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Dharma Ransomware Virus (Removal Steps and Protection Updates)

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dharma-ransomware-extension-email-dharma-crysis-version

Dharma is the name of a new ransomware that has been spotted to infect computer users. The cryptovirus is developed to encrypt sensitive user data. And all encrypted data gets a specific malicious extension and is no longer able to be opened.

In this article, we will reveal further information about the infection, removal approaches and recovery solutions.

In the next sections, we will go into more depth about Dharma ransomware features, its distribution methods, and what you need to do to remove the threat completely from the infected system.

Details About Dharma Ransomware

The threat is new, and security experts are currently investigating its source code. The initial analysis of Dharma samples raised doubts whether it has something in common with another ransomware – CrySiS or not. The thorough examination of its code and its behavior confirms that it belongs to the CrySiS ransomware family. Security experts report that upon infection a file ‘README.TXT‘ is dropped to every folder.

Whenever there is new information about Dharma ransomware, we update the information in this article so it would contribute overall help to all victims.

In some cases Dharma ransomware may affect only the folder ‘C:\Users’ but the attackers may have developed different versions of the threat so that other folders except the mentioned below may be affected too. So upon a scan of the drives the threat is designed to utilize a strong encoding cipher – AES-256. It is likely that the data stored in the one of the following folders will be encrypted:

  • %UserProfile%\Desktop
  • %UserProfile%\Documents
  • %UserProfile%\Pictures
  • %UserProfile%\Downloads
  • %UserProfile%\Music
  • %UserProfile%\Videos

The Dharma ransomware is reported to infect terminal and exchange servers. It may encrypt substantial data like documents, images, audio files, video files, Microsoft Office files, PDF files and database files. The encrypted files get two extensions in a line, appended to their original names. The suffix conforms to the pattern filename’.(email).dharma’. The reports of some infection cases reveal that there are currently two emails used for the first extension. However, various emails might be employed for the extension. In case that your system is infected you might have one of the following extensions attached to the encrypted files:

  • .[[email protected]].dharma
  • .[[email protected]].dharma
  • .[[email protected]].dharma
  • .[[email protected]].dharma
Update! Dharma ransomware is detected to have several other variants. The major changes refer to the malicious extensions that are used upon encryption. Thus, the .wallet, .zzzzz, [email protected] extensions are to be associated with Dharma ransomware infection.

There is no evidence of specific ransom note to be displayed by Dharma ransomware. The attackers don’t provide any instructions and rely on victim’s intention to contact them to the email that is left as an extension. However, it is likely for ransomware viruses to apply the practice to drop a file that serves as a ransom note, so it could be dropped in any folder on the infected computer. The file type is likely to be .txt, .html or .jpg file. It is still unknown what the amount of the ransom is, but it is likely to be in Bitcoins.

Several files associated with the threat are:

  • Scanda.exe
  • worm.exe
  • README.txt
  • C:\DOCUME~1\~1\LOCALS~1\Temp\nsa1.tmp
  • C:\DOCUME~1\~1\LOCALS~1\Temp\Ripoff.Acm
  • C:\DOCUME~1\~1\LOCALS~1\Temp\qiblas.dll
  • C:\DOCUME~1\~1\LOCALS~1\Temp\nsa2.tmp
  • C:\DOCUME~1\~1\LOCALS~1\Temp\nsa2.tmp\System.dll

Since its first appearance, Dharma has proven itself to be one of the most dangerous viruses out there. The ransomware has infected thousands of users since its November “premiere.” The steady wave of infections proves that the scammers know what they’re doing. Most ransomware viruses tend to fade into obscurity after a few weeks. Dharma has been going strong for about four months.

As you can see, the virus is very dangerous. If you got infected once your computer may be still in danger. You can prevent further infections by reinforcing your defenses. Buy an anti-malware wall and protect your PC from further infections.

Distribution of Dharma Ransomware

The malicious payloads of most crypto viruses like Dharma ransomware are frequently distributed via spam emails. A spam email may have a link in the message text that once accessed might start a drive-by download of Dharma ransomware payloads. The malicious files could also be included in a file that is compressed in an archive and attached to the email. The email sender usually pretends to be a legitimate source.

Security Tip:
Online malware scanner services like VirusTotal will check whether a URL is malicious or not. Furthermore, whenever a file is uploaded it passes through a security check. Then the service provides information about its security status. The usage of such kind of services will help you decide how to proceed further with all suspicious files and eventually prevent malware infection.

How Can I Protect Myself Against Dharma Ransomware

The Internet is filled with ransomware threats such as Dharma virus. You can take the following step for further protection:

  • Avoid visiting shady websites that include pirated content, pornography, or excessive ads
  • Don’t download archive attachments from unknown sources in your email
  • Don’t register into shady websites. That increases the chance of our email address being added to a botnet that spreads viruses.

The Dharma ransomware continues to infect users. We now know that the most heavily affected territories are:

  • India
  • Germany
  • Spain
  • France
  • Thailand

Users all around the world can still be infected, as the scammers aren’t particularly picky about who they steal from.

What Should Be Done in Case of Dharma Ransomware Infection?

In a case of infection with Dharma ransomware, the computer is still usable but whenever a new file is added it is automatically encrypted too, if not immediately then after a PC reboot. This is why we recommend to all victims of the threat to remove the malware from the computer. The removal could be done manually, and for this purpose, we recommend following the step-by-step guide below. However, until there is no full information about the threat’s impact and the malicious files and objects associated with it, for best results and complete removal we recommend the help of a real-time anti-malware. Furthermore, such software will protect the system against future malware intrusions.

Decryption of .(email).dharma Files

“This may be a new variant based on CrySiS”, Michael Gillespie

If the guesses of the security researchers prove to be true and Dharma is a new variant of CrySiS ransomware, it is reasonable to assume that the threat will be cracked soon. Earlier this week the master decryption keys for CrySiS ransomware have been released as well as a working decryptor. So now the Kaspersky’s RakhniDecryptor is updated and could decrypt .crysis files. This is one of the possible recovery approaches.

Before making any attempts to recover the data, do a backup of the encrypted files because if something goes wrong during the recovery process, the data can become completely irrecoverable.

After the removal of all malicious files and objects associated with Dharma ransomware, software like ShadowExplorer and Recuva may also help you to recover some of the corrupted data.

You could find more recovery options in the instructions that follow.

 


Name
Dharma Ransomware

File Extensions
.(email).dharma

Other associated extensions
.wallet
.zzzzz
[email protected]

Ransom
Varies

Easy Solution
You can skip all steps and remove Dharma ransomware with the help of an anti-malware tool.

Manual Solution
Dharma ransomware can be removed manually, though it can be very hard for most home users. See the detailed tutorial below.

Distribution
Spam emails, malicious URLs, malicious attacments, exploit kits, freeware.

Dharma Ransomware Removal

STEP I: Start the PC in Safe Mode with Network
This will isolate all files and objects created by the ransomware so they will be removed efficiently.

    1) Hit WIN Key + R

Windows-key-plus-R-button-launch-Run-Box-in-Windows-illustrated

    2) A Run window will appear. In it, write “msconfig” and then press Enter
    3) A Configuration box shall appear. In it Choose the tab named “Boot
    4) Mark “Safe Boot” option and then go to “Network” under it to tick it too
    5) Apply -> OK

Or check our video guide – “How to start PC in Safe Mode with Networking

STEP II: Show Hidden Files

    1) Open My Computer/This PC
    2) Windows 7

      – Click on “Organize” button
      – Select “Folder and search options
      – Select the “View” tab
      – Go under “Hidden files and folders” and mark “Show hidden files and folders” option

    3) Windows 8/ 10

      – Open “View” tab
      – Mark “Hidden items” option

    show-hidden-files-win8-10

    4) Click “Apply” and then “OK” button

STEP III: Enter Windows Task Manager and Stop Malicious Processes

    1) Hit the following key combination: CTRL+SHIFT+ESC
    2) Get over to “Processes
    3) When you find suspicious process right click on it and select “Open File Location
    4) Go back to Task Manager and end the malicious process. Right click on it again and choose “End Process
    5) Next you should go folder where the malicious file is located and delete it

STEP IV: Remove Completely Dharma Ransomware Using SpyHunter Anti-Malware Tool

Manual removal of Dharma requires being familiar with system files and registries. Removal of any important data can lead to permanent system damage. Prevent this troublesome effect – delete Dharma ransomware with SpyHunter malware removal tool.

SpyHunter anti-malware tool will diagnose all current threats on the computer. By purchasing the full version, you will be able to remove all malware threats instantly. Additional information about SpyHunter / Help to uninstall SpyHunter

STEP V: Repair Windows Registry

    1) Again type simultaneously the Windows Button + R key combination
    2) In the box, write “regedit”(without the inverted commas) and hit Enter
    3) Type the CTRL+F and then write the malicious name in the search type field to locate the malicious executable
    4) In case you have discovered registry keys and values related to the name, you should delete them, but be careful not to delete legitimate keys

Further help for Windows Registry repair

STEP VI: Recover Encrypted Files

    1) Use present backups
    2) Use professional data recovery software

      Stellar Phoenix Data Recovery – a specialist tool that can restore partitions, data, documents, photos, and 300 more file types lost during various types of incidents and corruption.
      Data Recovery Pro by ParetoLogic – a Microsoft Partner program that is very powerful. It can recover not only local files but also deleted emails and connected drives.
    3) Using System Restore Point

      – Hit WIN Key
      – Select “Open System Restore” and follow the steps


restore-files-using-system-restore-point

    4) Restore your personal files using File History

      – Hit WIN Key
      – Type “restore your files” in the search box
      – Select “Restore your files with File History
      – Choose a folder or type the name of the file in the search bar

    restore-your-personal-files-using-File-History-bestecuritysearch

      – Hit the “Restore” button

STEP VII: Preventive Security Measures

    1) Enable and properly configure your Firewall.
    2) Install and maintain reliable anti-malware software.
    3) Secure your web browser.
    4) Check regularly for available software updates and apply them.
    5) Disable macros in Office documents.
    6) Use strong passwords.
    7) Don’t open attachments or click on links unless you’re certain they’re safe.
    8) Backup regularly your data.
For a faster solution, you can run a scan with an advanced malware removal tool and delete Dharma Ransomware completely with a few mouse clicks.

SpyHunter anti-malware tool will diagnose all current threats on the computer. By purchasing the full version, you will be able to remove all malware threats instantly. Additional information about SpyHunter / Help to uninstall SpyHunter

Alex Dimchev

Alex Dimchev is a beat writer for Best Security Search. When he's not busy researching cyber-security matters, he enjoys sports and writing about himself in third person.