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Qlocker QNAP ransomware removal and data recovery

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Remove Qlocker QNAP ransomware
In a recent clever move, the Qlocker ransomware group has been using 7zip tool to lock data on numerous QNAP NAS devices with critical vulnerabilities inside.
  1. What is the Qlocker ransomware?
  2. Qlocker ransomware automated removal and data recovery
  3. Qlocker ransomware manual removal and file recovery
  4. Ransomware Prevention Tips

What is the Qlocker ransomware?

An outbreak of a new unusual ransomware strain called Qlocker has demonstrated that cyber extortionists are good at outsmarting traditional security mechanisms and don’t mind taking shortcuts. The gang in charge has been exploiting vulnerabilities in several components of the QNAP network-attached storage (NAS) infrastructure to infiltrate the corresponding devices and remotely run the 7zip archive application to lock down data. The damage in this case goes beyond password-protecting victims’ files. With a fairly strong cryptographic algorithm being part of 7zip feature set, the target items undergo unauthorized encryption, which in turn allows Qlocker operators to set an ultimatum and demand money for decrypting files that suddenly became appended with the *.7z extension and, worst of all, inaccessible.

Tor payment page used by Qlocker ransomware
Tor payment page used by Qlocker ransomware

According to victims’ observations, the only conspicuous red flag is that numerous instances of the 7z process are visible in the Resource Monitor utility during the attack. Once this stage is completed, users cannot open their files that were moved into password-protected archive entities. Qlocker also drops a ransom note that explains what happened and provides an ID that must be entered to log into a specified Tor payment page uniquely associated with the victim. The site adds clarity to the blackmail by demanding 0.01 Bitcoin (worth about $500 at the time of writing) for the recovery password.

This is interesting because most ransomware actors want much bigger amounts reaching thousands or tens of thousands of dollars per device. In the Qlocker scenario, though, the relatively small ransom plays into crooks’ hands, as users are less hesitant when deciding whether or not to pay. Security researchers were able to track down the payments based on BTC addresses in ransom notes – they found that the malefactors received at least $260,000 as of April 24, 2021. Note that this was just five days since the campaign began. Pair the profit with the fact that the felons didn’t have to invest a penny in creating a separate ransomware program and are using an open-source archiver instead, and the whole extortion model gets really offbeat and crafty. Fellow-extortionists from other groups must be feeling jealous right now.

Threat details:
Name Qlocker ransomware
Threat Category File-encrypting ransomware
Extensions added to encrypted files .7z
Symptoms Moves files to encrypted archives and drops a ransom note demanding 0.01 BTC (about $500) for the decryption key
Distribution techniques Mass-scanning for devices with known QNAP NAS vulnerabilities, SQL injection
Severity High
Damage Data loss in case of non-payment
Removal Scan your PC with Combo Cleaner for Windows to detect all files related to Qlocker 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:

As is the case with any ransomware attack, the biggest issue with the Qlocker infection isn’t about the filename tweaking or scary-looking ransom demands. It’s about a dramatic change in the structure of every file at a deep level due to dodgy use of cryptography. This predatory program employs a cipher provided by 7zip to achieve a rock-solid degree of data scrambling. It means that the odds of recovering these items without the criminals-owned unique password is close to fiction. And yet, white hats were able to decrypt the keys for about 50 victims via a loophole in the criminals’ payment confirmation routine. Replacing a lowercase letter to uppercase in the “transaction ID” on Qlocker Tor site made the system misinterpret the event as if it were a new payment, when it was actually an edited string for a victimized user who had previously submitted the ransom. However, the threat actors fixed this bug shortly.

The Qlocker crew uses a series of security gaps in QNAP components to gain original foothold in NAS devices. The apps exposed to easy infiltration include the Media Streaming Add-on, Multimedia Console, and Hybrid Backup Sync. The most-exploited weakness is an SQL vulnerability documented as CVE-2020-36195. The service provider has released patches for all loopholes it could identify when investigating this stratagem, so it’s now up to users to apply these updates and stay protected. If you are a QNAP user and the Qlocker nasty is holding your data for ransom, try the following methods to clean the device and get those files back.

Qlocker ransomware automated removal and data recovery

When faced with ransomware like Qlocker, 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 Qlocker 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

Qlocker 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 Qlocker 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 Qlocker ransomware using Safe Mode with Networking

Remove Qlocker ransomware using Safe Mode with Networking

Get rid of Qlocker ransomware using System Restore

Get rid of Qlocker 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 .7z files encrypted by Qlocker

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 Qlocker 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 Qlocker 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 Qlocker ransomware removal tool

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