TeslaCrypt victims can now decrypt their files for free

Security shocker: Ransomware creators give researchers the master decryption key

Victims of the widespread TeslaCrypt ransomware are in luck: Security researchers have created a tool that can decrypt files affected by recent versions of the malicious program.

Surprisingly, the TeslaCrypt creators themselves helped the researchers.

TeslaCrypt first appeared in early 2015 and stood out by targeting game-related user content, such as save files and custom maps, in addition to personal documents and pictures -- 185 different file extensions in total.

The program had some moderate success in the beginning, earning its creators $76,522 in less than two months. However, in April 2015, researchers from Cisco Systems discovered a flaw in the ransomware program that allowed them to create a decryption tool for some of its variants.

The number of TeslaCrypt attacks spiked in December and starting with version 3.0.1 of the program, which appeared in March, all encryption flaws were fixed and the existing decryption tools were rendered ineffective. That lasted until Wednesday.

Researchers from security vendor ESET have recently managed to obtain a copy of TeslaCrypt's master key, allowing them to create a new decryption tool that is capable of recovering files affected by the newer versions of TeslaCrypt (3.0 and higher). They didn't do this by exploiting a vulnerability in the program or its command-and-control servers, but by asking its creators for it.

"Recently, TeslaCrypt’s operators announced that they are wrapping up their malevolent activities," the ESET researchers said in a blog post. "On this occasion, one of ESET’s analysts contacted the group anonymously, using the official support channel offered to the ransomware victims by the TeslaCrypt’s operators, and requested the universal master decryption key. Surprisingly, they made it public."

The tool can recover TeslaCrypt-encrypted files whose extension was changed to .xxx, .ttt, .micro and .mp3, as well as those whose extension hasn't been modified. Instructions on downloading and using the tool can be found on ESET's support website.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Lucian Constantin

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Crucial Ballistix Elite 32GB Kit (4 x 8GB) DDR4-3000 UDIMM

Learn more >

Gadgets & Things

Lexar® Professional 1000x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >

Family Friendly

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Plox Star Wars Death Star Levitating Bluetooth Speaker

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?