This is an article that provides specific details on Horsuke ransomware infection as well as a step-by-step removal followed by alternative data recovery approaches.
Horsuke is a new strain of Scarab ransomware that is now being actively distributed via different attack vectors. The threat is still intended for file encryption as afterward, it can blackmail victims into paying a ransom for a specific decryption solution. At this point Horsuke ransomware is known to change the desktop background with a specially crafted picture and append the extension .HORSE to all encrypted files. Another trait of this new strain is the ransom note file HOW TO RECOVER ENCRYPTED FILES.txt that appears on infected hosts.
|Short Description||Encrypts valuable files stored on the compromised computer and then blackmails victims to pay a ransom in order to get them back.|
|Symptoms||Encrypted files have the extension .HORSE appended to them. A ransom note file named HOW TO RECOVER ENCRYPTED FILES.TXT appears on the screen. Desktop background is changed.|
|Distribution Method||Spam Emails, Email Attachments|
|Detection Tool|| See If Your System Has Been Affected by Horsuke |
Malware Removal Tool
|User Experience||Join Our Forum to Discuss Horsuke.|
|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.|
Horsuke Ransomware – Distribution
Necurs botnet may be used to spread spam emails that infect user systems with Horsuke ransomware. The same technique was detected to be utilized for the initial Scarab ransomware version back in November 2017. This botnet is responsible for the biggest malware spam campaigns that provide either malicious attachments with malware downloaders or links to compromised websites that host the payloads of Horsuke.
The emails that deliver Horsuke could impersonate representatives of well-known organizations and institutions in order to make you more prone to infect your PC with the ransomware. The malicious payload may be disguised as an archive file that according to the message presented in the text message is of great importance and should be reviewed as soon as possible.
For the distribution of Horsuke may be also used various freeware available across the Web. You may find them helpful but along with them you might have unnoticeably installed the malicious script that plagues the system with this nasty cryptovirus. Such unwanted effects could be prevented with a scan of all newly downloaded files with a security tool. After the scan you could decide whether it is a good idea to open them or not at all. At our forum, you could find more safety tips that will help you to prevent infections with severe ransomware threats like Horsuke.
Horsuke Ransomware – Attack Overview
Horsuke ransomware is a type of threat that could compromise some essential system settings in order to establish its persistent presence, remain undetected during the attack, and run its encryption module. To achieve persistence Horsuke is likely to drop some files that are able to access the Registry Editor. There the ransomware could add malicious values under specific registry sub-keys that manage the execution process of all important system files. Such keys are Run and RunOnce. Once Horsuke set its malicious values there, it becomes able to run automatically on each system start. The functionalities of the same keys are possibly used at the moment when the crypto virus replaces your preferred desktop wallpaper with the one associated with it. You can see how it looks like in the picture below:
The image depicts a short message that reads:
All your files have been encrypted!
If you want to restore them, write us to [email protected]
Sure enough is the fact that Horsuke ransomware primarily aims to generate revenue to hackers that stand behind the release of its attack campaigns. For the purpose it drops a ransom note message that instructs victims how to act further in case that they want to restore .HORSE files. According to the text contained in a file with name HOW TO RECOVER ENCRYPTED FILES.txt, the first step that hackers expect you as a victim to take is to contact them at the email address [email protected] so they can provide you further details on the ransom payment. The only sure thing is that they demand the ransom to be in Bitcoin. And below you can read the complete ransom message text:
Your files are now encrypted!
Your personal identifier:
All your files have been encrypted due to a security problem with your PC.
Now you should send us email with your personal identifier.
This email will be as confirmation you are ready to pay for decryption key.
You have to pay for decryption in Bitcoins. The price depends on how fast you write to us.
After payment we will send you the decryption tool that will decrypt all your files.
Contact us using this email address: [email protected]
If you don’t get a reply or if the email dies, then contact us to [email protected]
Free decryption as guarantee!
Before paying you can send us up to 3 files for free decryption.
The total size of files must be less than 10Mb (non archived), and files should not contain valuable information (databases, backups, large excel sheets, etc.).
How to obtain Bitcoins?
* The easiest way to buy bitcoins is LocalBitcoins site. You have to register, click ‘Buy bitcoins’, and select the seller by payment method and price:
* Also you can find other places to buy Bitcoins and beginners guide here:
* Do not rename encrypted files.
* Do not try to decrypt your data using third party software, it may cause permanent data loss.
* Decryption of your files with the help of third parties may cause increased price (they add their fee to our) or you can become a victim of a scam.
Apparently, they are attempting to provoke a sense of urgency in you in order to trick you into paying the ransom immediately after infection. By stating that the ransom amount depends on the contact time frame they mislead you that you will pay less for the decryption key in case that you transfer the amount right after the attack. Beware that no matter when you contact them, which we strongly advise you to avoid, there is no guarantee that the code of their nasty ransomware is working correctly and eventually they may only trick you into paying for an ineffective decryption key that won’t restore your .HORSE files.
An evidence that we noticed is that one of the previous Scarab ransomware iterations Horsia provides the same contact email address as Horsuke – [email protected], so the guesses are that either the same hackers stand behind the distribution of this new version or they work in partnership with other malicious intenders who use their ransomware code as a service. It is possible that in future we could expect new strains of the Scarab family to appear in the wild.
Horsuke Ransomware – Encryption Process
As a part of the Scarab family, Horsuke ransomware is likely to use the strong AES cipher algorithm for file encryption purposes. The encryption is triggered by its in-built module that first scans all system drives for predefined types of files among which are believed to be:
→ “PNG .PSD .PSPIMAGE .TGA .THM .TIF .TIFF .YUV .AI .EPS .PS .SVG .INDD .PCT .PDF .XLR .XLS .XLSX .ACCDB .DB .DBF .MDB .PDB .SQL .APK .APP .BAT .CGI .COM .EXE .GADGET .JAR .PIF .WSF .DEM .GAM .NES .ROM .SAV CAD Files .DWG .DXF GIS Files .GPX .KML .KMZ .ASP .ASPX .CER .CFM .CSR .CSS .HTM .HTML .JS .JSP .PHP .RSS .XHTML. DOC .DOCX .LOG .MSG .ODT .PAGES .RTF .TEX .TXT .WPD .WPS .CSV .DAT .GED .KEY .KEYCHAIN .PPS .PPT .PPTX .INI .PRF Encoded Files .HQX .MIM .UUE .7Z .CBR .DEB .GZ .PKG .RAR .RPM .SITX .TAR.GZ .ZIP .ZIPX .BIN .CUE .DMG .ISO .MDF .TOAST .VCD SDF .TAR .TAX2014 .TAX2015 .VCF .XML Audio Files .AIF .IFF .M3U .M4A .MID .MP3 .MPA .WAV .WMA Video Files .3G2 .3GP .ASF .AVI .FLV .M4V .MOV .MP4 .MPG .RM .SRT .SWF .VOB .WMV 3D .3DM .3DS .MAX .OBJ R.BMP .DDS .GIF .JPG .CRX .PLUGIN .FNT .FON .OTF .TTF .CAB .CPL .CUR .DESKTHEMEPACK .DLL .DMP .DRV .ICNS .ICO .LNK .SYS .CFG”Source:fileinfo.com
After the Advanced Encryption Standard is applied to the original code of all target files they remain out of order and only a solution that is able to revert back their code could decrypt them. One of the characteristics of all corrupted files is the specific extension .HORSE that stands at the end of their names.
Don’t get scammed to pay the ransom as there is no guarantee that you will obtain a working decryption key. Instead, try all you can do by yourself in order to overcome the problem. You can start with the guide that follows. It will help you to remove all malicious files and objects from the infected computer so you can use it in a secure manner again. As regards the restore of .HORSE data navigate to the second part of the guide where you will find some alternative data recovery methods. Good luck! And don’t forget that we are here to help. Write us in case that you have any further questions.
Remove Horsuke Ransomware and Restore .HORSE Files
The removal of Horsuke ransomware demands a bit of technical experience and ability to recognize malware files. Since there is no doubt that you should remove this nasty threat from the infected PC as quickly as possible we put down for you a step-by-step removal guide with both manual and automatic steps. Beware that Horsuke is a severe threat that plagues the whole system. And that’s why security researchers recommend the help of advanced anti-malware tool for maximum efficiency.
Once you remove Horsuke ransomware make sure to check the step “Restore Files” listed in the guide below. But before any further steps, back up all encrypted files to an external drive in order to prevent their irreversible loss.