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.santa Files Virus (Dharma) – How to Remove It

This blog post has been made to explain what is the .santa file version of Dharma ransomware and how you can remove it plus restore files, encrypted by it on your computer.

A new variant of Dharma ransomware has surfaced around the winter holidays, carrying around the .santa file extension, which it adds to the encrypted files. The virus uses the e-mail newsantaclaus@aol.com for contact with the cyber-criminals in order to extort victims to pay ransom fee for their files which are encrypted by it. If your computer has been infected by this variant of CrySiS/Dharma ransomware, we recommend that you read this article thoroughly.

Threat Summary

Name Dharma .santa Virus
Type Ransomware, Cryptovirus
Short Description Aims to encrypt the files on the computers infected by it and hold them hostage until ransom is paid by the victim to decrypt them and make them usable again.
Symptoms The main symptoms are the .santa file extension and the newsantaclaus@aol.com e-mail used by the criminals.
Distribution Method Spam Emails, Email Attachments, Executable files
Detection Tool See If Your System Has Been Affected by malware

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User Experience Join Our Forum to Discuss Dharma .santa 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.

Dharma .santa Ransomware – Distribution Methods

For the Dharma ransomware to infect a given computer, the people who spread it may use different methods of propagation. One of the most often used one is to take advantage of unsuspecting users by sending them e-mails that contain he infection file masked as a legitimate attachment, like:

  • Invoice.
  • Receipt for a purchase.
  • Banking document.
  • Other type of document.

In addition to this, Dharma ransomware may also infect users via other means, like upload the infection files on affected WordPress websites, where they may pretend to be:

  • Patches.
  • Portable programs.
  • Game cracks.
  • Software activators.
  • Key generators.

Dharma Ransomware .santa Variant – Activity

When Dharma’s .santa variant is dropped on the victim’s computer, the malware may drop its payload, which may reside in the following Windows directories:

  • %AppData%
  • %Local%
  • %LocalLow%
  • %Roaming%
  • %Temp%

When dropped, the malicious file of this ransomware may be executed and the outcome of this is that it may pefrorm the following malicious activities on the infected computer:

  • Create mutexes.
  • Create entries in the Registry Editor of Windows.
  • Delete backups.
  • Schedule tasks.
  • Disable Windows Recovery.
  • Change wallpapers.
  • Set ransom note to open automatically.
  • Modify Windows system files and objects.

The Dharma .santa ransomware may modify the Run and RunOnce Windows registry keys with the main idea to run the malicious files of the virus automatically. These sub-keys have the following Windows locations:

→ HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\

But this is not all. Dharma .santa virus may also delete the backed up files on the victims computers by executing the following commands as an administrator:

→ sc stop VVS
sc stop wscsvc
sc stop WinDefend
sc stop wuauserv
sc stop BITS
sc stop ERSvc
sc stop WerSvc
cmd.exe /C bcdedit /set {default} recoveryenabled No
cmd.exe /C bcdedit /set {default} bootstatuspolicy ignoreallfailures
C:\Windows\System32\cmd.exe” /C vssadmin.exe Delete Shadows /All /Quiet

Dharma .santa Ransomware – Encryption Process

This variant of Dharma ransomware may encrypt files that have the following file extensions:

→ .ebd, .jbc, .pst, .ost, .tib, .tbk, .bak, .bac, .abk, .as4, .asd, .ashbak, .backup, .bck, .bdb, .bk1, .bkc, .bkf,
.bkp, .boe, .bpa, .bpd, .bup, .cmb, .fbf, .fbw, .fh, .ful, .gho, .ipd, .nb7, .nba, .nbd, .nbf, .nbi, .nbu, .nco,
.oeb, .old, .qic, .sn1, .sn2, .sna, .spi, .stg, .uci, .win, .xbk, .iso, .htm, .html, .mht, .p7, .p7c, .pem, .sgn,
.sec, .cer, .csr, .djvu, .der, .stl, .crt, .p7b, .pfx, .fb, .fb2, .tif, .tiff, .pdf, .doc, .docx, .docm, .rtf,
.xls, .xlsx, .xlsm, .ppt, .pptx, .ppsx, .txt, .cdr, .jpe, .jpg, .jpeg, .png, .bmp, .jiff, .jpf, .ply, .pov, .raw,
.cf, .cfn, .tbn, .xcf, .xof, .key, .eml, .tbb, .dwf, .egg, .fc2, .fcz, .fg, .fp3, .pab, .oab, .psd, .psb, .pcx,
.dwg, .dws, .dxe, .zip, .zipx, .7z, .rar, .rev, .afp, .bfa, .bpk, .bsk, .enc, .rzk, .rzx, .sef, .shy, .snk, .accdb,
.ldf, .accdc, .adp, .dbc, .dbx, .dbf, .dbt, .dxl, .edb, .eql, .mdb, .mxl, .mdf, .sql, .sqlite, .sqlite3, .sqlitedb,
.kdb, .kdbx, .1cd, .dt, .erf, .lgp, .md, .epf, .efb, .eis, .efn, .emd, .emr, .end, .eog, .erb, .ebn, .ebb, .prefab,
.jif, .wor, .csv, .msg, .msf, .kwm, .pwm, .ai, .eps, .abd, .repx, .oxps, .dot.,/p>

In addition to this, the .santa variant od Dharma ransomware skips encrypting files if they are located in the following Windows directories, so that the victim can still use his or her computer to pay the ransom:

→ %Local%
%Temp%
%Windows%
%System%
%Program Files%
%System32%

In order to encrypt the files on the victim computer, this variant of Dharma ransomware may create copies of those files and then delete the original versions of those files. In this way, the virus ensures that it becomes very difficult to recover your encrypted files. The encrypted files have the .santa file extension and they appear like the following:

Remove Dharma Ransomware and Restore .santa Files

If you want to remove the .santa variant of Dharma ransomware, we recommend that you follow the removal instructions underneath this article. They have been divided in manual as well as automatic removal instructions with the main idea in mind of helping you delete this virus according to your skillset. If manual removal does not work for you, experts always advise removing Dharma ransomware automatically, prefferably with the aid of an advanced anti-malware software. Such tool will effectively make sure that the virus files of this infection are automatically gone from your computer by detecting all related malicious objects and removing them.

If you want to try and restore files, encrypted by this version of Dharma ransomware, we recommend that you try the file recovery methods underneath. They have been created with the main idea to help you restore as many encrypted files as possible, but they may not be a 100% guarantee to recover all the files.

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Ventsislav Krastev

Ventsislav is a cybersecurity expert at SensorsTechForum since 2015. He has been researching, covering, helping victims with the latest malware infections plus testing and reviewing software and the newest tech developments. Having graduated Marketing as well, Ventsislav also has passion for learning new shifts and innovations in cybersecurity that become game changers. After studying Value Chain Management, Network Administration and Computer Administration of System Applications, he found his true calling within the cybersecrurity industry and is a strong believer in the education of every user towards online safety and security.

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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 Anti-Malware
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 Dharma .santa Virus from Windows.


Step 1: Boot Your PC In Safe Mode to isolate and remove Dharma .santa Virus

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 Dharma .santa Virus 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 Dharma .santa Virus 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 Dharma .santa Virus 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 Dharma .santa Virus 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 Dharma .santa Virus.

Ransomware infections and Dharma .santa Virus 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 Dharma .santa Virus from Mac OS X.


Step 1: Uninstall Dharma .santa Virus 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 Dharma .santa Virus:

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 Dharma .santa Virus. 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 Dharma .santa Virus. 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 Dharma .santa Virus 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 Dharma .santa Virus. 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.


Click the button below below to download SpyHunter for Mac and scan for Dharma .santa Virus:


Download

SpyHunter for Mac



Step 3 (Optional): Try to Restore Files Encrypted by Dharma .santa Virus.

Ransomware infections and Dharma .santa Virus 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.


Dharma .santa Virus FAQ

What is Dharma .santa Virus ransomware and how does it work?

Dharma .santa Virus 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 Dharma .santa Virus ransomware infect my computer?

Via several ways.Dharma .santa Virus 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 Dharma .santa Virus 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 .Dharma .santa Virus files?

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

One way to restore files, encrypted by Dharma .santa Virus 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 ".Dharma .santa Virus" files (Other Methods)?

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

Also, keep in mind that viruses like Dharma .santa Virus 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.

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