The firstname.lastname@example.org ransomware, also known as SysGop, PClock or CryptoLocker, is currently in active rotation, so learn how to avoid it and decrypt files.
In-the-wild reach of the SysGop ransomware strain is broadening. Its proliferation appears to feature no restrictions geography-wise, infecting English-speaking Windows users along with people whose operating system localization is Russian. The latter targeting principle, by the way, is a taboo for the vast majority of crypto ransomware developers and distributors. While intending to cover as large an audience as possible, the creators of this newest CryptoLocker copycat have apparently invested a great deal of intellectual work in their extortion activities. The cryptographic part of this pest’s modus operandi is immaculate, so security analysts are still at their wit’s end trying to find a workaround that would allow victims to decrypt their data for free. Meanwhile, those infected are forced to contact the threat actors at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org for payment instructions. In return, they find out that the only viable way to sort things out is to submit a ransom of 0.6 – 1.6 Bitcoin.
When confronted with this sample, users discover that their personal files got crippled beyond recovery, while filenames remain intact. The crypto entropy is on the inside, which makes it impossible to open or edit the affected entries using commonplace methods. Once the encryption phase of the attack has been performed, this CryptoLocker replica displays a warning window. Although it looks somewhat old school, its functionality is sufficient for the extortion. The interface reads,
“Your personal files are encrypted! Support e-mails: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org. Your personal files encryption produced on this computer: photos, videos, documents, etc. Encryption was produced using a unique public key RSA-2048 generated for this computer. To decrypt files you need to obtain the private key.”
The screen also provides the size of the ransom and the time left before the private key is destroyed. Victims can choose their preferred language and click the “Show files” button to view the list of all encoded files.
Very similar, yet not identical, information is included in ransom notes that the SysGop / CryptoLocker leaves on the desktop and inside folders with skewed data. These manuals are called “Your files are locked !.txt”, where the number of “!” signs may vary, ranging from one to five. As opposed to the GUI, the TXT files contain a Bitcoin address to send the specified amount of digital cash to. At the end of the day, the victims have to complete the payment transaction and report this to the attacker using the appropriate email address. Then, the adversary is supposed to provide the automatic decryptor along with the private decryption key. Ideally, this should work, but it’s unreasonable to capitalize on the bad guys’ promises.
The email@example.com / firstname.lastname@example.org ransomware has been hitting users predominantly via spam. Unsuspecting people receive emails with subjects like “Parcel delivery problems”, “Fax transmission”, “Photo”, “Purchase Order”, “ISP complaint”, “Invoice” or similar. These messages go with attached WSF or JS files which, when opened, download the ransomware and run it without the recipient’s awareness. Therefore, users are recommended to strengthen their email system’s anti-spam settings – raising this bar should filter out these sorts of rogue emails. If this ransom Trojan is already on board and wreaking havoc, start the troubleshooting with the steps highlighted in the next section of this post.
Sysgop01@india.com / CryptoLocker ransomware automated removal and data recovery
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.
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.
Sysgop01@india.com / CryptoLocker ransomware manual removal and file recovery
Some ransomware strains terminate themselves after completing the encryption job on a computer, but some don’t. Furthermore, the SysGop virus may prevent victims from using popular antimalware tools in order to stay on board for as long as possible. Under the circumstances, it may be necessary to utilize the Safe Mode with Networking or System Restore functionality.
- Restart the machine. When the system begins loading back up, keep pressing the F8 key with short intervals. The Windows Advanced Options Menu (Advanced Boot Options) screen will appear.
- Use arrow keys to select Safe Mode with Networking and hit Enter. Log on with the user account infected by the ransomware.
- Click on the Search icon next to the Start menu button. Type msconfig in the search field and select the System Configuration option in the results. Go to the Boot tab in the upper part of the GUI.
- Under Boot options, select Safe boot and click the Apply button. A prompt will appear to reboot the computer so that the changes take effect. Select the Restart option and wait for the system to load into Safe Mode. Again, log on with the ransomware-stricken user account.
In Safe Mode, the ransom Trojan won’t keep security software from running or otherwise thwart troubleshooting. Open your preferred web browser, download and install an antimalware tool of choice and start a full system scan. Have all the detected ransomware components removed in a hassle-free way.
- Open Windows Advanced Options Menu as described in the previous section: hit F8 repeatedly when the PC is starting up. Use arrow keys to highlight the Safe Mode with Command Prompt entry. Hit Enter.
- In the Command Prompt window, type cd restore and hit Enter
- Type rstrui.exe in the new command line and press Enter
- When the System Restore screen pops up, click Next, select a restore point that predates the contamination, and use the application’s controls to roll back the system to this earlier state.
Be advised that even after the ransomware is removed, files will still be encrypted and inaccessible. The malicious code cleanup part, however, is important because it keeps a relapse of the infection from occurring further on and eliminates all opportunistic malware.
Ways of non-ransom recovery of CryptoLocker-encrypted 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.
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.
Alternatively, you can leverage the Previous Versions feature, which is native to Windows operating system. This method is more cumbersome that the use of ShadowExplorer, but it can help restore the most important individual files on condition that the ransomware failed to disable the Volume Snapshot Service on the computer. Right-click on a file of choice and select Properties. Then, go to the Previous Versions tab as illustrated below.
Go ahead and pick the file’s latest backup version on the list. Use the Copy or Restore buttons to reinstate this object to a new path or to its original folder, respectively.
Ransomware Prevention Tips
To avoid email@example.com ransomware and other file-encrypting infections in the future, follow several simple recommendations:
- Toggle your email provider’s anti-spam settings to filter out all the potentially harmful incoming messages. Raising the bar beyond the default protection is an important countermeasure for ransom Trojans.
- Define specific file extension restrictions in your email system. Make sure that attachments with the following extensions are blacklisted: .js, .vbs, .docm, .hta, .exe, .cmd, .scr, and .bat. Also, treat ZIP archives in received messages with extreme caution.
- Rename the vssadmin.exe process so that ransomware is unable to obliterate all Shadow Volume Copies of your files in one shot.
- Keep your Firewall active at all times. It can prevent crypto ransomware from communicating with its C&C server. This way, the threat won’t be able to obtain cryptographic keys and lock your files.
- Back up your files regularly, at least the most important ones. This recommendation is self-explanatory. A ransomware attack isn’t an issue as long as you keep unaffected copies of your data in a safe place.
- Use an effective antimalware suite. There are security tools that identify ransomware-specific behavior and block the infection before it can do any harm.
These techniques are certainly not a cure-all, but they will add an extra layer of ransomware protection to your security setup.
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.