Home Guides Sodinokibi ransomware decryption and removal [upd. June 2019]

Sodinokibi ransomware decryption and removal [upd. June 2019]

6 min read
In a clever move, cybercriminals have released the Sodinokibi ransomware that harnesses a recently documented security flaw in popular server software.
  1. What is the Sodinokibi ransomware?
  2. Sodinokibi ransomware automated removal and data recovery
  3. Sodinokibi ransomware manual removal and file recovery
  4. Ransomware Prevention Tips

What is the Sodinokibi ransomware?

Breaking news of the day in the InfoSec area is the emergence of a new ransom Trojan codenamed Sodinokibi. A vast majority of modern ransomware strains are fairly dull and don’t become the talk of the town, but this one is special. The operators of the dodgy campaign have weaponized a vulnerability in Oracle WebLogic Server catalogued as CVE-2019-2725, which was patched by the vendor in late April. Even though this loophole was short-lived, the server owners who haven’t yet applied the critical update continue to be susceptible to this attack. Essentially, the crooks are leveraging this flaw to bypass authentication and gain a foothold on an unsecured IT infrastructure. This way, they can remotely execute harmful code without raising any serious red flags whatsoever. Ever since the bug was discovered, different threat actors have reportedly used it to install botnet malware and cryptojacking viruses onto the hosts. The latest addition to this list is the above-mentioned Sodinokibi ransomware.

Sodinokibi ransomware stains encrypted files with random alphanumeric extension
Sodinokibi ransomware stains encrypted files with random alphanumeric extension

The first thing this predatory file-encrypting entity does inside a breached environment is invoke a set of commands to disable VSS (Volume Snapshot Service) and the Startup Repair feature. This is a typical tactic for malicious code of that sort aimed at preventing the victim from remediating the subsequent changes to the system and data. The next stage of the raid is quite predictable as well – Sodinokibi scans the plagued network for valuable information, which is to become the central object of blackmail. When the thorough traversal is completed, the culprit skews the files by means of cryptography. In the upshot of this effect, the data turns inaccessible and the only prerequisite for regaining the access is the secret key that’s in the criminals’ possession. Each hostage file additionally gets a victim-specific random extension added to the filename, for example, Stats.xlsx will transform into something like Stats.xlsx.1r3n5ts. The length of this extension varies, but it will usually consist of 6-8 alphanumeric characters.

Document with ransom instruction dropped by Sodinokibi virus
Document with ransom instruction dropped by Sodinokibi virus

The Sodinokibi malady also fits the mold of the commonplace ransomware by dropping a ransom note. That’s a document named [random]-HOW-TO-DECRYPT.txt, where the part in brackets matches the extension concatenated to all the impacted files on a server. In this document, the malefactors address the victim with the phrase “dear friend”, which is ironic given that they are just about to demand money. In a nutshell, the black hats recommend installing Tor Browser and using it to visit a specific page, which is a payment hub in the felons’ modus operandi. The .onion page titled “Your computer have [sic] been infected!” says the ransom size valid for the first 3 days is $2,500 worth of Bitcoin, and it will double after the deadline. The victim is supposed to send the cryptocurrency to a BTC receiving address provided in the payment site.

Sodinokibi attack via Kaseya RMM in June 2019

In late June 2019, the operators of Sodinokibi ransomware refined their repertoire with a clever distribution trick. The new technique relies on compromising the Kaseya RMM (remote monitoring and management) software to contaminate endpoints with the file-encrypting infection. This sub-campaign reportedly leveraged the RMM hack to circumvent the defenses of multiple MSPs (managed service providers) and thereby infect hundreds of hosts with Sodinokibi. The vendors have denied allegations of incurred breaches via security vulnerabilities, claiming that the crooks were able to compromise customers’ credentials instead.

So much for the behavior of the Sodinokibi pest. There is one more facet of this outbreak that’s really disconcerting. The adversaries are reportedly distributing a follow-up threat, which is a sample of mainstream ransomware known as GandCrab 5.2. Such a multi-pronged attack is certainly a big concern, both for those contaminated and the server admins who are safe so far but haven’t patched the vulnerability yet. The tips below will shed light upon ransom-less recovery done right – they might or might not do the trick, but they’re certainly worth a shot.

Sodinokibi 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

Download Sodinokibi file virus remover

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.

Download Data Recovery Pro

Data Recovery Pro

Sodinokibi 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 Sodinokibi 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.

Remove Sodinokibi ransomware using Safe Mode with Networking

Remove Sodinokibi ransomware using Safe Mode with Networking

Boot into Safe Mode with Networking. The method to do it depends on the version of the infected operating system. Follow the instructions below for your OS build.

  • 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.Boot into Safe Mode with Networking on Windows Vista and 7
  • 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.Boot options on Windows 8, 8.1 and 10
  • 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.

Get rid of Sodinokibi ransomware using System Restore

Get rid of Sodinokibi 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 files encrypted by Sodinokibi ransomware

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 Sodinokibi file 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 the Sodinokibi 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.

Download Sodinokibi ransomware removal tool

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