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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 (email@example.com) 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.
Step 1: Boot Your PC In Safe Mode to isolate and remove Cryptom
Step 2: Uninstall Cryptom and related malware 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:
Step 4: Scan for Cryptom with SpyHunter Anti-Malware Tool
Ransomware Automatic Removal - Video Guide
Step 5 (Optional): Try to Restore Files Encrypted by Cryptom.
Ransomware infections and Cryptom 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.
Simply click on the link and on the website menus on the top, choose Data Recovery - Data Recovery Wizard for Windows or Mac (depending on your OS), and then download and run the tool.
What is Cryptom Ransomware?
Cryptom 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 algorithms 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.
Can Cryptom Ransomware Damage My Computer?
Yes, ransomware can damage your computer. Ransomware is a malicious software that is designed to block access to your computer or files until a ransom is paid. It can encrypt your files and make them inaccessible, preventing you from using your computer or accessing your data. Ransomware can also damage your system, corrupt data and delete files, resulting in the permanent loss of important files.
Should I Ignore Ransomware, like Cryptom?
No, you should never ignore ransomware. Ransomware can encrypt your data and block access to your computer, making it impossible to access your files until you pay a ransom. Ignoring ransomware could lead to the permanent loss of your data, as well as the potential for the ransomware to spread to other computers on your network. Additionally, paying the ransom does not guarantee that your data will be recovered. The best way to protect yourself is to invest in robust cyber security measures, such as backup solutions and anti-malware software.
How Does Cryptom Ransomware Infect My Computer?
Via several ways.Cryptom Ransomware infects computers by being sent via phishing emails, 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 Cryptom 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 .Cryptom files?
You can't. At this point, the .Cryptom files are encrypted. You can only open them once they are decrypted.
What to Do If Ransomware Decryptor Does Not Work?
Do not panic, and backup the files. If a decryptor did not decrypt your .Cryptom files successfully, then do not despair, because this virus is still new.
One way to restore files, encrypted by Cryptom ransomware is to use a decryptor for it. But since it's a new virus, be 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.
Can I Restore ".Cryptom" Files (Other Methods)?
Yes, sometimes files can be restored. We have suggested several file recovery methods that could work if you want to restore .Cryptom files.
These methods are in no way 100% guaranteed 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 Cryptom Ransomware Virus?
The safest way and the most efficient one for the removal of this ransomware infection is the use a professional anti-malware program. It will scan for and locate Cryptom ransomware and then remove it without causing any additional harm to your important .Cryptom files.
Also, keep in mind that viruses like Cryptom ransomware also install Trojans and keyloggers that can steal your passwords and accounts. Scanning your computer with 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 I Cannot Recover Ransomware Encrypted Files?
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.
How to Report Ransomware to Authorities?
In case your computer got infected with a ransomware infection, you can report it to the local Police departments. It can help authorities worldwide track and determine the perpetrators behind the virus that has infected your computer. Below, we have prepared a list with government websites, where you can file a report in case you are a victim of a cybercrime:
Cyber-security authorities, responsible for handling ransomware attack reports in different regions all over the world:
Germany - Offizielles Portal der deutschen Polizei
United States - IC3 Internet Crime Complaint Centre
United Kingdom - Action Fraud Police
France - Ministère de l'Intérieur
Italy - Polizia Di Stato
Spain - Policía Nacional
Netherlands - Politie
Poland - Policja
Portugal - Polícia Judiciária
Greece - Cyber Crime Unit (Hellenic Police)
India - Mumbai Police - CyberCrime Investigation Cell
Australia - Australian High Tech Crime Center
Reports may be responded to in different timeframes, depending on your local authorities.
Can You Prevent Cryptom Ransomware from Encrypting Your Files?
Yes, you can prevent ransomware. The best way to do this is to ensure your computer system is updated with the latest security patches, use a reputable anti-malware program and firewall, backup your important files frequently, and avoid clicking on malicious links or downloading unknown files. In addition, it is also important to keep your passwords secure and to avoid visiting websites or downloading applications from untrusted sources. Finally, ensure you have adequate backup and recovery procedures in place to restore your system to its pre-attack state, should a ransomware attack occur.
Can Cryptom Ransomware Steal Your Data?
Yes, in most cases ransomware will steal your information. It is a form of malware that steals data from a user's computer, encrypts it, and then demands a ransom in order to decrypt it. In many cases, the malware authors or attackers will threaten to delete the data or publish it online unless the ransom is paid. This means that if a user is infected with ransomware, their data can be stolen and held for ransom. It is important to be aware of this threat and take precautions to protect yourself and your data.
Can Ransomware Affect WiFi?
Yes, ransomware can affect WiFi networks, as malicious actors can use it to gain control of the network, steal confidential data, and lock out users. If a ransomware attack is successful, it could lead to a loss of service and/or data, and in some cases, financial losses.
Should I Pay Ransomware?
No, you should not pay ransomware extortionists. Paying them only encourages criminals and does not guarantee that the files or data will be restored. The better approach is to have a secure backup of important data and be vigilant about security in the first place.
What Happens If I Don't Pay Ransom?
If you don't pay the ransom, the hackers may still have access to your computer, data, or files and may continue to threaten to expose or delete them, or even to use them to commit cybercrimes. In some cases, they may even continue to demand additional ransom payments.
Why Is the Ransom Paid in Crypto?
Cryptocurrency is a secure and untraceable form of payment, making it the ideal choice for ransom payments. It is difficult to trace, and the transactions are almost instantaneous. This means it is nearly impossible for authorities to track the payment and recover the money.
Can Ransomware Be Detected?
Yes, ransomware can be detected. Anti-malware software and other advanced security tools can detect ransomware and alert the user when it is present on a machine. It is important to stay up-to-date on the latest security measures and to keep security software updated to ensure ransomware can be detected and prevented.
Do Ransomware Criminals Get Caught?
Yes, ransomware criminals do get caught. Law enforcement agencies, such as the FBI, have been successful in tracking down and prosecuting ransomware criminals in the US and other countries. As ransomware threats continue to increase, so does the enforcement activity.
About the Cryptom Research
The content we publish on SensorsTechForum.com, this Cryptom how-to removal guide included, is the outcome of extensive research, hard work and our team’s devotion to help you remove the specific malware and restore your encrypted files.
How did we conduct the research on this ransomware?
Our research is based on an independent investigation. We are in contact with independent security researchers, and as such, we receive daily updates on the latest malware and ransomware definitions.
To better understand the ransomware threat, please refer to the following articles which provide knowledgeable details.
1. How to Recognize Spam Emails with Ransomware
2. How Does Ransomware Encryption Work?
3. How to Decrypt Ransomware Files
4. Ransomware Getting Greedier and Bigger, Attacks Increase by 40%
5. 1 in 5 Americans Victim of Ransomware
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.