Today, we live in a world that has given true meaning to the concept of the global village by digitally connecting every nook and corner of this planet. Modern technology and digitally connected world have endless benefits, but it also has some pitfalls.
One of the major threats among many is the advent of crypto-viruses such as Local Ransomware, which aims to encrypt important data and files stored locally on the computer systems. In lieu to get them back, the user/owner of the system needs to pay some money to the hackers in the form of Bitcoin to retrieve and decrypt the files.
The Ransomware nexus is very prominent and often news from some parts of the world with these types of cyber attacks is heard. There are various types of Ransomware and this blog exclusively discusses the .local Ransomware, which was recently in the news for the Alabama DCH Hospital fiasco and many other Ransomware attacks on local US government establishments.
It is one of the newest forms of crypto-virus threat belonging to the Scarab ransomware family, which encrypts user data using a multistage algorithm, making files unusable for the system users. This type of local virus is capable of locking all the digital assets like – images, videos, audio files, spreadsheets, doc files and many more. The encrypted files are renamed with ‘.local extensions’ and also has a .txt file describing the details to recover encrypted files. The details in the text file contain an email ID from the developer of the ransomware – (email@example.com), along with an appointed ID to contact them and get the payment details. To gain the trust of the local virus victims, the developers decrypt some encrypted files. The victims are often advised by the hackers to not change the extension of the files manually as that may cause permanent loss of the data stored in those files. It’s worth mentioning that these types of ransomware come with the encryption algorithm (Symmetric or Asymmetric) that are hard to crack manually. The person responsible for designing it holds the key to decrypt and unlock the files.
Screenshot of the message, asking for a ransom to decrypt files:
|Symptoms||It infiltrates your system with the motive to encrypt stored files. After successful encryption, the virus demands Ransom money to decrypt them.|
|Damage||You cannot open a locked file without paying the asked ransom. Additionally, it may increase the malicious payload in your system.|
|Removal||Download Removal Tool|
It’s a million-dollar question inquired by every local virus victim. The fact is, there is no clear answer to this, and the researchers are still brainstorming to get into something conclusive in this regard. Though it’s unclear, various cyber experts have opined that the spam emails, software downloads from untrusted websites, visiting porn and other malicious websites can be potential gateways for the local virus ransomware.
Being a member of Scarab Ransomware lineage, it also follows the identical pattern for infecting the system and its files. It uses the powerful file encoding algorithm to attack the hard drives instead of completely spoiling operating systems to extort the money. The file infected with this virus will appear with the .local extension along with a .txt file with the information about the demands of the hackers.
A stipulated time is given to the local Ransomware victims to meet the demands of the hackers and in most cases, it’s 72 Hrs. If the demand is fulfilled and money is transferred, of course in the form of Bitcoin, the key to unlock the encrypted .Local files are promised from the attacker’s side. In most cases, the ransom demand ranges from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars, depending upon the size and nature of the virus attack and the economical strength of victims facing it. The promise made by hackers seems to allure and tempt the victims to get back the files. But, there are few instances in the past, where even after the fulfilling monetary demand, the key to unlock the encrypted files have not been delivered. So, paying the ransom to hackers in desperation to decrypt the files is not a viable option.
In case, if you have encountered and become a victim of any ransomware attack, follow the below stated steps to remove that:
To restart the system to Safe Mode with Networking, if already switched ON then follow the below steps:
5 Once the system restarts, click on the username and enter the password (if any) to log in.
Once the system starts, ensure to use an account with administrative privilege to access Safe Mode with Command Prompt.
After the user enters admin credentials, Command prompt window is displayed wherein you are entitled to enter the below commands:
For Windows 7
Continue to follow steps 4 & 5 of Method 2 to restore the System Files and settings.
It’s a common saying that ‘prevention is better than cure’. This fits perfectly with the contemporary fragile digital world that is highly prone to security threats in the form of virus attacks. Below are some of the tips for the users to counter the increasing threats of ransomware
1). Timely Update the Operating System: This is highly mandatory and recommended for all the users because the outdated OS is more likely to become an easy target for the attackers. It’s better to keep the ‘automatic operating system update’ option checked to avoid any human error.
2). Avoid Clicking Spam Emails: According to cyber experts, this is the most effective way to make ransomware reach your system. These emails often appear very genuine, though from an unknown sender, and as you click that, its attachments will take over your system and will start encrypting the files stored in the hard drive. The best way to avoid this scenario is to filter out all the unknown emails to the spam folder of your mailbox and never click or open any suspicious mail from an anonymous person.
3). Avoid Installing Apps From the Third-Party: We often tend to fall for some free third-party Apps because they seem very useful at first glance. But, this may be a trap and a medium to reach out to your system to bug it. It’s highly advisable to not fall for free and high utility Apps from any untrusted third party. If possible completely avoid such Apps and if it’s very much required then check for all the security loopholes before installing.
4). Keep the Backup of all Hard Drive Data: Of all the available solutions, this is the most effective and viable until now. It’s because neither the hacker nor any recovery tool can guarantee the complete restoration of the encrypted files infected by Local ransomware. So, it’s better to keep the backup of files on an external drive or cloud, to tackle the worst-case scenario in the most practical way.
5). Use Anti-Virus: The use of a premium antivirus is the first pillar of defense against any ransomware attack. Many software like – Kaspersky, Hitman Pro, BULL GUARD, and several others are readily available in both online and physical stores.
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The researchers at Virus Removal Guidelines are dedicated to track down the latest vulnerabilities which may infringe your system security. Our team of expert performs a detailed research about every malware infection before educating our users about the same.
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