RUGJ ransomware tries to extort you after encrypting your files
- RUGJ ransomware tries to extort you after encrypting your files
- Overview of methods used for distribution of ransomware-type viruses
- Remove RUGJ Ransomware Virus and Recover Your Files
- Decrypt RUGJ files
- Frequently Asked Questions
RUGJ ransomware is a variant of STOP/DJVU ransomware family. This computer virus is designed to encrypt all of your personal files stored on a computer using Salsa20 and RSA-2048 encryption algorithms. As a result, these files become impossible to open, view or edit. While encrypting your files, the malware also appends their names with .rugj extension and drop _readme.txt ransom note in the containing folder. For example, a file originally called 1.jpg will appear as 1.jpg.rugj after being encrypted. The note left informs the computer user that the only way to recover files is to purchase RUGJ decryption tool and unique key from the cybercriminals. They suggest contacting them via email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org for further information, adding that the decryption price ranges between $490-$980 depending on how quickly the victim writes to them.
RUGJ ransomware virus was developed with sole intention of extorting computer users after taking their files hostage. While encryption itself is a legitimate process used to secure information transmission, hackers make a bad use of it to illegally block access to computer user’s files. The attackers suggest contacting them as soon as possible, offering a 50% discount on the decryption service if the victim does this within 72 hours. Otherwise, the victim has to pay $980 for data decryption. The criminals won’t accept no other payment method than cryptocurrency as this helps to keep their anonymity.
Speaking of encryption type used, the virus locks your files using Salsa20 algorithm, thus securing the key used to modify your files with another RSA-2048 key. This key can be offline or online, based on virus’ success to communicate with its Command&Control server. You can learn more about decryption options or learn how to repair audio and video files using this guide.
The _readme.txt note dropped by ransomware is basically a message from virus’ developers. It explains that victim’s files such as pictures, databases, documents and other important files were encrypted with the strongest encryption and unique key. According to this note, the only possible way to recover your files is following the criminals’ instructions and paying a ransom. The attackers also introduce the pricing of it and suggest sending one encrypted file to them via email for test decryption. The file, however, should not contain any valuable data as the attackers do not want you to recover anything important. Their aim is to prove you they can decrypt your files and encourage you to pay up.
Cybersecurity experts worldwide do not recommend paying a ransom to Internet criminals. The same recommendations are provided by FBI. Some of the reasons why you shouldn’t listen to crooks’ demands are listed below.
- Paying a ransom doesn’t guarantee that your files will be decrypted, no matter what the crooks promise you. Even if they prove their ability to decrypt your files via test procedure, they can still not provide you with required tools after you pay.
- Collecting ransoms from computer users is what keeps the whole ransomware business thriving. If people stopped paying up, there would be no reasons for criminals to continue their activities.
- Each year, cyber attackers collect millions of US Dollars by extorting computer users with the help of ransomware. The idea of earning a lot of money while remaining anonymous lures other people to join these criminal activities.
- STOP/DJVU ransomware versions such as RUGJ virus are known to drop information-stealing Trojans on compromised computers, although this isn’t mentioned in _readme.txt ransom note. Two of known variants are called VIDAR and AZORULT. Information they are capable of collecting can be used against you for further blackmailing.
If you’ve fallen victim to a ransomware attack, we suggest you to secure your computer as soon as possible. Keeping an up-to-date antivirus software on your computer is a must; ideally, one that provides real-time protection. Therefore, we recommend you to remove RUGJ ransomware virus and related malware using AV software of your choice. If you do not have one, we strongly recommend INTEGO Antivirus which has been approved by independent AV test labs and has excellent malware detection rate. Additionally, you may want to download RESTORO to repair virus damage on your Windows operating system files.
|Name||RUGJ Ransomware Virus|
|Type||Ransomware; Crypto-malware; Virtual Extortion Virus|
|Encryption type||RSA Salsa20|
|Previous versions||BBYY, BBII, BBZZ, BBII, HKGT, EFVC, EIJY (find full list here)|
|Cybercriminal email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Additional malware dropped||Azorult or Vidar Trojan|
|Damage||The ransomware uses Salsa20 + RSA-2048 algorithm to encrypt all files on the computer. The virus marks infected files with .rugj extension. The virus saves a copy of a ransom note (_readme.txt) from cybercriminals in every folder. The malware erases Volume Shadow Copies from computer and uploads a list of domains to Windows HOSTS file to prevent victim’s access to them. The virus might also infect the computer by dropping additional malware such as AZORULT Trojan or VIDAR.|
|Ransom demand||$490-$980 in Bitcoin|
|Distribution||Victims often download this ransomware along illegal torrent downloads, cracked software, activators, key generators or tools like KMSPico.|
|Known software cracks to contain this malware||Corel Draw, Tenorshare 4ukey, Adobe Photoshop, Cubase, Adobe Illustrator, Internet Download Manager, Tally, League of Legends.|
|Detection names||Trojan:Win32/Crypter!MTB (Microsoft), A Variant Of Win32/Kryptik.HNBO (ESET), HEUR:Trojan-Ransom.Win32.Stop.gen (Kaspersky), Trojan.GenericKD.37842368 (BitDefender), Packed.Generic.528 (Symantec) see all detection name variations on VirusTotal|
|Removal||Remove ransomware and related malware from your PC using professional software of your choice. We highly recommend using INTEGO Antivirus. To repair virus damage on Windows OS files, consider scanning with RESTORO.|
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More technical details of ransomware activity on your PC
After landing on the target system, RUGJ ransomware launches a several executables named build.exe, build2.exe and similar. At the same time, the virus tries to conceal its activities by displaying a fake Windows update window (winupdate.exe process). In the meantime, the malware prepares for the actual data encryption.
The virus collects some hardware/software information about the infected host, such as user name, operating system version, names of programs installed and other details. Additionally, it connects to https[:]//api.2ip.ua/geo.json and as a response gets information such as computer’s IP address, country code, city, zip code, longitude, latitude and time zone.
First of all, the ransomware checks whether the infected computer is located in a country that isn’t on the exception list. The countries that this virus exempts from encryption are Russian Federation, Syria, Armenia, Tajikistan, Kazachstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Ukraine and Belarus.
However, if the target’s location isn’t one of the listed countries, the ransomware then proceeds to decide which encryption key to use – online or offline. It attempts to get the online encryption key from its C&C server, but if this fails, it uses a hardcoded offline key instead. The offline key is identical for all victims of offline encryption, therefore, it gives such victims a slight chance of recovering their files as explained here. The virus saves the online encryption key to a file called bowsakkdestx.txt along with victim’s personal ID, which is also saved separately into PersonalID.txt file and included in every ransom note.
You can determine whether you were affected by offline key if your personal ID ends in t1.
Once the encryption key is determined, RUGJ ransomware begins scanning folders and encrypting all files found on them using Salsa20 algorithm, thus securing the key used in this encryption with the online or offline RSA-2048 key. The virus also marks affected files with additional extension and drops ransom notes along the way.
Ransomware-type viruses often take additional measures to prevent the victim from restoring files, so they tend to delete Volume Shadow Copies from the system using the following Command Prompt task:
vssadmin.exe Delete Shadows /All /Quiet
Moreover, this ransomware modifies Windows HOSTS file to block a list of computer and cybersecurity related websites and online forums. The malware maps these domains to localhost IP to cause DNS_PROBE_FINISHED_NXDOMAIN error. The reason why it does so is because the criminals want to cause as much frustration as possible and shut out the victim from possible help resources on the Internet.
Finally, the virus drops additional malware on the system, often times VIDAR or AZORULT. Both of these Trojans are known for their capabilities of stealing private information, such as login credentials, browser history, browser-saved passwords, application logins (Steam, Telegram and more), cryptocurrency wallets and banking credentials.
Overview of methods used for distribution of ransomware-type viruses
Ransomware-type threats typically get into victims’ computer by deception. The most common attack vectors are malicious torrents, exploits, fake software update ads or installers, deceptive decryption tools and malicious email attachments. When it comes to STOP/DJVU versions like RUGJ virus, the main distribution method is malicious torrents such as pirated software copies.
Cybercriminals target users who tend to have bad habits of downloading illegal software copies and trying to activate their full versions for free. These torrents can be found in various torrent listings online. The malicious ransomware payload can hide in a software crack, key generator or another tool used for activating full software or game versions. Victims of this ransomware strain reported getting infected after downloading these software torrents:
- Adobe Photoshop;
- Corel Draw;
- Fifa 20;
- Tenorshare 4ukey;
- Opera browser;
- Internet Download Manager;
- VMware Workstation;
- Adobe Illustrator;
- League of Legends;
- KMSPico (illegal Windows activation tool).
This list is not finite. What worsens the situation is that users also often ignore their security software warnings about such downloads, thinking that these are simply false positives for anything that contains a crack. Although this might be true in certain cases, you really shouldn’t try to install software illegally. Most of such torrents can contain various malware versions, including Trojans, backdoors, keyloggers and other threats that pose a severe risk to your privacy and data. Some of the malware might not show its presence immediately, as cybercriminals can set an idle time on malware so that it executes after several days or weeks.
Our recommendation is to support legitimate software developers rather than greedy criminals. Besides, the cost of software license is always lower than an average ransom that cyber crooks demand paying. If you want to get a clean copy of a game or program, download it from an official website or approved partner’s site. This is the only way to get safe software versions.
Victims of STOP/DJVU ransomware variants should also stay away from suspicious websites offering miracle decryption tools, because it is simply another measure to distribute other ransomware strains such as ZORAB. Please keep in mind that in case a legitimate company manages to create a decryption tool, it will be available on well-known and reputable websites and also covered by trusted news sites as well. There is no need to browse through rogue websites as these certainly won’t provide you with such tools.
Remove RUGJ Ransomware Virus and Recover Your Files
If you have fallen victim to ransomware attack, the first thing that we recommend doing is cleansing your computer from malware. Deleting infectious files and altered settings can be difficult for inexperienced computer users, so we typically advise doing it automatically. You can find a tutorial on how to remove RUGJ ransomware virus below. Make sure you use an up-to-date antivirus for this task; if you do not have one yet, consider using a well-reviewed security software like INTEGO Antivirus which will also secure your computer with real-time protection. Additionally, downloading and running a scan with RESTORO might help to repair virus damage to Windows OS files.
In case RUGJ ransomware removal is complete, please read the following suggestions by our team:
- Inform your local law enforcement agency about cyber attack incident that happened to you.
- You can recover your data using backups, but make sure you remove all threats from your computer using robust antivirus before that.
- Learn how you can decrypt or repair files affected by STOP/DJVU versions.
- Change your passwords for as many accounts as you used on your computer, including browser saved ones, also Steam, Telegram and other apps.
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RUGJ 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 RUGJ 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 RUGJ 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.
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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.
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Decrypt RUGJ files
Fix and open large RUGJ 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 RUGJ 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. RUGJ 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 RUGJ 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 RUGJ 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 RUGJ 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 RUGJ 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 RUGJ 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 RUGJ 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 RUGJ 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 RUGJ 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.