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Babuk Locker ransomware removal and data recovery

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Remove Babuk Locker ransomware
Here is a summary of an active ransomware campaign distributing Babuk Locker, a threat that boasts strong encryption and uses a double extortion model.
  1. What is Babuk Locker?
  2. Babuk Locker ransomware automated removal and data recovery
  3. Babuk Locker ransomware manual removal and file recovery
  4. Ransomware Prevention Tips

What is Babuk Locker?

Having surfaced in January 2021, Babuk Locker is a simple yet competently designed and effective ransomware strain that zeroes in on corporate networks. After gaining a foothold in a host environment, it uses a stream cipher called ChaCha8 to scramble the victim’s valuable data while employing the Elliptic-curve Diffie-Hellman (ECDH) protocol to generate the public-private key pair. As part of the raid, the program creates ransom notes named How To Restore Your Files.txt within every affected folder, which explains what happened and instructs the company to visit a Tor payment page to discuss the recovery options. Another prominent indicator of compromise (IOC) is the *._NIST_K571_ or *.babyk extension concatenated to no-longer-accessible files.

‘How To Restore Your Files.txt’ ransom note by Babuk Locker
‘How To Restore Your Files.txt’ ransom note by Babuk Locker

Although the code of this pest’s original version was unsophisticated, its cryptography implementation combined with clever attack methods allowed the operators of this ransomware to quickly build a portfolio of high-profile victims. One of them was the Washington DC Metropolitan Police Department (compromised last April). The crooks infiltrate networks through “classic” breach techniques, with the choice of the vector depending on the weak links in a specific victim’s digital infrastructure. To understand how exactly to sting an organization, they conduct initial reconnaissance and probe the network for RDP deployment blunders, VPN misconfigurations, and vulnerabilities in software used. In some scenarios, a targeted phishing email sets the incursion in motion.

Threat details:
Name Babuk Locker
Threat Category File-encrypting ransomware
Extensions added to encrypted files *._NIST_K571_, *.babyk
Ransom note name How To Restore Your Files.txt
Symptoms Encrypts an organization’s data, demands ransom in bitcoins for the decryption key (the amount depends on network size)
Distribution techniques Targeted attacks through RDP hacking, phishing, and software vulnerability exploitation
Severity High
Damage Data loss and leak in case of non-payment
Removal Scan your PC with Combo Cleaner for Windows to detect all files related to Babuk Locker ransomware. Free scan determines if your system is infected. To get rid of the threat, you need to purchase the full version of the anti-malware tool:

Extortion logic and lateral movement inside a network

Having made it inside, Babuk Locker stops a series of processes that may hamper unauthorized encryption by keeping data open. These include web browsers, database servers, mail servers and clients, as well as backup applications. Next comes the cipher phase, whereby the predatory code applies its asymmetric crypto logic to prevent users from accessing their files. Since the attack is operated manually, the malicious actors use a command-line utility to remotely execute arguments that specify the flow of encryption across the network. For instance, they tend to set the order of mutilating files stored locally and those residing on network shares.

Files encrypted by Babuk Locker
Files encrypted by Babuk Locker

Yet another nasty facet of Babuk Locker is that it extracts data out of the organization’s servers. This stage usually precedes the encoding process. The fact that the criminals have a copy of important files, including customer and employee records as well as strategic business information, gives the malefactors additional leverage when negotiating the ransom amount. It is also a powerful element of pressure. This “steal and leak” tactic is the bitter reality in today’s ransomware underground, and Babuk Locker is no exception.

Once a victim organization realizes its proprietary data is skewed via a mix of encryption and a weird string appended to each record, the above-mentioned ransom file plays its part. It says the computers and servers have been encrypted, and backups are no longer there. To prove that the crooks aren’t bluffing and have a decoding tool, they offer test recovery of up to five files less than 10MB in size. The ransom note also tells the user to open their personal payment page via the Tor Browser. Contrary to most counterparts that include a victim-specific countdown timer and extensive support options, Babuk Locker uses a rudimentary-looking chat feature to communicate with victims. According to some reports, the ransom may reach $85,000 worth of bitcoins.

Whistleblowers among bad guys

The Babuk Locker operation has been through several plots since its takeoff. In June 2021, someone uploaded its builder to a cybercriminal forum. Other gangs serendipitously picked it up to create their custom variants of the ransomware with no affiliate strings attached, including the one that suffixes files with the *.babyk string. In early September, an anonymous member of a Russian-speaking hacking community leaked the entire source code of this ransomware. The dump also contained the key generator, decryptor, and more than a dozen files with decryption keys for different victims. Several security researchers have since confirmed the validity of this data.

No matter how white hats’ work goes in terms of assisting current victims with the recovery, the following sections of this article will help clean up machines hit by the Babuk Locker ransomware. You’ll also find hands-on recommendations regarding alternative methods to restore affected files.

Babuk Locker ransomware automated removal and data recovery

When faced with ransomware like Babuk Locker, one of the best shortcuts in terms of removal is to use Combo Cleaner, a lightweight and incredibly effective application with PC security and optimization features under the hood. It detects and thoroughly deletes threats while giving you insights into the overall health of your computer.

This program’s protection power spans modules that forestall all known types of malware, including ransomware and browser hijackers, and take your online security to the next level by blocking phishing sites and other suspicious web pages. Follow these simple steps to eliminate the infection for good:

1. Download Combo Cleaner installer.

Download Babuk Locker ransomware remover

Combo Cleaner scans your PC with no strings attached, but you’ll have to buy its fully functional version to remove the threats it detects. The disk optimization tools that find large files and duplicates are free to use.

Download and run Combo Cleaner installer on your PC

2. Open the CCSetup.exe file to get started. Several subsequent screens will allow you to make initial customizations so that the program works exactly as you need from the get-go.Setup customizations

3. The installation will be followed by an update of malware signatures. Once this process is through, click the Start Scan button in the left-hand sidebar.Start initial scan

4. Combo Cleaner will then check system locations that are most often polluted by Windows malware. The first scan can take a while to finish.Combo Cleaner scan in progress

5. Combo Cleaner will display a system tray notification as soon as the scan is over. Click the Resolve found threats button to view the results.Scan completed

6. The scan summary shows the names and types of the detected threats as well as their statuses and locations. Click the Remove all threats button and follow further on-screen prompts to get rid of these items.Scan results

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 Stellar Data Recovery features this type of a capability and therefore it can be applied in ransom attack scenarios to at least get the most important files back. So use the app to get an idea of what data can be restored and let it do the recovery job. Here is a step-by-step walkthrough:

1. Download and install Stellar Data Recovery.

Download Stellar Data Recovery

2. Open the application, select the types of recoverable files to look for, and click Next.Stellar Data Recovery main screen

3. Choose the areas you want the tool to recover from and click the Scan button.Select which PC areas to recover from

4. Having scanned the specified locations, the program will display a notification about the total amount of recoverable data. Close the dialog and click the Recover button. This will hopefully help you get some of your valuable files back.Recover files

Babuk Locker 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 Babuk Locker 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.

Remove Babuk Locker ransomware using Safe Mode with Networking

Remove Babuk Locker ransomware using Safe Mode with Networking

Get rid of Babuk Locker ransomware using System Restore

Get rid of Babuk Locker ransomware using System Restore

System Restore enables Windows users to roll back all changes made to the OS since the latest restore point creation time. This feature can help eliminate the most persistent ransomware. Before going this route, though, make sure System Restore had been enabled prior to the breach, otherwise the method will be inefficient.

  • 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.Safe Mode with Command Prompt
  • In the Command Prompt window, type cd restore and hit Entercd restore command
  • Type rstrui.exe in the new command line and press EnterType rstrui.exe command
  • 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.System Restore window
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.

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

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 the Babuk Locker 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

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.

Shadow Explorer

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.

Previous Versions

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 Babuk Locker 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. Another benefit of using the antimalware tool is that it will keep ransomware threats from intruding on your computer further on.

Download Babuk Locker ransomware removal tool

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