Remove Matrix Ransomware and Restore .ITLOCK Files

Remove Matrix Ransomware and Restore .ITLOCK Files

Security reports indicate that a new iteration of the Matrix ransomware has been identified processing the victim files with the .ITLOCK extension.

Our article provides an overview of the virus operations and it also may be helpful in attempting to remove the virus.

Threat Summary

NameMatrix Ransomware
TypeRansomware, Cryptovirus
Short DescriptionThe ransomware encrypts files by placing the .ITLOCK extension on your computer system and demands a ransom to be paid to allegedly recover them.
SymptomsThe ransomware will encrypt your files and leave a ransom note with payment instructions.
Distribution MethodSpam Emails, Email Attachments
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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.

Matrix Ransomware – Distribution Tactics

The .ITLOCK Matrix ransomware variant is a new custom variant that is derived from the well-known virus family. As such we presume that the hackers are going to use the typical distribution tactics like previous iterations. As there is a fairy low number of found infections we presume that the captured samples are test versions or the initial limited release.

A typical infection will make use of phishing email messages that are designed to imitate well-known Internet sites or services that the users might use. The criminals often use templates for password reset notifications, software updates and other messages that require some kind of a user interaction. The malicious files can be directly attached or linked in the body contents.

Matrix ransomware infections can also be caused by interacting with fake download sites which are created in a similar way. They can impersonate the vendor download pages of well-known applications or use other social engineering techniques.

Matrix ransomware strains be embedded in infected payload carriers of which there are two popular types:

  • Documents — There are many examples that can be used to cause infections utilizing the most common types: spreadsheets, presentations, rich text documents and databases. Upon opening them the victim user will be shown a notification box asking them to enable the built-in scripts. If this is done the macros will trigger the ransomware deployment.
  • Application Installers — A similar technique is the inclusion of the virus code in hacker-modified setup files of popular software. They are distributed using the same tactics used by the hackers to solitary virus files.

Both the Matrix ransomware files and its many carrier forms can be spread on various file-sharing networks like BitTorrent. They are frequently used to distribute pirate content or image files of Linux distributions.

Large-scale infections can be caused by the upload of dangerous web browser plugins, alternatively known as hijackers or redirects. They are made compatible with the most popular web browsers and are uploaded to their respective repositories. They are accompanied by elaborate descriptions with promises of enhancing the software — adding new functionality or optimizing the already existing base. Fake user reviews and developer credentials are employed to further convince the victims into installing them. When this is done the built-in code will reconfigure the software into redirecting the users to a hacker-controlled page, the most important settings are altered: the default home page, new tabs page and search engine. Following this the virus will be deployed.

Matrix Ransomware – In-Depth Analysis

The .ITLOCK Matrix ransomware follows the typical behavior pattern used by previous versions. This means that the modular framework can be fine tuned to follow different patterns depending on the exact campaign. Usually the first module that is run afterwards is the data harvesting component. Depending on its configuration it can hijack data that can be used by the hackers to optimize the attacks — a report on the installed hardware components, user settings and operating system values. Additional information can be extracted which can be used to expose the identity of the victims by revealing their name, address, location, interests and any stored account credentials. The information may be collected and sent to the operators automatically or archived in a secure location and accessed at a later stage.

This data can then be processed by another module called stealth protection which can scan the victim system for any security software or services that can interfere with the correct virus execution. This is usually done by using signatures to scan for anti-virus engines, sandbox environments and virtual machine hosts. Their real-time engines can be bypassed or the software completely deleted.

When these two components have finished execution the Matrix ransomware the main engine will have complete control of the victim system. This leads to the ability to cause various system modifications including the following:

  • Persistent Installation — The main engine can be installed in a persistent way. The results from this action are that it will be started automatically once the users power on their systems. This action can prevent certain system processes and user-installed applications from running properly. In some cases this can also prevent access to the recovery boot menu.
  • Windows Registry Changes — Matrix ransomware samples may be programmed to modify the Windows Registry entries belonging both to user-installed applications and the operating system itself. This can cause a significant drop in performance and make the infected systems very unstable. Certain services or functions can become unusable.
  • Files Manipulation — One of the most common consequences of having a Matrix ransomware infections is the deletion of Shadow Volume Copies and Restore Points which makes recovery more difficult.

If configured so some Matrix ranasomware can lead to a Trojan infection. The default behavior is for the malicious engine to download and execute a client instance. It will set up a secure connection to a hacker-controlled server. It allows the hacker operators to take over control of the infected victims, steal their files and spy on the victims.

Other modules can be added as desired depending on the hacker configuration.

Matrix Ransomware – Encryption Process

Matrix ransomware strains engage in the typical encryption behavior. It will process user data according to a built-in list of target file type extensions. An example list can target the following file types:

  • Archives
  • Backups
  • Databases
  • Images
  • Music
  • Videos

As a result all victim files will be renamed with the .ITLOCK extension. A generic ransomware note will be created in a file called !ITLOCK_README!.rtf which will blackmail the victims into paying the criminals a fee for “restoring their files”. In reality they will ignore the infected hosts and just take the money.

Advanced versions can also lead to a deployment of a lockscreen which will actively block the ability to use the computer until the infection is completely removed.

Remove Matrix Ransomware and Restore .ITLOCK Files

If your computer system 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.

Note! Your computer system may be affected by Matrix Ransomware and other threats.
Scan Your PC with SpyHunter
SpyHunter is a powerful malware removal tool designed to help users with in-depth system security analysis, detection and removal of Matrix Ransomware.
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.

To remove Matrix Ransomware follow these steps:

1. Boot Your PC In Safe Mode to isolate and remove Matrix Ransomware files and objects
2. Find files created by Matrix Ransomware on your PC

Use SpyHunter to scan for malware and unwanted programs

3. Scan for malware and unwanted programs with SpyHunter Anti-Malware Tool
4. Try to Restore files encrypted by Matrix Ransomware

Martin Beltov

Martin graduated with a degree in Publishing from Sofia University. As a cyber security enthusiast he enjoys writing about the latest threats and mechanisms of intrusion.

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