|Algorithm||AES-256 encryption. If MUUQ cannot establish a connection to crooks server before starting the encryption process, it uses the offline key. This key is the same for all victims(!), making it possible to decrypt .muuq files in the future.|
|Ransom||From $490 to $980 (in Bitcoins)|
|Distribution||Third-party downloaders, installers, peer-to-peer networks, RDP exploits, etc.,|
|Other variants|| |
It is hard to imagine something more dangerous than a ransomware attack. But, unfortunately, in a modern computer world, only ransomware creates so much fear around itself. MUUQ ransomware, however, cannot be as dangerous as some other examples of this malware type, but it still makes your files inaccessible and corrupts many functions on your PC.
The cipher MUUQ virus uses AES-256 - not the strongest one, but you still have no chances to decrypt it. Specialized software can help you, but the stakes will still be low - there are too many possible keys, and too few of them are uncovered. Compromised keys are collected by cybersecurity experts and added to the decryption tools’ databases. Who knows, maybe one will fit you?
Another piece of danger this virus carries hides in Windows configurations. Such a big security breach cannot leave without attention from the virus creators. MUUQ ransomware changes some arrangements, and voila - you cannot run the installation files of antivirus programs and cannot open the sites with virus removal information. It also sometimes blocks access to the servers of decryption tools, so the last ones can’t update their decryption keys databases. The sooner you will remove these changes - the fewer problems you will have in the future.
Ransomware distribution is committed in many ways. Since MUUQ ransomware is targeted primarily at individuals, its developers chose dubious sites&hacked software as a primary spreading way. Downloading the “free” 3DS Max or Windows activation tool of some sort may end up in a ransomware attack. Isn’t it easier and cheaper to pay ~<$50 for a license than to pay $1000 for file recovery?
The MUUQ ransomware uses the AES-256 encryption algorithm. That is not the strongest method, but it still provides an overwhelming amount of possible decryption keys. To brute force the 78-digit number of keys, you need 3.5 unvigintillion years (1*10^65), even if you use the most powerful regular PC. Quantum computers can show a bit better results, but it is still too slow to get your files back while you are alive.
The exact algorithm of encryption is next: malware scans each folder for the files it is able to encrypt. Then, when it finds the target, it makes a copy of your file, removes the original one, encrypts the copy and leaves it instead of the removed original. Such a procedure is done to prevent the situation when you have already opened the file, so ransomware is not able to read it because of the Windows restrictions. To each encrypted copy, the virus adds the specific extension - ".muuq". Then, ransomware creates a _readme.txt file in the folder where the encrypted file is located, and goes to the next folder.
Such an encryption method can be exploited for file recovery. Since the original file is deleted, you may try to recover it using the file recovery tools. The less time is passed - the bigger the chance to get your files back, so hurry up!
Another specific moment that can help you to use the files even after the encryption is the fact that MUUQ ransomware encrypts only the first 150KB of each file. Hence, you can try to run a big file, such as video or music, without the encryption. Similar feature also works with other ransomware families - Dharma, Conti and Makop encrypt the same 150KB.
Ransom note: _readme.txt
Ransom note is the same for the whole ransomware family. In fact, it is one of the main signs of to which family the certain ransomware belongs. Here is the typical note for STOP/Djvu family:
ATTENTION! Don't worry. You can return all your files! All your files like photos, databases, documents and other important are encrypted with strongest encryption and unique key. The only method of recovering files is to purchase decrypt tool and unique key for you. This software will decrypt all your encrypted files. What guarantees you have? You can send one of your encrypted file from your PC and we decrypt it for free. But we can decrypt only 1 file for free. File must not contain valuable information. You can get and look video overview decrypt tool: hxxps://we.tl/t-WJa63R98Ku Price of private key and decrypt software is $980. Discount 50% available if you contact us first 72 hours, that's price for you is $490. Please note that you'll never restore your data without payment. Check your e-mail "Spam" or "Junk" folder if you don't get answer more than 6 hours. To get this software you need write on our e-mail: email@example.com Reserve e-mail address to contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org Your personal ID: XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
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