PETYA ransomware overwrites MBR causing a blue screen of death

The Petya ransomware causes a blue screen of death (BSoD) by overwriting the MBR and leaves a ransom note at system startup.

Ransomware is one of the most dangerous threats of this first part of the year, recently experts at TrendMicro has spotted a new malicious code dubbed Petya (RANSOM_PETYA.A) that overwrites MBR to lock users out of the infected machines.

The Petya ransomware causes a blue screen of death (BSoD) by overwriting the MBR and leaves a ransom note at system startup.

Petya overwrites the MBR of the hard drive causing Windows to crash. When the victim tries to reboot the PC, it will impossible to load the OS, even in Safe Mode.

Users turning on the computer are displayed a flashing red and white screen with a skull-and-crossbones instead.

“As if encrypting files and holding them hostage is not enough, cybercriminals who create and spread crypto-ransomware are now resorting to causing blue screen of death (BSoD) and putting their ransom notes at system startup—as in, even before the operating system loads.” states the post published by Trend Micro.

“Imagine turning on your computer and instead of the usual Windows icon loading, you get a flashing red and white screen with a skull-and-crossbones instead.”

Another interesting aspect of the Petya is the delivery mechanism used by crooks that relies on legitimate cloud storage services like Dropbox.

“this is the first time (in a long time) that leads to crypto-ransomware infection. It is also a departure from the typical infection chain, wherein the malicious files are attached to emails or hosted in malicious sites and delivered by exploit kits.” continues the post.

Victims would receive an email that appears to be from an applicant seeking a position in a company, it includes a link to a Dropbox folder that contains its alleged CV.

The experts explained that one of the samples they analyzed, the Dropbox folder was containing contains two files, a self-extracting executable file that purports to be the CV, and a photo of the applicant.

The researcher discovered that the photo is a stock image.

The self-extracting executable is used to serve a Trojan onto the victim’s machine, the malware first disable any antivirus programs installed, then downloads and executes the Petya Ransomware.

In the following image are reported the instructions provided by the Petya ransomware to the victims in order to pay the ransom and restore the encrypted files.

The instruction includes a link to the Tor Project and how to download the Tor Browser to visit a page where purchase the decryption key to restore the data.

The crooks behind the Petya ransomware request the payment of 0.99 Bitcoins (nearly US$430),   but the price would be doubled if the payment is not completed within a deadline.

Pierluigi Paganini

(Security Affairs – Petya ransomware , cybercrime)

Pierluigi Paganini

Pierluigi Paganini is member of the ENISA (European Union Agency for Network and Information Security) Threat Landscape Stakeholder Group and Cyber G7 Group, he is also a Security Evangelist, Security Analyst and Freelance Writer. Editor-in-Chief at "Cyber Defense Magazine", Pierluigi is a cyber security expert with over 20 years experience in the field, he is Certified Ethical Hacker at EC Council in London. The passion for writing and a strong belief that security is founded on sharing and awareness led Pierluigi to find the security blog "Security Affairs" recently named a Top National Security Resource for US. Pierluigi is a member of the "The Hacker News" team and he is a writer for some major publications in the field such as Cyber War Zone, ICTTF, Infosec Island, Infosec Institute, The Hacker News Magazine and for many other Security magazines. Author of the Books "The Deep Dark Web" and “Digital Virtual Currency and Bitcoin”.

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