The crooks decided to release the decryption keys after a Syrian Twitter user published a harrowing message asking for help after photos of his deceased children were encrypted by the ransomware.
They want 600 dollars to give me back my children, that's what they've done, they've taken my boys away from me for a some filthy money. How can I pay them 600 dollars if I barely have enough money to put food on the table for me and my wife?
The GandCrab developers explained that it was not their intention to infect Syrian users, their message on the hacking forum includes a link to a zip file containing the decryption keys for Syrian victims.
“This zip file contains the readme.txt in Russian language and SY_keys.txt files. The readme.txt file contains information on how the key file is organized and information on why the keys were released.” states Bleeping Computer.
“The most important thing is not to indicate that he will help everyone. It will help only a citizen of Syria. Because of their political situation, economic and relations with the CIS countries. We regret that we did not initially add this country to the exceptions. But at least that way we can help them now.” reads the message from the author of the ransomware.
The SY_keys.txt file includes a list of 978 decryption keys for Syrian victims whose systems have been infected with GandCrab version 1.0 through 5.0.
Syrian victims that are not included in the file could receive the decryption keys by providing the GandCrab developers a picture of themselves, their passport, and their payment page. Providing crooks pictures of their passport is very risky, this kind of documents could be resold by the crooks or used by them for identity thefts.
Experts believe that security firms will develop a decryption tool based on the released encryption keys.
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”.