Cerber3 ransomware pretty much resembles its predecessors – the first and the second releases of the same infection. The hackers issue new editions of the malware to fix vulnerabilities of the malicious encryption implementation. The flaws spotted and explored by IT security circles in the older releases enabled to develop free decryption tools. The infection may update its encryption routine and other features within a single version. However, as the number of flaws becomes critical, the crooks tend to make a decisive step and stun the Internet community with a stand-alone edition.
First reports on Cerber3 ransomware date back to the end of the summer, 2016. Again, the IT security observers have predicted the release. The ransomware remains true to its generic characteristics. Its victims would face the same ugly notification that the ransomware plays via the speakers. It also hijacks desktop background so that users would inevitably stumble upon the ransom note.
The most obvious difference from the earlier releases features the extension name. Now, you are going to see the file names extended with .cerber3 string. The virus would also scramble the filenames.
Thereby, a victim cannot distinguish between the items affected. Since the infection may offer a test decryption for several items, that further aggravates the situation.
To encode the data, the Cerber3 makes use of Advanced Encryption Standard (AES). The output is sufficiently remote from the input so that a brute force attack cannot retrieve the original files. Theoretically, such option exists, but the deciphering would last far beyond an average human lifespan. The ray of hope is that the previous iterations had vulnerabilities that enabled IT security to come up with ultimate decryptors. The scrambling method applied as such is strong enough, though.
Dropping the ransomware on a computer system involves a range of infection vectors. In most of the cases, the virus infiltrates with spam email and fake updates. The hackers are not restricted in opting for any other propagation routines, though. They may attack directly large corporate networks expecting to compromise a number of machines at once.
Once the installation completes, the rogue reports to its remote server. The communication is obfuscated so that general firewall is unlikely to intercept it. The AES encryption applied by the Cerber3 is a symmetric algorithm. That is, a decryption key is an exact copy of the encryption key. However, the key is only available on a remote server so that you cannot retrieve it from the affected computer.
Further details consider the removal of Cerber3 virus and the recovery of data it has scrambled.
Automatic removal of Cerber3 ransomware
The benefits of using the automatic security suite to get rid of this infection are obvious: it scans the entire system and detects all potential fragments of the virus, so you are a few mouse clicks away from a complete fix.
- Download and install recommended malware security suite
- Select Start Computer Scan feature and wait until the utility comes up with the scan report. Proceed by clicking on the Fix Threats button, which will trigger a thorough removal process to address all the malware issues compromising your computer and your privacy.
Restore files locked by Cerber3 ransomware
Cerber3 represents a unique category of malicious software whose attack surface reaches beyond the operating system and its components, which is why removing the virus itself is a part of the fix only. As it has been mentioned, it encrypts one’s personal information, so the next phase of the overall remediation presupposes reinstating the files that will otherwise remain inaccessible.
Launch data recovery software
Similarly to the rest of its fellow-infections, Cerber3 most likely follows an operational algorithm where it erases the original versions of the victim’s files and actually encrypts their copies. This peculiarity might make your day, because forensics-focused applications like Data Recovery Pro are capable of restoring the information that has been removed. As the virus further evolves, its modus operandi may be altered – in the meanwhile, go ahead and try this.
Take advantage of Volume Shadow Copy Service
This technique is based on using the native backup functionality that’s shipped with Windows operating system. Also referred to as Volume Snapshot Service (VSS), this feature makes regular backups of the user’s files and keeps their most recent versions as long as System Restore is on. Cerber3 virus hasn’t been found to affect these copies therefore the restoration vector in question is strongly recommended. The two sub-sections below highlight the automatic and manual workflow.
- a) Use Shadow Explorer
Shadow Explorer is an applet that provides an easy way of retrieving previous versions of files and folders. Its pro’s include an intuitive interface where the computer’s entire file hierarchy is displayed within one window. Just pick the hard disk volume, select the object or directory to be restored, right-click on it and choose Export. Follow the app’s prompts to get the job done.
- b) Use file properties
Essentially, what the above-mentioned Shadow Explorer tool does is it automates the process that can otherwise be performed manually via the Properties dialog for individual files. This particular approach is more cumbrous but just as effective as its software-based counterpart, so you can proceed by right-clicking on a specific file, which has been encrypted by Cerber3 ransomware, and selecting Properties in the context menu. The tab named Previous Versions is the next thing to click – it displays available versions of the file by date of the snapshot creation. Pick the latest copy and complete the retrieval by following the prompts.
Data backups work wonders
Ransomware like Cerber3 isn’t nearly as almighty and destructive in case you run regular file backups to the cloud or external data media. The virus itself can be completely removed in a matter of minutes, and the distorted information can then be just as easily recovered from the backup. Luckily, this is a growing trend, so ransom Trojans are hopefully going to become less subversive in the near future.
Verify thoroughness of the removal
Having carried out the instructions above, add a finishing touch to the security procedure by running an additional computer scan to check for residual malware activity