Checkmate ransomware (virus) - Recovery Instructions Included
Checkmate virus Removal Guide
What is Checkmate ransomware?
Checkmate ransomware targets businesses to be able to extort even more moneyCheckmatem
A ransomware infection can permanently damage data
Checkmate ransomware is a file-locking virus that uses complicated encryption algorithms to lock users' files, such as photos, videos, and documents. The locked files cannot be opened or viewed. Cybercriminals want to extort victims by promising to provide a decryption key if they pay the ransom.
Once the malware infiltrates the machine, it appends files with the .checkmate extension. So if a file was previously named picture.jpg, after encryption is done, it would look like this – picture.jpg.checkmate. The icons also change to white pages so thumbnails become unavailable. Shortly after, a ransom note is generated on the machine.
|TYPE||Ransomware, cryptovirus, data locking malware|
|DISTRIBUTION||Email attachments, peer-to-peer file sharing platforms, malicious ads|
|RANSOM AMOUNT||$15000 in Bitcoin|
|FILE RECOVERY||It is nearly impossible to recover the files if you do not have backups; we provide a third-party solution that has helped some users|
|MALWARE REMOVAL||Scan your machine with anti-malware software to eliminate all the malicious files|
|SYSTEM FIX||Windows reinstallation can be avoided with RestoroIntego maintenance tool, which can fix damaged files, system errors, and more|
The ransom note
Victims are asked to pay a big sum of money if they want to get their files back
The full !CHECKMATE_DECRYPTION_README.txt ransom note reads as follows:
You was hacked by CHECKMATE team.
All your data has been encrypted, backups have been deleted.
Your unique ID: –
You can restore the data by paying us money.
We have encrypted – office files.
We determine the amount of the ransom from the number of encrypted office files.
The cost of decryption is 15000 USD.
Payment is made to a unique bitcoin wallet.
Before paying, you will be able to make sure that we can actually decrypt your files.
1) Download and install Telegram Messenger hxxps://telegram.org/
2) Find us hxxps://t.me/checkmate_team
3) Send a message with your unique ID and 3 files for test decryption. Files should be no more than 15mb each.
4) In response, we will send the decrypted files and a bitcoin wallet for payment. Bitcoin wallet is unique for you, so we can find out what you paid.
5) After the payment is received, we will send you the key and the decryption program.
Threat actors say that they have encrypted office files, so it might be that this variant specifically targets businesses. The price set for the decryption tool is quite high – $15000. Cybercriminals want it to be paid in cryptocurrencies, more specifically Bitcoin.
Ransomware developers choose this payment method because it provides anonymity. Once you send a cryptocurrency transaction to another wallet, it is impossible to get it back. Additionally, threat actors cannot be trusted. Many previous ransomware attack victims have come forward and said that they never received the promised decryption keys after paying the ransom.
There are a lot of ways ransomware could have infected your computer. One of the most common methods of infection is “cracked” software installations. Sites that distribute them disguise malicious programs as legitimate or hide malware between the files. It is impossible to know which programs on Torrent websites, or peer-to-peer file-sharing platforms are safe to download.
Another common method used by hackers is malspam. With this method, threat actors add infected attachments to the email and use social engineering techniques to encourage users to open it. The email might include PDFs or Word documents. It might also contain links to malicious websites.
Often the emails look like they came from a colleague or friend, but if you were not expecting to receive a file via email, you should check with that person through another platform just in case. Hackers can use your friend list against you and make the message even more believable.
Isolate the affected machine
As the creators of this malicious program seem to be targeting businesses, you need to isolate the affected machine so the virus would not infect the entire network. As soon as one of the machines is infected, malware can spread via the network and encrypt files everywhere else, including Network Attached Storage (NAS) devices. If your computer is connected to a network, it is important to isolate it to prevent re-infection after ransomware removal is complete.
The easiest way to disconnect a PC from everything is to plug out the ethernet cable. In the corporate environment, this might be extremely hard to do and time-consuming. The method below will disconnect from all the networks, including local and the internet, isolating each machine involved.
- Type in Control Panel in Windows search and press Enter
- Go to Network and Internet
- Click Network and Sharing Center
- On the left, pick Change adapter settings
- Right-click on your connection (for example, Ethernet), and select Disable
- Confirm with Yes.
If you are using some type of cloud storage, you should disconnect from it immediately. It is also advisable to disconnect all the external devices, such as USB flash sticks, external HDDs, etc. Once the malware elimination process is finished, you can connect your computers to the network and internet, as explained above, but by pressing Enable instead.
Remove the intruder from your machine
If you try to recover your data first, it can result in permanent loss. It can also encrypt your files the second time. It will not stop until you remove the malicious files causing it first. It would be best if you did not attempt to remove the malicious program yourself. Use anti-malware tools like SpyHunter 5Combo Cleaner or Malwarebytes to scan your system. This security software should find all the related files and entries and remove them automatically for you. Automatic removal is the best option because there is less risk of leaving some of the traces behind.
If the virus prevents you from using security software, you first need to access Safe Mode. If you do not know how to do it, look for instructions at the bottom of the post.
Recovery using third-party software
Only hackers hold the decryption key, which can unlock your files, so if you did not back them up previously, you possibly lost your files forever. You can try using data recovery software, but third-party programs cannot always decrypt the files. We suggest at least trying this method. Before proceeding, you have to copy the corrupted files and place them in a USB flash drive or another storage. And remember – only do this if you have already removed Checkmate ransomware.
- Download Data Recovery Pro.
- Double-click the installer to launch it.
- Follow on-screen instructions to install the software.
- As soon as you press Finish, you can use the app.
- Select Everything or pick individual folders where you want the files to be recovered.
- Press Next.
- At the bottom, enable Deep scan and pick which Disks you want to be scanned.
- Press Scan and wait till it is complete.
- You can now pick which folders/files to recover – don't forget you also have the option to search by the file name!
- Press Recover to retrieve your files.
Fix system errors
Performance, stability, and usability issues, to the point where a complete Windows reinstall is required, are expected after malware infection. These types of infections can alter the Windows registry database, damage vital bootup, and other sections, delete or corrupt DLL files, etc. Once a system file is damaged by malware, antivirus software is not able to repair it.
This is why RestoroIntego was developed. It can fix a lot of the damage caused by an infection like this. Blue Screen errors, freezes, registry errors, damaged DLLs, etc., can make your computer completely unusable. By using this maintenance tool, you could avoid Windows reinstallation.
- Download the application by clicking on the link above
- Click on the ReimageRepair.exe
- If User Account Control (UAC) shows up, select Yes
- Press Install and wait till the program finishes the installation process
- The analysis of your machine will begin immediately
- Once complete, check the results – they will be listed in the Summary
- You can now click on each of the issues and fix them manually
- If you see many problems that you find difficult to fix, we recommend you purchase the license and fix them automatically.
Getting rid of Checkmate virus. Follow these steps
Manual removal using Safe Mode
Manual removal guide might be too complicated for regular computer users. It requires advanced IT knowledge to be performed correctly (if vital system files are removed or damaged, it might result in full Windows compromise), and it also might take hours to complete. Therefore, we highly advise using the automatic method provided above instead.
Step 1. Access Safe Mode with Networking
Manual malware removal should be best performed in the Safe Mode environment.
Windows 7 / Vista / XP
- Click Start > Shutdown > Restart > OK.
- When your computer becomes active, start pressing F8 button (if that does not work, try F2, F12, Del, etc. – it all depends on your motherboard model) multiple times until you see the Advanced Boot Options window.
- Select Safe Mode with Networking from the list.
Windows 10 / Windows 8
- Right-click on Start button and select Settings.
- Scroll down to pick Update & Security.
- On the left side of the window, pick Recovery.
- Now scroll down to find Advanced Startup section.
- Click Restart now.
- Select Troubleshoot.
- Go to Advanced options.
- Select Startup Settings.
- Press Restart.
- Now press 5 or click 5) Enable Safe Mode with Networking.
Step 2. Shut down suspicious processes
Windows Task Manager is a useful tool that shows all the processes running in the background. If malware is running a process, you need to shut it down:
- Press Ctrl + Shift + Esc on your keyboard to open Windows Task Manager.
- Click on More details.
- Scroll down to Background processes section, and look for anything suspicious.
- Right-click and select Open file location.
- Go back to the process, right-click and pick End Task.
- Delete the contents of the malicious folder.
Step 3. Check program Startup
- Press Ctrl + Shift + Esc on your keyboard to open Windows Task Manager.
- Go to Startup tab.
- Right-click on the suspicious program and pick Disable.
Step 4. Delete virus files
Malware-related files can be found in various places within your computer. Here are instructions that could help you find them:
- Type in Disk Cleanup in Windows search and press Enter.
- Select the drive you want to clean (C: is your main drive by default and is likely to be the one that has malicious files in).
- Scroll through the Files to delete list and select the following:
Temporary Internet Files
- Pick Clean up system files.
- You can also look for other malicious files hidden in the following folders (type these entries in Windows Search and press Enter):
After you are finished, reboot the PC in normal mode.
Report the incident to your local authorities
Ransomware is a huge business that is highly illegal, and authorities are very involved in catching malware operators. To have increased chances of identifying the culprits, the agencies need information. Therefore, by reporting the crime, you could help with stopping the cybercriminal activities and catching the threat actors. Make sure you include all the possible details, including how did you notice the attack, when it happened, etc. Additionally, providing documents such as ransom notes, examples of encrypted files, or malware executables would also be beneficial.
Law enforcement agencies typically deal with online fraud and cybercrime, although it depends on where you live. Here is the list of local authority groups that handle incidents like ransomware attacks, sorted by country:
- USA – Internet Crime Complaint Center IC3
- United Kingdom – ActionFraud
- Canada – Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre
- Australia – ScamWatch
- New Zealand – ConsumerProtection
- Germany – Polizei
- France – Ministère de l'Intérieur
If your country is not listed above, you should contact the local police department or communications center.
How to prevent from getting ransomware
Protect your privacy – employ a VPN
There are several ways how to make your online time more private – you can access an incognito tab. However, there is no secret that even in this mode, you are tracked for advertising purposes. There is a way to add an extra layer of protection and create a completely anonymous web browsing practice with the help of Private Internet Access VPN. This software reroutes traffic through different servers, thus leaving your IP address and geolocation in disguise. Besides, it is based on a strict no-log policy, meaning that no data will be recorded, leaked, and available for both first and third parties. The combination of a secure web browser and Private Internet Access VPN will let you browse the Internet without a feeling of being spied or targeted by criminals.
No backups? No problem. Use a data recovery tool
If you wonder how data loss can occur, you should not look any further for answers – human errors, malware attacks, hardware failures, power cuts, natural disasters, or even simple negligence. In some cases, lost files are extremely important, and many straight out panic when such an unfortunate course of events happen. Due to this, you should always ensure that you prepare proper data backups on a regular basis.
If you were caught by surprise and did not have any backups to restore your files from, not everything is lost. Data Recovery Pro is one of the leading file recovery solutions you can find on the market – it is likely to restore even lost emails or data located on an external device.
- ^ Kate Ashford. What Is Cryptocurrency?. Forbes. Investing Advisor.
- ^ Georgina Torbet. 5 Security Reasons Not to Download Cracked Software. Makeuseof. Security Blog.
- ^ How to Identify a Malicious Website. Tessian. Spear Phishing.