Hackers are blackmailing the creator of Open-Source Ransomware

Pierluigi Paganini January 27, 2016

The Turkish security researcher Utku Sen was blackmailed by hackers behind the Magic ransomware to close his projects.

The developers behind the open source-based “Magic” ransomware are blackmailing the creator of Hidden Tear and EDA2 in order to force the developer to abandon the projects.

Recently I have written about the RANSOM_CRYPTEAR.B ransomware developed Utku Sen starting from a proof-of-concept code available online.

According to the experts at TrendMicro, Utku Sen made a serious error in the development, resulting in victims’ files being completely unrecoverable. Researchers who analyzed the source code discovered that it was a modification of a proof-of-concept ransomware dubbed Hidden Tear that was leaked online by the Turkish coder Utku Sen for educational purpose.

It is not surprising that crooks have not missed the occasion as remarked by TrendMicro.

“Unfortunately, anyone on the internet can disregard this warning. This became evident when Trend Micro discovered a hacked website in Paraguay that distributed ransomware detected as RANSOM_CRYPTEAR.B. Our analysis showed that the website was compromised by a Brazilian hacker, and that the ransomware was created using a modified Hidden Tear code.” states a blog post published by  TrendMicro.

The “Hidden Tear”  is available on GitHub and it’s fully functional, it uses AES encryption to encrypt the files and displays a warning to users to pay up to get their data back.

ransomware hidden tear open source

“While this may be helpful for some, there are significant risks. The Hidden Tear may be used only for Educational Purposes. Do not use it as a ransomware!” explained utkusen.

The hacker also developed a second open-source project for a ransomware dubbed EDA2. When the problem was discovered, Utku Sen removed all the files from the EDA2 project.

Recently another ransomware, based on the open-source code, has been detected in the wild, it has been dubbed “Magic” because it encrypts user files and adds a “.magic” extension to them.

Now the criminal gang behind the Magic ransomware began blackmailing the hacker Sen in an effort to shut down the Hidden Tear. The group announced that in a forum post that they are willing to provide victims with the decryption keys for free in case Sen agrees to close his open source ransomware projects.

Sen refused the condition and declared war on the blackmailers.

According to Sen, he deliberately inserted security flaws in both the Hidden Tear and EDA2 to sabotage cybercriminals using the proof-of-concept ransomware.

The Sen’s plan worked with the Hidden Tear allowing the recovery of the file encrypted  by the Linux.Encoder and Cryptear.B ransomware, meanwhile failed with EDA2.

Sen inserted vulnerabilities in the EDA2’s control script in order to retrieve decryption keys. The problem is that despite the presence of the flaws, the unique way to obtain the keys to recover the files was to access the database that was left in crooks’ hands. He has forgotten to implement a mechanism to copy the database of the keys of the storage used by the crooks to another archive managed by the researcher.

It is not clear why the hackers behind the Magic ransomware blackmailed Sec, the unique certainty is that that don’t want the Hidden Tear project online. They also offered support to the victims if Sen will remove the Hidden Tear.

Victims should send an email to viper1990[at]safe-mail[dot]net in the next 15 days to receive their decryption keys.

Pierluigi Paganini

(Security Affairs – ransomware, cybercrime)

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