The Cheers ransomware, even with only a short time of activity, has amassed several victims around the world, drawing attention.
Cheers has focused its efforts on unprotected virtual systems, such as VMware ESXi environments. This is not the first time that VMware servers have been prime targets for ransomware attacks.
Groups such as LockBit or HiveLeaks have acted in this way before and generated many serious aftershocks in companies around the world.
A senior software developer at cyber security firm nVisium claimed that an ESXi server “is much more than just a server”.
He also explained that: ”Its ability to host multiple virtual machines increases its importance within an organisation’s IT system and therefore greatly increases the likelihood that an organisation will pay the ransom to restore its servers.”
Once the VMware ESXi server has been hacked, the attackers launch the Cheers ransomware into the environment. The malware takes care of monitoring and quantifying all connected virtual machines (VMs) and then shuts them down.
From that point on, the Cheers ransomware begins encryption, placing importance on .log, .vmdk, .vmem, .vswp and .vmsn files. These types of files are considered valuable in the eyes of the victim and consequently become valuable in the eyes of the attackers.
Interestingly, Cheers ransomware renames files even before encrypting them. That way, if access permission has not been granted the actual encryption will not take place.
The ransomware will leave ransom notes in each folder while scanning the directories containing the data to be encrypted. The ransom notes will be named “How To Restore Your Files.txt”.
Recover files encrypted by Cheers ransomware
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