Cerber ransomware were made by the same people, which means that this virus is a very advanced and persistent threat, that will likely keep terroizing computers either via this name or another one.

Either way, to remove GandCrab ransomware, you are welcome to use the manual removal methods (first two removal steps) below in combination with the information we have added in this article or you can remove GandCrab ransomware automatically by scanning your computer with an advanced anti-malware program, which is what most security experts would advise doing.

If you want to try and restore files, you may have figured out by now that the encryption used by GandCrab is quite difficult to break if your variant is not among the decryptable ones. In this case we would advise that you try using the alternative file recovery methods we have provided below in the “try to restore” step. They may not be a 100% guarantee solution for file recovery, but with their aid, you might be able to get at least some files back to normal. Last but not least, we would strongly recommend that you do a backup of GandCrab’s ransom note and encrypted files as well, because such viruses are dangerous and may break your files beyond decryption if you try to tamper with them directly.

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Ventsislav Krastev

Ventsislav is a cybersecurity expert at SensorsTechForum since 2015. He has been researching, covering, helping victims with the latest malware infections plus testing and reviewing software and the newest tech developments. Having graduated Marketing as well, Ventsislav also has passion for learning new shifts and innovations in cybersecurity that become game changers. After studying Value Chain Management, Network Administration and Computer Administration of System Applications, he found his true calling within the cybersecrurity industry and is a strong believer in the education of every user towards online safety and security.

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Attention! SensorsTechForum strongly recommends that all malware victims should look for assistance only by reputable sources. Many guides out there claim to offer free recovery and decryption for files encrypted by ransomware viruses. Be advised that some of them may only be after your money.

As a site that has been dedicated to providing free removal instructions for ransomware and malware since 2014, SensorsTechForum’s recommendation is to only pay attention to trustworthy sources.

How to recognize trustworthy sources:

  • Always check "About Us" web page.
  • Profile of the content creator.
  • Make sure that real people are behind the site and not fake names and profiles.
  • Verify Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter personal profiles.


OFFER

REMOVE IT NOW (PC)
with Anti-Malware
We recommend you to download SpyHunter and run free scan to remove all virus files on your PC. This saves you hours of time and effort compared to doing the removal yourself.
SpyHunter 5 free remover allows you, subject to a 48-hour waiting period, one remediation and removal for results found. Read EULA and Privacy Policy


Windows Mac OS X

How to Remove GandCrab from Windows.


Step 1: Boot Your PC In Safe Mode to isolate and remove GandCrab

OFFER

Manual Removal Usually Takes Time and You Risk Damaging Your Files If Not Careful!
We Recommend To Scan Your PC with SpyHunter

Keep in mind, that SpyHunter’s scanner is only for malware detection. If SpyHunter detects malware on your PC, you will need to purchase SpyHunter's malware removal tool to remove the malware threats. Read our SpyHunter 5 review. Click on the corresponding links to check SpyHunter's EULA, Privacy Policy and Threat Assessment Criteria

1. Hold Windows key() + R


2. The "Run" Window will appear. In it, type "msconfig" and click OK.


3. Go to the "Boot" tab. There select "Safe Boot" and then click "Apply" and "OK".
Tip: Make sure to reverse those changes by unticking Safe Boot after that, because your system will always boot in Safe Boot from now on.


4. When prompted, click on "Restart" to go into Safe Mode.


5. You can recognise Safe Mode by the words written on the corners of your screen.


Step 2: Uninstall GandCrab 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. To do that:


1. Hold the Windows Logo Button and "R" on your keyboard. A Pop-up window will appear.


2. In the field type in "appwiz.cpl" and press ENTER.


3. This will open a window with all the programs installed on the PC. Select the program that you want to remove, and press "Uninstall"
Follow the instructions above and you will successfully uninstall most programs.


Step 3: Clean any registries, created by GandCrab on your computer.

The usually targeted registries of Windows machines are the following:

  • HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run
  • HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run
  • HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\RunOnce
  • HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\RunOnce

You can access them by opening the Windows registry editor and deleting any values, created by GandCrab there. This can happen by following the steps underneath:

1. Open the Run Window again, type "regedit" and click OK.


2. When you open it, you can freely navigate to the Run and RunOnce keys, whose locations are shown above.


3. You can remove the value of the virus by right-clicking on it and removing it.
Tip: To find a virus-created value, you can right-click on it and click "Modify" to see which file it is set to run. If this is the virus file location, remove the value.

IMPORTANT!
Before starting "Step 4", please boot back into Normal mode, in case you are currently in Safe Mode.
This will enable you to install and use SpyHunter 5 successfully.

Step 4: Scan for GandCrab with SpyHunter Anti-Malware Tool

1. Click on the "Download" button to proceed to SpyHunter's download page.


It is recommended to run a scan before purchasing the full version of the software to make sure that the current version of the malware can be detected by SpyHunter. Click on the corresponding links to check SpyHunter's EULA, Privacy Policy and Threat Assessment Criteria.


2. After you have installed SpyHunter, wait for it to update automatically.

SpyHunter5-update-2018


3. After the update process has finished, click on the 'Malware/PC Scan' tab. A new window will appear. Click on 'Start Scan'.

SpyHunter5-Free-Scan-2018


4. After SpyHunter has finished scanning your PC for any files of the associated threat and found them, you can try to get them removed automatically and permanently by clicking on the 'Next' button.

SpyHunter-5-Free-Scan-Next-2018

If any threats have been removed, it is highly recommended to restart your PC.

Step 5 (Optional): Try to Restore Files Encrypted by GandCrab.

Ransomware infections and GandCrab aim to encrypt your files using an encryption algorithm which may be very difficult to decrypt. This is why we have suggested a data recovery method that may help you go around direct decryption and try to restore your files. Bear in mind that this method may not be 100% effective but may also help you a little or a lot in different situations.

1. Download the reccomended Data Recovery software by clicking on the link underneath:

Simply click on the link and on the website menus on top, choose Data Recovery - Data Recovery Wizard for Windows or Mac (depending on your OS), and then download and run the tool.


Windows Mac OS X

Get rid of GandCrab from Mac OS X.


Step 1: Uninstall GandCrab and remove related files and objects

OFFER
Manual Removal Usually Takes Time and You Risk Damaging Your Files If Not Careful!
We Recommend To Scan Your Mac with SpyHunter for Mac
Keep in mind, that SpyHunter for Mac needs to purchased to remove the malware threats. Click on the corresponding links to check SpyHunter’s EULA and Privacy Policy


1. Hit the ⇧+⌘+U keys to open Utilities. Another way is to click on “Go” and then click “Utilities”, like the image below shows:


2. Find Activity Monitor and double-click it:


3. In the Activity Monitor look for any suspicious processes, belonging or related to GandCrab:

Tip: To quit a process completely, choose the “Force Quit” option.


4. Click on the "Go" button again, but this time select Applications. Another way is with the ⇧+⌘+A buttons.


5. In the Applications menu, look for any suspicious app or an app with a name, similar or identical to GandCrab. If you find it, right-click on the app and select “Move to Trash”.


6: Select Accounts, after which click on the Login Items preference. Your Mac will then show you a list of items that start automatically when you log in. Look for any suspicious apps identical or similar to GandCrab. Check the app you want to stop from running automatically and then select on the Minus (“-“) icon to hide it.


7: Remove any left-over files that might be related to this threat manually by following the sub-steps below:

  • 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 GandCrab 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:

Disclaimer! If you are about to tamper with Library files on Mac, be sure to know the name of the virus file, because if you delete the wrong file, it may cause irreversible damage to your MacOS. Continue on your own responsibility!

1: Click on "Go" and Then "Go to Folder" as shown underneath:

2: Type in "/Library/LauchAgents/" and click Ok:

3: Delete all of the virus files that have similar or the same name as GandCrab. If you believe there is no such file, do not delete anything.

You can repeat the same procedure with the following other Library directories:

→ ~/Library/LaunchAgents
/Library/LaunchDaemons

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.


Step 3 (Optional): Try to Restore Files Encrypted by GandCrab.

Ransomware infections and GandCrab aim to encrypt your files using an encryption algorithm which may be very difficult to decrypt. This is why we have suggested a data recovery method that may help you go around direct decryption and try to restore your files. Bear in mind that this method may not be 100% effective but may also help you a little or a lot in different situations.

1. Download the reccomended Data Recovery software by clicking on the link underneath:

Simply click on the link and on the website menus on top, choose Data Recovery - Data Recovery Wizard for Windows or Mac (depending on your OS), and then download and run the tool.


GandCrab FAQ

What is GandCrab ransomware and how does it work?

GandCrab 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 algorithm how 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.

How does GandCrab ransomware infect my computer?

Via several ways.GandCrab Ransomware infects computers by being sent via phishing e-mails, 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.

After you download and execute this attachment, a drive-by download occurs and your computer is infected with the ransomware virus.

Another way, you may become a victim of GandCrab 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 .GandCrab files?

You can't. At this point the .GandCrab files are encrypted. You can only open them once they are decrypted.

Decryptor did not decrypt my data. What now?

Do not panic and backup the files. If a decryptor did not decrypt your .GandCrab files successfully, then do not despair, because this virus is still new.

One way to restore files, encrypted by GandCrab ransomware is to use a decryptor for it. But since it's a new virus, advised that the decryption keys for it may not be out yet and available to the public. We will update this article and keep you posted as soon as this decryptor is released.

How Do I restore ".GandCrab" files (Other Methods)?

Yes, sometimes files can be restored. We have suggested several file recovery methods that could work if you want to restore .GandCrab files.

These methods are in no way 100% guarantee that you will be able to get your files back. But if you have a backup, your chances of success are much greater.

How do I get rid of GandCrab ransomware virus?

The safest way and the most efficient one for the removal of this ransomware infection is the use a professional anti malware software. It will scan for and locate GandCrab ransomware and then remove it without causing any additional harm to your important .GandCrab files.

Also, keep in mind that viruses like GandCrab ransomware also install Trojans and keyloggers that can steal your passwords and accounts. Scanning your computer with an anti-malware software will make sure that all of these virus components are removed and your computer is protected in the future.

What to Do If nothing works?

There is still a lot you can do. If none of the above methods seem to work for you, then try these methods:

  • Try to find a safe computer from where you can can login on your own line accounts like One Drive, iDrive, Google Drive and so on.
  • Try to contact your friends, relatives and other people so that they can check if they have some of your important photos or documents just in case you sent them.
  • Also, check if some of the files that were encrypted it can be re-downloaded from the web.
  • Another clever way to get back some of your files is to find another old computer, a flash drive or even a CD or a DVD where you may have saved your older documents. You might be surprised what will turn up.
  • You can also go to your email account to check if you can send any attachments to other people. Usually what is sent the email is saved on your account and you can re-download it. But most importantly, make sure that this is done from a safe computer and make sure to remove the virus first.

More tips you can find on our forums, where you can also asks any questions about your ransomware problem.

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