Get an accurate analysis of the .cerber2 extension ransomware, learn how it is different from the original Cerber threat, and be instructed on data recovery.
The moment the Cerber ransomware was first detected last March, security researchers realized that it was above and beyond the commonplace modus operandi of these sorts of infections. Not only did the Trojan feature a robust infrastructure and unbreakable crypto, but it also had a text-to-audio functionality built in that alerted victims about the attack and instructed them on data recovery options. The offending code had stayed that way until literally the other day, when its second edition got into malware watchers’ spotlight. Unfortunately, according to preliminary reports, Cerber version 2 is a yet more sophisticated strain on the inside, with some external tweaks in place as well. The extension that’s now being appended to every encrypted file is .cerber2 rather than the previously added .cerber.
Another apparent change is the look and feel of the desktop background set by Cerber2, including the graphical aspect as well as the wording. This warning wallpaper says, “Your documents, photos, databases and other important files have been encrypted! If you understand all importance of the situation then we propose to you to go directly to your personal page where you will receive the complete instructions and guarantees to restore your files.” Below this spooky intro are several, usually up to 6, Tor links that will direct the infected user to the ransomware C2 server. Basically the same information is provided in the editions of ransom notes that the virus creates inside individual folders with scrambled files. Their names are the same as with the previous version, namely # DECRYPT MY FILES #.txt, # DECRYPT MY FILES #.html, and # DECRYPT MY FILES #.vbs. The VBScript file is the one that spells out the warning message via the computer’s speakers.
Cerber2 uses the AES algorithm to encrypt one’s files. This routine, however, has been enhanced as the ransomware now generates a secret crypto key whose size is twice as large as it used to be. The increase of the key’s entropy from 16 to 32 bytes is a more serious hurdle for decryption attempts than before. Another problem is that the virus also makes a mess of filenames, substituting the original ones with 10 random hexadecimal symbols. Such a technique makes it unfeasible to find a specific important file and try to apply forensics to restore it. An example of an entry processed by this plague is 4TRhlps3AG.cerber2.
At the end of the day, victims run the risk of losing their personal data unless they are willing to submit 1.7447 Bitcoins for the “Cerber Decryptor” tool via the dedicated Tor page. The deadline for this payment is 5 days. After this period expires, the ransom will double and amount to 3.4894 Bitcoins. No free decryption for one or several files is provided. In a predicament as tough as this, any means to an end is worthwhile. Go ahead and try the avenues below before considering the ransom-based restoration imposed by the threat actors.
Cerber2 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 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.
2. Open the application, select the types of recoverable files to look for, and click Next.
3. Choose the areas you want the tool to recover from and click the Scan button.
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.
Ransomware Prevention Tips
To avoid Cerber2 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.