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GandCrab ransomware. How to remove? (Uninstall guide)

removal by Julie Splinters - - | Type: Ransomware
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GandCrab – unbeatable ransomware that threatens computer users in 2018

The ransom note of GandCrab ransomware

GandCrab is a ransomware-type cyber threat that started spreading at the end of January 2018 and encrypting files on 64-bit systems. After the month of active distribution via Rig and GrandSoft exploit kits, malware is still undecryptable. It continues locking files with .GDCB file extension and asking to pay 1.54 DASH.

According to the analysis, GandCrab is distributed via malvertising[1] campaign, also known as Seamless. With its help, victims are lead to RIG exploit kit. Such software is designed to detect system vulnerabilities and exploit them in order to infect the targeted system with a file-encrypting virus or another dangerous computer virus.

As specified by cyber security experts,[2] GandCrab is currently spreading via spam email messages with the subject of Receipt Feb-21310 [random numbers]. The name of the sender may vary, but the second part of the email address is always @cdkconstruction.org. The spam message used by ransomware contains a PDF attachment and “DOC attached” as the message body.

Name GandCrab
Type of malware Ransomware
Discovered January 30, 2018
Systems affected Windows
Extension added to infected files .gdcb
Ransom note GDCB-DECRYPT.txt
Amount of ransom 1.54 DASH ($ 1126)

GandCrab relies on a .doc file which is downloaded to the system once the victim clicks on the malicious attachment. The .doc file subsequently runs a PowerShell script and creates an exploit file (sct5.txt), which currently affects 64-bit system. As pointed out by various crypto-malware researchers, the sct5.txt file does not run the ultimate payload of the GandCrab virus, but executes an exploit and runs as a medium for malware to get inside.

Following the infiltration, GandCrab starts encrypting the most valuable data stored on the system. Afterwards, users are no longer able to access their files and are informed about the ransomware attack in the ransom-demanding message in GDCB-DECRYPT.txt file:

—= GANDCRAB =—

Attention!
All your files documents, photos, databases and other important files are encrypted and have the extension: .GDCB
The only method of recovering files is to purchase a private key. It is on our server and only we can recover your files.
The server with your key is in a closed network TOR. You can get there by the following ways:
1. Download Tor browser – https://www.torproject.org/
2. Install Tor browser
3. Open Tor Browser
4. Open link in tor browser: http://gdcbghvjyqy7jclk.onion/[id]
5. Follow the instructions on this page

On our page you will see instructions on payment and get the opportunity to decrypt 1 file for free.

DANGEROUS!
Do not try to modify files or use your own private key – this will result in the loss of your data forever!

Once the victim follows the steps provided in the ransom note, he/she will be led to the website called GandCrab decryptor. People will be presented with the amount of the ransom (approximately $1200), a support chat, the DASH address and a possibility to upload one file for free decryption. 

It is worth mentioning that GandCrab ransomware identifies a specific time period which should be obeyed to make the transaction or the amount of the payment will double. However, this is merely an attempt to intimidate the victims and force to pay the ransom without clearly evaluating other possibilities. 

Therefore, we strongly advise you not to follow the rules of the criminals since there are alternative ways how you can get back the access to your files. For that, you must remove GandCrab first. Experts from NoVirus.uk[3] have already warned affected users that this is a highly dangerous computer virus and should be eliminated with the help of the professional or using a robust antivirus.

Our top pick for GandCrab removal would be Reimage or Malwarebytes Anti Malware. Although, it is possible to use another anti-malware software to terminate this file-encrypting virus. You can find detailed instructions on how to start the elimination procedure at the end of this article.

Additionally, do NOT try to get rid of GandCrab virus by yourself. Such complex ransomware-type infections are designed to hide their presence and disguise as legitimate computer processes. Terminating crucial system files might lead to permanent computer damage and re-appearance of the crypto-malware. Thus, we recommend using the elimination guide below.

GandCrab ransomware cannot be decrypted yet

After a month of active distribution, GandCrab malware cannot be decrypted yet. Nevertheless, researchers are working on safe decryption software; it seems that authors of malware created a pretty strong cyber threat.

According to the latest research information, malware sets unique public and private keys for each of the affected computers. Thus, it’s impossible to recover files without the private key which is offered to purchase for 1.54 DASH.

However, there might be a light at the end of the tunnel. Nevertheless, GandCrab is designed to delete Shadow Volume Copies; it might fail. In this case, you can use ShadowExplorer or similar third-party tools that can help to recover at least some of the files.

Unfortunately, the only way to fully recover files without paying the ransom is to use backups. If you do not have them, you should check our prepared alternative data recovery methods at the end of the article.

Two exploit kits spread dangerous ransomware virus

As we have already mentioned, this dangerous computer threat spreads with the help of two exploit kits,[4] Rig exploit kit and GrandSoft exploit kit. Both of them are well known exploit kits that identify system vulnerabilities of the victim's computer and help ransomware virus to infiltrate the system. Unfortunately, such software does not require user's permission to install a file-encrypting virus and give its owners a remote access to launch ransomware onto the system. Thus, inexperienced computer users might not even recognize the ransomware attack at first.

Additionally, it is worth knowing that exploit kits are not the only way how ransomware is distributed. Criminals might take advantage of credulous people and use deceptive spam emails with malicious attachments. Usually, letters disguise as shopping receipts, invoices or similar documents from well-known brands and companies. Likewise, naive users open the infected attachments and let the cyber threat in.

As we have pointed out in the previous paragraph, the developer of this ransomware is actively spreading spam email. The subject of the message is always the same Receipt Feb-21310 [ random numbered], except that the name of the sender may slightly differ. Nevertheless, the suffix of the sender's email is @cdkconstruction.org. This spam email does not have much information, except points out that “DOC attached.”

Therefore, we suggest you be extremely cautious when browsing on the Internet or monitoring your emails. It is essential to pay close attention when opening letters — you can identify a malicious email by minor spelling mistakes or urges to open the attachment “for further details.” Please do not open attachments of suspicious emails, especially if you see JS, .EXE, .COM, .PIF, .SCR, .HTA, .vbs, .wsf, .jse, .jar, and other doubtful file extensions. Also, avoid visiting suspicious websites since they might be managed by cybercriminals and used to distribute high-risk computer infections.

GandCrab removal and data recovery methods

Unfortunately, users whose systems are infected with ransomware-type viruses don't have much choice and must act quickly to prevent additional loss of their files. The only way to remove GandCrab is to terminate the threat automatically. Have in mind that the sooner you do that, the sooner you will get a chance to decrypt your encrypted files since this crypto-malware can be programmed to initiate another round of encryption.

To fix the system, download a professional security software as soon as you notice encrypted files on your computer. We recommend using Reimage, Plumbytes Anti-MalwareWebroot SecureAnywhere AntiVirus, or Malwarebytes Anti Malware for GandCrab removal which have been used while testing the virus. After installing one of these apps, run a full system scan and let it terminate this file-encrypting virus. Unfortunately, these programs have nothing to do with the decryption of encrypted files. 

Note that you might not be able to install the malware removal tool at first. For that, you must reboot your computer into Safe Mode with Networking or rely on System Restore. You can find a step-by-step guide on how to do that and get rid of GandCrab at the end of this article. Additionally, our experts have prepared alternative recovery methods to help you recover your encrypted files. 

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Manual GandCrab virus Removal Guide:

Remove GandCrab using Safe Mode with Networking

Start GandCrab removal by booting your computer to Safe Mode with Networking. For that, use the following guide:

  • Step 1: Reboot your computer to Safe Mode with Networking

    Windows 7 / Vista / XP
    1. Click Start Shutdown Restart OK.
    2. When your computer becomes active, start pressing F8 multiple times until you see the Advanced Boot Options window.
    3. Select Safe Mode with Networking from the list Select 'Safe Mode with Networking'

    Windows 10 / Windows 8
    1. Press the Power button at the Windows login screen. Now press and hold Shift, which is on your keyboard, and click Restart..
    2. Now select Troubleshoot Advanced options Startup Settings and finally press Restart.
    3. Once your computer becomes active, select Enable Safe Mode with Networking in Startup Settings window. Select 'Enable Safe Mode with Networking'
  • Step 2: Remove GandCrab

    Log in to your infected account and start the browser. Download Reimage or other legitimate anti-spyware program. Update it before a full system scan and remove malicious files that belong to your ransomware and complete GandCrab removal.

If your ransomware is blocking Safe Mode with Networking, try further method.

Remove GandCrab using System Restore

To disable the ransomware and initiate its removal, use System Restore. The guide given below will explain to you how to use it properly.

  • Step 1: Reboot your computer to Safe Mode with Command Prompt

    Windows 7 / Vista / XP
    1. Click Start Shutdown Restart OK.
    2. When your computer becomes active, start pressing F8 multiple times until you see the Advanced Boot Options window.
    3. Select Command Prompt from the list Select 'Safe Mode with Command Prompt'

    Windows 10 / Windows 8
    1. Press the Power button at the Windows login screen. Now press and hold Shift, which is on your keyboard, and click Restart..
    2. Now select Troubleshoot Advanced options Startup Settings and finally press Restart.
    3. Once your computer becomes active, select Enable Safe Mode with Command Prompt in Startup Settings window. Select 'Enable Safe Mode with Command Prompt'
  • Step 2: Restore your system files and settings
    1. Once the Command Prompt window shows up, enter cd restore and click Enter. Enter 'cd restore' without quotes and press 'Enter'
    2. Now type rstrui.exe and press Enter again.. Enter 'rstrui.exe' without quotes and press 'Enter'
    3. When a new window shows up, click Next and select your restore point that is prior the infiltration of GandCrab. After doing that, click Next. When 'System Restore' window shows up, select 'Next' Select your restore point and click 'Next'
    4. Now click Yes to start system restore. Click 'Yes' and start system restore
    Once you restore your system to a previous date, download and scan your computer with Reimage and make sure that GandCrab removal is performed successfully.

Bonus: Recover your data

Guide which is presented above is supposed to help you remove GandCrab from your computer. To recover your encrypted files, we recommend using a detailed guide prepared by 2-spyware.com security experts.

If your files are encrypted by GandCrab, you can use several methods to restore them:

Use Data Recovery Pro to recover encrypted data

This recovery software is designed to help the victims of ransomware as well as if they have accidentally deleted files by themselves. Luckily, it does not require any additional features enabled on your computer to be able to use it.

Try Windows Previous Versions Feature to get your files encrypted by GandCrab back

Windows users can take advantage of the in-built feature which allows recovering the encrypted file from the previous its version. However, make sure that System Restore function was enabled before ransomware attack.

  • Find an encrypted file you need to restore and right-click on it;
  • Select “Properties” and go to “Previous versions” tab;
  • Here, check each of available copies of the file in “Folder versions”. You should select the version you want to recover and click “Restore”.

Get ShadowExplorer to recover files encrypted by the virus

This particular recovery tool requires Shadow Volume Copies to function. Likewise, check whether the ransomware hasn't deleted them and use the instructions below.

  • Download Shadow Explorer (http://shadowexplorer.com/);
  • Follow a Shadow Explorer Setup Wizard and install this application on your computer;
  • Launch the program and go through the drop down menu on the top left corner to select the disk of your encrypted data. Check what folders are there;
  • Right-click on the folder you want to restore and select “Export”. You can also select where you want it to be stored.

Unfortunately, there is no GandCrab decryptor available right now.

Finally, you should always think about the protection of crypto-ransomwares. In order to protect your computer from GandCrab and other ransomwares, use a reputable anti-spyware, such as Reimage, Plumbytes Anti-MalwareWebroot SecureAnywhere AntiVirus or Malwarebytes Anti Malware

About the author

Julie Splinters - Malware removal specialist

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