Updated Cerber Ransomware _README_{RAND}_.hta Remove and Restore Encrypted Files - How to, Technology and PC Security Forum | SensorsTechForum.com

Updated Cerber Ransomware _README_{RAND}_.hta Remove and Restore Encrypted Files

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cerber-ransomware-_readme_-hta-sensorstechforum-attention-encryption-2016The 1st of December marked the beginning of a new Cerber ransomware virus with several interesting changes. The ransomware again wants it’s victims to pay a hefty sum of 499$ to get back the files, which are encrypted via RSA-512 cipher in a RC4 encryption method. Cerber also goes back to it’s roots adding the old sound message, and adds a red ransom note accompanied by a sound message, just like the first version of Cerber did. In case you have been infected by this variant of the ransomware virus, we advise you read the following article to familiarize yourself with the virus, remove it and try to decrypt your files.

Threat Summary

NameCerber _README_{RAND}_.hta
TypeRansomware Virus
Short DescriptionThis Cerber _README_.hta ransomware variant encrypts files with the RSA-512 cipher and an RC4 encryption algorithm adding four randomly generated A-Z 0-9 characters(ex. .z33f) as a file extension to the encrypted files and asks a ransom payoff for decryption.
SymptomsFiles are enciphered and become inaccessible by any type of software. A ransom note with instructions for paying the ransom shows as a “_README_{random}.hta” file. Also adds the following audio message after encryption:
Distribution MethodSpam Emails, Email Attachments, File Sharing Networks, Malicious Executable in Torrent Trackers.
Detection Tool See If Your System Has Been Affected by Cerber _README_{RAND}_.hta


Malware Removal Tool

User ExperienceJoin our forum to Discuss Cerber Ransomware.
Data Recovery ToolWindows 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.

Cerber _README_.hta December 2016 Variant – What Is New

Unlike the previous versions of Cerber which are with 3 digit versions (5.0.0, 5.0.1, 4.1.6, etc.), this version has a red wallpaper which it changes after the encryption and does not have a version, very similar to the first Cerber ransomware virus, which is also decryptable. The wallpaper it sets has the same message and leads to the very same Cerber Decryptor web page, asking 499$ but looks like the following:


This virus also uses the very same tactics the modern Cerber version use. It attacks computers via a phishing e-mail which aims to infect via an e-mail attachment, like the following example:

“Topic: Suspicious Bank Account Activity
Hello, we at your bank have been informed of a suspicious financial activity on your bank account. Please review the Document Number 3882-124442 from {date} for more information.
Best Regards
{Bank manager fake name}
{copied phone number}
{copied address of a bank office}”

What is new regarding how Cerber _README_.hta spreads are that it also takes advantage of the Tor network as well as Google to spread a malicious script that infects via a corrupt svchost32.exe fake process. This redirect via the Tor network proxies means that it is with higher difficulty to identify the infection hosts associated with the Cerber _README_.hta crypto virus.

Cerber _README_.hta – Activity After Infection

After infecting the user, not a lot is changed. Cerber ransomware begins to shut down the following system processes if they are active on the compromised computer:

→ bootsect.bak

But the malware does not stop there. The Cerber _README_.hta version also goes through a lot of troubles to shut down significant database processes to allow it to uninterruptedly encrypt databases:

→ msftesql.exe

If those processes are active, they will stop the virus from encrypting the databases, and this is the main reason they are shutdown in a force mode.

Regarding the file encryption, the Cerber _README_.hta iteration is focused on attacking even wider database of file extensions. Here are the file types that surely be encrypted on your computer if you have them there and become infected by this iteration:

→ ” .123″, ” .1cd”, “.3dm”, “.3ds”, “.3fr”, “.3g2”, “.3gp”, “.3pr”, “.602”, “.7z”, “.7zip”, “.aac”, “.ab4”, “.abd”, “.acc”, “.accdb”, “.accde”, “.accdr”, “.accdt”, “.ach”, “.acr”, “.act”, “.adb”, “.adp”, “.ads”, “.aes”, “.agdl”, “.ai”, “.aiff”, “.ait”, “.al”, “.aoi”, “.apj”, “.apk”, “.arc”, “.arw”, “.ascx”, “.asf”, “.asm”, “.asp”, “.aspx”, “.asset”, “.asx”, “.atb”, “.avi”, “.awg”, “.back”, “.backup”, “.backupdb”, “.bak”, “.bank”, “.bat”, “.bay”, “.bdb”, “.bgt”, “.bik”, “.bin”, “.bkp”, “.blend”, “.bmp”, “.bpw”, “.brd”, “.bsa”, “.bz2”, “.c”, “.cash”, “.cdb”, “.cdf”, “.cdr”, “.cdr3”, “.cdr4”, “.cdr5”, “.cdr6”, “.cdrw”, “.cdx”, “.ce1”, “.ce2”, “.cer”, “.cfg”, “.cfn”, “.cgm”, “.cib”, “.class”, “.cls”, “.cmd”, “.cmt”, “.config”, “.contact”, “.cpi”, “.cpp”, “.cr2”, “.craw”, “.crt”, “.crw”, “.cry”, “.cs”, “.csh”, “.csl”, “.csr”, “.css”, “.csv”, “.d3dbsp”, “.dac”, “.das”, “.dat”, “.db”, “.db3”, “.db_journal”, “.dbf”, “.dbx”, “.dc2”, “.dch”, “.dcr”, “.dcs”, “.ddd”, “.ddoc”, “.ddrw”, “.dds”, “.def”, “.der”, “.des”, “.design”, “.dgc”, “.dgn”, “.dif”, “.dip”, “.dit”, “.djv”, “.djvu”, “.dng”, “.doc”, “.docb”, “.docm”, “.docx”, “.dot”, “.dotm”, “.dotx”, “.drf”, “.drw”, “.dtd”, “.dwg”, “.dxb”, “.dxf”, “.dxg”, “.edb”, “.eml”, “.eps”, “.erbsql”, “.erf”, “.exf”, “.fdb”, “.ffd”, “.fff”, “.fh”, “.fhd”, “.fla”, “.flac”, “.flb”, “.flf”, “.flv”, “.forge”, “.fpx”, “.frm”, “.fxg”, “.gbr”, “.gho”, “.gif”, “.gpg”, “.gray”, “.grey”, “.groups”, “.gry”, “.gz”, “.h”, “.hbk”, “.hdd”, “.hpp”, “.html”, “.hwp”, “.ibank”, “.ibd”, “.ibz”, “.idx”, “.iif”, “.iiq”, “.incpas”, “.indd”, “.info”, “.info_”, “.iwi”, “.jar”, “.java”, “.jnt”, “.jpe”, “.jpeg”, “.jpg”, “.js”, “.json”, “.k2p”, “.kc2”, “.kdbx”, “.kdc”, “.key”, “.kpdx”, “.kwm”, “.laccdb”, “.lay”, “.lay6”, “.lbf”, “.lck”, “.ldf”, “.lit”, “.litemod”, “.litesql”, “.lock”, “.ltx”, “.lua”, “.m”, “.m2ts”, “.m3u”, “.m4a”, “.m4p”, “.m4u”, “.m4v”, “.ma”, “.mab”, “.map “.max”, “.mbx”, “.md”, “.mdb”, “.mdc”, “.mdf”, “.mef”, “.mfw”, “.mid”, “.mkv”, “.mlb”, “.mml”, “.mmw”, “.mny”, “.money”, “.moneywell”, “.mos”, “.mov”, “.mp3”, “.mp4”, “.mpeg”, “.mpg”, “.mrw”, “.ms11”, “.msf”, “.msg”, “.mts”, “.myd”, “.myi”, “.nd”, “.ndd”, “.ndf”, “.nef”, “.nk2”, “.nop”, “.nrw”, “.ns2”, “.ns3”, “.ns4”, “.nsd”, “.nsf”, “.nsg”, “.nsh”, “.nvram”, “.nwb”, “.nx2”, “.nxl”, “.nyf”, “.oab”, “.obj”, “.odb”, “.odc”, “.odf”, “.odg”, “.odm”, “.odp”, “.ods”, “.odt”, “.ogg”, “.oil”, “.omg”, “.one”, “.onenotec2”, “.orf”, “.ost”, “.otg”, “.oth”, “.otp”, “.ots”, “.ott”, “.p12”, “.p7b”, “.p7c”, “.pab”, “.pages”, “.paq”, “.pas”, “.pat”, “.pbf”, “.pcd”, “.pct”, “.pdb”, “.pdd”, “.pdf”, “.pef”, “.pem”, “.pfx”, “.php”, “.pif”, “.pl”, “.plc”, “.plus_muhd”, “.pm”, “.pm!”, “.pmi”, “.pmj”, “.pml”, “.pmm”, “.pmo”, “.pmr”, “.pnc”, “.pnd”, “.png”, “.pnx”, “.pot”, “.potm”, “.potx”, “.ppam”, “.pps”, “.ppsm”, “.ppsx”, “.ppt”, “.pptm”, “.pptx”, “.prf”, “.private”, “.ps”, “.psafe3”, “.psd”, “.pspimage”, “.pst”, “.ptx”, “.pub”, “.pwm”, “.py”, “.qba”, “.qbb”, “.qbm”, “.qbr”, “.qbw”, “.qbx”, “.qby”, “.qcow”, “.qcow2”, “.qed”, “.qtb”, “.r3d”, “.raf”, “.rar”, “.rat”, “.raw”, “.rb”, “.rdb”, “.re4”, “.rm”, “.rtf”, “.rvt”, “.rw2”, “.rwl”, “.rwz”, “.s3db”, “.safe”, “.sas7bdat”, “.sav”, “.save”, “.say”, “.sch”, “.sd0”, “.sda”, “.sdb”, “.sdf”, “.secret”, “.sh”, “.sldm”, “.sldx”, “.slk”, “.slm”, “.sql”, “.sqlite”, “.sqlite-shm”, “.sqlite-wal”, “.sqlite3”, “.sqlitedb”, “.sr2”, “.srb”, “.srf”, “.srs”, “.srt”, “.srw”, “.st4”, “.st5”, “.st6”, “.st7”, “.st8”, “.stc”, “.std”, “.sti”, “.stl”, “.stm”, “.stw”, “.stx”, “.svg”, “.swf”, “.sxc”, “.sxd”, “.sxg”, “.sxi”, “.sxm”, “.sxw”, “.tar”, “.tax”, “.tbb”, “.tbk”, “.tbn”, “.tex”, “.tga”, “.tgz”, “.thm”, “.tif”, “.tiff”, “.tlg”, “.tlx”, “.txt”, “.uop”, “.uot”, “.upk”, “.usr”, “.vb”, “.vbox”, “.vbs”, “.vdi”, “.vhd”, “.vhdx”, “.vmdk”, “.vmsd”, “.vmx”, “.vmxf”, “.vob”, “.vpd”, “.vsd”, “.wab”, “.wad”, “.wallet”, “.war”, “.wav”, “.wb2”, “.wk1”, “.wks”, “.wma”, “.wmf”, “.wmv”, “.wpd”, “.wps”, “.x11”, “.x3f”, “.xis”, “.xla”, “.xlam”, “.xlc”, “.xlk”, “.xlm”, “.xlr”, “.xls”, “.xlsb”, “.xlsm”, “.xlsx”, “.xlt”, “.xltm”, “.xltx”, “.xlw”, “.xml”, “.xps”, “.xxx”, “.ycbcra” “.yuv”, “.zip”

To encrypt those files the _README_.hta version of Cerber uses 5 blocks of code in the files which are encrypted, not the whole files. Those blocks are encrypted via the RC4 encryption method which generates a unique key the size of 256 bits. In addition to this, the ransomware also uses the cipher RSA (Rivest Shamir Adleman) algorithm with a strength of 512 bit to further increase encryption of the files. This encryption then generates a unique RSA key which may either be stored on the victim’s computer or be sent via POST traffic via port 6482 on the TCP and UDP protocols to IP addresses,, So far, it has not been established whether or not the sent information is encrypted, but this is likely the case.

Similar to other versions of Cerber, this one may also change the names of the encrypted files and render them useless. The files may appear like the following and completely non-recognizable:


After the encryption process is complete, Cerber changes the wallpaper to the new one and in addition to this adds a _README_.hta type of file with 4 random digits, similar to a unique ID for this specific infection. The file may look like the following:


Both the wallpaper and the _README_.hta file have a unique web-link which is Tor-based and focused on leading the victim to the genuine Cerber web page, demanding the user to pay approximately 500 dollars and giving a deadline with a countdown timer:


Cerber _README_.hta is also very careful when it comes to encrypting folder. The ransomware goes as far as whitelisting folders which it does not encrypt to keep the operating system in a working state:

→ \\documents and settings\\all users\\documents\\
\\microsoft sql server\\
\\the bat!\\

December 2016 Cerber Ransomware – Conclusion, Removal and File Restoration Tips

In case you happen to become an unfortunate victim of this iteration of Cerber ransomware, recommendations are not to focus on paying the ransom. This is not a guarantee your files will be gotten back to you, and furthermore, you support criminal entities in developing Cerber _README_.hta further as well as infecting more users. Instead, we advise following the below-mentioned instructions to remove the virus. In case you are having trouble in manually removing Cerber from your computer, advices are to do it automatically with an advanced anti-malware program which will take care of this threat for you swiftly and remove all of its objects created in various Windows folders and Windows Registry Edior as well.

After removing Cerber _README_.hta, we urge you to immediately create several copies of all the encrypted files that are important for you. Then, you can use one of those copies to try the traditional Cerber decryption instructions from this web link.

They are not for this version of Cerber and may not work, but you are welcome to attempt them and the alternative file restoration methods from step “2. Restore Files Encrypted by Cerber _README_.hta” below. They are also not 100% to succeed, but with the “Deep Scan” features of one of them, there is a chance you will restore some of your files if you haven’t reformatted your hard drive.


Ventsislav Krastev

Ventsislav has been covering the latest malware, software and newest tech developments at SensorsTechForum for 3 years now. He started out as a network administrator. Having graduated Marketing as well, Ventsislav also has passion for discovery of new shifts and innovations in cybersecurity that become game changers. After studying Value Chain Management and then Network Administration, he found his passion within cybersecrurity and is a strong believer in basic education of every user towards online safety.

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  1. AvatarVictor Rij

    On 12 december 2016 I got the newest version of cerber on my PC. All my files were encrypted with the extensions 9150 file, I had a hell of a job to clean my PC with antimalware and super antispyware. I consider my files to be lost after some fruitless attempts to decipher them. When I started to remove them by searching for the 9150 string, I found that almost all the keys in the Programdata/ microsoft/ Crypto/ RSA /S-1-5-18 folder and in the Programdata/ microsoft/ Crypto /RSA /Machine folder, contained the 9150 string in a code string that looks like a normal microsoft code, is this coincidence or are these (system) keys somehow manipulated or created by cerber?? I found the same string in appdata roaming always within the same surrounding more complex code

    1. AvatarVencislav Krustev

      Hello buddy!
      Glad you wrote us. We will try and help. Can you please send us the full string so we can do a check up on that? e-mail me at idunn0@abv.bg an encrypted file, the string and if you have a screenshot to see what version you’ve got hit by that’d be great. We receive a lot of e-mails, so make sure the subject is – “RANSOM-C” so that I know it’s you! Thanks in advance.

      1. AvatarEduardo Tebes

        Hola yo fui infectado los primeros días de diciembre y mis archivos jpg cambiaron por B6D3, tengo archivos cifrados, tengo el mail con el virus, la nota de rescate, podras ayudarme?

        1. AvatarVencislav Krustev

          Hola. At the moment, there is no decryption. Please save copies of the encrypted files in case a decryptor is released. In the meantime you may want to try the alternative tools from step “2. Restore files encrypted by Cerber…” . But backup the encrypted files first!

        2. AvatarVencislav Krustev

          Hola, yo hablo espanol todo poquitto. Hablo en ingles?

          1. AvatarEduardo Tebes

            Hola Vencislav, entiendo un poco de ingles, uso el traductor. Tengo archivos cifrados su nota de rescate y encontré en una carpeta lo que podría ser el archivo cifrado y el archivo original jpg,. Queres que te los mande por mail? Gracias por tu respuesta seguire esperando.

            Hello Vencislav, I understand a little English, use the translator. I have encrypted files on your rescue note and found in a folder what could be the encrypted file and the original jpg file. Do you want me to mail to you? Thank you for your answer, I’ll keep waiting.

          2. AvatarVencislav Krustev

            Si, un email es idunn0@abv.bg (0-zero)

          3. AvatarEduardo Tebes

            Ok te mande un mail, con la nota de rescate un archivo cifrado y uuno que seria el original del mismo, el mail dice archivos encriptados

            Ok I sent you an email, with the rescue note an encrypted file and one that would be the original of it, the mail says encrypted files

  2. Avatarsoul badguy

    my laptop has been attacked by cerber ransomware extension.9c8b. PLs help me


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