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TFlower ransomware decryption and removal

7 min read
A rampant progress of the targeted crypto-viral epidemic continues to spawn new strains, with TFlower ransomware being the latest addition to the e-crime trend.
  1. What is the TFlower ransomware?
  2. TFlower ransomware automated removal and data recovery
  3. TFlower ransomware manual removal and file recovery
  4. Ransomware Prevention Tips

What is the TFlower ransomware?

The ups and downs of file-encrypting ransomware as a phenomenon proved to be much more dramatic than fluctuations in the distribution of any other malware category. Having almost vanished from the cybercrime landscape two years ago, the plague has gone through groundbreaking metamorphosis, only to re-emerge in a novel shape with higher quality and new infection vectors at its core. As a result, ubiquitous ransom Trojans indiscriminately hunting both small and large prey are no longer the top security concern now in 2019. They have been superseded by samples that zero in on corporate networks, healthcare organizations, and governmental branches around the world.

This shift gave rise to nasties like the TFlower ransomware. Originally discovered in late July, this specimen didn’t seem to be a big deal as it wasn’t backed by massive propagation back then. A few months later, things started getting hot due to a growing number of incident reports from the enterprise sector involving this lineage. The wakeup call in all these scenarios is that data becomes inaccessible and a ransom message named !_Notice_!.txt is sprinkled throughout the infected hosts.

!_Notice_!.txt ransom note dropped by TFlower ransomware

Unlike many other widespread ransomware samples, TFlower doesn’t modify filenames. It does encrypt the files proper, though. This way, the victim cannot open or edit their most valuable data and is literally coerced to resort to the above-mentioned rescue note for recovery steps. Instead of tweaking hostage files on the outside, this infection unleashes a peculiar quirk that allowed researchers to dub it this way. If an encrypted item is put to analysis with a hex editor, its inner binary structure turns out to have a *tflower prefix followed by a scrambled encryption key uniquely generated for this file. However, the vast majority of victims won’t notice this deep-level change. What actually strikes the eye is that ostensibly normal-looking files suddenly get locked down beyond regular restoration. It comes as no surprise that the ransom note may instill some faint hope in the desperate IT personnel and executives of a raided organization. However, even a quick peek into the !_Notice_!.txt document dropped by TFlower ransomware is enough to dispel this illusion.

TFlower doesn’t alter filenames while thwarting access to data

The fundamentals of remedying the situation as offered by the extortionists boil down to an uncomforting “deal” explicated in the ransom note that starts with a scary phrase “Important notice that is urgent and true”. Be advised that there are several known editions of this document that differ in terms of the details listed, including the payment site address, the Bitcoin ransom size, and the contact info to reach out to the perpetrators. The discrepancy could mean that the TFlower virus is being distributed by several cybercriminal groups at the same time. With that said, the tone and general warning text are identical across all cases. The message goes on to say:

“Dear Sir/Ma,

Sorry to inform you but many files of your company has [sic] just been encrypted with a strong key.
This simply means that you will not be able to use your files until it is [sic] decrypted by the same key used in encrypting it.

To get the decrypt tool for your company, you have to make payment to us so as to recover your files.”

The crooks additionally claim to test-decrypt one file free of charge, with the caveat that it shouldn’t contain any valuable information. To proceed with recovery, the victim is supposed to contact the attackers at one of the following email addresses: flower.harris@protonmail.com, flower.harris@tutanota.com, or flowerboard@torguard.tg. In response to the message, the TFlower ransomware operators will send back a URL of the personal payment page, which is hosted at Tor (The Onion Router) anonymity network. In some cases, the address is indicated in the rescue manual proper so that the victim needn’t engage in the shady email correspondence unless they have additional questions or want to negotiate with the malefactors.

TFlower ransom payment page on Tor anonymity network

The resulting .onion resource is named “Flower” and provides the essentials of the ransom payment process. In particular, it mentions the receiving Bitcoin address, current payment status, an area to upload a test file for free decryption, and of course the amount of the ransom. The latter depends on the scope of the infected enterprise network and therefore varies. It can range from 15 BTC to as much as 70 BTC – either way, the sum is huge regardless of the affected business. Furthermore, even if a company happens to opt for this horrific covenant, there is absolutely no guarantee that the attackers will ever carry through with their promise to provide a viable automatic decryptor along with the secret decryption key.

At this point, those infected probably contemplate over what went wrong and allowed the breach to take place. The only confirmed entry point the TFlower ransomware distributors are leveraging is all about compromising remote desktop services. This tactic is one of the present-day cyber extortionists’ favorites, especially when it comes to incursions against large computer networks. The felons employ malicious toolkits available on the Dark Web to scan a targeted corporate environment for hosts using weak RDP credentials. If found, these connections are exploited to deposit the ransom Trojan onto a vulnerable machine manually. Then, the malicious actors launch PsExec or similar utility to pollute other computers on the same network.

If there are no recent data backups stored on unaffected hardware or in a properly protected cloud, the odds of reinstating the encrypted data without coughing up the unthinkable ransom are fairly low. Are the alternative recovery methods worth trying under the circumstances? They certainly are, but the TFlower ransomware should be completely removed from a poisoned network prior to any further fixes. See the tutorial below to learn how to get rid of the infection and attempt to get the data back.

TFlower 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 ransomware infections 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

TFlower 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 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 the TFlower ransomware using Safe Mode with Networking

Remove the TFlower 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 the TFlower using System Restore

Get rid of the TFlower 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 TFlower

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 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 TFlower 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.

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