What is Joke ransomware? And how does it carry out its attack?
Joke ransomware is the latest addition to the Scarab ransomware family. This new Scarab variant uses a “.joke” extension in marking its encrypted files. Like its other predecessors, Joke ransomware still uses the AES encryption algorithm in locking important data. Aside from the extension it uses, nothing much has changed in this new malware strain.
Once Joke ransomware infiltrates a computer, it delivers a Trojan module and runs it. This module is the one that establishes an “always-on” connection with a remote server controlled by the attackers. This remote server is used by perpetrators to take over control of the affected host. After connecting the computer to this remote server, Joke ransomware downloads its other components from this server and sets them into several system folders. These other components are used for information gathering and to override security services or programs. Joke ransomware collects information from the infected computer and use them to prevent security services from interrupting its nasty attack in the system.
In addition, it also modifies the Windows Registry which can render the machine completely unusable and behave in strange ways. Once it completes system modification, Joke ransomware begins the encryption process using the AES cipher. Following file encryption, it appends the .joke extension to all encrypted files and opens a text file named “HOW TO RECOVER ENCRYPTED FILES.txt” that states:
read this carefully!!!!!!
Your personal identifier
All your files are encrypted
Your documents, photos, databases and other important data were encrypted.
Data recovery requires a decryptor.
To receive the decryptor, you should send an email to the email address:
In the letter, indicate your personal identifier (see the beginning of this document).
Next, you pay the cost of the decryptor. In the reply letter you will receive the address
Bitcoin-purse, to which you need to transfer money.
When the money transfer is confirmed, you will receive a file decryption for your computer.
After starting the decryption program, all your files will be restored.
* Do not attempt to uninstall the program or run antivirus software
* Attempts to self-decrypt files will result in the loss of your data
* Decoders of other users are incompatible with your data, as each user
unique encryption key
How does Joke ransomware spread online?
Joke ransomware may spread the web the same way as other Scarab variants are distributed – via malicious spam email campaigns. Threat actors tend to use this commonly used distribution method as it seems to be efficient in spreading ransomware threats. They usually attach a corrupted file that once opened, will trigger the malicious scripts embedded in the file that will launch Joke ransomware in the system. Thus, you must be more cautious in downloading files not just in your emails but all over the web.
Wiping out Joke ransomware from your system wouldn’t be that easy so you need to follow the given removal guide below carefully as well as the advanced steps that follows.
Step 1: Tap the Ctrl + Alt + Delete keys at the same time to open a menu and then expand the Shutdown options which is right next to the power button.
Step 2: After that, tap and hold the Shift key and then click on Restart.
Step 3: And in the Troubleshoot menu that opens, click on the Advanced options and then go to the Startup settings.
Step 4: Click on Restart and tap F4 to select Safe Mode or tap F5 to select Safe Mode with Networking.
Step 5: After your PC has successfully rebooted, tap Ctrl + Shift + Esc to open the Task Manager.
Step 6: Go to the Processes tab and look for any suspicious-looking processes that could be related to Joke ransomware and then end their processes.
Step 7: Exit the Task Manager and open the Programs and Features section under Control Panel by pressing the Windows key + R, then type in “appwiz.cpl” and then click OK or tap Enter.
Step 8: From there, look for any suspicious-looking programs that could be related to Joke ransomware and then uninstall it.
Step 9: Close Control Panel and tap Win + E keys to open File Explorer.
Step 10: Now navigate to the following locations and look for the malicious components created by Joke ransomware like HOW TO RECOVER ENCRYPTED FILES.txt and [random].exe and then make sure to delete them all.
- %APPDATA%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Startup\
Step 11: Close the File Explorer.
Before you proceed to the next steps below, make sure that you are tech savvy enough to the point where you know exactly how to use and navigate your computer’s Registry. Keep in mind that any changes you make will highly impact your computer. To save you the trouble and time, you can just use [product-name] this system tool is proven to be safe and excellent enough that hackers won’t be able to hack into it. But if you can manage Windows Registry well, then by all means go on to the next steps.
Step 12: Tap Win + R to open Run and then type in regedit in the field and tap enter to pull up Windows Registry.
Step 13: Navigate to the listed paths below and look for the registry keys and sub-keys created by Joke ransomware.
- HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Desktop\
- HKEY_USERS\.DEFAULT\Control Panel\Desktop\
Step 14: Delete the registry keys and sub-keys created by Joke ransomware.
Step 15: Close the Registry Editor and empty your Recycle Bin.
Try to recover your encrypted files using the Shadow Volume copies
Restoring your encrypted files using Windows’ Previous Versions feature will only be effective if Joke ransomware hasn’t deleted the shadow copies of your files. But still, this is one of the best and free methods there is, so it’s definitely worth a shot.
To restore the encrypted file, right-click on it and select Properties, a new window will pop-up, then proceed to Previous Versions. It will load the file’s previous version before it was modified. After it loads, select any of the previous versions displayed on the list like the one in the illustration below. And then click the Restore button.
To ensure the removal of Joke ransomware from your system including the malicious components it has created on your system, follow the advanced steps below.
Perform a full system scan using [product-code]. To do so, follow these steps:
- Turn on your computer. If it’s already on, you have to reboot it.
- After that, the BIOS screen will be displayed, but if Windows pops up instead, reboot your computer and try again. Once you’re on the BIOS screen, repeat pressing F8, by doing so the Advanced Option shows up.
- To navigate the Advanced Option use the arrow keys and select Safe Mode with Networking then hit
- Windows will now load the Safe Mode with Networking.
- Press and hold both R key and Windows key.
- If done correctly, the Windows Run Box will show up.
- Type in the URL address, [product-url] in the Run dialog box and then tap Enter or click OK.
- After that, it will download the program. Wait for the download to finish and then open the launcher to install the program.
- Once the installation process is completed, run [product-code] to perform a full system scan.
- After the scan is completed click the “Fix, Clean & Optimize Now” button.