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.ETH ransomware decryptor and removal

7 min read
In a recent move, the operators of the Dharma ransomware have launched a new variant that uses the .ETH file extension, so here’s how to sort things out.
  1. What is .ETH ransomware?
  2. .ETH ransomware automated removal and data recovery
  3. .ETH ransomware manual removal and file recovery
  4. Ransomware Prevention Tips

What is .ETH ransomware?

The crypto ransomware family dubbed Dharma, or CrySiS, is one of the few “timeless” species that stays afloat regardless of the tough competition and trends in the software extortion landscape. Interestingly, it hasn’t got a substantial overhaul of the modus operandi for years, which simply proves that the strain is well designed and the campaign is competently orchestrated. The only tweaks made during its evolution are minor and pertain to the extensions being appended to the locked-down files. The contamination routine and the cryptographic facet are inherited and passed on to every new spinoff. The latest one, which supersedes the .adobe file virus oldie, blemishes encoded data with the .ETH extension. This suffix is still prepended with the victim’s unique ID and email address of the attackers. For instance, a document named study.pdf will assume a form similar to study.pdf.id-00D36BC8.[datadecrypt@qq.com].ETH, study.pdf.id-241A303B.[raphaeldupon@aol.com].ETH etc.

Files with the [datadecrypt@qq.com].ETH extension encrypted by new variant of Dharma ransomware
Files with the .ETH extension encrypted by new variant of Dharma ransomware

The victims who aren’t familiar with the specifics of the rampant ransomware epidemic may have the illusion that the changes are external only and can be undone by editing filenames to ensure the format becomes correct. This is certainly a no-go, because the data is crippled in a much more severe way, and it’s cryptography that actually makes the information inaccessible. The extension string is simply a method to give the user a heads-up and provide the details to get started on paid recovery. The prerequisite of decryption is the secret key retained on the criminals’ Command and Control server. This highly random piece of information is what the malefactors try to sell for 0.1-0.5 Bitcoin, which is worth about $400-$2,000. The amount depends on who the victim is: if it’s an enterprise, the ransom is going to be higher than for a home user.

.ETH ransomware displays HTA ransom note in addition to dropping FILES ENCRYPTED.txt manual
.ETH ransomware displays HTA ransom note in addition to dropping FILES ENCRYPTED.txt manual

The .ETH ransomware interacts with its preys in several ways. One is a popup window that’s actually an application named Info.hta. It splashes up on its own after the incursion, providing the crooks’ contact email in the header and listing a few essentials of the data restoration in its body. Among other things, it includes the plagued user’s alphanumeric ID; a few links to buy Bitcoin cryptocurrency; and some tips to keep the files recoverable, such as to refrain from renaming them. Additionally, the alert offers a free decryption of one file as guarantee that the deal isn’t fiction. One more copy of the ransom note is the FILES ENCRYPTED.txt document that can be found on the desktop. It’s not nearly as verbose and says, “All your data has been locked us [sic]. You want to return? Write email raphaeldupon@aol.com”. By the way, the email address may vary, which aligns with the distribution of the Dharma virus on a RaaS (Ransomware-as-a-Service) basis by different “affiliates”. A few alternative ones include datadecrypt@qq.com, helpfilerestore@india.com and stopencrypt@qq.com.

The process of contamination with the .ETH ransomware is something that makes this lineage stand out from the rest. The felons are banking on RDP hacks to deposit their payload. In plain words, they scan the Internet for unprotected or improperly secured remote desktop connection ports, only to exploit them for incorporating the infection into the vulnerable computers manually. Unlike spam that’s a throw of the dice in a way, this vector makes the onslaught quite targeted. Speaking of the aftermath, there is no entirely reliable way to reinstate the ciphered .ETH files without the private decryption key owned by the perpetrators. Several techniques, though, may help restore data in case the ransomware has failed to complete its crypto workflow for whatever reason. Read more to find out what those methods are and how to remove the malicious program.

.ETH ransomware automated removal and data recovery

When faced with ransomware like .ETH, 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 .ETH 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

.ETH 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 .ETH 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 .ETH ransomware using Safe Mode with Networking

Remove .ETH ransomware using Safe Mode with Networking

Get rid of .ETH ransomware using System Restore

Get rid of .ETH 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.

Ways of non-ransom recovery of .ETH 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.

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 .ETH 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 .ETH 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 .ETH removal tool

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One Comment

  1. Anastasios Kesenlis

    March 14, 2019 at 8:40 pm

    is there any decrypt tool for that variant ?


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