Remove GandCrab v5.2 Ransomware — Restore Your Computer

An infection with the dangerous GandCrab v5.2 ransomware virus leads to serious security issues. It damages computer systems aiming to locate target files and encrypt them with a sophisticated cipher algorithm. As a result, almost all valuable files stored on infected computers are locked and completely inaccessible. The main purpose of this threat is to urge victims to enter a crafted TOR web page where hackers’ demands are presented. With our removal guide, victims can try to secure their computers and restore encrypted files.

Manual Removal Guide
Files Recovery Approaches
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Note for Mac users!
In case that your Mac has been affected by GandCrab 5.2 or you suspect that other threats are running on it you can follow detailed instructions on how to detect and remove Mac viruses so you can keep the device clean and secure.

Distribution of GandCrab v5.2 Ransomware Virus

GandCrab v5.2 ransomware is an iteration of the devastating cryptovirus GandCrab. Several versions of the same threat have been circling around the globe for more than a year. Recently, version 5.1 of GandCrab is the one that has been released in massive active attack campaigns. As identified by security experts, threat actors are utilizing some of the most popular tactics of distribution to infect computer systems.

One of the methods that may be used by the malicious actors behind GandCrab v5.2 include the coordination of SPAM email messages — they are used to spread the threat by sending out messages that pose as legitimate notifications sent by popular Internet portals or services that the targets may use.

The virus files can be either directly attached or linked in the body. When in the form of attached files you could see them presented as documents, archives, images, PDFs and other popular file formats. Since malicious code could be embedded in the code of all these files all you could unintentionally activate the ransomware just by opening them on your device. In the case that the ransomware payload is injected in a web page the email will present a link in the form of URL address, in-text link, banner, button, image or other clickable form.

GandCrab v5.2 infection files can also be uploaded to fake download sites which are designed to appear like any of the popular Internet portals or vendor download sites. The malicious actors may use similar sounding domain names, certificates and hijacked design and contents to coerce the victims into thinking that they are accessing the legitimate address.

Another way that the threat may spread is through infected payloads — the use of various files that are infected with virus code. A popular example is the document with malicious macros which can take any form: presentation, rich text file, spreadsheet and database. Once it is opened by the victims a notification message will pop-up asking the target users to enable the built-in scripts. If this is done the virus infection will follow. The other popular technique is the inclusion of the code in application installers. They are malicious copies of legitimate setup files of popular end-user programs that have been modified with the GandCrab v5.2 ransomware code.

There is one more spread method detected to be used for the delivery of GandCrab v5.2 ransomware on computer devices. As revealed by security researchers it depends on the activation of malicious Microsoft Word Macros that in turn enable the activation of scripts that enable the data-stealing Ursnif Trojan Horse to run on the machine. Afterward, the Trojan connects a remote command-and-control server to download the payload of GandCrab ransomware.

Ransomware files are also popularly spread by fake user profiles — they can post to community forums or social media accounts. Criminals can utilize both fake or stolen identities to increase the number of infected users.
In certain cases, the criminals may also be distributed via malicious browser plugins — additions to the most popular web browsers that are advertised as useful. The plugins are uploaded to the official repositories and often make use of fake or hijacked user reviews and developer credentials. Once they are installed by the users they will execute their built-in instructions that in many cases leads to the GandCrab v5.2 ransomware virus infection in the end.

Impact of GandCrab v5.2 Ransomware Virus

The GandCrab v5.2 ransomware is the iteration of the GandCrab malware family that was reported in the middle of February 2019. It contains much of the same functions as the prior threats and follows the well-known behavior pattern as observed by almost all GandCrab samples to date.

Upon installation it will search for any security software that are either running in memory or installed on the local computers. Like other similar threats it will act against popular threats such as anti-virus products, sandbox environments, firewalls and virtual machine hosts. Depending on the exact configuration of the samples the GandCrab v5.2 engine can either bypass or entirely remove them.

This is important in order to launch its processes without being blocked by the security software. The processes can gain administrative privileges and also hook up to other running services. This effectively allows the hackers to spy on the victims activities in real-time.

GandCrab ransomware threats are notorious for modifying the Windows Registry — this is done in order to create values for the virus itself and change the already existing ones. Such methods are done in order to modify the Registry entries belonging both to the operating system and the individual applications installed on the computer. This can lead to the inability to launch certain features and services, another issue that can come up is a serious performance degradation to the point of being unable to use it if the virus is present.

The GandCrab v5.2 ransomware engine is capable of extracting data of all types, most malware of this category can hijack data that can be categorized into two main groups:

  • Personal Information — The engine can directly reveal information about the identity of the victims by looking for strings such as their name, address, phone number an any stored account credentials. GandCrab ransomware samples are widely known for being able to also scan the contents of the installed web browsers. They can also interact with Windows Volume Manager in order to access removable storage devices and available network shares.
  • Machine Identification — An additional measure is the creation of an unique ID that is associated with every compromised host. It is done by using a built-in algorithm that takes input values such as the installed hardware components, user settings and certain operating system environment values.
  • When all of these modules have completed running a Trojan component will be started. It will connect to a specific hard-coded hacker-controlled server via a secure connection. This allows the hackers to retrieve the harvested data, take over control of the machines and hijack data before they are processed by the ransomware engine. Other components can be added interactively due to the fact that the Trojan connections allows the criminals to dynamically access the compromised computers. When the behavior pattern has completed running the actual data processing will take place. Like the previous GandCrab family samples the main engine will use a strong cipher that will target user data according to a built-in list of target file type extensions. An example list include the following data types:

    • Databases
    • Backups
    • Music
    • Videos
    • Images
    • Archives

    All processed files will be renamed with a random 8-characters long extension. Like the previous wave of GandCrab samples the ransomware note will be crafted in a file called [ID]-DECRYPT.txt.

    Remove GandCrab v5.2 Ransomware Virus and Restore PC

    Please note that paying the requested ransom fee to cybercriminals does not really solve your problem with GandCrab v5.2 ransomware virus. In fact, you only encourage hackers to continue spreading ransomware of this kind. Instead, you must remove the threat immediately, and only then look for optional ways to recover your data.

    WARNING! Manual removal of GandCrab 5.2 ransomware virus requires being familiar with system files and registries. Removing important data accidentally can lead to permanent system damage. If you don’t feel comfortable with manual instructions, download a powerful anti-malware tool that will scan your system for malware and clean it safely for you.

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    GandCrab 5.2 Ransomware Virus – Manual Removal Steps

    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. The steps below are applicable to all Windows versions.

    1. Hit the WIN Key + R

    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

    Show Hidden Files

    Some ransomware threats are designed to hide their malicious files in the Windows so all files stored on the system should be visible.

    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

    how to make hidden files visible in Windows 8 10 bestsecuritysearch instructions

    4. Click Apply and then OK button

    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

    Repair Windows Registry

    1. Again type simultaneously the WIN Key + R key combination

    2. In the box, write regedit 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

    Click for more information about Windows Registry and further repair help

    Recover Encrypted Files

    WARNING! All files and objects associated with GandCrab 5.2 ransomware virus should be removed from the infected PC before any data recovery attempts. Otherwise the virus may encrypt restored files. Furthermore, a backup of all encrypted files stored on external media is highly recommendable.

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    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.

    3. Using System Restore Point

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


    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
      – Hit the “Restore” button

    Preventive Security Measures

  • Enable and properly configure your Firewall.
  • Install and maintain reliable anti-malware software.
  • Secure your web browser.
  • Check regularly for available software updates and apply them.
  • Disable macros in Office documents.
  • Use strong passwords.
  • Don’t open attachments or click on links unless you’re certain they’re safe.
  • Backup regularly your data.
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    Author : Martin Beltov

    Martin graduated with a degree in Publishing from Sofia University. As a cyber security enthusiast he enjoys writing about the latest threats and mechanisms of intrusion.

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