Get the lowdown on the RedBoot ransomware that prevents a host system from booting and additionally encrypts files, speckling them with the .locked extension.
Blackmail viruses like RedBoot have evoked a serious discussion in the IT security circles. These types of cyber-culprits cause much more damage than mainstream ransomware as their adverse effects go beyond personal data encryption alone. The above-mentioned infection, for instance, additionally corrupts the Master Boot Record and skews the partition table to render the machine inoperable. Some researchers argue that perpetrating programs with such a depth of impact make victims highly skeptical regarding their chances for recovery, hence the crooks earn less than they would if the pest simply enciphered files without blocking computers altogether. And yet, the makers of RedBoot don’t seem to care and keep spreading their Petya-ish baddie regardless.
There is scarce information at this point concerning the propagation vectors used by unscrupulous proprietors of the RedBoot campaign. It is most likely, however, that the infection arrives with malspam. What is known for a fact is that the payload is an AutoIT object that, when triggered, adds several more files into the Trojan’s main folder on the target workstation. Each extra module performs its own task. For example, the main.exe binary is responsible for encrypting the victim’s files; protect.exe thwarts troubleshooting by terminating processes like Task Manager; and overwrite.exe deploys the MBR tweaking routine.
The first thing on RedBoot’s ‘agenda’ once it’s inside a computer is to overwrite the Master Boot Record of the machine with a custom bootloader. Then, it will traverse the hard disk for files that are subject to encryption. Unfortunately, the intended list of data formats includes executables along with regular documents, images, videos, databases and the like. This is, per se, a potential risk for the stability of the plagued system.
Every data entry found during the scan gets encrypted. To blemish these files, the ransomware additionally concatenates the .locked extension to each one. This suffix may be iterated so that a sample file named Budget.xlsx assumes the shape of Budget.xlsx.locked.locked. Note that the original filename and extension are preserved, being simply appended with the extra string. After the data encryption phase has been completed, the Trojan issues a command to reboot the infected machine. When it starts back up, the user will see a ransom warning instead of their regular Windows interface. The text on the red screen goes, “This computer and all of its files have been locked! Send an email to email@example.com containing your ID key for instructions on how to unlock them. Your ID key is [random hexadecimal string].”
In other words, the victim is instructed to contact the threat actors at firstname.lastname@example.org, and will then supposedly receive a walkthrough to unlock the PC and decrypt files with the .locked extension. A big caveat to recovery, though, is that there is no way to enter the unlock key, which suggests that RedBoot is either too crude at this point, or it’s a data wiper that shouldn’t provide any restoration options in the first place. One way or another, the fix should start with creating and using a bootable rescue CD or USB so that the system actually loads. Stick with the procedure below to do the rest of the fix.
RedBoot 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.
RedBoot 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 RedBoot 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 .locked 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 RedBoot 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.