News, Ransomware | 03/06/2019

How to Remove Pewcrypt Ransomware From Your System

About: PewCrypt is the new menacing ransomware that is invading thousands of PCs across the world & unlike other ransomware, it is asking victims to subscribe PewDiePie, a YouTube Felix in order to restore the encrypted data. The ransomware is expected to b...  Read More  

| News | How to Remove Pewcrypt Ransomware From Your System

Tips to Remove PewCrypt Ransomware

Pewcrypt Ransomware is the recent menacing feather in the ransomware category, aiming at thousands of systems globally. It grabbed researchers’ attention because of its low detection ratio & the use of Java encryption functions. The consequences include the encryption of critical data followed by a pop-up window asking users to subscribe PewDiePie.

Pop-up window Pewcrypt

Victims are looking for ways to delete pewcrypt ransomware completely from their system, however AES/RSA encryptions used by the developers to create & manage this ransomware is a hard cookie to crack. Researchers are suggesting the victims to restore the lost data from a backup.

Description on PewDiePie & Pewcrypt Ransomware

PewDiePie, a top-notch YouTuber Felix, is renowned for his video-game commentary & controversial comments. Yet he was able to retain its crown for being the most subscribed YouTube channel for last five years.

 

The prolonged & glittering success of PewDiePie was challenged when T-Series, an Indian Production company that gained over 72 million subscribers within months. After a long battle with T-series, PewDiePie held on to its subscriber’s crown with around 40,000 subscribers ahead of T-Series.

 

This long-drawn war between T-Series & PewDiePie took a strange turn when the researchers discovered pewcrypt ransomware, which is compelling innocent users to subscribe to PewDiePie in order to decrypt their sensitive data.

Temp1 PewCrypt

It is evident that this malicious file encoder program was not created for money extortion purposes. The author of pewcrypt ransomware is expected to be a PewDiePie Enthusiast who is asking the users to subscribe to this channel. Apparently, the anonymous author of this ransomware claims to release the decryptor as soon as YouTuber Felix, PewDiePie surpasses 100 million subscribers.

Threat BehaviorPewcrypt Ransomware

Pewcrypt Ransomware, a pernicious file encryptor program was picked up by the researchers for analysis in third week of February’19. It grabbed security analysts’ attention for its smart low detection ratio & used of Java for implementing encryption functions.

 

The analysis revealed that in order to get launched on a PC Pewcrypt Ransomware needs an existing installation of Java Runtime Environment (JRE) on the system. In case JRE is found in a system, Pewcrypt Ransomware initiates “java.security.SecureRandom()” class function that encrypts the data in the targeted system.

 

Upon encryption, the ransomware appends the targeted files with “.PewCrypt” extension. For example, file “sample.docx” is renamed to “sample.docx.PewCrypt”.

 

Following the encryption of the files, the ransomware triggers a pop-up message quoting that the data is encrypted by AES-256 Cryptography. In addition to that, the generated decryption key uses RSA-2048 cryptography for its encryption. It indicates that the victim needs two decryption keys in order to retrieve the compromised data.

The pop-up window followed by the files encryption reads as follows:

Ransom Note PewCrypt

Most of the ransomware authors hide decryption keys in their malware servers & threaten users to pay a ransom. However, in this case, fraudsters are asking victims to subscribe to PewDiePie & further stated that the decryption tool will be released only after PewDiePie has reached 100 million subscriptions.

Files targeted by Pewcrypt Ransomware

Detailed Analysis on ransomware’s threat behavior has revealed that it does not encrypt the files featuring DLL, EXE & JAR Extensions. However, the files encrypted by pewcrypt ransomware include:

  • Images
  • Text Documents
  • Databases
  • Audio Files
  • Video Files

The encrypted files are appended with an extension “.PewCrypt” & become inaccessible for the victims. Attempt to access the files follows a pop-up window that displays a comparison between Subscribers count of PewDiePie & T-series.

 

The message further states that the users’ data & files have been taken hostage by pewcrypt ransomware. It further prompts the users to subscribe PewDiePie & wait till PewDiePie’s subscribers count does not cross 100 Million.

Pewcrypt Ransomware-Distribution Techniques

The cybercriminals use various strategies for malware distribution which include –

  1. Software Bundling: Software bundling is the process in which a malicious program is distributed with other free software, to get an unnoticed entry into your computer system. When a user installs a free application, the malicious programs gains a front door entry with the free application, the user has downloaded. Thus, it is a good idea to keep an eye on the installation screens while installing these free applications.
  2. Infected Storage Devices: Your system can also get infected by using removable media such as USB hard drives and jump drives without scanning them with an anti-virus.
  3. Spam Emails – Spamming is the most economic and common method used for the distribution of such malware. The targeted users get genuine looking emails which contain .doc, .txt, and other similar attachments. These attachments can be named as anything which can grab the user’s attention and triggers him/her to open the attachment. As soon as the user opens this attachment, the malware infects the user’s computer system.
  4. Malicious Websites or Malevolent Advertisements: The malicious websites are the ones which are created just for promoting the malware infections. Such websites include but are not limited to porn sites, torrent sites and other free downloading platforms. By visiting such websites, the adware infects the user’s computer without permission. Fake advertisements and updates like Flash player and windows updates which ask the user to update to the latest version are a few examples. When the users click on such links, their computer system gets infected. That is why, it is highly recommended to resist clicking on such links. Also avoid clicking on advertisements offering free stuff such as Win an iPhones, cars or free overseas trips etc.

Threat Summary

Name: PewCrypt

Targeted Operating System: Windows

Category: Ransomware

Symptoms: User’s files are encrypted. All encrypted files are appended with .PewCrypt extension & a pop-up window asking users to subscribe to a top-notch YouTuber Felix, PewDiePie prompts on the screen. In addition to that, victims are asked to wait until the subscribers count of PewDiePie does not cross 100 Million.

 

How to remove pewcrypt ransomware from the system

STEP A: Remove the services installed by PewCrypt Ransomware from the System using Safe mode with Command Prompt

Windows 7/ Vista/ XP

  1. Click on Windows icon present in the lower left corner of the computer screen.
  2. Select and click Restart.
  3. When the screen goes blank, keep tapping F8 key until you see the Advanced Boot Options window.
  4. With the help of arrow keys on keyboard, Select Safe Mode with Command Prompt from the list and press the Enter Key. The system will then restart to Safe Mode with Command Prompt.
  5. Click on the username and enter the password (if any).

Windows 10 / Windows 8

  1. Press and hold the Shift Key and simultaneously click on the windows icon present in the lower left corner of your computer screen.
  2. While the Shift key is still pressed click on the Power button and then click on Restart.
  3. Now select Troubleshoot → Advanced options → Startup Settings.
  4. When the Startup Settings screen appears which is the first screen to appear after restart, select and click on Enable Safe Mode with Command Prompt. The system will then restart to Safe Mode with Command Prompt.
  5. Click on the username and enter the password.

STEP B: Restore your system files and settings

Method 1 using Control Panel

  1. Click on the ‘Start’ button on the taskbar. This will open the Start menu.
  2. Click on the ‘Control Panel’ button in the Start menu. This will open the control panel window.
  3. In the Control Panel window, click on the ‘View by:’ button on the top right. Select the Large Icon option
  4. In the control Panel window click on the ‘Recovery Icon’. This will open a window that will ask ‘Restore the computer to an earlier point in time’.
  5. Click on the ‘Open system restore’ button. This will open the ‘system restore ’window where you need to click on the Next Button.
  6.  Select the restore point that is prior the infiltration of Pewcrypt Ransomware. After doing that, click Next.
  7. This will open the ‘Confirm your restore point’ dialog box. Click on Finish button. This will restore your system to a previous restore point before your system was infected by Pewcrypt Ransomware.

OR

Method 2 using Command Prompt

  1. Type cmd in the search box and click on the command prompt to open the Command Prompt window. box and clicking on it.
  2. Once the Command Prompt window shows up, enter cd restore and click Enter.(Ensure that you in the system32 directory of Windows folder in C Drive)
  3. Now type rstrui and press Enter again.
  4. When a new window shows up, click Next and select your restore point that is prior the infiltration of Pewcrypt Ransomware. After doing that, click Next.
  5. This will open the ‘Confirm your restore point’ dialog box. Click on Finish button. This will restore your system to a previous restore point before your system was infected by Pewcrypt Ransomware.

OR

Method 3 : Directly type 'rstrui' in the search box

  1. Type ‘Rstrui’ in the search box present on the task bar. This will open the System restore dialog box.

Continue to follow steps 4 & 5 of Method 2 to restore the System Files and settings.

Tips to prevent your computer system from getting infected –

  1. Keeping the Operating System Updated- In order to remain protected and avoid such infections, it is recommended to keep your Operating System updated by enabling the automatic update on your system. The systems with outdated or older versions of Operating System become an easy target for the attackers.
  2. Resist clicking on spam emails – One of the major techniques used for malware distribution is forwarding spam emails to the user. The system gets infected as soon as the user clicks on the attachment. These mails appear to be genuine, so be aware and resist falling for these tricks.
  3. Keep an eye on third party installations- It is quite important that you take due care while installing any third party applications for they are major source of such infections. Such malware programs come bundled with the free applications thereby requiring the user to remain cautious.
  4. Regular periodical backup- In order to keep your data and files safe, it is recommended to take regular back up of all your data and files either on an external drive or cloud.
  5. Use Anti-Virus Protection- We strongly recommend the use of antivirus protection/internet security in your PC like Sophos and BULL GUARD so that it remains safe.
  6. Enable the Ad Blocker/Popup Blocker in your browser- Enabling the popup blocker/ ad blocker in your chosen browser will help you to stay protected from annoying adware.

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