Let understand what ransomware? Ransomware is malware’s that has the capability to locks your computer, data and saved files or encrypts your files, so the victim is no longer have access to it. To unlock the computer, it demands a ransom (digital money) in exchange. Post paying the payment there’s no surety that you’ll get your data back.
Cerber Ransomware is a malicious file-encrypting virus attack which locks the user’s file through a robust encryption algorithm. This Malware has been in existence since long and keeps updating itself.
An interesting detail about Cerber ransomware is that it will not infect or attack if you a resident of the mentioned countries – Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Russia, Uzbekistan, Ukraine.
Researchers noticed a massive mail advertising campaign by this ransomware which intended to attack South Korea population at large.
But the other countries shouldn’t think they are left untouched if the countries mentioned above do not feature in your resident country, then this virus may potentially hit your computer too.
How does this Cerber Ransomware work?
- On the next computer startup, it will set itself to run automatically.
- Once the computer becomes active, ransomware starts sending random error messages and then reboots your computer into Safe Mode with Networking.
- Unfortunately, the virus then restarts your computer again, this time in a regular regime, and starts the encryption process.
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- The latest its version has received a massive update – now it uses red color for the ransom note used to warn the victim about the encrypted data.
- Once the encryption is done, Cerber ransomware drops a ransom note in each folder that is stored on your computer. These notes are by the name of DECRYPT MY FILES specifically. The file extension have variation, and it can be a .html, .txt, or .vbs file.
The ransom note gives the victim a detail report what happened to your computer and provides instructions how to retrieve your files. Shortly said, virus developers ask you to download Tor browser to access the website where you can pay the ransom anonymously.
It demands the victim to spend 1.25 BitCoins, which is approximately USD 512. It also warns the victim that the payment will increase and multiply if the victim does not pay within a week post receiving the threat.
History of Cerber Ransomware?
Cerber ransomware appeared initially in March 2016 on Russian underground forums, which offered for rent in an affiliate program.
Ever since then, it has been spread massively via exploit kits, infecting users worldwide, mostly targeting APAC (Asia-Pacific) region. As of now, there are six significant versions.
Update as per July 2017: Security experts report that Cerber is spreading and searching for latest monetization ways.
Lately, South Korea was attacked by this malware it included many Asian countries also. Researchers observed that cybercriminals took help to spread this malware in this area with the aid of Magnitude exploit kit.
Malvertising is the other method for this Ransomware to spread, in this, the user visits a malicious website, and the malware checks few details about the users to decide – to launch the attack or not.
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These “gates” are known as “Magnate” which gives away the user’s IP address, ISP, and the information about operating system and web browser.
To boost their revenue, creator of the Cerber ransomware created a new variant which is capable of stealing the Bitcoin wallet data.
Researchers have shared their observations that this particular ransomware brings changes to the windows firewall rules and stops internal communication from the installed antivirus, making it difficult to establish antivirus updates or sending feedback reports to the developer.
According to researchers, the Bitcoin is used as the medium to gain money, and this infamous ransomware uses the bitcoin address remains the same.
It is difficult to decrypt Cerber ransomware the files infected and locked by Cerber ransomware without paying the ransom. However, it is not advised to pay up because:
- It only encourages the cybercriminals to continue their fraudulent activities and create more computer viruses;
- Plus, keep in mind that there is NO guarantee cybercriminals are going to help you to recover your files;
- Even if you pay up, the victim may not receive the decryptor at all,
- Also, this tool to decrypt may be corrupted and might bring other malware on your computer and this way, damage it even more.
The ransom price is 501$, and criminals command the victim to transmit this sum of money via Bitcoin system within five days; otherwise, they increase the ransom price.
Cerber 5.0.1 this ransomware version was quickly launched to back up the previous infections.
It keeps encrypting files with RSA-2048 and AES-256 algorithms. That is why users, entrapped by Cerber, might comply with the hackers’ demands to retrieve the data. This version has been infecting as a fake email warning with substantial billing sums.
Red Cerber ransomware. The fundamental changes include the introduction of the demands in the *help_help_help [random characters]*.hta file. The unusual feature of the malware lies in the execution process.
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There are also reports that Cerber has been spotted in the dark web as RaaS (ransomware-as-a-service).
Cerber 6- The latest version, 6th installment, presents improved anti-sandboxing and anti-VM features.
It is also using SFX files, i.e., self-extracting files. Besides disguising in spam emails, it also employs exploit kits, Trojan, and bugs in public program utilities to multiple its damage on the virtual community.
Entry points of Cerber distribution
The most common and fastest distribution method for this virus to spread is through spam emails with malicious attachment, so be careful, you do not open any suspicious emails that come from unknown senders.
Utmost care needed when opening any attachments that come from anonymous sources it could be accompanied by suspicious emails.
Often the cybercriminals will display these emails as representatives of government or law enforcement institutions, so it is advised that you always check the legitimacy of such emails if you receive any.
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Cerber ransomware uses Trojan horse for the virus to enter into your machine. It is advised that you should never download unreliable websites because you might download an infected file that has this malicious virus carrier attached to it.
The newest ransomware distribution drive aims at the vulnerabilities in legitimate software pushes the ransomware into target computers.
Cautions against Cerber Ransomware
The most efficient method to protect your PC from being infected by this ransomware is to keep a robust free anti malware software running at all times. Keep away from all kinds of suspicious emails which have attachment!
If you are using an external periphilles and it is plugged into your machine at the time of the virus infiltration, be sure that the files stored will be encrypted too.
So, take utmost care that you unplug the external storage device from your computer every time you backup some data.
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