Null Ransomware

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What is Null?

Null is a ransomware-type virus discovered by a malware security researcher by the name of Michael Gillespie. Once infiltrated, Null encrypts various files using AES-256 algorithm. While encrypting, this malware appends filenames with “.null” extension (for instance, “sample.jpg” would be renamed to “sample.jpg.null“). Following successful encryption, Null opens a pop-up window with 5 tabs that provide detailed information about “what happened”.

The first tab (“What happened to my PC“) informs victims about the encryption and encourages victims to buy a decryption program. The second tab (“Encrypted files:“) simply contains the list of compromised files. The third tab (“How do i recover my files?“) explains what to do in order to receive the aforementioned decrypter. Fourth tab (“How do i send bitcoins?“) supposed to explain how to submit the payment. However, at the time of research this tab did not contain any related text. The last, fifth, tab (“What is AES 256“) provides detailed information regarding the encryption algorithm. As mentioned above, Null employs AES-256 – a symmetric encryption algorithm. This means that a unique key (used to encrypt/decrypt files) is generated for each victim. This key is stored in a remote server controlled by cyber criminals. For this reason, they attempt to sell victims a decryption tool (with the key embedded within) for 2.2 Bitcoin (currently worth of ~$10000). Comparing to other similar viruses, the size of ransom is extremely large – it usually fluctuates between $500 and $1500 in Bitcoins. However, users must be informed that cyber criminals often ignore victims, once the payment is submitted. Therefore, these persons cannot be trusted. It doesn’t matter if the ransom is $50 or $5000 – you should never pay. There’s a high credibility that you will get scammed. Not only will you lose your money, but also support cyber criminals’ malicious business. Unfortunately, there are no tools capable of restoring files encrypted by Null ransomware. Therefore, the only possible solution is to restore files/system from a backup.

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Screenshot of a pop-up message encouraging users to pay a ransom to decrypt their compromised data:

Ransomware-type viruses are very similar. As with Null, Nemesis, GlobeImposter, Scarab, Aleta, Purge, and many other also encrypt victim’s files and demand for a ransom. In fact, there are only two major differences between these viruses: 1) size of ransom, and; 2) type of encryption algorithm used. It is also noteworthy that most of these viruses employ algorithms that generate unique decryption keys (e.g., RSA, AES, etc.). Therefore, unless the malware has some flaws/bugs, decrypting files manually (without developers’ interference) is impossible.

How did ransomware infect my computer?

Most of ransomware-type viruses are distributed using spam emails, peer-to-peer (P2P) networks, unofficial software distribution sources, trojans, and fake software updaters. Spam emails often contain various malicious attachments (e.g., JavaScript files, MS Office documents with macros, etc.) designed to download/install malware. Third party software download sources (torrents, eMule, freeware download websites, free file hosting websites, etc.) often spread malicious executables by presenting them as legitimate software. Fake software updaters infect the system by exploiting outdated software’s bugs/flaws.

Reimage is a tool to detect malware on your computer. You will need to purchase full version to remove infections.

How to protect yourself from ransomware infections?

In order to prevent this situation users must be very careful when browsing the Internet. First of all, users should always keep in mind that malware is often distributed using spam emails. For this reason, users should never open any files received from suspicious email addresses. Furthermore, it is very important to keep installed applications up-to-date and download desired software only from official sources. Using a legitimate anti-virus/anti-spyware suite is also a must. The key to computer safety is caution.

The appearance of Null ransomware pop-up (GIF):

Text presented within Null ransomware’s pop-up:

What happened to my PC
Your files are encrypted with AES-256! It’s impossible to recover your files without our decryption service and this programm. It’s recommended that you turn off your antivirussoftware now because it may removes this programm.

Encrypted files:
List of encrypted files on victim’s computer.

How do I recover my files?
To get your files back you have to pay an exact amount of bitcoins to our address! You find your payment informations below.
Make sure it says “ready to receive your payment” befor paying.
Your time is limited! After the countdown below finished your files will be lost forever!

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How do I send bitcoins?
TEST send bitooin

What is AES 256?
The Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) is a specification for the encryption of electronic data established by the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in 2001. AES became effective as a federal government standard on May 26, 2002, after approval by the Secretary of Commerce. AES is included in the ISO/IEC 18033-3 standard. AES is available in many different encryption packages, and is the first (and only) publicly accessible cipher approved by the National Security Agency (NSA) for top secret information when used in an NSA approved cryptographic module.

Payment details:
Price: 2,24453E-11 BTC Adress: 16PFr45tBiMfuVv4TPrc8t8GSwDcrr6cYh

Screenshot of files encrypted by Null (“.null” extension):

Null ransomware removal:

Step 1

Windows XP and Windows 7 users: Start your computer in Safe Mode. Click Start, click Shut Down, click Restart, click OK. During your computer start process, press the F8 key on your keyboard multiple times until you see the Windows Advanced Option menu, and then select Safe Mode with Networking from the list.

Video showing how to start Windows 7 in “Safe Mode with Networking”:

Windows 8 users: Start Windows 8 is Safe Mode with Networking – Go to Windows 8 Start Screen, type Advanced, in the search results select Settings. Click Advanced startup options, in the opened “General PC Settings” window, select Advanced startup. Click the “Restart now” button. Your computer will now restart into the “Advanced Startup options menu”. Click the “Troubleshoot” button, and then click the “Advanced options” button. In the advanced option screen, click “Startup settings”. Click the “Restart” button. Your PC will restart into the Startup Settings screen. Press F5 to boot in Safe Mode with Networking.

Video showing how to start Windows 8 in “Safe Mode with Networking”:

Windows 10 users: Click the Windows logo and select the Power icon. In the opened menu click “Restart” while holding “Shift” button on your keyboard. In the “choose an option” window click on the “Troubleshoot”, next select “Advanced options”. In the advanced options menu select “Startup Settings” and click on the “Restart” button. In the following window you should click the “F5″ button on your keyboard. This will restart your operating system in safe mode with networking.

Video showing how to start Windows 10 in “Safe Mode with Networking”:

Step 2

Log in to the account infected with the Null virus. Start your Internet browser and download a legitimate anti-spyware program. Update the anti-spyware software and start a full system scan. Remove all entries detected.

Download remover for Null virus
1) Download and install   2) Run system scan   3) Enjoy your clean computer!

Download Removal Toolto remove Null

If you cannot start your computer in Safe Mode with Networking, try performing a System Restore.

Video showing how to remove ransomware virus using “Safe Mode with Command Prompt” and “System Restore”:

1. During your computer start process, press the F8 key on your keyboard multiple times until the Windows Advanced Options menu appears, and then select Safe Mode with Command Prompt from the list and press ENTER.

2. When Command Prompt mode loads, enter the following line: cd restore and press ENTER.

3. Next, type this line: rstrui.exe and press ENTER.

4. In the opened window, click “Next”.

5. Select one of the available Restore Points and click “Next” (this will restore your computer system to an earlier time and date, prior to the Null ransomware virus infiltrating your PC).

6. In the opened window, click “Yes”.

7. After restoring your computer to a previous date, download and scan your PC with recommended malware removal software to eliminate any remaining Null ransomware files.

To restore individual files encrypted by this ransomware, try using Windows Previous Versions feature. This method is only effective if the System Restore function was enabled on an infected operating system. Note that some variants of Null are known to remove Shadow Volume Copies of the files, so this method may not work on all computers.

To restore a file, right-click over it, go into Properties, and select the Previous Versions tab. If the relevant file has a Restore Point, select it and click the “Restore” button.

If you cannot start your computer in Safe Mode with Networking (or with Command Prompt), boot your computer using a rescue disk. Some variants of ransomware disable Safe Mode making its removal complicated. For this step, you require access to another computer.

To regain control of the files encrypted by Null, you can also try using a program called Shadow Explorer. More information on how to use this program is available here.

To protect your computer from file encryption ransomware such as this, use reputable antivirus and anti-spyware programs. As an extra protection method, you can use programs called HitmanPro.Alert and EasySync CryptoMonitor, which artificially implant group policy objects into the registry to block rogue programs such as Null ransomware.

HitmanPro.Alert CryptoGuard – detects encryption of files and neutralises any attempts without need for user-intervention:

Malwarebytes Anti-Ransomware Beta uses advanced proactive technology that monitors ransomware activity and terminates it immediately – before reaching users’ files:

  • The best way to avoid damage from ransomware infections is to maintain regular up-to-date backups. More information on online backup solutions and data recovery software Here.

Other tools known to remove Null ransomware:

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