What researchers believe to be a variant of the notorious HDDCryptor malware family has hit the Muni subway system of San Francisco. The hack resulted in over 2,000 systems to become compromised and their hard drives to be encrypted. The ransomware displayed a short message on boot screen, linking to the e-mail email@example.com. Then, the cyber-criminals demanded over 73 thousand dollars to be paid as a ransom to restore access to the systems on the subway. This is yet another case of how IoT (Internet of Things) can impact our daily lives.
|Short Description||The malware encrypts the hard drive of the user with a custom password, denying all access to it. It asks for 100 BTC ransom payment to send a password for encryption.|
|Symptoms||On system boot displays the following ransom note – “You Hacked, ALL Data Encrypted, Contact For Key (firstname.lastname@example.org) ID:”|
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|User Experience||Join our forum to Discuss Cryptom Ransomware.|
|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.|
The Cryptom Ransomware Attacked Different Systems
Not only systems within the Municipal Transport Agency of San Francisco’s subway were infected. The ransomware managed to impact many other related systems as well, such as administrative computers, systems for payment, SQL database computers, terminals and kiosks. The malware has most likely been coded by someone with experience because it had a worm-like capability to spread across different types of devices, suggesting the sophistication behind it. Not only this but other computers, even including Macs and other PC’s were also hit, rising the number of infected devices to roughly 8,500.
What Does Cryptom Ransowmare Do
The goal of Cryptom is to generate profit at the user’s expense. The attack by the virus may portray a worm-like behavior, which means it spreads from an infected device to an infected device, raising some serious security issues in various IoT devices.
After infecting a given machine, the ransomware does not just encrypt the files on the compromised device. Instead, it focuses on performing various tasks oriented with attacking the MBR (Master Boot Record) which if overridden, allows it to directly encrypt the SSD or HDD on the compromised device.
After this encryption process is complete, the ransomware generates a unique unlock key via it’s encryption mechanism which will allow for the successful deciphering of the encrypted data. And Cryptom finally generates a boot message saying the drive is encrypted:
The Origins of HDDCryptor
Similar to other HDDCryptor variant, Mamba Ransomware, Cryptom may exhibit the same behavior. The sole idea for this specific file encryption malware is using coding skills to generate a sophisticated ransomware virus by taking the source code from open source program, known as DiskCryptor which is originally used for protection of hard drives.
It is believed that not only the ransomware creates multiple files on the main logical drive of the infected computer, but it also uses those files to obtain administrative privileges. This is used most likely for Cryptom to create a new user on the compromised device and then most likely use the following ciphers to encrypt the hard drive:
- AES-512 encryption algorithm
- XTS encryption mode
What is The Impact
Thousands of devices in the SF subway and bus network were rebooted with the ransom message on them. Upon contacting the e-mail address the cyber-criminals responded that their software infects automatically and they did not expect any ransom to be paid. But either way they demanded the insane ransom amount of approximately 100 BTC for the payoff.
The impact of this infection is that the SF public transport organization was pushed into opening the gates for access to the subway, allowing everyone to ride for free.
Cryptom Ransomware – Predictions, Protection and Removal
Given in consideration that cities, like San Francisco’s transport system is interconnected, this is what allowed for the Cryptom virus to spread so quickly. Even the cyber-criminals have admitted that this was not their initial target. However, we could be seeing more and more ransomware attacks on interconnected devices impacting our daily life, like ATM’s, security cameras, parking meters and every other device with an OS and a screen belonging to the same network.
In case you have been infected by this ransomware virus, we urge you to be extremely careful in what you are doing. HDD encryptors have been around for quite some time and viruses, like “Petya” and “Mischa” have proven that they work. As soon as you see the ransom note, the first step we advise you to take is to unplug your HDD from the device immediately. To learn how to do this, you can follow our instructions (step 1 to step 3 in the “Decryption Phase”) in the article below:
After extracting the hard drive, it is recommended to not tamper with it in any way and wait until malware researchers come up with a solution, immediately after which we will update this article with a web link to the solution itself.
In the mean-time the best thing you can do to increase protection is to make a system consisting of protection tools and a security oriented behavior. Here is what we suggest you to do:
1. Read our ransomware protection tips.
2. Read our research on how to safely store your files to protect them from ransomware viruses in general.
3. Download an advanced anti-malware tool that will help increase general malware and exploit protection:
4. Download the Talos’s tool which aims to protect the MBR from ransomwareand other viruses.
- Guide 1: How to Remove Cryptom from Windows.
- Guide 2: Get rid of Cryptom from Mac OS X.
- Guide 3: Remove Cryptom from Google Chrome.
- Guide 4: Erase Cryptom from Mozilla Firefox.
- Guide 5: Uninstall Cryptom from Microsoft Edge.
- Guide 6: Remove Cryptom from Safari.
- Guide 7: Eliminate Cryptom from Internet Explorer.
How to Remove Cryptom from Windows.
Step 1: Boot Your PC In Safe Mode to isolate and remove Cryptom
Step 2: Uninstall Cryptom 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.
Step 3: Clean any registries, created by Cryptom on your computer.
The usually targeted registries of Windows machines are the following:
You can access them by opening the Windows registry editor and deleting any values, created by Cryptom there. This can happen by following the steps underneath:
Get rid of Cryptom from Mac OS X.
Step 1: Uninstall Cryptom and remove related files and objects
1. Hit the ⇧+⌘+U keys to open Utilities. Another way is to click on “Go” and then click “Utilities”, like the image below shows:
- 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 Cryptom 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:
You can repeat the same procedure with the following other Library directories:
Tip: ~ is there on purpose, because it leads to more LaunchAgents.
Step 2: Scan for and remove Cryptom files from your Mac
When you are facing problems on your Mac as a result of unwanted scripts and programs such as Cryptom, 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.
Remove Cryptom 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.
Erase Cryptom 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.
Uninstall Cryptom 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.
Remove Cryptom 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".
Step 4: After that, select the 'Extensions' Tab.
Step 5: Click once on the extension you want to remove.
Step 6: Click 'Uninstall'.
A pop-up window will appear asking for confirmation to uninstall the extension. Select 'Uninstall' again, and the Cryptom will be removed.
Eliminate Cryptom 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.