Cerber Ransomware: Description, Removal, Prevention, and Recovery
According to IDC’s 2021 Ransomware Study, nearly 37% of organizations worldwide admitted that ransomware had attacked their IT infrastructure and data sometime in 2021. Ransomware is becoming more and more sophisticated day after day, and the frequency of attempts to reach the data in the systems of individuals and organizations is on the rise. Along with the improvement of ransomware’s resilience to decryption attempts, cybercriminals are coming up with new approaches to ransomware distribution and infiltration.
The peak of ransomware was in the mid-2010s when attacks made up to 60% of all malware payloads. The rate decreased to 5% in 2017. However, in 2020, ransomware attacks doubled in frequency compared to 2019, and ransomware accounted for 10% of all breaches since then.
Among the variety of malware strains, Cerber ransomware stands out. In this post, we will discuss what ransom.cerber is, how ransomware can breach your systems, and how to get rid of Cerber ransomware and other malware of that type. Additionally, we will discuss Cerber ransomware fix solutions, or, to put it more accurately, ways to protect your data from ransomware attacks.
What is Cerber Ransomware?
The tactics of hackers who made Cerber ransomware are typical. The hackers find a way to infiltrate your system with their ransomware, which encrypts the data in reach, and then they demand a ransom in exchange for the decryption key.
Cerber ransomware is special and extensively used by cybercriminals because of two features:
- Undecryptable RSA keys. The creators have been updating Cerber ransomware regularly, and there are no decryption keys available so far. In theory, the keys that Cerber uses to encrypt data can be decrypted, but the process would take years even with the use of the most sophisticated computers.
- RaaS distribution model. Well into the existence of Cerber ransomware, hackers switched to using the Ransomware-as-a-Service model to spread Cerber. This means they rent out their ransomware to spreaders who plan to conduct an attack. In return, hackers get a share of every payment that attack victims send to a “licensed” spreader.
How to Remove Cerber Ransomware?
The first idea that might come to mind is to remove Cerber ransomware by paying the ransom. However, that is not your best choice for two reasons.
Why You Shouldn’t Pay Ransoms
First, there is no guarantee that the hackers will keep their word and send a decryptor after receiving your payment. After Cerber ransomware reaches your storages, hackers have full control over the encrypted data. And you shouldn’t forget that hackers don’t care about their reputation. Hackers are criminals who are interested in illegal income. If this is the case, you risk losing both your money and your data, even though the Cerber ransomware message that victims receive states that there is a guarantee of recovery after the ransom is paid.
Second, every ransom payment sent to hackers means further financing of their activity. Every successful attack shows criminals that their schemes are working and are profitable, so the hackers will almost surely continue spreading Cerber ransomware and encrypting data. Moreover, the criminals can invest the collected funds to create new malware, including more sophisticated ransomware strains.
What Can Be Done
To begin, the best way to remove Cerber ransomware is to completely delete and reinstall your operating system. However, that might not be an option if you don’t want to rebuild, for example, the entire infrastructure of VMs along with apps, network routes and settings in a corporate IT environment.
Luckily, you can actually remove Cerber ransomware from your system. To do that, run your OS in safe mode. A safe mode launch means only critical system drivers, apps and services are running, so that way you can prevent ransomware from encrypting more data. Then install an updated antivirus software and run a complete deep scan of your disks. Most antivirus solutions will recognize Cerber ransomware and wipe it out of the system.
Still, the data that had been encrypted already is unlikely to be recoverable even after you remove Cerber ransomware. The point is that the criminals who developed Cerber use advanced encryption algorithms, so there is no way to decrypt the data within acceptable time frames.
Therefore, any data that has not been backed up will be lost after the encryption during a successful ransomware attack. We will cover data backup as a reliable ransomware protection measure in this post. However, you can get more information about the advanced data backup software right away if you are looking for a way to protect data from ransomware.
Ways to Prevent Cerber Ransomware from Encrypting Your Data
Keeping in mind the complexity of Cerber ransomware encryption and the importance of the data that is usually targeted, the best data protection approach is to prevent any malicious code from infiltrating your organization’s IT environment. Preventing ransomware infiltration is possible when you keep in mind the basic, commonly accepted rules of data safety.
Employee Awareness of Threats
Like most malware, Cerber ransomware needs a user to trigger it before the code sneaks into the system and begins encrypting data. Hackers pack the malicious code into files such as WinRAR and 7zip archives, executable packages, text documents, tables, or presentations. Email links and online advertising banners can be sources of ransomware, too. Once the user launches the file or clicks on the link or ad banner, the ransomware unpacks and installs so it can run in the background, staying out of sight.
Since ransomware usually enters in this way, users who understand ransomware infection and installation methods can act as the first line of defense for the IT environments of organizations of all sizes. SMBs and enterprises alike should drill their workers on the online security rules. When workers avoid clicking suspicious links on websites and in corporate emails, stop downloading and installing apps from unknown and unreliable sources, and are more careful when connecting personal devices to corporate hardware, then the ransomware’s chances of infiltrating into the organization’s IT environment significantly decrease.
Updated and Patched Software
Many organizations postpone software and OS updates until it’s too late. One of the main reasons for software manufacturers to release patches and updates are security vulnerabilities. After a potential breach is detected, manufacturers react to it with a patch. Keeping the outdated version of the software running in your environment means leaving a highlighted backdoor for the continually evolving malware, including Cerber ransomware.
Password reliability is not too critical when speaking of Cerber ransomware that is mainly spread via phishing emails, malicious links or online ads. However, many other types of malware can try brute-forcing your passwords to pass through the security and gain control over the system.
Therefore, passwords like “admin” or “12345qwerty” don’t cut it, no matter what data you need to protect. For both home users and corporate networks of all levels, a reliable password is the basic component of data protection. The best option is to use a password generation algorithm to get a reliable password with at least 16 symbols including numbers, uppercase and lowercase letters, and special characters. Of course, every password you use should be unique and updated regularly.
Last but not least about password reliability is keeping all passwords away from the environments you want to protect. One option is to remember passwords by heart. However, that’s barely possible, so it is enough not to store passwords in the notepad file on the desktop of your main OS. At least, consider moving that file to a detachable flash drive.
Early Ransomware Detection
Most malware strains, including Cerber ransomware, are known. Antivirus software developers do their best to keep virus databases as updated as possible. An updated antivirus is a solution able to counter the attack entirely, or at least to warn you about ransomware intrusion early after the attack has been conducted.
Organizations of all scales should have a solution to detect, highlight, and block potential malware infiltration attempts. Of course, even the most advanced antivirus software does not guarantee the instant detection of the newest Cerber ransomware versions, but imperfect protection is better than no protection at all.
A data backup is a copy of data stored for recovery purposes. When the original data is lost or corrupted due to a disaster such as a successful Cerber ransomware attack, a data backup can be used to restore the critical applications, files, and other items. Advanced data backup and recovery solutions can enable you to back up entire virtual environments with specific settings, network routes, and relevant app data.
However, a single backup will most probably be insufficient to protect your organization’s data from Cerber ransomware and other malware. A reliable backup and recovery solution combined with an elaborate strategy of data protection are vital to keep your critical data safe from hackers.
How to Enable Recovery from a Cerber Ransomware Attack?
A thorough approach towards data backup can help you restore the IT environment quickly and with minimal data loss after you remove Cerber ransomware from the main site. The key elements of an effective backup strategy remain the same for individuals, SMBs, and enterprises.
Know What and How to Back Up
First of all, you need to find out which machines and applications are critical for your organization. Those VMs and apps are your priority backup targets when coming up with a data protection strategy. Also, setting up a process to periodically review critical workloads and data is an efficient way to proactively and timely react to the changes in the IT environment. After the critical workloads are defined and prioritized, figure out two parameters called RPO and RTO.
An RPO is a recovery point objective, which defines how much data needs to be backed up to avoid a major impact on production after a ransomware attack or other data loss event happens. The more frequent your backup workflows are, the tighter RPO you get.
An RTO means a recovery time objective. This parameter is the maximum service downtime period an organization can tolerate. To meet an RTO means to restore production within the given time frame.
Finally, choose a data backup approach that would help you meet your data protection goals. Today, the dominant choice for organizations is the all-in-one backup software solution. The advanced software app can be significantly more effective than manual backups and offers broader functionality.
After your RPO and RTO are known, come up with the appropriate backup schedule to ensure them. The advanced backup software can automatically run backup workflows as often as every minute to obtain one of the tightest RPOs possible. Additionally, VMs can be launched directly from relevant backups to restore production within the shortest period. When the Cerber ransomware is wiped out of the main site, recovered VMs can be moved there for permanent use.
Follow the 3-2-1 Rule
The 3-2-1 rule is the commonly accepted approach towards backup data retention. According to that rule, a reliable backup strategy requires you to:
- 3 – Keep at least three copies of backup data
- 2 – Store copies on at least two different types of media (for example, a hard drive and a cloud storage)
- 1 – Send at least one copy offsite to avoid a single point of failure when a ransomware attack or any other disaster strikes
Advanced backup software solutions enable you to tier backup data as the needs of your organization require. Store backups onsite, send them offsite, to the NAS, detachable drive, or cloud storage such as Amazon S3, Wasabi, or Microsoft Azure. For long-term retention and even more resilience to ransomware like Cerber, consider sending backup copies to tape.
Make Backups Immutable
Ransom.cerber and other ransomware strains encrypt all the data in the IT environment they can reach. Ransomware can also try to infiltrate your offsite and cloud storages if they are visible in the same network. If ransomware encrypts backups, you risk losing the organization’s data despite all the time, money, and effort invested in data protection measures.
Fortunately, advanced backup software solutions enable you to set immutability periods for backups stored in a local Linux-based repository, NAS, or cloud like Amazon S3. Immutability protects backups from any change or deletion within the given period. Therefore, Cerber ransomware and other malware can’t encrypt or delete your backups when the immutability for backup data is enabled. Immutable backups can be used for swift data and environment recovery even if ransomware managed to reach the backup repository before you sweeped that ransomware out of the system.
Restrict Access to Backups and Data Protection Activities
No matter how educated your colleagues are, the principle of least privilege should be applied and kept. If any action in the IT environment can be prohibited for an individual without preventing them from doing their job well, then that action should be prohibited. The best way is to configure role-based access policies and enable two-factor authentication for every login procedure possible, including the access to your data protection solution and workflows.
Automate Recovery Workflows
With a modern backup and recovery software solution, you can create multiple custom recovery workflows for different disaster scenarios, including ransom.cerber attacks. Recovery automation enables you to meet the tightest RTOs, because preset workflows can be initiated with a few clicks. When running on the appropriate high-performance hardware, the best backup software can automatically recover single VMs and entire IT environments with the required settings, applications, and network maps in minutes.
Cerber ransomware is an advanced and regularly updated malware strain. Decrypting data that ransom.cerber encrypted is barely possible at the moment. Therefore, once the data is encrypted by Cerber, that data is either recovered from backup or lost. If you don’t have the backup, then the data loss incident should become an instructive experience.
Although hackers promise to send a decryptor in exchange for a ransom, paying the criminals is not the best option. First, you risk losing both data and money because you have no influence threads to force hackers to keep their part of the bargain. Second, any payment in favor of criminals means financing new attacks they would almost surely conduct. The best way is to prevent malware and ransomware like Cerber from infiltrating your IT environment in the future, and to take care of critical data backup in advance.
To maximize data protection from ransomware, you should make sure your colleagues are aware of malware threats and infiltration channels. Also, it is helpful if you have reliable passwords, keep your OS and applications updated, and run an antivirus app able to warn you about malicious software intrusions. To come up with an efficient backup strategy, you should figure out an RPO and RTO that suit the needs of your organization, define critical machines and apps, and finally pick your data backup and recovery approach.
Nowadays, all-in-one software solutions are the most efficient to ensure critical data backup and recovery for individuals, SMBs, and enterprises. For complex IT environments with hundreds and thousands of workloads to protect, the specialized software is significantly more effective than any manual backup.