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Remove LockBit 2.0 ransomware and restore encrypted files

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Remove LockBit 2.0 ransomware
Find out why the LockBit 2.0 ransomware is a severe threat to enterprises, how to avoid it, and what techniques can help recover from this attack.
  1. What is LockBit 2.0?
  2. LockBit 2.0 ransomware automated removal and data recovery
  3. LockBit 2.0 ransomware manual removal and file recovery
  4. Ransomware Prevention Tips

What is LockBit 2.0?

This competently tailored strain demonstrates that the ransomware landscape is reshaping, and the range of deleterious strains isn’t restricted to the ones that have been in the headlines for years. LockBit 2.0 is a redesigned variant of a crypto-abusing program that debuted in September 2019 and used the .abcd extension to stain scrambled files. The prototype couldn’t boast large-scale extortion raids, but with the emergence of the new iteration, things changed dramatically. Having staged an epic comeback in the mid-2021, it has hit an Israeli defense company E.M.I.T. Aviation Consulting, IT services giant Accenture, and Bangkok Airways over the short period. These incidents speak for themselves. The telltale signs of this cyber-disaster include the .lockbit extension concatenated to each encrypted file as well as the ransom notes named Restore-My-Files.txt dropped onto the desktop and into affected folders.

Desktop warning wallpaper set by LockBit 2.0 ransomware
Desktop warning wallpaper set by LockBit 2.0 ransomware

Technical characteristics of the LockBit 2.0 ransomware

This campaign is backed by a ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS) distribution model that involves two cooperating parties: operators and affiliates. The former get a cut from every payout made by victims, and the role of the latter is to infiltrate networks using turnkey instruments. Speaking of which, the distributors of the overhauled version can use a Tor-hosted admin dashboard, a port scanning feature that detects easily accessible subnetworks, autonomous lateral movement functionality, the blocking of processes and services that may hamper encryption, removal of Shadow Copies, print-outs of the ransom demands on local printers, and more. In an announcement made on darknet forums, crooks also claim their program uses the fastest encryption rate across the ransomware spectrum.

Threat details:
Name LockBit 2.0
Threat Category File-encrypting ransomware
Extensions added to encrypted files .lockbit
Ransom note name Restore-My-Files.txt
Symptoms Encrypts and exfiltrates an organization’s data, demands ransom in bitcoins for the decryption key, threatens to leak data if there is no payment
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 LockBit 2.0 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:

The scourge of double extortion: “Your data are stolen and encrypted”

LockBit 2.0 follows in the footsteps of other enterprise-targeting nasties out there by extracting large amounts of data out of infected networks before it applies encryption. This way, a threat actor keeps an ace up their sleeve that can make even the most stubborn victim change their mind. Their narrative in ransom negotiations is as follows: if no payment is received for decryption until a specified deadline, sensitive files will end up on a naming-and-shaming Tor site. The tactic adds reputational risks to the mix and thus pressures organizations into coughing up bitcoins.

Inaccessible files with the .lockbit extension, plus a ransom note inside the same folder
Inaccessible files with the .lockbit extension, plus a ransom note inside the same folder

Overall, LockBit 2.0 produces the impression of a high-quality ransomware operation, where every element of the extortion chain is refined to the smallest detail. The payment page is well-designed, many things are flawlessly automated, and even the encoded files get a unique icon with a “brand” logo featuring “L” and “B” letters – by the way, that’s something you won’t see in the competing campaigns. Also, every phrase in the victim interaction pages and other elements appears to have passed a proofreading stage and contains hardly any mistakes, which is a rare thing in this cybercrime niche.

Restore-My-Files.txt ransom how-to dropped by LockBit 2.0
Restore-My-Files.txt ransom how-to dropped by LockBit 2.0

As a way to prove that the files are recoverable, LockBit 2.0 peddlers give their victims the option of decrypting one file for free. Also, a breached organization gets a unique ID with which its representatives can enter the negotiation process using one of the three Tor sites listed in the Restore-My-Files.txt ransom manual. The amount of money at stake depends on the size of the network and on how valuable the exfiltrated information is. That’s usually hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of bitcoins, while in some scenarios the recovery is a matter of paying millions. Under the circumstances, a focus on proactive protection is more important than ever.

LockBit 2.0 distribution

This brings us to the ways LockBit 2.0 ransomware infiltrates corporate infrastructures. The attack vectors are versatile. They range from remote desktop services hacking and the exploitation of server software vulnerabilities, to phishing attacks targeting specific employees and the abuse of managed service providers (MSPs) the company is cooperating with. Of course, it’s difficult to plug all the holes that can serve as entry points for this impactful program, especially ones in the networks of third-party contractors. However, all such efforts are worthwhile. Regular penetration testing combined with a security awareness program for personnel can significantly minimize the risk. A well-thought-out backup strategy, in its turn, is a decent way to mitigate the damage in case of infection.

LockBit 2.0 ransomware automated removal and data recovery

When faced with ransomware like LockBit 2.0, 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 LockBit 2.0 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

LockBit 2.0 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 LockBit 2.0 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 LockBit 2.0 ransomware using Safe Mode with Networking

Remove LockBit 2.0 ransomware using Safe Mode with Networking

Get rid of LockBit 2.0 ransomware using System Restore

Get rid of LockBit 2.0 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 LockBit 2.0 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 LockBit 2.0 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 LockBit 2.0 ransomware removal tool

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