XCBG ransomware aims to lock your files and demand a ransom
- XCBG ransomware aims to lock your files and demand a ransom
- Ransomware distribution techniques used by cybercriminals
- More information about the infection
- Remove XCBG Ransomware Virus and Recover Lost Files
- Decrypt XCBG files
- Frequently Asked Questions
XCBG ransomware is a malicious virus that infects computer systems and encrypts all files contained in them. This new variant belongs to the infamous STOP/DJVU ransomware group. After encrypting files (i.e., making them unreadable), the virus will also append .xcbg extension to the file names respectively. For example, a file that was saved as 1.jpg prior to the cyber-attack will be renamed 1.jpg.xcbg, 2.txt will be renamed to 2.txt.xcbg and so on. While the attack is still ongoing, the ransomware will also drop certain notes known as _readme.txt in all the folders. Contained within these _readme.txt notes are notifications sent by those behind the attack informing the victim about the development and why they should contact them in order to pay ransom in exchange for XCBG decryption tool.
They will emphasize that XCBG ransomware virus was able to encrypt all their files contained in the computer with the use of a very strong encryption key, thereby making them useless to the owner. As a way out, they will suggest that for the victim to recover their documents, pictures and every other important file that was encrypted, they would have to pay a certain amount of money as ransom to the cybercriminals who will in return, offer decryption solutions. To open a channel of communication between them, they will equally drop two email addresses, namely: firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com, which they expect the victim to address when attempting to contact the ransomware operators.
Meanwhile, decryption service prices will also be contained in the notification alongside the terms associated with it. They will state that paying as soon as possible has benefits. For instance, they will claim that the victim would be able to leverage their 50% discount policy if only payment would be made within 72 hours, i.e., 3 days of being notified. In other words, instead of paying $980 as a ransom fee, they will now be required to pay $480. However, once 3 days elapse without payment being made, only the full ransom fee would be acceptable to them.
However, if the victim decides to reach out to them, more conditions will be given by the cybercriminals. They will state categorically that payment can only be made by purchasing cryptocurrency that is worth a ransom fee and would be transferred to a wallet address they will forward to the victim. The most likely reason why they always insist on the use of cryptocurrency to receive ransom is to evade possible arrests by men of the law enforcement agencies who may come after them. Sometimes, the cybercriminals would ask the victim to send random excerpts of the encrypted files to them for test decryption. However, they will be quick to warn that such excerpt must not contain any information they could deem as important to the victim.
Regardless of the situation, cybersecurity experts from our company advise victims to always abide by the FBI’s guidelines pertaining to ransom payments which state that on no account should ransom be paid to cybercriminals. Various reasons have been put forward to back this rigid stance, but the major ones are listed below:
- You’re likely to lose huge sums of money and still not be able to retrieve your encrypted files.
- Paying money to cybercriminals will only encourage them to continue perpetrating more crimes since they would consider it profitable.
- In some countries, paying a ransom might be considered illegal, just like asking for it.
In addition to the virus, information-stealing Trojans like VIDAR and AZORULT are often dropped as well aimed at covertly stealing other sensitive details such as software login credentials, cryptocurrency wallets, banking details, passwords and browsing history etc. which they hope to use in perpetrating further criminal acts such as blackmailing and theft.
Victims of STOP/DJVU variants including this latest one are advised to remove the XCBG ransomware virus immediately they ascertain their computer has been infected. The best way to go about this is to boot your computer through Safe Mode with Networking option before running a genuine antivirus on it. It is important to make use of only genuine software, therefore if you’re not sure of which brand to use, we recommend you go for INTEGO Antivirus. You may also consider downloading RESTORO, which you can use in repairing possible damages inflicted by the virus on Windows OS files.
|Name||XCBG Ransomware Virus|
|Type||Ransomware; Crypto-malware; Virtual Extortion Virus|
|Encryption type||RSA 2048 + Salsa20|
|Previous versions||EEYU, AAYU, AABN, AAMV, AAWT, EEBN, (find full list here)|
|Cybercriminal firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com|
|Additional malware dropped||Azorult or Vidar Trojan|
|Damage||The ransomware encrypts all of computer-stored files and appends their original filenames with .xcbg extension. The virus drops _readme.txt ransom note in every PC folder. This virus may additionally install VIDAR Stealer alongside it. The ransomware may also delete Volume Shadow Copies and modify Windows HOSTS file to restrict computer user’s access to cybersecurity-related websites online.|
|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||Ransom:Win32/StopCrypt.PAL!MTB (Microsoft), Trojan.Crypt (A) (Emsisoft), HEUR:Trojan-Ransom.Win32.Stop.gen (Kaspersky), Trojan.GenericKD.47850419 (BitDefender), Trojan.MalPack.GS (Malwarebytes), ML.Attribute.HighConfidence (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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Ransomware distribution techniques used by cybercriminals
The most common way STOP/DJVU ransomware variants such as XCBG virus are spread is when computer users download software from malicious torrents. They would surreptitiously embed malware in pirated software contents that are popular and upload them in online torrents platforms and when unsuspecting users download them, they end up unwittingly infecting their computer with virus.
Therefore the so-called “cracks” and key generators are nothing but possible malware carriers. Reports have shown that certain pirated software contents are often used by the cybercriminals in luring their victims, as listed below in no particularly order:
- KMSPico (illegal Windows activation tool).
- Adobe Photoshop;
- Tenorshare 4ukey;
- Opera browser;
- Corel Draw;
- VMware Workstation;
- Adobe Illustrator;
- League of Legends;
- Internet Download Manager;
- Fifa 20;
- Virtual DJ Pro.
Based on the explanations so far, you can see how dangerous it is to download software contents from torrents online, so if used to indulge in such acts, you should stop right now to avoid becoming a victim of ransomware. Moreover, downloading other people’s products illegally is considered copyright infringement and is punishable by law. Instead of getting involved in such unwholesome practices, it is better to encourage genuine software developers by obtaining their software contents through the right channels authorized by them. You will also have rest of mind since you won’t be at risk of cyber-attack.
Unfortunately, it has become increasingly difficult in telling apart which email is genuine or a malware-carrier sent by cybercriminals. The reason is that in the desperation of cybercriminals to catch their victims unaware, they now compose their messages to appear very much like any other ordinary email.
Sometimes, they would front as someone who is close to the victim or even impersonate as corporate brands trying to reach out to their customer. Some of the brands they often impersonate include Amazon, eBay, DHL, FedEx etc. In addition to that, they would also make use of catchy captions such as Order Summary, Invoice or Tracking Details all in an attempt to deceive their target victim. On the other hand, they may even decide to make use of email spoofing techniques in hiding the actual sender’s address. Considering the risk, it is best not to open any email you’re not convinced of its origin/purpose.
Finally, for victims to STOP/DJVU ransomware, it will be in your best interest to avoid some notorious websites that claim to offer decryption solutions because such does not exist. At the moment, only DiskTuna and Emsisoft offer tools that are capable of decrypting files.
More information about the infection
This section discusses about the extent to which computer systems are affected during XCBG ransomware attack. The first thing the malware does is to set up build2.exe executables and also winupdate.exe which displays fake update screen. Once that is done, the virus will connect to https[:]//api.2ip.ua/geo.json and also send the result to geo.json file. It will then commence information gathering about geolocation-related data that will include the computer’s geolocation, time zone, zip code, as well as latitude and longitude. Shown below are two examples of how geo.json files look like.
After that, the virus will create another file that will contain information such as hardware details, installed software list, active processes. This file will be named as information.txt.
By making use of the computer’s country code, the virus will profile the computer’s geolocation against their list of encryption-exempted countries listed as Russian Federation, Syria, Armenia, Belarus, Tajikistan, Kazachstan, Kyrgyzstan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan. If peradventure the country code of the infected computer matches with any of the countries, it will instantly terminate any further attempt at attacking the computer.
However, if it scales through by not belonging to any of those countries, the ransomware would at this point extract online encryption key from their server and would merge it with the victim’s ID and will save it in bowsakkdestx.txt file and to PersonalID.txt file. Here is an example of how these files look like.
In situations where the ransomware fails to fetch an online encryption key, it will automatically opt for the use of a hardcoded offline key as an alternative. The appearance of t1 characters suffixed to the personal ID of the victim shows it’s an offline key, and it improves chances of possible decryption of .xcbg files going forward. More information about it is provided below this article.
The ransomware will now proceed to actual data encryption procedure by scanning every folder and encrypting each file with the Salsa20 algorithm before using the RSA-2048 key to lock the encryption. In addition to file encryption, the virus also appends new extension to original filename.
Presented below is screenshot of _readme.txt ransom note that the viruss drops in all folders during the attack.
In completing the attack, the malware will add certain domains to the Windows HOSTS file and also map them to the localhost IP, which effectively prevents the victim from getting any help online. Any attempt could bring up the DNS_PROBE_FINISHED_NXDOMAIN error message in web browser.
Remove XCBG Ransomware Virus and Recover Lost Files
For those whose were encrypted by the malware under review, it is best to remove the XCBG ransomware without any further delay and afterwards follow the steps outlined below.
Also remember to set up your computer in Safe Mode with Networking before using genuine antivirus software to ensure optimal results. If you’re unsure which software to use, our team recommends INTEGO Antivirus due to its effectiveness in protecting computers against malware attacks and detecting as well as removing existing threats.
As soon as XCBG ransomware virus removal is finished, it is time to take the following steps as outlined by our team:
- Immediately report to the relevant authorities with a mandate to oversee such issues.
- Make use of data backup to restore lost data.
- You may consider learning possible ways files corrupted by STOP/DJVU could be repaired.
- Change all passwords that were used for logging into your accounts on the compromised computer.
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XCBG 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 XCBG 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 XCBG 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 XCBG files
Fix and open large XCBG 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 XCBG 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. XCBG Ransomware Virus is considered the new STOP/DJVU variant, just like EEYU, AAYU, AABN, AAMV, AAWT, EEBN, (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 XCBG 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 XCBG 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 XCBG 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 XCBG 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 XCBG 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 XCBG 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 XCBG 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 XCBG 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.