NORD is a new extension used by STOP/DJVU Ransomware
- NORD is a new extension used by STOP/DJVU Ransomware
- Threat Summary
- Ransomware is a ever-evolving threat to virtual community
- How STOP/DJVU variants are distributed
- Remove NORD ransomware virus using free instructions
- Decrypt NORD files
- Frequently Asked Questions
NORD is a new variant of STOP/DJVU ransomware virus which encrypts your personal files (documents, photos, archives) with RSA cryptography. The affected files will be marked with .nord extension, for example, document.doc will be renamed to document.doc.nord. Each folder will contain a _readme.txt ransom note created by the virus, which sends a specific message to the victim – pay a ransom worth $490 in three days, or $980 later. The note suggests contacting the attackers via email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org emails.
This article contains explanation of how the NORD ransomware operates, what are the chances to decrypt your files and how to remove the virus safely.
Once installed, NORD file virus first decides whether to use online or offline encryption. It depends on whether the malware succeeds to connect to its Command&Control servers and generate a unique encryption key for the victim. If it fails, it uses an attack method that gives more hope for the victim to recover encrypted files. You can check whether you’re affected by offline encryption by opening C:/SystemID/PersonalID.txt file. The string here should end in t1.
The virus then starts encrypting all of victim’s personal files. To be precise, it encrypts the first 150KB of file, and appends 334kb to the entire file size because of added key, ID, and file marker information. Such data encryption explains why some media files (such as music or video files) can still play with some data loss at the beginning of the file. Besides, you can repair files of such format as explained in this guide.
We strongly encourage you to perform NORD virus removal using a powerful anti-malware software, because you need to eliminate both the ransomware and the Trojan it installs, known as AZORULT.
The virus demands money for data decryption
NORD ransomware is essentially similar to previous malware variants – BOOP, VARI, NILE, OONN, NPPH, KOLZ, COPA, LYLI. It aims to lock personal files on the computer or the whole network, then demand paying a ransom for a specific decryption tool and private key. To explain the victim their conditions, the criminals configured the ransomware to drop _readme.txt ransom notes.
The note says that all important files like photos, databases, documents and other important are encrypted with strongest encryption and unique key. The only method to recover files is to purchase decryption means offered by the criminals. The crooks suggests decrypting one file for tool’s testing purposes for free. Therefore, the victim is advised to contact the criminals via email@example.com or via reserve e-mail address, firstname.lastname@example.org.
The criminals suggest that contacting them within 72 hours will give the victim a 50% discount and will cost “only” $490 to restore encrypted files. If the victim reaches out to them later, the price will be $980 (in Bitcoin).
Unfortunately, there is no way to decrypt files without the private RSA key which is held by the criminals. RSA is a complex encryption algorithm which is typically used to secure military secrets. In other words, creators of this ransomware clearly know what they are doing, and leave no mistakes behind.
If you have been infected with this virus, it is essential to remove NORD ransomware virus safely. For that, we have prepared free instructions below the article. Please follow them attentively. To repair virus damage caused by the crypto-malware, we recommend downloading RESTORO.
Scan your system for FREE to detect security, hardware and stability issues. You can use the scan results and try to remove detected issues manually, or you can choose to get the full version of software to fix detected issues and repair virus damage to Windows OS system files automatically. Includes Avira spyware/malware detection & removal engine.
|Type||Ransomware; File Locker; Crypto-virus|
|Other variants||BBYY, BBII, BBZZ, BBII, HKGT, EFVC, EIJY (find full list here)|
|Dropped files||_readme.txt, PersonalID.txt|
|Modified files||HOSTS, all personal files|
|Contact email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Distribution||Fake software cracks, email attachments or deceptive online ads suggesting software updates|
|Decryption||Try Emsisoft decryptor for STOP/DJVU as explained at the end of this article|
|Removal||Remove NORD ransomware remains using strong anti-malware software. To repair virus damage on Windows OS files, try RESTORO.|
Do not pay the ransom! First, check for data backups or NORD decryption tool as explained below.Norbert Webb
Ransomware is a ever-evolving threat to virtual community
Ransomware is extremely popular virtual gun used by cyber criminals. Although the majority of viruses are developed by expert programmers, nowadays these viruses can be used even by novice hackers, thanks to RaaS model (Ransomware-as-a-Service). In other words, all that it takes for a beginner to start distributing ransomware like NORD file virus is to join criminals communities, agree to pay commissions to the original malware developers and customize the virus according to their needs.
Due to an increased popularity of these viruses, computer users simply MUST create data backups regularly. These backups must be stored on external storage devices for maximum safety. Without them, there aren’t much chances to restore encrypted data (especially locked with online key).
Although there are many ransomware viruses that still target individual home users (GENO, PHOBOS, DHARMA, XATI), the more sophisticated attackers tend to create targeted attacks with viruses like WastedLocker or ZORAB2.
How STOP/DJVU variants are distributed
The most common distribution method used by NORD virus operators is illegal software activation tools (e.g. cracks or keygens). Therefore, they regularly upload these infectious files to various peer-to-peer file sharing websites (those that offer torrent downloads). Victims report downloading the malicious payload via Adobe Photoshop cracks, game cracks or Microsoft activation tools like KMSPico.
The victim opens the fake crack file, expecting to activate premium software license for free. What is even worse, malicious or not, various anti-virus or anti-malware programs often identify crack files as dangerous; however, when in desire to get something for free, users might ignore these warnings.
We want to remind you that you should ONLY download software from official developer’s website and support their hard work by purchasing real software licenses. It is better to support them, than ransomware operators who try to extort you after preventing access to your own files.
Other ransomware distribution methods
Although the primary STOP/DJVU distribution method is already explained, we encourage you to acknowledge yourself with other common ransomware distribution techniques, such as:
- Malicious email spam (malspam);
- Compromised ad networks (malvertising);
- Fake ransomware decryption tool downloads;
- Targeted attacks.
To begin with, the most common method to spread ransomware in general is malicious email spam. Cyber criminals draft up convincing short messages along with design impersonating some well-known company, attach a malicious file (possibly in WORD, PDF, or another format), and send these messages to thousands of emails. These email lists can be bought in the dark web very cheaply, besides, might include other personal victim’s data revealed in data leaks. Such emails typically urge the victim to open the attached file for various reasons – to view attached invoice, review pending/missing payment and similar. Once opened, the file downloads the ransomware and executes it on the computer.
Malvertising is another technique sometimes used by hackers. It involves compromising a known ad network and making it push malicious ads on well-known websites. Although such campaigns can be quickly identified and closed, they still do a lot of damage for computer users worldwide.
Fake ransomware decryption tool downloads are also known to push ransomware. Therefore, you shouldn’t get too desperate when trying to find a free NORD ransomware decryption tool. If you start downloading whatever is available on the Internet, you risk installing a fake one. Recently, a fake STOP/DJVU decryption tool was used to distribute ZORAB ransomware, and victims ended up double-encrypting their files.
Remove NORD ransomware virus using free instructions
You must remove NORD ransomware as soon as you can. Having malicious remains on your computer can leave it vulnerable for further malware attacks, not even to mention the Trojan this ransomware installs for password-stealing. Therefore, use the free instructions below to prepare your computer for malware elimination, then employ one of recommended tools to cleanse the system safely. Additionally, run RESTORO to repair virus damage on Windows OS system.
You need to ensure that NORD virus removal is entirely complete before you start the data recovery procedure. Do not plug any external data drives to the computer unless you are 100% sure the computer is malware-free. Otherwise, your data backup can get encrypted, too.
We strongly recommend you to CHANGE all your passwords (especially ones saved in Chrome, Firefox or another browser) due to AZORULT trojan’s activity. Finally, do not forget to report Internet crime incident via official government websites listed at the end of this guide.
OUR GEEKS RECOMMEND
Our team recommends removing malware using a professional antivirus software and then using the following tool to repair virus damage to Windows system files:
REPAIR VIRUS DAMAGE TO YOUR COMPUTER
RESTORO provides a free scan that helps to identify hardware, security and stability issues and presents a comprehensive report which can help you to locate and fix detected issues manually. It is a great PC repair software to use after you remove malware with professional antivirus. The full version of software will fix detected issues and repair virus damage caused to your Windows OS files automatically.
RESTORO uses AVIRA scanning engine to detect existing spyware and malware. If any are found, the software will eliminate them.
Read full review here.
NORD ransomware virus Removal Guidelines
Method 1. Enter Safe Mode with Networking
Step 1. Start Windows in Safe Mode with Networking
Before you try to remove NORD ransomware virus virus, you must start your computer in Safe Mode with Networking. Below, we provide the easiest ways to boot PC in the said mode, but you can find additional ones in this in-depth tutorial on our website – How to Start Windows in Safe Mode. Also, if you prefer a video version of the tutorial, check our guide How to Start Windows in Safe Mode on Youtube.
Instructions for Windows XP/Vista/7 users
- First of all, turn off your PC. Then press the Power button to start it again and instantly start pressing F8 button on your keyboard repeatedly in 1-second intervals. This launches the Advanced Boot Options menu.
- Use arrow keys on the keyboard to navigate down to Safe Mode with Networking option and press Enter.
Instructions for Windows 8/8.1/10/11 users
- Open Windows Start menu, then press down the Power button. On your keyboard, press down and hold the Shift key, and then select Restart option.
- This will take you to Windows Troubleshoot screen. Choose Troubleshoot > Advanced Options > Startup Settings > Restart. Tip: If you can't find Startup Settings, click See more recovery options.
- In Startup Settings, press the right key between F1-F9 to enter Safe Mode with Networking. In this case, it is the F5 key.
Step 2. Remove files associated with the virus
Now, you can search for and remove NORD ransomware virus files. It is very hard to identify files and registry keys that belong to the ransomware virus, Besides, malware creators tend to rename and change them repeatedly. Therefore, the easiest way to uninstall such type of a computer virus is to use a reliable security program such as INTEGO Antivirus, which also includes data recovery software. For virus damage repair, consider using RESTORO.
Compatibility: Microsoft Windows
See Full Review
RESTORO is a unique PC Repair Tool which comes with an in-built Avira scan engine to detect and remove spyware/malware threats and uses a patented technology to repair virus damage. The software can repair damaged, missing or malfunctioning Windows OS files, corrupted DLLs, and more. The free version offers a scan that detects issues. To fix them, license key for the full software version must be purchased.
Method 2. Use System Restore
In order to use System Restore, you must have a system restore point, created either manually or automatically.
Step 1. Boot Windows in Safe Mode with Command Prompt
Instructions for Windows XP/Vista/7 users
- Shut down your PC. Start it again by pressing the Power button and instantly start pressing F8 button on your keyboard repeatedly in 1-second intervals. You will see Advanced Boot Options menu.
- Using arrow keys on the keyboard, navigate down to Safe Mode with Command Prompt option and press Enter.
Instructions for Windows 8/8.1/10/11 users
- Launch Windows Start menu, then click the Power button. On your keyboard, press down and hold the Shift key, and then choose Restart option with the mouse cursor.
- In Startup Settings, press the right key between F1-F9 to enter Safe Mode with Command Prompt. In this case, press F6 key.
Step 2. Start System Restore process
- Wait until system loads and command prompt shows up.
- Type cd restore and press Enter, then type rstrui.exe and press Enter. Or you can just type %systemroot%system32restorerstrui.exe in command prompt and hit Enter.
- This launches System Restore window. Click Next and then choose a System Restore point created in the past. Choose one that was created before ransomware infection.
- Click Yes to begin the system restoration process.
After restoring the system, we recommend scanning the system with antivirus or anti-malware software. In most cases, there won't be any malware remains, but it never hurts to double-check. In addition, we highly recommend checking ransomware prevention guidelines provided by our experts in order to protect your PC against similar viruses in the future.
Alternative software recommendations
Removing spyware and malware is one step towards cybersecurity. To protect yourself against ever-evolving threats, we strongly recommend purchasing a Premium version of Malwarebytes Anti-Malware, which provides security based on artificial intelligence and machine learning. Includes ransomware protection. See pricing options and protect yourself now.
System Mechanic Ultimate Defense
If you're looking for an all-in-one system maintenance suite that has 7 core components providing powerful real-time protection, on-demand malware removal, system optimization, data recovery, password manager, online privacy protection and secure driver wiping technology. Therefore, due to its wide-range of capabilities, System Mechanic Ultimate Defense deserves Geek's Advice approval. Get it now for 50% off. You may also be interested in its full review.
Disclaimer. This site includes affiliate links. We may earn a small commission by recommending certain products, at no additional cost for you. We only choose quality software and services to recommend.
Decrypt NORD files
Fix and open large NORD files easily:
It is reported that STOP/DJVU ransomware versions encrypt only the beginning 150 KB of each file to ensure that the virus manages to affect all files on the system. In some cases, the malicious program might skip some files at all. That said, we recommend testing this method on several big (>1GB) files first.
- Create a copy of encrypted file to a separate folder using Copy > Paste commands.
- Now, right-click the created copy and choose Rename. Select the NORD extension and delete it. Press Enter to save changes.
- In the prompt asking whether you want to make the changes as file might become unusable, click OK.
- Try opening the file.
STOP/DJVU decryption tool usage guide
STOP/DJVU ransomware versions are grouped into old and new variants. NORD ransomware virus is considered the new STOP/DJVU variant, just like BBYY, BBII, BBZZ, BBII, HKGT, EFVC, EIJY (find full list here). This means full data decryption is now possible only if you have been affected by offline encryption key. To decrypt your files, you will have to download Emsisoft Decryptor for STOP DJVU, a tool created and maintained by a genius security researcher Michael Gillespie.
Note! Please do not spam the security researcher with questions whether he can recover your files encrypted with online key - it is not possible.
In order to test the tool and see if it can decrypt NORD files, follow the given tutorial.
- Download the decryption tool from Emsisoft.
- Click the little arrow next to your download and choose Show in Folder.
- Now, right-click the file and choose Run as Administrator. If asked, enter administrator's password.
- In UAC window, click Yes.
- Click Yes to agree to software terms in both windows.
- The tool will automatically include C:// disk as a location to decrypt. The file recovery tool will prepopulate the locations to scan, including connected data storage drives or network drives. Click Add folder if you wish to add additional locations.
In Options tab, you can choose to keep encrypted file copies. We recommend leaving this option selected, especially if you do not know if the decryption tool will work.
- Click Decrypt to start restoring NORD files. You will see the progress in the Results tab. Here, you can see messages from the tool, such as whether the decryption procedure is successful, or you need to wait for an update.
You might also be informed that online key was used to encrypt your files. In such case, the decryption tool won't work for you, and the only way to recover your files is to use a data backup.
Meanings of decryptor's messages
The NORD decryption tool might display several different messages after failed attempt to restore your files. You might receive one of the following messages:
Error: Unable to decrypt file with ID: [example ID]
This message typically means that there is no corresponding decryption key in the decryptor's database.
No key for New Variant online ID: [example ID]
Notice: this ID appears to be an online ID, decryption is impossible
This message informs that your files were encrypted with online key, meaning no one else has the same encryption/decryption key pair, therefore data recovery without paying the criminals is impossible.
Result: No key for new variant offline ID: [example ID]
This ID appears to be an offline ID. Decryption may be possible in the future.
If you were informed that an offline key was used, but files could not be restored, it means that the offline decryption key isn't available yet. However, receiving this message is extremely good news, meaning that it might be possible to restore your NORD extension files in the future. It can take a few months until the decryption key gets found and uploaded to the decryptor. We recommend you to follow updates regarding the decryptable DJVU versions here. We strongly recommend backing up your encrypted data and waiting.
Report Internet crime to legal departments
Victims of NORD ransomware virus should report the Internet crime incident to the official government fraud and scam website according to their country:
- In the United States, go to the On Guard Online website.
- In Australia, go to the SCAMwatch website.
- In Germany, go to the Bundesamt für Sicherheit in der Informationstechnik website.
- In Ireland, go to the An Garda Síochána website.
- In New Zealand, go to the Consumer Affairs Scams website.
- In the United Kingdom, go to the Action Fraud website.
- In Canada, go to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.
- In India, go to Indian National Cybercrime Reporting Portal.
- In France, go to the Agence nationale de la sécurité des systèmes d’information.
If you can't find an authority corresponding to your location on this list, we recommend using any search engine to look up "[your country name] report cyber crime". This should lead you to the right authority website. We also recommend staying away from third-party crime report services that are often paid. It costs nothing to report Internet crime to official authorities.
Another recommendation is to contact your country's or region’s federal police or communications authority.
Frequently Asked Questions
You can only open NORD files if you have the decryption key, or if you were affected by offline encryption type.
To figure out whether you were affected by offline encryption, please go to C:/SystemID/PersonalID.txt and see if the string inside of it ends in t1. You can also try using Emsisoft Decryptor for STOP/DJVU.
Please follow the guidances provided by the official NORD decryption tools and believe what they say. If they say it is impossible to decrypt, it really is so. There is no magic tool or human capable of decrypting your files hiding somewhere. Encryption is a technique created to be nearly impossible to decrypt without a special private key (held by the criminals).
We advise scanning with anti-virus, anti-malware, malware removal tools or software like RESTORO to eliminate virus damage on the system. If you do not trust using a single tool, try running one after another. However, we do not recommend keeping several security programs on a computer at once as they can interfere with each other's work.
Beware of fake NORD decryption tools circulating around the web. Cyber criminals are uploading them to various shady websites, also might be promoting them via suspicious Youtube videos. These programs can infect your computer even more heavily (Trojans, miners, etc.). We suggest being extremely cautious around the web. If there will be an official STOP/DJVU decryption tool available, it will be widely discussed in public media.
Norbert Webb is the head of Geek’s Advice team. He is the chief editor of the website who controls the quality of content published. The man also loves reading cybersecurity news, testing new software and sharing his insights on them. Norbert says that following his passion for information technology was one of the best decisions he has ever made. “I don’t feel like working while I’m doing something I love.” However, the geek has other interests, such as snowboarding and traveling.