Files with the .arrow extension sprinkled all over a computer designate a ransomware attack, with the infection representing the so-called CrySiS family.
With the cryptojacking craze running rampant globally and taking over other forms of cybercrime, a lot of black hat crews continue to focus on things like online extortion through malicious code. It’s interesting to watch how drastically and rapidly things change – just a few years ago, file-encrypting ransomware was a cutting-edge phenomenon outranking the rest in the malware niche. Now in 2018, it poses a somewhat old-fashioned foul play for making money. However, the authors of the CrySiS, or Dharma, family of blackmail viruses appear to be conservative enough to stick with the well-trodden path. They have lately released a brand new variant of their perpetrating program that appends the .arrow extension to encrypted files.
This build of the prolific CrySiS strain has got more characteristics than the mere new suffix appearing at the end of files. It subjoins a longer tail to filenames, not just the .arrow string. The full extension also includes the victim’s ID and the attacker’s email address. Both of these parameters vary. Here’s an example of the transformation that a sample filename undergoes: Photo.jpg.id-AFB1EC3F.[firstname.lastname@example.org].arrow. The value in brackets unambiguously prompts the infected person to contact the adversary over email for further instructions. There have been quite a few other addresses reported by Dharma victims lately, including email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org. This variability can be explained by the existence of different cybercriminal groups spreading the same offending program on a Ransomware-as-a-Service basis.
The current edition of this lineage has one major thing in common with all the previous ones. It is propagating via RDP. Here’s how this intricate attack chain goes: the crooks use ad hoc tools to scan the Internet for active remote desktop connections. When such a connection is detected, they try to brute force or guess the access credentials. Given the prevalence of CrySiS on the crypto ransomware arena, the success of this method is appreciable. Having made such a loophole in a host system, the threat actors execute the malicious binary the manual way and do it imperceptibly. Then, the .arrow ransomware silently traverses the hard drive for personal data while skipping the operating system partition most of the time. When a matching file is spotted, the culprit encrypts it with RSA, one of the strongest ciphers around. The private RSA key is what’s needed to decrypt .arrow files, and it is in full possession of the malefactors who instruct victims to send about $5,000 worth of Bitcoin cryptocurrency in exchange for this key.
Sounds like too much money for files, doesn’t it? Some people who run the risk of losing precious family photos, important videos and work documents over this incursion may end up paying. This tactic isn’t recommended, though. One of the recent surveys showed that nearly a half of blackmail malware victims who submitted ransoms never got their data back. Take this into account and be sure to try a few workarounds first.
.Arrow 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.
.Arrow 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 .arrow blackmail 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 .arrow 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 the CrySiS / .arrow 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.