This entry describes an offbeat crypto ransomware sample that encourages victims to reach its operators over email and appends .xtbl extension to files.
The current state of the ransomware industry dictates certain unspoken guidelines for the threat actors. The most sophisticated specimens boast a high degree of automation, where victims follow some Tor link, find themselves on a decryption page, pay a specific amount of Bitcoins for the private key, and download the recovery solution. The involvement of the criminals in this process is reduced to a minimum. However, the authors of the Shade ransomware, also known as Troldesh, or XTBL virus, are evidently not in the mainstream. Their extortion product tells victims to reach the adversary via email, indicating their personal code. The response to this message is supposed to instruct the infected person on the data restoration steps. As old-school as it may appear, this compromise is just as efficient for the criminals as the more high-profile attacks.
This ransomware commences the breach with a traversal of the computer’s hard disk, removable media and network shares. In the course of it, the Trojan looks for all pieces of data that are personal rather than system-level. The technique applied for reaching this goal involves the mapping of one’s files against a hard-coded array of popular file extensions. Once the list of the victim’s proprietary files is readily available, the XTBL virus encrypts them in a matter of minutes. The use of AES-256 algorithm makes it impossible to restore the data unless the user has their unique secret key. The problem is, it’s only the attackers who have this key. The collateral damage from the compromise is the distortion of filenames, which get replaced with a bevy of odd characters followed by .xtbl extension at the end.
The XTBL ransomware also modifies the image for the desktop wallpaper, setting a warning message for it instead. The alert says, “All the important files on your disks were encrypted. The details can be found in README.txt files which you can find on any of your disks.” Indeed, a bunch of README.txt ransom notes appear all over the desktop and other directories. According to their contents, the victim should send their unique code to a specified email address, for instance email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. There are many more email addresses for this campaign – obviously, that’s because the infection is being distributed by different syndicates at the same time.
The format of encrypted files might vary as well. In some cases, their structure will contain an email address as well, for example in patterns like filename.[ID].email@example.com, filename.[ID].firstname.lastname@example.org, filename.[ID].email@example.com, filename.[ID].firstname.lastname@example.org, filename.[ID].email@example.com, filename.[ID].firstname.lastname@example.org, filename.[ID].email@example.com, or similar. Essentially, this is another way of telling the infected users how to contact the criminals and get recovery instructions.
The upshot of this attack is XTBL makes a mess of one’s data, and the perpetrators demand 1-3 Bitcoins for decryption. Sometimes the ransom size may reach $1000 and more. No matter how startling this predicament may appear, be sure to try the steps below before making up your mind regarding ‘cooperation’ with the ne’er-do-wells.
Automated removal of XTBL virus
Owing to an up-to-date database of malware signatures and intelligent behavioral detection, the recommended software can quickly locate the infection, eradicate it and remediate all harmful changes. So go ahead and do the following:
1. Download and install the antimalware tool. Open the solution and have it check your PC for PUPs and other types of malicious software by clicking the Start Computer Scan button
2. Rest assured the scan report will list all items that may harm your operating system. Select the detected entries and click Fix Threats to get the troubleshooting completed.
Ways of non-ransom recovery of .xtbl files
Cracking the crypto used by this ransom trojan is more of a science fiction thing rather than an attainable prospect for the masses. This is why the troubleshooting in predicaments of this sort is a matter of two approaches: one is to pay the ransom, which isn’t an option for many victims; and the other is to apply instruments that take advantage of the ransomware’s possible weaknesses. If the latter is your pick, the advice below is a must-try.
Backups can make your day
Not only are you a lucky person in case you’ve been backing up your most important files, but you’re also a wise and prudent user. This isn’t necessarily a resource-heavy activity these days – in fact, some providers of online services are allocating a sufficient size of cloud storage space for free so that every customer can easily upload their critical data without paying a penny. Having removed XTBL ransomware, therefore, all you have to do is download your stuff from the remote server or transfer it all from an external piece of hardware if that’s the case.
Restore previous versions of encrypted files
A positive upshot of using this technique depends on whether or not the ransomware has erased the Volume Shadow Copies of the files on your PC. This is a Windows feature that automatically makes and keeps the backups of data elements on the hard drive as long as System Restore is enabled. The cryptoware in question is programmed to switch off the Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS), but it has reportedly failed to in some cases. Checking one’s options regarding this workaround is doable in two ways: through the Properties menu of each file or by means of the remarkable open-source tool called Shadow Explorer. We recommend the software-based way because it’s automated, hence faster and easier. Just install the app and use its intuitive controls to get previous versions of the encrypted objects reinstated.
Data recovery toolkit to the rescue
Some strains of ransomware are known to delete the original files after the encryption routine has been completed. As hostile as this activity appears, it can play into your hands. There are applications designed to revive the information that was obliterated because of malfunctioning hardware or due to accidental removal. The tool called Data Recovery Pro by ParetoLogic features this type of capability therefore it can be applied in ransom attack scenarios to at least get the most important files back. So download and install the program, run a scan and let it do its job.
Revise your security status
Post-factum assessment of the accuracy component in malware removal scenarios is a great habit that prevents the comeback of harmful code or replication of its unattended fractions. Make sure you are good to go by running an additional safety checkup.