A new Matrix ransomware strain has been identified in an ongoing attack processing files with the .CHE808 or .CHE80 extension. Its modular framework allows the hackers to create custom threats against specific targets. We anticipate that newer versions will be developed.
Our article provides an overview of the virus operations and it also may be helpful in attempting to remove the virus.
|Short Description||The ransomware encrypts files by placing the .CHE808 extension on your computer system and demands a ransom to be paid to allegedly recover them.|
|Symptoms||The ransomware will encrypt your files and leave a ransom note with payment instructions.|
|Distribution Method||Spam Emails, Email Attachments|
|Detection Tool|| See If Your System Has Been Affected by Matrix ransomware |
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|User Experience||Join Our Forum to Discuss Matrix 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.|
Matrix Ransomware – Distribution Tactics
Matrix ransomware samples are being delivered via several mechanisms at once. The security researchers have been able to detect the threat in a smaller attack campaign, it is believed that the first detected strains may be test versions. The large campaigns that are directed against users on a global scale can take advantage of the common technique of overseeing the creation of email SPAM messages — they are sent to the users masking as legitimate notifications sent by Internet services that they use, social networks or other Internet sites. Most of them will be designed using the familiar layout and elements coercing the users to interact with the virus code. The malware files can be either attached or linked in the body contents.
A similar strategy is the construction of fake download sites — they can mimic real-world vendor download sites, landing pages or Internet portals. The use of similar sounding domain names and security certificates which can further manipulate the users into thinking that they have come across a legitimate page.
The victims may get redirected to them through the use of scripts under various forms — redirects, pop-ups, banners, ads and in-line links. Links to the fake pages may be posted using fake or stolen profiles on social networks.
Large-scale infections may be provoked by embedding the ransomware code into payload carriers. There are two popular types that are most commonly used in these attacks:
- Macro-infected Documents — The criminals can embed the virus installation code into documents via macros. This can be done with any one of the popular types: rich text documents, spreadsheets, presentations and databases. When they are opened by the users a prompt will be spawned asking them to enable the built-in macros. If this is done the threat will be deployed.
- Malware Software Installers — A similar method is the creation of malicious application installers. The criminals will take the legitimate setup files and modify them with the relevant virus installation code. Usually popular choices are the most common carriers — creativity suites, productivity solutions and system utilities.
These payload carriers may also be distributed via file-sharing networks such as BitTorrent. It is often used to spread pirate content, including documents and software installers. As such this is a popular outlet for spreading the payload carriers.
Large-scale infections can be made through malicious browser plugins which are alternatively known as hijackers. They are created by the hackers with the intention of fooling the users that they are downloading and installing a legitimate extension that will optimize their browsers or add new functionality. They are uploaded to the relevant plugin repositories with fake developer credentials and user reviews. When they are installed on the infected machines usually the first step would be to modify the default settings in order to redirect the users to a hacker-controlled page: default page, search engine and new tabs page. Following this the virus will be automatically downloaded and installed onto the system.
Matrix Ransomware – In-Depth Analysis
Once the infection is started the Matrix ransomware strain will initiate its built-in behavior pattern. Like previous versions we assume that the default options will be included. This means that one of the first components that are started is the data extraction one. It can harvest sensitive data including ones that can expose the victim’s identity. This is done by looking out for strings such as their name, address, phone number, interests, location and any stored account credentials. The engine can also harvest metrics that can be used to optimize the attacks by harvesting hardware reports and information about the user settings and operating system values.
The harvested information can be processed by another module called stealth protection. It will scan the system for signs of security software and services that can directly interfere with the virus execution. The list includes the likes of anti-virus programs, virtual machine hosts and debug environments. They can be either disabled (blocked) or entirely removed allowing the malicious engine full system access.
When this step is complete the Matrix Ransomware engine will be able to deploy all of its components and begin the real infection. The modular framework allows the criminals to create custom iterations. We anticipate that once the security software are bypassed the engine will start to hook up to system processes, create ones of its own and acquire administrative privileges. At this point the module will have total control of the system allowing it to launch any other module as desired.
One of the first modules that are launched after the system has been infiltrated is the Windows Registry manipulation one. It can create strings associated with the infection or manipulate the ones belonging to the operating system or individual applications. This can lead to severe performance issues and the inability to run certain functions or services.
The creation of strings that are used by the ransomware is related to the set up of a persistent installation. What this means is that the malicious engine will be started every time the computer is powered. A side effect of this is the inability to enter into the boot recovery menu. This will render most manual removal options useless, in such cases the victim users will need to rely on a professional-grade anti-spyware solution. To make recovery more difficult the criminals may also delete files such as the System Restore Points and Shadow Volume Copies. They can only be recovered by a data recovery software.
Some Matrix Ransomware samples like this one can be the carriers of a Trojan component. Like other similar threats it will connect to a hacker-controlled server which will allow the operators to have full access to the infected systems. Such can directly spy on the victim users, take over control of the machines at any given time and deploy other threats. A particularly popular option is the deployment of cryptocurrency miners. They take advantage of the available system resources in order to carry out complex calculations. When the results are posted to the servers digital currency in the form of Bitcoin, Monero and other similar forms will be wired to the hacker’s wallets. Additionally the hosts can be recruited to a worldwide botnet that can be used to attack other hosts — either local ones or far away computers in other countries.
Matrix Ransomware – Encryption Process
Once all prior components have executed correctly the encryption module will be started. Similar to older Matrix ransomware versions it will use a built-in list of target data. An example list can process the following file types:
There are two distinct versions of the Matrix ransomware — either .CHE808 or .CHE80. The detected samples will rename the processed files according to the following formula — [contact-email.random-extensions.CHE808/CHE80]. This means that there are three components that are used to affect the files: a hacker’s contact email address (taken from the ransomware note), a random extensions which may be based upon the UUD (unique user ID) taken by the data harvesting component and the final extension. The two extensions (.CHE808 and .CHE80) might be used as campaign labels indicating the current attack campaign.
Remove Matrix Ransomware Virus and Restore .CHE808Files
If your computer got infected with the Matrix ransomware virus, you should have a bit of experience in removing malware. You should get rid of this ransomware as quickly as possible before it can have the chance to spread further and infect other computers. You should remove the ransomware and follow the step-by-step instructions guide provided below.