7ev3n ransomware turning ‘HONE$T’

7ev3n ransomware appeared at the beginning of this year. In addition to typical features of encrypting files, it was blocking access to the system using a fullscreen window, and was difficult to remove. It also became famous for demanding an unrealistic price of 13 bitcoins.

At that time the product looked like in early stage of development, however, the code was showing a potential to evolve into something smarter in the future. Indeed – the authors decided to actively work on making improvements. Currently we are facing an outbreak of a new campaign with an improved version of this ransomware – this time named 7ev3n-HONE$T. Probably the new name refers to the added feature of decrypting test files before the payment – as a proof of the authors’ “honesty” in giving files back.

In this post we will take a look at its evolution.

Analyzed samples

7ev3n (old edition):

7ev3n-HONE$T (new edition):

Behavioral analysis

73v3n – old version

Once executed, 7ev3n ransomware was installing itself, deleting the clicked copy and silently encrypting files. The first symptom that something was wrong was a notifaction that User Account Control is going to be turned off, and the system needed to be restarted:

UAC_notificationThe malware was not waiting for the next restart, but executing it by its own. Shortly after, another notification the system was going to shut down:

logging_offOn the next reboot, the attack of that version of 7ev3n ransomware was announced by a big window, covering the entire desktop and blocking access to the system. It was difficult to bypass. In order to regain the control over the system, the user needed to put some special effort (guidance has been provided, i.e. by BleepingComputer).

ransom_noteThe ransomware installed itself in %%LOCALAPPDATA% – the main file is dropped under the name system.exe:

dropped_seven1

In addition, it dropped one more executable: uac.exe – for User Account Controll bypass, using a well-known trick with Cabinet files (Akagi) and two bat scripts: del.bat (responsible for deleting the original file) and bcd.bat – responsible for disabling backup. Content of bcd.bat demonstrated below:

bcdedit /set {current} bootems no 
 bcdedit /set {current} advancedoptions off 
 bcdedit /set {current} optionsedit off 
 bcdedit /set {current} bootstatuspolicy IgnoreAllFailures 
 bcdedit /set {current} recoveryenabled off
del %0

Encryption process

This ransomware is capable of encrypting files off-line.

Encrypted files had their name changed to <number in directory>.R5A.

7ev3n_encrypted

Patterns found in the encrypted files (R5A extension) look like two different algorithms have been used for it’s different chunks.

square.bmp : left – original, right encrypted with 7ev3n

enc_square1 enc_1

Every file was encrypted with a different key.

73v3n – HONE$T

The new edition comes with an improved interface. The most important difference is that the authors gave up the idea of blocking the full desktop of the infected computer. Although the window with ransom demand cannot be closed, it is still possible to access other programs. Moreover, the GUI itself has been enriched with features allowing for navigation and getting more information. Similarly to other ransomware, it provides a possibility to decrypt a few files for the test.

gui_win

In the new edition the price of decryption is only 1 BTC  (in some samples even 0.5) – that is a huge difference in comparison to 13 BTC from the previous campaign. The new ransom note offers various models of payment (i.e possibility to decrypt half of the files for 60% of the original price) and a 20% discount in case of paying full sum at once. As we can see, the authors learned to be more user-friendly and made a step towards “honesty”.

Installation folder and dropped files are different than in the previous version (sample 1 BTC):

installed

However, this feature depends rather on the particular campaign – in some of the new samples the installation path is like in the previous edition (sample 0.5 BTC)

installation_05

This time, the main executable is dropped either as conlhost.exe or as  system.exe (depending on the sample). Also, in the same folder, the ransomware creates 2 files with lists of paths:

  • files – containing all the encrypted files
  • testdecrypt – containing files that have been chosen as testfiles that can be decrypted for free

The dropped executable have some unique ID appended to it’s end. It is an array of 34 random characters, with ‘*’ used as a prefix/suffix – format:  ‘*[x00-xff]{34}*’. This key is same on every run for a particular machine.

Example: Left – the sample before being run. Right – the sample that was run and installed on the system:

appended_contentPersistence is based on a Run registry key:

regeditIn addition to displaying the GUI with ransom note it also drops a TXT file with contact information, that can be used if – for any reason – the main windows didn’t manage to pop-up:

files_back_note

The victim ID is the same after every execution on the same machine, so we can be sure that it is not random (it may be generated from some local identifiers, i.e. GUID).

Encryption process

The new version also can encrypt files off-line (no key needs to be downloaded from the server).

Encrypted files had their name changed to A<number in directory>.R5A (or, for some of the new samples <number in directory>.R5A –just like in the old version). The new feature is that some randomly selected files are given a different extension: .R4A.

encrypted_files

Just like in the to the previous edition, patterns found in the encrypted files (R5A extension) look like two different algorithms have been used for its different chunks.

square.bmp : first – original, second- encrypted with 7ev3n-HONE$T, third – encrypted with old 7ev3n.

enc_square1 enc_A0 enc_1

Completely different algorithm has been deployed on the files with R4A extension (introduced newly in 7ev3n-HONE$T)

enc_square1 enc_A2_R4A

We can see the patterns of the original file reflected in it’s encrypted content. Such an effect depicts, that file could have been encrypted by some block cipher – but as well it can be a custom, XOR-based algorithm.

Also in this version, every file with R5A extension is encrypted with a different key.

Experiment

For the purpose of experiments I prepared set of short TXT files, as given below:

test_fileset

They have been encrypted as following:

1.txt

1_txt_encrypted

16A.txt

16A_txt_enc

long_filename.txt

long_name_enc

The file 16M.txt has not been encrypted at all.

We can see that each end every encrypted file starts with a character ‘M’. After that, there is an encrypted content – it’s length is the same like the original. However, the same plaintext does not produce the same encrypted content (compare 1.txt and 16A.txt).

The encrypted content is suffixed with a separator ‘**’ and then the encrypted filename is stored (it’s original length is preserved). The last character is always ‘x0A’. Format of the encrypted file can be defined as:

M<encrypted content>**<encrypted filename>x0A

Files with content length shorter or equal 8 are excluded from the encryption. Similarly, excluded are files which content begins with ‘M’. More details about why it happens, we will find by analyzing the code.

Network communication

Although the internet connection is not required in the process of encryption, 7even is capable of communicating with C&C for the purpose of collecting information about the attacked machines.

During beaconing, various information about the current infection are sent. As usual, the victim ID (the same that is mentioned in the ransom note), wallet ID (hardcoded in the binary), operating system, etc.

beacon_1

Sending statistics from the encryption:

send_encrypted_info

Inside 7ev3n (the old version)

The techniques used by 7ev3n are not very advanced, but yet it is worth to take a look.

Analyzed files:

  • system.exe (a3dfd4a7f7c334cb48c35ca8cd431071) – main file
  • uac.exe (7a681d8650d2c28d18ac630c34b2014e)– upx-packed payload

The main file (system.exe) comes with UAC bypassing tools embedded (32 and 64 bit version – the one that is deployed is chosen appropriately for the system). Among strings we can see list of decimal numbers, that need to be simply converted into ASCII.
Beginning of the new PE in strings of the file:

77 90 144 0 3 0 0 0 4 0 0 0 255 255 0 0 184 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 64 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
[...]

We can convert it easily into a binary (i.e by this script) getting as a result 64 bit version of the same UAC bypassing tool (original is packed by UPX  unpacked version available here).

Registry manipulation

Adding a registry key indicating that files are encrypted:

REG ADD "HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWAREMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersion" /v "crypted" /t REG_SZ /d 1 /f

Manipulating registry keys – i.e. in order to block the screen:

REG ADD "HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWAREMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionRun" /v "System" /t REG_SZ /d "                                
REG ADD "HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWAREMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersion" /v "rgd_bcd_condition" /t REG_SZ /d 1 /f /reg:64                
REG ADD "HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWAREMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionPoliciesSystem" /v "EnableLUA" /t REG_DWORD /d 0 /f /reg:64   
REG ADD "HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWAREMicrosoftWindows NTCurrentVersionWinlogon" /v "Shell" /t REG_SZ /d "explorer.exe" /f /reg:64
REG DELETE "HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESYSTEMCurrentControlSetControlKeyboard Layout" /v "Scancode Map" /f /reg:64                          
REG DELETE "HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWAREMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionRun" /v "System" /f /reg:64 

Inside 7ev3n-HONE$T

The first layer is a packing: a simple crypter/FUD with an icon added. It’s role is deception: delivering malicious payload in a way unnoticed by antimalware tools, as well as making it’s analysis harder.

After defeating the FUD layer we get the first payload (32a56ca79f17fea432250ee704432dfc).Strings and imported functions are not obfuscated. We can find the path to the project inside the binary – it suggests that we are dealing with the variant without UAC bypass (in contrary to the previous version, that had it implemented):

C:UsersadminDesktopnew version with NO UACReleaseWin32Project9.pdb

Inside this payload we can find yet another, UPX packed executable: 5b5e2d894cdd5aeeed41cc073b1c0d0f . It is also not very well protected and after unpacking it with standard UPX application we get another executable (d004776ff5f77a2d2cab52232028ddeb) with all the strings and API calls visible.

Execution flow

First execution is used just for the purpose of installation.

When the sample is deployed, it makes it’s copy into the predefined installation folder (destination may vary for various samples). It drops a bash script that is supposed to delete the initial sample

del_bat

The unique, hardware-based ID is written at the end of the executable that has been copied to the destination path:

append_key

Below – the same key – at the end of the installed sample:

appended_key

In the meanwhile,  of the installation, malware sends the beacon to a hardcoded URL.

Then, the new sample is deployed and the initial sample terminates and gets deleted.

run_installed_copyThe installed sample is supposed to run the second phase – that encrypt the files. Decision which execution path should be deployed (installation, encrypion, or GUI is based on the environment check.

Registry manipulation

Adding a registry key indicating that files are encrypted:

REG ADD "HKEY_CURRENT_USERSOFTWARE" /v "crypted" /t REG_SZ /d "1"

Manipulating other registry keys – related with persistance, status of decrypting etc.

REG ADD "HKEY_CURRENT_USERSOFTWAREMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionRun" /v "allkeeper" /t REG_SZ /d "" /f
REG ADD "HKEY_CURRENT_USERSOFTWARE" /v "testdecrypt" /t REG_SZ /d 1 
REG DELETE "HKEY_CURRENT_USERSOFTWAREMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionRun" /v "allkeeper" /f
REG ADD "HKEY_CURRENT_USERSOFTWARE" /v "Decrypt50" /t REG_SZ /d 1

What is attacked?

This ransomware encrypts local drives as well as mapped network shares.

Encrypted extensions are hardcoded in the binary as UNICODE strings:

extensionsSummary of all the file extensions that are attacked:

ai arw txt doc docm docx zip rar xlsx xls xlsb xlsm jpg jpe jpeg bmp eql sql adp mdf mdb odb odm odp ods pds pdt pdf dt cf cfu mxl epf kdbx erf vrp grs geo st pff mft efd 3dm 3ds rib ma max lwo lws m3d mb obj x3d c4d fbx dgn dwg 4db 4dl 4mp abs adn a3d aft ahd alf ask awdb azz bdb bib bnd bok btr bak cdb ckp clkw cma crd dad daf db3 dbk dbt dbv dbx dcb dct dcx ddl df1 dmo dnc dp1 dqy dsk dsn dta dtsx dxl eco ecx edb emd fcd fic fid fil fm5 fol fp3 fp4 fp5 fp7 fpt fzb fzv gdb gwi hdb his ib idc ihx itdb itw jtx kdb lgc maq mdn mdt mrg mud mwb s3m myd ndf ns2 ns3 ns4 nsf nv2 nyf oce oqy ora orx owc owg oyx p96 p97 pan pdb pdm phm pnz pth pwa qpx qry qvd rctd rdb rpd rsd sbf sdb sdf spq sqb stp str tcx tdt te tmd trm udb usr v12 vdb vpd wdb wmdb xdb xld xlgc zdb zdc cdr cdr3 ppt pptx abw act aim ans apt asc ase aty awp awt aww bad bbs bdp bdr bean bna boc btd cnm crwl cyi dca dgs diz dne docz dot dotm dotx dsv dvi dx eio eit emlx epp err etf etx euc faq fb2 fbl fcf fdf fdr fds fdt fdx fdxt fes fft flr fodt gtp frt fwdn fxc gdoc gio gpn gsd gthr gv hbk hht hs htc hwp hz idx iil ipf jis joe jp1 jrtf kes klg knt kon kwd lbt lis lit lnt lp2 lrc lst ltr ltx lue luf lwp lyt lyx man map mbox me mell min mnt msg mwp nfo njx now nzb ocr odo odt ofl oft ort ott p7s pfs pfx pjt prt psw pu pvj pvm pwi pwr qdl rad rft ris rng rpt rst rt rtd rtf rtx run rzk rzn saf sam scc scm sct scw sdm sdoc sdw sgm sig sla sls smf sms ssa stw sty sub sxg sxw tab tdf tex text thp tlb tm tmv tmx tpc tvj u3d u3i unx uof uot upd utf8 utxt vct vnt vw wbk wcf wgz wn wp wp4 wp5 wp6 wp7 wpa wpd wpl wps wpt wpw wri wsc wsd wsh wtx xdl xlf xps xwp xy3 xyp xyw ybk yml zabw zw abm afx agif agp aic albm apd apm apng aps apx art asw bay bm2 bmx brk brn brt bss bti c4 cal cals can cd5 cdc cdg cimg cin cit colz cpc cpd cpg cps cpx c2 c2 rdds dg dib djv djvu dm3 dmi vue dpx wire drz dt2 dtw dvl ecw eip exr fal fax fpos fpx gcdp gfb ggr gif gih gim spr scad gpd gro grob hdp hdr hpi i3d icn icon iiq info ipx iwi j2c j2k jas jb2 jbmp jbr jfif jia jng jp2 jpg2 jps jpx tf jwl jxr kdc kdi kdk kic kpg lbm ljp mac mbm mef mnr mos mpf mpo mrxs myl ncr nct nlm nrw oc3 oc4 oc5 oci omf oplc af2 af3 asy cdmm cdmt cdt cgm cmx cnv csy cv5 cvg cvi cvs cvx cwt cxf dcs ded dhs dpp drw dxb dxf egc emf ep eps epsf fh10 fh11 fh3 fh4 fh5 fh6 fh7 fh8 fif fig fmv ft10 ft11 ft7 ft8 ft9 ftn fxg gem glox hpg hpgl hpl idea igt igx imd ink lmk mgcb mgmt mt9 mgmx mmat mat otg ovp ovr pcs pfv pl plt vrml psid rdl scv sk1 sk2 ssk stn svf svgz sxd tlc tne ufr vbr vec vml vsd vsdm vsdx stm vstx wpg vsm xar yal orf ota oti ozb ozj ozt pal pano pap pbm pc1 pc2 pc3 pcd pdd pe4 pef pfi pgf pgm pi1 pi2 pi3 pic pict pix pjpg pm pmg pni pnm pntg pop pp4 pp5 ppm prw psdx pse psp ptg ptx pvr pxr pz3 pza pzp pzs z3d qmg ras rcu rgb rgf ric riff rix rle rli rpf rri rsb rsr rw2 rwl s2mv sci sep sfc sfw skm sld sob spa spe sph spj spp sr2 srw ste sumo sva save t2b tb0 tbn tfc tg4 thm tjp tm2 tn tpi ufo uga vda vff vpe vst wb1 wbc wbd wbm wbmp wbz wdp webp pb wpe wvl x3f ysp zif cdr4 cdr6 ddoc css pptm raw cpt pcx pdn png psd tga tiff tif xpm ps sai wmf ani fl fb3 fli mng smil svg mobi swf html csv xhtm 

How does the encryption work?

7ev3n-HONE$T encrypts files in a loop, one by one. It completely changes their names – but at the same time it stores the previous name (as we know, files that are decrypted have their names recovered).

The executable comes with 3 hardcoded strings, that are used in the process of encryption. Their exact role will be described further.

hardcoded_keysEvery encrypted file have it’s content prefixed with ‘M’. This character is also checked in order to distinguish, if the file has been encrypted. If the ‘M’ was found as a first character of the buffer, the file will not be encrypted:

cant_encryptAuthors left a log in the code, leaving no doubt about their intentions, that this character is used as an indicator of the encrypted file:

cant_encOf course such a check is not giving a precise detection and if it happens that we have a file starting from ‘M’ it will not be encrypted.

This ransomware produce encrypted files by two ways – they can be distinguished by different extensions: .R4A or .R5A.

After deobfuscation we were able to reconstruct both algorithms and notice, that they are custom and not employing any strong cryptography.

R4A algorithm turned out to be an XOR with a hardcoded key:

ANOASudgfjfirtj4k504iojm5io5nm59uh5vob5mho5p6gf2u43i5hojg4mf4i05j6g594cn9mjg6h

R5A algorithm is also XOR-based, but not that simple – It have several execution steps:

  1. A hardcoded string is scrambled and expanded to a predefined length (in analyzed samples it was 0x10C). The algorithm used for scrambling differs from sample to sample.
  2. The scrambled key (0x10C byte long)  is XOR-ed with the original file path.
  3. The key created in the previous step is used to XOR file content
  4. The XORed content is divided to 4 parts, that are processed by 2 different XOR-based algorithms. First and Third parth are processed by algorithm I. Second and fourth – by algorithm II. (That’s why we have seen 4 ‘strips’ on the visualized content).

Full reconstruction of the used algorithms you can see here.

Adding appropriate extension to the file name:

choose_extension

After encrypting the content, some more data is appended to it. At the beginning – the previously mentioned ‘M’ character – as an indicator that file is encrypted. At the end – a string “**” –  as a separator after which the encrypted file name of the particular file is stored.

added_to_contentFilename is also encrypted in a very simple way – by XOR with one of the hardcoded keys.

encrypting_filenamefor R4A:

ANOASudgfjfirtj4k504iojm5io5nm59uh5vob5mho5p6gf2u43i5hojg4mf4i05j6g594cn9mjg6h

for R5A:

ASIBVbhciJ5hv6bjyuwetjykok7mbvtbvtiJ5h6jg54ifj0655iJ5hok7mbok7mbvtvtv6bjfib56j45fkmbvtiJ5hv6bokok7mb

The encrypted content is saved first to the original file. After that the file is moved under the new name:

move_file

Conclusion

7ev3n ransomware has been around for quite a while, but till now not many details about its internals have been revealed. It turned out to have pretty unexpected features. Although a lot has been told about weakness of solutions that are based on custom encryption, there are still some ransomware authors going for it. That’s why it is worth not making any rushed decisions in paying the ransom. Sometimes the code is obfuscated and finding out how it really works takes some time for analysts – but it doesn’t mean that the encryption is really unbreakable.

Work on the full version of the decryptor is in progress. For now you can see the proof-of-concept script: https://github.com/hasherezade/malware_analysis/tree/master/7ev3n

Appendix