The Cyber-criminals gang behind the Shade Ransomware (Troldesh) have shut down their operations, released over 750,000 decryption keys, and apologized for the harm they caused their victims. The Shade Ransomware has been in operation since around 2014. Unlike other ransomware families that specifically avoid encrypting victims in Russia and other CIS countries, Shade targets people in Russia and Ukraine predominantly.

A GitHub user claiming to represent the authors of the Troldesh Ransomware calling themselves the “Shade team” published this statement last Sunday:

“We are the team which created a trojan-encryptor mostly known as Shade, Troldesh or Encoder.858. In fact, we stopped its distribution in the end of 2019. Now we made a decision to put the last point in this story and to publish all the decryption keys we have (over 750 thousands at all). We are also publishing our decryption soft; we also hope that, having the keys, antivirus companies will issue their own more user-friendly decryption tools. All other data related to our activity (including the source codes of the trojan) was irrevocably destroyed. We apologize to all the victims of the trojan and hope that the keys we published will help them to recover their data.”

Since the statement and the keys were published the keys have been verified at Kaspersky have confirmed the validity of the keys and are working on a decryption tool. That tool will be added to the No More Ransom project.  The “No More Ransom” website is an initiative by the National High Tech Crime Unit of the Dutch police, Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre, Kaspersky and McAfee with the goal to help victims of ransomware retrieve their encrypted data without having to pay the criminals.

Shade is a family of ransomware cryptors that emerged in early 2015. Shade Trojans use malicious spam or exploit kits as primary attack vectors. The latter is the more hazardous method because a victim does not have to open any files — a single visit to an infected website does the trick.

When the ransomware infiltrates a victim’s system, the Trojan requests an encryption key from the criminal’s command-and-control (C&C) server — or, should the server be unavailable, uses one of the keys embedded in advance. That means, even if the PC is disconnected from the Internet, the ransomware functions, provided it’s already in the system.

The malware then starts encrypting files. It affects more than 150 formats, including Microsoft Office files, images, and archives. When encrypting, Shade adds a .xtbl or .ytbl extension to the file name. Once the encryption process is complete, a ransom note appears on the screen.

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