THREAT REMOVAL

This article aims to look into CERBER 2017 ransomware and show you how to remove it from your computer and try to get encrypted files back.

The notorious CERBER ransomware has just received its first major update since 2017 and is now using “_HELP_DECRYPT_{RANDOM}.hta” in addition to the older “_{RANDOM}_README_.hta” file. Even though the new version does not show it, the update was incremental and the virus has changed the way it spreads and some elements in post-infection activity as well. Keep reading in order to learn more about what the new variant of the virus has in stock for future victims of this year.

Threat Summary

NameCERBER
TypeRansomware Virus
Short DescriptionThis Cerber ransomware variant encrypts files with the RSA-512 cipher and an RC4 encryption algorithm adding four randomly generated A-Z 0-9 characters(ex. .z33f) as a file extension to the encrypted files and asks a ransom payoff for decryption.
SymptomsFiles are enciphered and become inaccessible by any type of software. A ransom note with instructions for paying the ransom shows as a _{random}_README_.hta,_HELP_DECRYPT_{RANDOM}.hta or _HELP_HELP_HELP_{RANDOM}.hta files. Also adds the following audio message after encryption:
Distribution MethodSpam Emails, Email Attachments, File Sharing Networks, Malicious Executable in Torrent Trackers.
Detection Tool See If Your System Has Been Affected by malware

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User ExperienceJoin our forum to Discuss Cerber Ransomware.
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.

2017 CERBER Ransomware – Update August 2017

On the 2nd of August, a new malware spreading campaign has been discovered – one involving the Magnitude Exploit Kit. The EK delivers this Red variant of Cerber ransomware, by first extracting a payload file. Magnitude EK exploits a vulnerability in Flash, and then uses port 80 for communicating with URLs and domains associated with the malware.

Update March 2017 – Red CERBER ransomware now in a new variant. Uses the _READ_THIS_FILE_{random}.hta ,.jpg and .txt files. Read more about the latest CERBER virus here: Red CERBER 2017 Virus (_READ_THIS_FILE_ Update) – Restore Files

CERBER ransomware keeps spreading this variant of it across the world with minimal changes. In June 2017 the ransom note is now named “_R_E_A_D___T_H_I_S_[random]_.txt” and its first line is “Hi, I’am CERBER RANSOMWARE :)“. The wallpaper reatains the red coloring and style of the original RED CERBER. Files are encrypted with random extensions and their names also have random symbols replacing the original name. Other than that, no other changes seem to be implemented and the encryption process remains as strong as ever.

2017 CERBER Ransomware’s Distribution

For the new ransomware variant of CERBER to be widespread, the virus uses a powerful combination of the:

  • Nemucod downloader.
  • RIG-V exploit kit.

To successfully infect users with the payload, the distribution strategy to spread the malicious file has also changed. Now, CERBER has been detected in a .js dropper file which causes infection by inserting malicious javascript file concealed in what appears to be a fake document with a random name, for example:

  • DOC442392930-PDF_23ruf39.js

The file may be in a .zip or a .rar archive and accompanied to it may be various e-mail messages that aim to convince the unsuspecting user to open the file. One of the examples spotted in association with CERBER ransomware is the following malicious e-mail sent to a victim:

After the user opens the malicious attachment, CERBER gets down to business and begins to download one of the following malicious files detected at infosec:

  • 1.exe with 3e4798c2b808b7dbad7f80b397dc97df
  • 124.exe with 9c73dfc02bf01fc1da8efc349d23646b
  • read.php?f=0.dat with d958463bf73128114b59c3f9a65bfc19
  • 4DUi5.exe with 794a556c1a98f70673a5ba3ed791382f
  • user.php?f=1.dat with 8abc023a9ebb7188881fabb747b4f68d

After those files have been downloaded onto the user’s computer, the ransomware virus begins to prepare to encrypt files. To do this, the virus performs series of activities:

  • Drops files that resemble clean files.
  • Reads the trust settings on Windows.
  • Scans for names and processes and creates new processes.
  • Drops multiple files (one of each – .bmp, .js, .jpg, .hta, .svg, .dll, .tmp files)
  • Modifies wscript.exe to modify files in %System32% and %Microsoft Directories%. Amongst the modified files are – rsaenh.dll, WScript.exe, WScript.exe.mui, sortdefault.nls, wshom.ocx, stdole2.tlb, KERNELBASE.dll.mui, msxml3.dll

Interestingly enough, CERBER ransomware is updated so that it won’t delete the shadow volume copies of the infected computer, so in case you have set up file history, you can use the shadow volume copy method from the instructions below to restore your files.

After encryption of the files, the situation is rather the same, like with the previously updated Red CERBER Ransomware variant.

The virus also drops the very same ransom note it usually uses:

It also drops it’s original .hta file which has the same message, no changes there.

2017 CERBER Ransomware – The Bottom Line and How to Remove

In conclusion, CERBER has become a little less dangerous, since it no longer deletes shadow volume copies, but the virus has been configured to infect even more users, by using a harder to detect Nemucod downloader and the latest RIG-V exploit kit. On top of that CERBER ransomware still uses the same strong encryption combination. However, not paying the ransom and removing the virus is still advisable.

If you want to remove CERBER Ransomware completely, but you do not like paying the ransom to cyber-criminals, please see the removal tutorial below. It is designed to help you scan for and delete the virus fully, plus it offers several file restoration alternatives that might save your files concerning this virus.

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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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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 Spy Hunter
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 CERBER from Windows.


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

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 CERBER 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 CERBER 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 CERBER 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 CERBER 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 CERBER.

Ransomware infections and CERBER 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 CERBER from Mac OS X.


Step 1: Uninstall CERBER 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 CERBER:

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 CERBER. 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 CERBER. 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 CERBER 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 CERBER. 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 CERBER on your Mac.

Ransomware for Mac CERBER aims to encode all your files using an encryption algorithm which may be very difficult to decode, unless you pay money.

This is why we have suggested a data recovery method that may help you go around direct decryption and try to restore your files, but only in some cases. 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 recommended Data Recovery Mac app by clicking on the link underneath:


CERBER FAQ

What is CERBER ransomware and how does it work?

CERBER 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 CERBER ransomware infect my computer?

Via several ways.CERBER 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 CERBER 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 .CERBER files?

You can't. At this point the .CERBER 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 .CERBER files successfully, then do not despair, because this virus is still new.

One way to restore files, encrypted by CERBER 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 ".CERBER" files (Other Methods)?

Yes, sometimes files can be restored. We have suggested several file recovery methods that could work if you want to restore .CERBER 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 CERBER 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 CERBER ransomware and then remove it without causing any additional harm to your important .CERBER files.

Also, keep in mind that viruses like CERBER 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.

3 Comments

  1. Avatarvikas jain

    Hi,

    How can I recover my cerber 3 infected files. Need guidance.

    Reply
    1. SensorsTechForumSensorsTechForum

      Hello vikas,

      Unfortunately, there is no official decrypter for this version of Cerber. The only version of the ransomware that can be decrypter is the original one. Instructions here: http://sensorstechforum.com/decrypt-encrypted-files-cerber-ransomware/

      As for your files, you can try and restore them with the help of data recovery software.

      Reply
      1. AvatarDanilo

        infected by red cerber.
        Extensions file changed in .8eee
        Any kind of news for decrypt?
        Thanks
        Danilo

        Reply

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