On the 30th of October, 2016, Alcatraz ransomware, also called as Alcatraz Locker, was spotted by xXToffeeXx, a malware researcher. This specific virus is an encryption trojan. The first word of this title means that the Alcatraz malware performs the encryption on the targeted machine, and the second part of the title refers to the manner this virus attacks the computers, which is the deceptive spam invasion.
How is the Attack by Alcatraz Ransomware Carried out?
Alcatraz crypto-locker aims at the local and the removable drives. It appends .Alcatraz extension to the locked files. For instance, the Movie.avi file is given the name of Movie.avi.Alcatraz, after its encryption. This crypto-malware targets the following file formats:
.3gp, .7z, .apk, .avi, .bmp, .cdr, .cer, .chm, .conf, .css, .csv, .dat, .db, .dbf, .djvu, .dbx, .docm, .doc, .epub, .docx, .fb2, .flv, .gif, .gz, .iso, .ibooks, .jpeg, .jpg, .mkv, .mov, .mp3, .mp4, .mpg, .mpeg, .pict, .pdf, .pps, .pkg, .png, .ppt, .pptx, .ppsx, .psd, .rar, .rtf, .scr, .swf, .sav, .tiff, .tif, .tbl, .torrent, .txt, .vsd, .wmv, .xls, .xlsx, .xps, .xml, .zip, .java, .c, .cpp, .cs, .js, .php, .dacpac, .rbw, .rb, .mrg, .dcx, .db3, .sql, .sqlite3, .sqlite, .sqlitedb, .psd, .psp, .pdb, .dxf, .dwg, .drw, .casb, .ccp, .cal, .cmx, .cr2
The above listed extensions, belongs to the files, which are encrypted using AES-256 cipher. Once all of the aimed at data files have been encrypted, it is the time for the ransom note to be displayed. Alcatraz file-encrypting virus creates a HTML file on the desktop, called ransomed.html. When clicked, the file opens the web browser and redirects to file:///C:/Users/Toffee/Desktop/ransomed.html website (note that the user, which is, here, Toffee is different, depending how your user is named):
0.5 BTC (bitcoin), equal to 352.47 USD, is asked to be transferred to the following BTC address: 1CNpMj7DTH3gbJAPrQT2FZ4whqpYQvFrY8. Below the unique ID is provided. For example, PmcQmfbifEtTBiEe. And, lastly, Q&A (Questions and Answers) follows. This quiz is, basically, the instructions on the course of actions to be taken by the affected user from the perspective of the coder/coders of Alcatraz ransomware.
How is the Infection Being Spread?
Spam bots are the primary means the developer/developers of Alcatraz crypto-ransomware employ to spread his/their malicious program. The executable file of the ransomware contains the malicious macros script. This is a powerful tool exploited by the hackers, since macro attacks with PowerShell can possibly bypass antivirus software. The potential victim receives a malicious spam e-mail, having an attachment, which opening requires macros to be enabled. When the latter is done by the targeted user, there are practically no obstacles for the payload of the encrypting virus to be downloaded on the victim’s PC. In addition, the analysts from Trend Micro have blamed Rig EK (Exploit Kit) for the distribution of Alcatraz encryption malware.
How to Remove Alcatraz Ransomware?
Even though, Alcatraz crypto-virus can delete some portion of its created files after the encryption, there are still details of the virus, which should be removed from your computer. To ensure their permanent removal execute the following AV (antivirus) utilities: Reimage, Spyhunter or Malwarebytes. The liquidation of the remnants of the virus can also be implemented with the guide located under the post. The general rule for the removal of ransomware viruses is that you need to copy the infected drives before you remove the infection. The copies of encrypted files are the powerful tools, which can be used on the upcoming decryptor.
How to Reclaim Your Data?
Just as there are two alternatives for the removal of Alcatraz crypto-trojan, there are, basically, two ways you can restore your files. The first one is the duplicates created by the VSS (the Volume Shadow Copy Service). The second one is the unmapped portable hard drives you store the copies of your data on. Well, there is a third option available for you as well, but it does not guarantee that your files are going to be fully restored. It is the data recovery software such as Recuva, R-Studio, etc.
Update. The decryptor for Alcatraz ransomware has been developed by the engineers from Avast. Click here and scroll down to get the download link.
- How is the Attack by Alcatraz Ransomware Carried out?
- How is the Infection Being Spread?
- How to Remove Alcatraz Ransomware?
- How to Reclaim Your Data?
- Automatic Alcatraz Ransomware removal tools
- How to recover Alcatraz Ransomware encrypted files and remove the virus
- Step 1. Restore system into last known good state using system restore
- Step 2. Complete removal of Alcatraz Ransomware
- Step 3. Restore Alcatraz Ransomware affected files using Shadow Volume Copies
- Step 4. Use Data Recovery programs to recover Alcatraz Ransomware encrypted files
- Removal guides in other languages
Automatic Alcatraz Ransomware removal tools
How to recover Alcatraz Ransomware encrypted files and remove the virus
Step 1. Restore system into last known good state using system restore
1. Reboot your computer to Safe Mode with Command Prompt:
for Windows 7 / Vista/ XP
- Start → Shutdown → Restart → OK.
- Press F8 key repeatedly until Advanced Boot Options window appears.
- Choose Safe Mode with Command Prompt.
for Windows 8 / 10
- Press Power at Windows login screen. Then press and hold Shift key and click Restart.
- Choose Troubleshoot → Advanced Options → Startup Settings and click Restart.
- When it loads, select Enable Safe Mode with Command Prompt from the list of Startup Settings.
2.Restore System files and settings.
- When Command Prompt mode loads, enter cd restore and press Enter.
- Then enter rstrui.exe and press Enter again.
- Click “Next” in the windows that appeared.
- Select one of the Restore Points that are available before Alcatraz Locker has infiltrated to your system and then click “Next”.
- To start System restore click “Yes”.
Step 2. Complete removal of Alcatraz Ransomware
After restoring your system, it is recommended to scan your computer with an anti-malware program, like Reimage and remove all malicious files related to Alcatraz Locker. You can check other tools here.
Step 3. Restore Alcatraz Ransomware affected files using Shadow Volume Copies
If you do not use System Restore option on your operating system, there is a chance to use shadow copy snapshots. They store copies of your files that point of time when the system restore snapshot was created. Usually Alcatraz Locker tries to delete all possible Shadow Volume Copies, so this methods may not work on all computers. However, it may fail to do so.
Shadow Volume Copies are only available with Windows XP Service Pack 2, Windows Vista, Windows 7, and Windows 8. There are two ways to retrieve your files via Shadow Volume Copy. You can do it using native Windows Previous Versions or via Shadow Explorer.a) Native Windows Previous Versions
Right-click on an encrypted file and select Properties → Previous versions tab. Now you will see all available copies of that particular file and the time when it was stored in a Shadow Volume Copy. Choose the version of the file you want to retrieve and click Copy if you want to save it to some directory of your own, or Restore if you want to replace existing, encrypted file. If you want to see the content of file first, just click Open.
b) Shadow Explorer
It is a program that can be found online for free. You can download either a full or a portable version of Shadow Explorer. Open the program. On the left top corner select the drive where the file you are looking for is a stored. You will see all folders on that drive. To retrieve a whole folder, right-click on it and select “Export”. Then choose where you want it to be stored.
Step 4. Use Data Recovery programs to recover Alcatraz Ransomware encrypted files
There are several data recovery programs that might recover encrypted files as well. This does not work in all cases but you can try this:
- We suggest using another PC and connect the infected hard drive as slave. It is still possible to do this on infected PC though.
- Download Data Recovery Pro (commercial)
- Install and scan for recently deleted files.
Note: In many cases it is impossible to restore data files affected by modern ransomware. Thus I recommend using decent cloud backup software as precaution. We recommend checking out Carbonite, BackBlaze, CrashPlan or Mozy Home.