This article explains the issues that occur when .USA files virus infects a target system. It also provides a step-by-step guide on how to remove malicious files and how to potentially recover files encrypted by this ransomware.
A data locker ransomware dubbed after the extension it uses to mark corrupted files .USA files virus has been spotted in the wild. As identified by security researchers it belongs to the infamous Dharma ransomware family. In case of infection with this threat, you all your important files will remain inaccessible until their code is reverted back to original state. Once they are encrypted they will appear with the specific extension .USA at the end of their names. In addition, a ransom message will load on the screen to extort a ransom fee.
|Name||.USA Files Virus|
|Short Description||A version of the CrySyS/Dharma ransomware that is designed to encrypt valuable files stored on infected computers and then extort a ransom from victims.|
|Symptoms||Important files are encrypted and renamed with the extension .USA A ransom note appears on PC screen to present ransom payment instructions.|
|Distribution Method||Spam Emails, Email Attachments|
|Detection Tool|| See If Your System Has Been Affected by .USA Files Virus |
Malware Removal Tool
|User Experience||Join Our Forum to Discuss .USA Files Virus.|
|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.|
.USA Files Virus (Dharma) – Distribution
Security researchers’ reports indicate that this .USA Dharma ransomware is currently circling around the net in active attack campaigns. Attack campaigns could be set against users worldwide. As of the distribution channels used by hackers they are likely to be some of the most common ones such as malspam, malvertising, freeware installers, corrupted web pages, fake software updates, and other.
The most probable one remains the malspam. It is a technique that enables hackers to deliver their malicious code on users’ devices with the help of specially crafted emails. Such emails usually contain one or more of the following components:
- A link to compromised web page that is set to download and execute infection files directly on the PC. The URL address to this page may be presented in the form of an in-text link, banner, image, button or full URL address.
- A malicious file attachment that is presented as legitimate document by the text message. It could be uploaded in a .rar or .zip archive. Such a file could be set to evade active security measures and trick you into running the ransomware on your PC.
Additional spread techniques that may be currently spreading this sample of Dharma ransomware are fake software installers, fake update notifications, compromised software setups, files shared on forums and other techniques may download and activate the ransomware module.
.USA Files Virus (Dharma) – Overview
The .USA files virus is a nasty ransomware infection that plagues computer systems in order to reach users’ files and encode them with the help of sophisticated cipher algorithm. According to analyses conducted by security researchers, it is a strain of the infamous Dharma ransomware.
In order that the infection process with .USA cryptovirus could begin, the ransomware payload should be started on the system. The moment this happens, the threat becomes able to contaminate various system settings that will eventually help it to reach data encryption stage.
In addition to the payload file that contains a set of different commands, several other malicious files are likely to be established during the attack. The locations of these files may be some of the following system folders:
Beware that if you choose to remove this ransomware manually, you may not be able to find all malicious files and objects created on your infected system. On one hand, .USA files virus could name some of its files after legitimate system files. On the other hand, after acquiring administrative rights it could hide them somewhere deep on the system. And in case that some of its associated files remain on the system, they will continue endangering the security of your device and data.
By executing its malicious files in a strictly defined order, .USA Dharma ransomware becomes able to manipulate the functionalities of various system components which eventually enables it to evade detection while passing through its different infection stages. One system component that is probably set as a target of this ransomware is the Registry Editor or its Run and RunOnce keys in particular. This could be explained by the fact that these registry keys manage the automatic execution of all files listed under their directories:
So once .USA files virus has its malicious values there, it starts loading them on every next system power on. Another reason for the contamination of the registry key RunOnce is the automatic display of a ransom note. This usually happens at the end of the attack.
The purpose of this note is to extort a ransom payment for the recovery of encrypted files. At this point, it is only clear that hackers present the email firstname.lastname@example.org for contact. No matter of the amount of the demanded ransom, we advise you to avoid transferring it to hackers as this action does not guarantee the recovery of .USA files. Keep reading to find some alternative methods that are secure and may be useful as well.
.USA Files Virus (Dharma) – Encryption Process
Like some previous versions of Dharma ransomware (.combo, .adobe, .bkp, etc.), Dharma .USA crypto virus primary goal is to reach data encryption stage. During this stage it activates a built-in encryption module that utilizes a single cipher algorithm or a combination of two cipher algorithms to encode target types of files.
Following encryption, valuable files become inaccessible due to significant changes in their original code. Unfortunately, all of your important files could be affected by the ransomware including all your:
- Audio files.
- Image files.
- Banking files.
Corrupted files could be recognized by the distinctive extension .USA appended to their names. Your access to information stored by .USA files is restricted and that’s why hackers attempt to blackmail you into paying a ransom for decryption tool. However, there is no guarantee that they could provide you with a working solution as the code of their threat could be broken. So what we could recommend you is the help of alternative data recovery methods some of which are available in our removal guide.
Remove .USA Files Virus and Restore Data
This Dharma ransomware strain associated with .USA extension is a threat with highly complex code that plagues not only your files but your whole system. So you should properly clean and secure your infected system before you could use it regularly again. Below you could find a step-by-step removal guide that may be helpful in attempting to remove this ransomware. Choose the manual removal approach if you have previous experience with malware files. If you don’t feel comfortable with the manual steps select the automatic section from the guide. Steps there enable you to check the infected system for ransomware files and remove them with a few mouse clicks.
In order to keep your system safe from ransomware and other types of malware in future, you should consider the installation of a reliable anti-malware program. As an additional security layer that could prevent the occurrence of ransomware attacks you could install ananti-ransomware tool.
If you want to understand how to potentially fix encrypted files with the help of alternative data recovery approaches, make sure to read carefully all details mentioned in the step “Restore files”. We remind you that before you begin with the data recovery process, you should back up all encrypted files to an external drive as this will help you to prevent their irreversible loss.