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Crypto Locker Decryption Assistance

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Ransomware is a particularly nasty piece of malware that takes infected machines hostage. CryptoLocker was successful at garnering  multi-millions in ransom payments the first two months of CryptoLocker’s distribution, according to a recent blog by FireEye regarding the takeover of CryptoLocker infrastructure – Operation Tovar.

Operation Tovar helped tear down the infrastructure used by attackers, but there are still many instances where users are still being infected with ransomware. After the success of Operation Tovar, there were few resources available to help decrypt files that were still encrypted with the attacker’s private key.

While not particularly innovative, CryptoLocker was successful because it encrypts the files of computers it infected and then demanded a ransom for a private key to decrypt those files. The harsh reality of a situation like this is, not many people back up their data. In some cases, the backups would be encrypted if mounted to an infected machine. As a result, many of the victims felt helpless at this point, and paid the ransom – typically around $300. A simple description of the way that CryptoLocker works can be found below:

  1. CryptoLocker arrives on a victim’s machine through a variety of techniques such as spear-phishing emails or watering hole attacks.
  2. CryptoLocker then connects to randomly generated domain (via DGAs) to download a specific RSA public key.
  3. At that point, an AES-256 key is created for each file on the system.
  4. CryptoLocker then encrypts all of the supported files using the generated key from step 3.
  5. The generated key is then encrypted with the downloaded RSA public key from step 2.
  6. And finally, the AES-key is written to the beginning of the encrypted files, thus requiring the private key to decrypt.

Figure 1: Screenshot of victim machine infected with CryptoLocker

Not all CryptoLocker variants are created equal. There are several copycats and hybrid versions of Crytpolocker that exist, ranging from programs like CryptoDefense, PowerLocker, TorLocker and CryptorBit, to variants that are not necessarily named but have modified functionality, such as using Yahoo Messenger as a propagation technique.

Decryption Assistance

To help solve the problem of victims’ files still being encrypted, we leveraged our close partnership with Fox-IT. We developed a decryption assistance website and corresponding tool designed to help those afflicted with the original CryptoLocker malware. Through various partnerships and reverse engineering engagements, Fox-IT and FireEye have ascertained many of the private keys associated with CryptoLocker.  Having these private keys allows for decryption of files that are encrypted by CryptoLocker.

FireEye and Fox IT have created a webpage,, where a user can upload an encrypted CryptoLocker file.  Based on this upload, the user will be provided with the option to download a private key that should decrypt their affected files. The site also provides instructions on how to apply this key to the files encrypted by CryptoLocker to decrypt those files.

To use the site, simply upload an encrypted file without any confidential information. (Please keep in mind, we will not permanently store, view, or modify your file in any fashion.) Enter your email address, to ensure the private key associated with the file is sent to the correct individual. Ensure you enter the correct number or phrase in the Captcha entry field.


Figure 2: Screenshot of

After clicking “Decrypt It!”, you will be presented with instructions to download the Decryptolocker.exe tool from (Figure 3). In addition, your private key will be sent to the email addresses specified.


Figure 3: DecryptCryptoLocker decryption result page

After receiving the email (Figure 4), you will then select the key and utilize it in conjunction with Decryptolocker.exe.


Figure 4: Email containing private key

At this point, the user opens a Windows Command Prompt, and browses to the directory of the Decryptolocker.exe tool and the locked file.  (Please note that the directory of the locked file must be specified if the file is not local to the tool’s directory.) The user must enter the command exactly as specified on the successful decryption page. The command structure should be used as the following:

Decryptolocker.exe –key “<key>” <Lockedfile.doc>

Upon successful execution of the tool, the user should be presented with a prompt indicating decryption was successful (Figure 5).


Figure 5: Successful decryption of File1-1.doc


Operation Tovar made a clear impact on the distribution of and infection of machines by CryptoLocker. However, there have been no known avenues available designed to help users get their encrypted files back without making significant payments to those responsible for infecting machines in the first place. While the remediation of infected machines can be somewhat difficult, hopefully with the help of and Decryptolocker.exe, we can help you get back some of the valuable files that may still be encrypted.

As always, to help prevent a threat like this from affecting you and your data, ensure you backup your data. Ideally, this would be done in at least two locations: One would be on premises (such as an external hard drive), and the other would be off premises (such as cloud storage).

View the free, on-demand webinar DeCryptoLocker: Relief for CryptoLocker Victims for additional information.


Are all encrypted files afflicted with CryptoLocker decryptable with this tool?

We believe we recovered everything the from the CryptoLocker database. However, we are aware that there could be a limited data chunk that could be missing which is related to either the takedown or interruptions of the CryptoLocker backend infrastructure. As a result, certain files may not be decryptable. Also, new variants of CryptoLocker may be released at any time, and the tools we discuss here or have made available may not be able to decrypt files infected with these more recent variants.

Does this tool work against CryptoLocker variants?

There are several variants of CryptoLocker, all functioning in different ways. While these variants do appear similar to CryptoLocker, this tool may not be successful in all decryption processes because of code and functionality variances.

Does any of our data get stored by FireEye or Fox-IT?

Under no circumstances does personal data get stored, processed or examined by FireEye or Fox-IT when using this tool.

Is this service free?

The Decryptolocker.exe tool is available at no cost via the website to anyone that has been compromised with CryptoLocker.

How can I use the Decryptolocker.exe tool?

The Decryptolocker.exe tool is designed to perform a few different types of functions.  Here are some examples of various prompts you can enter, depending on the result you would like to obtain.

1) If you would like to test a file if it is encrypted with CryptoLocker, you can enter:

Decryptolocker.exe –find File1.doc

2) If you would like to find all files encrypted with CryptoLocker in a directory, you can enter:

Decryptolocker.exe –find -r “C:\FolderName”

Note: Remember to include the “-r”

3) If you would like to decrypt a file encrypted with CryptoLocker, you can enter:

Decryptolocker.exe –key “<your private key provided in email>” File1.doc

4) If you would like to decrypt all files in a folder, you can enter:

Decryptolocker.exe –key “<your private key provided in email>” C:\FolderName\*

Note: Remember to include the “*” at the end

5) If you would like to decrypt all the files in a folder or drive recursively, you can enter:

Decryptolocker.exe –key  “<your private key provided in email>” -r C:\

Note: Decryptolocker.exe creates a backup of all encrypted files in the same directory before writing the decrypted file. If you do not have enough space for these files, then the prompt may not execute, and your computer may run more slowly.  Ensure you have sufficient file space before proceeding.



There are several variants of CryptoLocker, all functioning in different ways. While these variants do appear similar to CryptoLocker, the tools discussed here may not successfully decrypt files encrypted by every variant because of differences in the programs or for other reasons. Also, while we have many unlocking keys, there is a possibility that we will be unable to decrypt your files.

1 in 30 have been hit by CryptoLocker and 40% pay the ransom, says study

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An annual survey on computer security issues run by a UK university was published last week. Its stats on the prevalence of ransomware, and how many people give in to the crooks and pay the ransom, raised some eyebrows.

The University of Kent’s 2014 Survey on Cyber Security found that 1 in 30 has had their system hit by CryptoLocker, and 40% of those paid up.


The figure for ransomware as a whole seems even more eye-opening, with almost 1 in 10 reporting having fallen victim.

The survey was organised by the University of Kent’s Interdisciplinary Research Centre in Cyber Security, by a team composed of both computer scientists and psychologists, and conducted using Google’s Consumer Surveys platform.

As the authors of the report caution their readers, the survey covered a relatively small number of people – just over 1,500 UK adults. That leaves it open to inaccuracies for all sorts of reasons, including sampling bias due to the kinds of people drawn to responding to online surveys, but the results seem dramatic enough to be more than just an anomaly.

Other data picked up by the survey seems fairly predictable. Around two-thirds of us feel at risk from cybercrime, just over 1 in 4 have been the victim of some sort of “cyber-dependent crime” in the last year, with malware (11.9%) and phishing (7.3%) the main culprits. 1 in 10 has been exposed to online bullying, harassment or stalking.

If the rate of malware infections seems a little higher than we normally see in surveys of this nature, that could well be down to the high levels of CryptoLocker and other ransomware included in those figures.

9.7% of people claimed they had been infected by ransomware of some kind, with CryptoLocker specifically named in the survey question and making up around a third of all reported infections.

Proving a negative

Survey data always has a problem in that it’s only as accurate as the knowledge (and honesty) of the people being surveyed.

Malware, for the most part, aims to avoid revealing its presence to its victims, sometimes going to great lengths to do so.

So when you ask someone if they have ever been hit by malware, and their response is a strong and definite “no”, that answer should always be viewed sceptically. How can they possibly know?

Proving a negative is not easy in the best of circumstances, and being certain something hasn’t happened simply because you haven’t noticed it happen is particularly difficult when the thing you haven’t noticed is specifically designed to be secretive and stealthy.

Have you ever been spied on from a distant rooftop? No? Can you really be sure of that?

Unlike most malware though, CryptoLocker and other ransomware attacks make no secret of their presence, indeed their main intention is to make it very plain to their victims that they have been infected.

So it could be that what we’re seeing here is not a change in the total level of malware going around, simply a change in the visibility of it to the general public.

Only a third have firewalls

And perhaps that is no bad thing. Other details emerging from this same survey include less than half of respondents using up-to-date anti-malware, just over a third implementing firewalls, and a little less than that exercising sensible password hygiene.

Maybe a little more visibility will finally make the general public start sitting up and paying more attention to the risks of malware and other online threats.

At the moment, it seems like we’re still mostly either ignorant or in denial, right up until something nasty infects our machine and nabs our data, or encrypts it and demands a ransom.

That so many people pay up is not much of a surprise either. Like other security basics, it looks like proper backing up of sensitive or precious files is a rare thing.

Victims forced to pay up include police departments and law firms, with ransomware threats clearly targeting small businesses where proper security practices such as backups are more likely to be lacking.

These shortcomings may have been hidden in the past, but now they are being forced into the spotlight, and the shock may just jolt people into giving the right priority to their security needs.