Find out why the new ShurL0ckr ransomware stands out from the pack and how to regain access to files that were encrypted by this evasive blackmail virus.
The crypto ransomware landscape has been continuously expanding with samples that resemble one another a lot. They propagate via malspam, hacked RDP services or exploit kits, encrypt victims’ data and try to wheedle out a certain amount of cryptocurrency in exchange for decryption. There seems to be hardly anything substantial to add to this modus operandi. A group of cybercriminals, though, have recently managed to introduce a bit of groundbreaking stuff to this well-trodden paradigm. Their misbehaving contrivance codenamed ShurL0ckr zeroes in on file-sharing cloud applications in addition to data stored locally on disk.
The ShurL0ckr virus is in fact a variant of the Gojdue ransomware strain that was originally discovered in April 2017. It is distributed on a Ransomware-as-a-Service basis, a counterpart of the garden variety affiliate networks, except it’s a malicious one. Having signed up with the RaaS, crooks can indicate their Bitcoin address to route the ransoms, enter the size of the ransom, and create a PE file for their custom malware build to be distributed. The operators get a 10% cut of all ransoms, while the peddlers keep the rest. This type of ransomware deployment means that the delivery of the payload is entirely up to the ‘affiliate’, which explains how come the reported infection instances have involved different vectors, including phishing emails with booby-trapped attachments and exploit kits.
ShurL0ckr targets machines running 64-bit versions of Windows. It boasts a very low detection rate across the board. Having been dropped onto a host, the toxic binary invokes commands to traverse local data repositories in search of data in common formats and check whether the victim uses cloud applications. If the latter turns out to be the case, the culprit accesses cloud storage while circumventing the provider’s security solutions. Thus far, it is known to get around the defenses built into Google Drive and Microsoft Office 365. When the data lookup has been completed, the ShurL0ckr ransomware encrypts all the spotted items using asymmetric cryptosystem and appends the .cypher extension to each one.
To let the victim know what’s going on and how to sort things out, the pest drops a ransom note onto the desktop. It is called HOW_TO_DECRYPT_FILES.html and says, “Your files have been encrypted,” also providing a hyperlink to an onion.to page containing a detailed recovery walkthrough. The felons instruct the plagued user to send 0.01 BTC to their Bitcoin address so that they can download the decryption program. Instead of going that route, though, it is strongly recommended to leverage alternative techniques of data recovery.
ShurL0ckr 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.
ShurL0ckr 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 ShurL0ckr blackmail 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 ShurL0ckr-encrypted .cypher 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 the ShurL0ckr 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.