Get an in-depth security report on the new Defray ransomware that zeroes in on high-profile targets, encrypts proprietary data and holds it for ransom.
Targeted cyber-attacks with crypto ransomware is currently the exception rather than the rule. Large-scale extortion campaigns indiscriminate about victim types apparently pay off better and are therefore a much more common encounter these days. And yet, samples like the Defray virus pop up on the ransomware arena every so often. What makes this specimen stand out from the crowd is that the threat actors in charge are going after specific industries based in the United Kingdom and United States. It got its name from the C2 server URL being used, namely defrayable-listings(dot)000webhostapp(dot)com. The payload arrives with trojanized Microsoft Word email attachments disguised as important documents that are likely to catch the recipient’s attention. For instance, some of the incursions fired at healthcare organizations feature rogue patient reports. By the way, the targeted industry segments also include education, technology and manufacturing.
The booby-trapped files sent to company employees via email reportedly contain an obfuscated executable that’s an OLE (Object Linking and Embedding) packager. Once a would-be victim opens the malicious attachment, the ransomware gets covertly deposited onto the host. It can be camouflaged as a legitimate Windows process, such as explorer.exe or taskmgr.exe. Just like the average strain from this category, the executable ends up inside the Temp folder. When launched, the perpetrating program disables the Volume Snapshot Service (VSS) so that the plagued user is unable to use shadow copies of files for the purpose of recovery. Then, the pest spreads across the corporate network, runs a scan for about 100 data formats and encrypts all the detected files using a mix of RSA-2048 and AES-256 ciphers. It’s noteworthy that it skips system objects, including EXEs and LNK files, so that the contaminated system won’t be damaged too badly. Also, the infection does not alter filenames, nor does it append any extra extensions to them.
The next phase of the onslaught chain is to establish a sort of communication with the victim. To this end, the Defray ransomware drops what’s called ransom notes onto the desktop. These are files named FILES.txt and HELP.txt, which contain the essentials of the attack that took place, as well as the steps for data restoration. The warning part of these how-to’s goes, “Don’t panic, read this and contact someone from IT department. Your computer has been infected with a virus known as ransomware. All files including your personal or business documents, backups and projects are encrypted.” Ultimately, the rescue manual instructs the victim to submit $5,000 worth of Bitcoin to the attackers. It also provides the felons’ contact emails addresses, including email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, and email@example.com. Alternatively, those infected can reach the threat actors via Bitmessage client.
All in all, the Defray ransomware has relatively small reach as far as the quantity of its targets goes, but the amounts of cryptocurrency being extorted are generally higher than the average in this cybercriminal underground. The use of phishing emails is yet another distinguishing hallmark of this extortion wave. In order to sort things out, an infected organization should make sure the malicious code is eliminated from their network and then leverage data backups, which are hopefully part of their risk mitigation strategy. Otherwise, things may get out of hand and the executives will probably have to negotiate with the crooks. Fortunately, there may be some chance that the Defray virus wasn’t able to encrypt everything securely or delete shadow copies. If that’s the case, use the following steps to get modified files back.
Defray 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.
Defray 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 .master file 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 .kk extension 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 Defray 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.