Source code of Dharma ransomware now surfacing on public hacking forums

Pierluigi Paganini March 29, 2020

The source code of the infamous Dharma ransomware is now available for sale on two Russian-language hacking forums.

The source code of one of the most profitable ransomware families, the Dharma ransomware, is up for sale on two Russian-language hacking forums.

Dharma ransomware source code

The Dharma ransomware first appeared on the threat landscape in February 2016, at the time experts dubbed it Crysis.

The CrySis ransomware was first spotted in by experts at ESET, the malware has infected systems, mostly in Russia, Japan, South and North Korea, and Brazil.

At the time, threat actors were spreading the ransomware via email attachments with double file extensions or via malicious links embedded in spam emails.

In November 2016, the master decryption keys for Crysis were released online, victims of CrySis versions 2 and 3 were able to recover their files.

The decryption keys for the CrySis ransomware were posted online on the forum by a user known as crss7777 who shared a link to a C header file containing the actual master decryption keys and information on how to utilize them. The popular expert Lawrence Abrams speculates the user crss7777 could be a member of the development team.

A few weeks later, the CrySiS RaaS was re-launched under the name of Dharma.

The source is offered for a price as low as $2,000, as reported by ZDNet.

“Several ransomware experts who spoke with ZDNet today said the sale of the Dharma ransomware code would most likely result in its eventual leak on the public internet, and to a wider audience.” reads the post published by “This, in turn, would result in the broader proliferation among multiple cybercrime groups, and an eventual surge in attacks.”

The availability of the source code online will allow threat actors to create their own versions and start distributing them.

Malware researchers consider the encryption scheme very sophisticated, but in March 2017 its alleged Master Keys have been released by a member using the online moniker ‘gektar on forums.

The user published a post containing a Pastebin link to a header file in C programming languages that supposedly contains the master decryption keys.

The Dharma ransomware received numerous updates over the years, in 2019 a new piece of ransomware subbed Phobos emerged online.

According to Malwarebytes, the Phobos ransomware was quite identical to the Dharma ransomware, both ransomware families remained active over 2019.

John Fokker, head of cyber investigations at McAfee, told ZDNet that the Dharma code had already been circulating in the hacker underground for quite some time and that it’s only now surfacing on more public forums.” concluded ZDNet.

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Pierluigi Paganini

(SecurityAffairs – Dharma ransomware, malware)

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