THREAT REMOVAL

Resilient Ransomware: Locky Evades Detection through WSF Files

ransomware-sensorstechforumLocky ransomware is one of the crypto virus cases that hasn’t been solved so far and continues to evolve. No Locky decrypter is available for victims to unlock their files freely. New spam campaigns spreading Locky were just detected by TrendMicro researchers. This campaign, however, is different than previous operations, as it has adopted a new tactic – using Windows Scripting File for the arrival of the ransomware on the victim’s machine. The deployment of WSF is not something unseen, as it has already been done by another popular ransomware – Cerber. The Cerber’s campaign built on the WSF was detected in May this year, and it was quite successful.

Perhaps that’s the reason which drove Locky operators towards the inclusion of this tactic in their new campaigns.

Related: New Locky Spam Attacks! Beware of Necurs Malware

The success of WSF files is due to the fact that those files are not usually monitored for malicious activities by endpoint security solutions.

A Look into the Latest Locky Campaign Based on WSF Files

Like in previous campaigns, the ransomware is using spam emails with .ZIP files attachments. The attachments contain the WSF files.

The spam emails usually have subject lines like:

  • “bank account record”
  • “annual report”
  • “company database”

Because of the subject lines, researchers believe that the ransomware operators are targeting companies. Most of the spam emails were observed to be sent between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. UTC. This is the time when business employees start work in most European countries. Moreover, the volume of spam was much higher during the weekdays and less during the weekends. This is a clear indication that the latest Locky campaign has chosen to attack companies.

The first wave of this spam campaign was seen on July 15—with each email originating from different IP addresses. The countries that sent out the initial spam run were Serbia, Colombia, and Vietnam. Then another wave of spam runs were seen on July 18 and 19, with emails coming from countries such as Thailand and Brazil.

Why Are Ransomware Operators Using WSF Files?

First Cerber, and now Locky operators are adopting WSF files. Like we already said, Windows Scripting Files allow the ransomware to bypass security measures like sandbox analysis and blacklisting. The WSF files play the role of downloaders of the ransomware. Furthermore, WSF files enable malicious operators to download whatever malware payload they want, like with using VBScript and JavaScript.

When downloaded files have different hashes, detecting them via blacklisting becomes difficult. The samples we analyzed have properties of a “Yahoo Widget” file to pass it off as legitimate.

A Registry Key Employed to Determine the System’s Language before Dropping Locky

Besides the employment of the WSF files, this campaign has been observed to also add a registry key to determine the system’s language. This is not the first time ransomware uses registry keys to do – the same behavior was previously seen in Jigsaw, CryptoLock and Reveton ransomware.

SSH Protocol Used for the Command and Control Communication

The latest Locky is also observed to use the SSH protocol or openVPN to encrypt the network traffic. Researchers report that one of the c&c servers is from the Deep Web via a specific Tor site – zjfq4lnfbs7pncr5[.]onion[.]to.
This threat also appends the .zepto file extension. Also, the ransomware uses native APIs to change the file extension.

All proof points to the fact that the operators of this campaign are from Brazil. Researchers were able to spot the latest Locky being sold in the Brazilian underground market, which is one of the most developed and well-organized markets.

Researchers also say that they found a Facebook user sharing a specific blog post:

We also found someone (with the aliasunknown_antisec) using Facebook to share this blog post (originally posted in Trend Micro blog in Brazil) that discussed our findings about the Brazilian underground. That particular user also included a caption in Brazilian Portuguese that can be translated to, “Sup dog, they’ve got you ransomware.”

It’s not the first time Brazilian cybercriminals use social media to advertise their products and services.

Latest Locky WSF Campaign: Removal, Prevention and Conclusion

Locky is definitely evolving – initially the threat used macros, then switched to JavaScript and VBScript and currently to WSF. “With this file type, it can, by default, combine any scripting language like JScript, which was previously used by RAA for obfuscation purposes“, researchers point out.

Since this variant is able to bypass traditional and sandbox analysis, it should be stopped at the exposure layer. TrendMicro says that they were able to protect their customers at the gateway level by detecting Locky-related spam emails.

If You Have Been Infected by Locky…

The very thing every victim should do is remove the ransomware from their system. The easiest way to do so is by using an anti-malware program.

Then, victims can try and restore some of their encrypted files via data recovery software, such as:

  • Stellar Phoenix Windows Data Recovery Software
  • In the future, continuously back up your data so that it never falls victim to crypto viruses.


    Spy Hunter scanner will only detect the threat. If you want the threat to be automatically removed, you need to purchase the full version of the anti-malware tool.Find Out More About SpyHunter Anti-Malware Tool / How to Uninstall SpyHunter

    Milena Dimitrova

    Milena Dimitrova

    An inspired writer and content manager who has been with SensorsTechForum since the project started. A professional with 10+ years of experience in creating engaging content. Focused on user privacy and malware development, she strongly believes in a world where cybersecurity plays a central role. If common sense makes no sense, she will be there to take notes. Those notes may later turn into articles! Follow Milena @Milenyim

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    Windows Mac OS X Google Chrome Mozilla Firefox Microsoft Edge Safari Internet Explorer

    How to Remove from Windows.


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

    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 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 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 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 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.


    Windows Mac OS X Google Chrome Mozilla Firefox Microsoft Edge Safari Internet Explorer

    Get rid of from Mac OS X.


    Step 1: Uninstall 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 :

    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 . 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 . 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 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 . 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 files from your Mac

    When you are facing problems on your Mac as a result of unwanted scripts and programs such as , the recommended way of eliminating the threat is by using an anti-malware program. SpyHunter for Mac offers advanced security features along with other modules that will improve your Mac’s security and protect it in the future.


    Click the button below below to download SpyHunter for Mac and scan for :


    Download

    SpyHunter for Mac



    Windows Mac OS X Google Chrome Mozilla Firefox Microsoft Edge Safari Internet Explorer


    Remove from Google Chrome.


    Step 1: Start Google Chrome and open the drop menu


    Step 2: Move the cursor over "Tools" and then from the extended menu choose "Extensions"


    Step 3: From the opened "Extensions" menu locate the unwanted extension and click on its "Remove" button.


    Step 4: After the extension is removed, restart Google Chrome by closing it from the red "X" button at the top right corner and start it again.


    Windows Mac OS X Google Chrome Mozilla Firefox Microsoft Edge Safari Internet Explorer


    Erase from Mozilla Firefox.

    Step 1: Start Mozilla Firefox. Open the menu window


    Step 2: Select the "Add-ons" icon from the menu.


    Step 3: Select the unwanted extension and click "Remove"


    Step 4: After the extension is removed, restart Mozilla Firefox by closing it from the red "X" button at the top right corner and start it again.



    Windows Mac OS X Google Chrome Mozilla Firefox Microsoft Edge Safari Internet Explorer


    Uninstall from Microsoft Edge.


    Step 1: Start Edge browser.


    Step 2: Open the drop menu by clicking on the icon at the top right corner.


    Step 3: From the drop menu select "Extensions".


    Step 4: Choose the suspected malicious extension you want to remove and then click on the gear icon.


    Step 5: Remove the malicious extension by scrolling down and then clicking on Uninstall.



    Windows Mac OS X Google Chrome Mozilla Firefox Microsoft Edge Safari Internet Explorer


    Remove from Safari.


    Step 1: Start the Safari app.


    Step 2: After hovering your mouse cursor to the top of the screen, click on the Safari text to open its drop down menu.


    Step 3: From the menu, click on "Preferences".

    stf-safari preferences


    Step 4: After that, select the 'Extensions' Tab.

    stf-safari-extensions


    Step 5: Click once on the extension you want to remove.


    Step 6: Click 'Uninstall'.

    stf-safari uninstall

    A pop-up window will appear asking for confirmation to uninstall the extension. Select 'Uninstall' again, and the will be removed.


    How to Reset Safari
    IMPORTANT: Before resetting Safari make sure you back up all your saved passwords within the browser in case you forget them.

    Start Safari and then click on the gear leaver icon.

    Click the Reset Safari button and you will reset the browser.


    Windows Mac OS X Google Chrome Mozilla Firefox Microsoft Edge Safari Internet Explorer


    Eliminate from Internet Explorer.


    Step 1: Start Internet Explorer.


    Step 2: Click on the gear icon labeled 'Tools' to open the drop menu and select 'Manage Add-ons'


    Step 3: In the 'Manage Add-ons' window.


    Step 4: Select the extension you want to remove and then click 'Disable'. A pop-up window will appear to inform you that you are about to disable the selected extension, and some more add-ons might be disabled as well. Leave all the boxes checked, and click 'Disable'.


    Step 5: After the unwanted extension has been removed, restart Internet Explorer by closing it from the red 'X' button located at the top right corner and start it again.


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