Cerber Ransomware

Threat Scorecard

Ranking: 9,198
Threat Level: 100 % (High)
Infected Computers: 71,874
First Seen: March 4, 2016
Last Seen: September 11, 2023
OS(es) Affected: Windows

Cerber Ransomware Image

The Cerber Ransomware is a ransomware infection that is used to encrypt the victims' files. The Cerber Ransomware adds the extension CERBER to every file that the Cerber Ransomware encrypts. After the Cerber Ransomware has encrypted some of the files of the victim, the Cerber Ransomware demands the payment of a ransom in exchange for the decryption key. According to Cerber Ransomware's ransom note, computer users have one week to pay the ransom amount before this amount is doubled.

The Cerber Ransomware Contains an Audio Message

As the Cerber Ransomware encrypts the victim's files, it creates TXT, HTML, and VBS files named 'DECRYPT MY FILES' with instructions on how to pay the Cerber Ransomware's ransom. These files are dropped on every folder that contains files that were encrypted by Cerber Ransomware. According to these ransom notes, the only way to decrypt the files is by using the 'Cerber Decryptor,' provided by the people responsible for the Cerber Ransomware. The VBS file contains an audio message with this same information. According to the Cerber Ransomware attack, victims must pay 1.24 BitCoin to gain access to the decryption utility (in 2016, this amount is between $500 and $800 USD on average). After a week, the amount is doubled. The Cerber Ransomware demands the payment to be made through TOR.

The Cerber Ransomware is very similar to other ransomware Trojans, including CryptoWall and TeslaCrypt. These attacks are nearly identical, only differing in small details, and it is highly likely that they share large portions of their code. Computer users should avoid paying the Cerber Ransomware ransom for two reasons: first, computer users have no guarantee that the con artists responsible for the Cerber Ransomware attack will honor their part of the bargain and provide the decryptor after the payment has been made. Secondly, paying the Cerber Ransomware ransom enables these fraudsters to continue carrying out these attacks and financing the development of new ransomware.

The basic characteristic of Cerber is the use of AES-256 encryption to scramble its victims' files. The ransomware appends a number of different extensions to the encrypted files, including .cerber, .cerber2, .cerber3, .beef, .af47, .ba99. The ransom notes used in different versions also have different names: # DECRYPT MY FILES #.txt, # HELP DECRYPT#.html and _R_E_A_D___T_H_I_S___[random]_.txt, to name a few.

The infection vectors used in various Cerber campaigns are more or less standard fare - spam email campaigns containing malicious attachments ranging from office files to JavaScript chunks, exploit kits that deliver the payload, as well as malicious sites that contain code that downloads the ransomware. Another curious feature of the ransomware is that it runs a system check and avoids users located in former Soviet republics, including Armenia, Georgia, Belarus, Moldova, Russia itself and Ukraine, among others. This alone could be some indication about the origins of the threat.

Execution and Behavior

Once it executes, Cerber drops a randomly named copy of itself in a uniquely named folder located in %AppData%. Together with this, it also establishes a form of persistence, creating a shortcut to the executable under %APPDATA%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Startup. The ransomware also edits the system's registry, creating two new entries under HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Printers\Defaults\. The entries are called Component_00 and Component_01 and contain binary data. Additional registry keys are added to ensure persistence in various registry autorun locations.

When it encrypts the victim's files, Cerber doesn't need a live connection to its command and control (C&C) server, which means unplugging your ethernet cable won't do any good. The encryption doesn't simply append a new extension, as is customary with ransomwares, it also changes the original file name, making all encrypted files completely unrecognizable. The most commonly used extension appended by the ransomware is .cerber, with some versions using .cerber2 and .cerber3, as well as unusual ones such as .ba99 and .beef.

PC security researchers have determined that the Cerber Ransomware targets and encrypts files with the following extensions:

.gif, .groups, .hdd, .hpp, .log, .m2ts, .m4p, .mkv, .mpeg, .ndf, .nvram, .ogg, .ost, .pab, .pdb, .pif, .png, .qed, .qcow, .qcow2, .rvt, .st7, .stm, .vbox, .vdi, .vhd, .vhdx, .vmdk, .vmsd, .vmx, .vmxf, .3fr, .3pr, .ab4, .accde, .accdr, .accdt, .ach, .acr, .adb, .advertisements, .agdl, .ait, .apj, .asm, .awg, .back, .backup, .backupdb, .bay, .bdb, .bgt, .bik, .bpw, .cdr3, .cdr4, .cdr5, .cdr6, .cdrw, .ce1, .ce2, .cib, .craw, .crw, .csh, .csl, .db_journal, .dc2, .dcs, .ddoc, .ddrw, .der, .des, .dgc, .djvu, .dng, .drf, .dxg, .eml, .erbsql, .erf, .exf, .ffd, .fh, .fhd, .gray, .grey, .gry, .hbk, .ibd, .ibz, .iiq, .incpas, .jpe, .kc2, .kdbx, .kdc, .kpdx, .lua, .mdc, .mef, .mfw, .mmw, .mny, .mrw, .myd, .ndd, .nef, .nk2, .nop, .nrw, .ns2, .ns3, .ns4, .nwb, .nx2, .nxl, .nyf, .odb, .odf, .odg, .odm, .orf, .otg, .oth, .otp, .ots, .ott, .p12, .p7b, .p7c, .pdd, .pem, .plus_muhd, .plc, .pot, .pptx, .psafe3, .py, .qba, .qbr, .qbw, .qbx, .qby, .raf, .rat, .raw, .rdb, .rwl, .rwz, .s3db, .sd0, .sda, .sdf, .sqlite, .sqlite3, .sqlitedb, .sr2, .srf, .srw, .st5, .st8, .std, .sti, .stw, .stx, .sxd, .sxg, .sxi, .sxm, .tex, .wallet, .wb2, .wpd, .x11, .x3f, .xis, .ycbcra, .yuv, .contact, .dbx, .doc, .docx, .jnt, .jpg, .msg, .oab, .ods, .pdf, .pps, .ppsm, .ppt, .pptm, .prf, .pst, .rar, .rtf, .txt, .wab, .xls, .xlsx, .xml, .zip, .1cd, .3ds, .3g2, .3gp, .7z, .7zip, .accdb, .aoi, .asf, .asp, .aspx, .asx, .avi, .bak, .cer, .cfg, .class, .config, .css, .csv, .db, .dds, .dwg, .dxf, .flf, .flv, .html, .idx, .js, .key, .kwm, .laccdb, .ldf, .lit, .m3u, .mbx, .md, .mdf, .mid, .mlb, .mov, .mp3, .mp4, .mpg, .obj, .odt, .pages, .php, .psd, .pwm, .rm, .safe, .sav, .save, .sql, .srt, .swf, .thm, .vob, .wav, .wma, .wmv, .xlsb,3dm, .aac, .ai, .arw, .c, .cdr, .cls, .cpi, .cpp, .cs, .db3, .docm, .dot, .dotm, .dotx, .drw, .dxb, .eps, .fla, .flac, .fxg, .java, .m, .m4v, .max, .mdb, .pcd, .pct, .pl, .potm, .potx, .ppam, .ppsm, .ppsx, .pptm, .ps, .r3d, .rw2, .sldm, .sldx, .svg, .tga, .wps, .xla, .xlam, .xlm, .xlr, .xlsm, .xlt, .xltm, .xltx, .xlw, .act, .adp, .al, .bkp, .blend, .cdf, .cdx, .cgm, .cr2, .crt, .dac, .dbf, .dcr, .ddd, .design, .dtd, .fdb, .fff, .fpx, .h, .iif, .indd, .jpeg, .mos, .nd, .nsd, .nsf, .nsg, .nsh, .odc, .odp, .oil, .pas, .pat, .pef, .pfx, .ptx, .qbb, .qbm, .sas7bdat, .say, .st4, .st6, .stc, .sxc, .sxw, .tlg, .wad, .xlk, .aiff, .bin, .bmp, .cmt, .dat, .dit, .edb, .flvv

Ransom Note

Some versions of Cerber display their ransom note as a wallpaper image that replaces the old one, while others use HTML and plain text files for the note. However, the text in all notes is largely the same:


Your documents, photos, databases and other important files have been encrypted!

The only way to decrypt your files is to receive the private key and your decryption program.

To receive the private key and decryption program go to any decrypted folder - inside is a special file (*README*) with complete instructions how to decrypt your files.

If you cannot find any (*README*) file at your PC, follow the instructions below:

[Tor url]

Note! This page is available via "Tor Browser" only.

The ransom note associated with the Cerber Ransomware will contain the following information:

Your documents, photos, databases and other important files have been encrypted!
To decrypt your files follow the instructions:
1. Download and install the "Tor Browser" from https://www.torproject.org/
2. Run it
3. In the "Tor Browser" open website: [redacted]
4. Follow the instructions at this website

Your documents, photos, databases and other important files have been encrypted!
To decrypt your files you need to buy the special software - .
All transactions should be performed via bitcoin network only.
Within 7 days you can purchase this product at a special price 1.24 BTC (approximately $524).
After 7 days the price of this product will increase up to 2.48 BTC (approximately $1048).

The HTML versions of the ransom note come with a snippet in Visual Basic that reads the ransom note to the victim - an interesting touch, even if somewhat pointless. The Tor url in the ransom note leads to a pesonalized page that can be viewd in a number of languages, to ensure as many victims as possible are able to try and pay the ransom.

Cerber Rented Out as a Service

Well into its lifespan, Cerber turned into ransomware-as-a-service. The criminal network that originally produced Cerber started renting it out to any other cyber criminals who were willing to split their profits. The idea behind this model is that any ransom payments made by victims of the criminal third parties spreading the malware are split between them and the original authors of Cerber. This has proven to be a very profitable mode of operation for the bad actors behind the ransomware, with estimates of Cerber making around $200,000 in Bitcoin each month. This allows the authors of the ransomware-as-a-service to virtually do nothing more while someone else runs the spam email dissemination campaigns for them.

The Cerber ransomware went through a number of versions, some of them given numeric descriptors by security researchers. The last one given an official number is Cerber 6 - a version that came out sometime in 2017. It boasted improved anti-detection capabilities due to a new multi-component design, checking for active anti-malware software and whether or not it's running in a sandbox VM environment. Cerber 6 was also found distributed in self-extracting executable archives that contained VB scripts as well as a DLL component.

In recent years, a new ransomware has been doing damage, named Magniber by security researchers. The name is a mashup of the Magnitude exploit kit and Cerber, as it was believed that the new ransomware carried by the Magnitude EK was Cerber. However, it turned out that the Magniber payload is actually from a family different from Cerber’s and shares little with it under the hood.

Security researchers working with Checkpoint have released a decryption tool, which works for just a few of the versions of the ransomware.

Dealing with the Cerber Ransomware

If the Cerber Ransomware has been installed on your computer, the best solution is to restore the encrypted files is from a backup. Because of this, the best protective measure against the Cerber Ransomware and similar encryption Trojans is to backup all important data regularly. You should avoid websites that may be associated with questionable content and use a reliable security program that is fully up-to-date.

SpyHunter Detects & Remove Cerber Ransomware

File System Details

Cerber Ransomware may create the following file(s):
# File Name MD5 Detections
1. Readme.hta e125ef487472bfdd17d7e3e7e237d0d9 167
2. Readme.hta 8f85ab4bb455ce6d413eff9e9d47a506 54
3. README.hta 777e13c9a5cad4e1d2134d5104188ff6 43
4. README.hta c4fff6005b70cccd895082e6c79595b3 36
5. README.hta e189ce9640edc95a1ba19d0d4d85691b 24
6. README.hta 107ab5eae352dab9defab24d3ba77b4a 18
7. _HELP_HELP_HELP_QUCBCBS1_.hta c042f1d91619e9b4f91bf1e1b78fee85 14
8. _HELP_HELP_HELP_RSHI_.hta a46e5f2ce8a20bbb8548959debb9ac0c 10
9. _HELP_HELP_HELP_STOV8H1_.hta 1632ca0953d5499bf251455159a80ea0 6
10. _HELP_HELP_HELP_ND8FZ.hta 041ef4b6a12e0b3165172884301b0d1e 5
11. _HELP_HELP_HELP_Z49XU_.hta 243d0fd4f4bee5f11698c20d43b958ff 4
12. _HELP_HELP_HELP_XFCV_.hta 01ec9e50d17de043a23997d6562293ad 3
13. _HELP_HELP_HELP_2AK4U21_.hta 55790c64ce1ff75647d5cadcadf3876e 3
14. _HELP_HELP_HELP_3NNARI.hta 0ef13a9213c456db231825061eec294c 2
15. _HELP_HELP_HELP_L41VV_.hta c63b4a524713e4c5f3802463cb46dab8 2
16. _READ_THI$_FILE_L81EB65A_.hta 2a6828d2ba37bb97efb4773619b80715 2
17. _HELP_HELP_HELP_2R9I63OS.hta a2daec078c54bb6bc5e96038a1506f2c 1
18. _HELP_HELP_HELP_UYUR4YE.hta bc0c75128b9cbc02c8c053c1155fb6d9 1
19. _HELP_HELP_HELP_CKJ4GL.hta 99d3fc208d3623107cfb18a9069e23bd 1
20. _HELP_HELP_HELP_SUXEZY_.hta 5190e890725bf431ba44001e190c70f5 1
21. _HELP_HELP_HELP_GLP9_.hta 5f7533c663ddb4c0ae4dbbaafb50d491 1
22. _HELP_HELP_HELP_HUUKTW_.hta 0224da72bc3638b351cf509cdfc443c2 1
23. _READ_THI$_FILE_DB3DT9_.hta 7476a75b0680d99f5338b886bc7def62 1
24. wP6fT.exe 731279e3c09f8e52a849c0a9c1043bb5 1
25. cmdkey.exe 27cf39d205567505d840391e4761a7a0 1
26. file.exe 212fa73fd6ed39b4720bcfd8d97426d5 0
More files

Registry Details

Cerber Ransomware may create the following registry entry or registry entries:
File name without path


Hi, I recently opened an email attachment supposedly in reference to a job offer. it was a word doc that asked for a password to open it so dummy me replied with asking for the password. Got the password and unknowingly allowed cerber ransomware to take over my files. When I realized what was happening, I stared to delete the cryped files and plugged in my back up external drive to overwrite the files. took me a few mins to realized that it just kept on going so I quickly unplugged my external. But no quickly enough.

I cleared out my pc to factory reset, just plugged in my backup and they got into it that quickly from the day before. So I unplugged again. I'm afraid now to do anything. Is there anyway to un encrypt my external drive? Do you know if I can send it somewhere? I know if I plug it into my computer and open a file it will take over again. Not sure what to do now.

Hi, i got affected by Cerber Ransomware on the 2nd of August and been struggling to decrypt my files using Kaspersky tools but not seem to be working. Is there anything you guys can do to help me? I don't have any backups as well, which makes things worse 🙁

Kind Regards,

Hello. I got all my files encripted by the cerber ransomware. Is there anything you can do to help unscript my files or do you know what I can get?

thank you in advance.

They asked me money and my files were hidden ! why this ! it not understandable ! I think Microsoft could protect its system because we are shocked about these troubles !

Hello. I got all my files encrypted by the cerber ransomware. Is there anything you can do to help de-cryptor my files or do you know what I can get? my all files extension change into .a4aa

thank you in advance.

Hi, i got affected by Cerber Ransomware recently and been struggling to decrypt my files using Kaspersky tools but not seem to be working. Is there anything you guys can do to help me? I don’t have any backups as well, which makes things worse 🙁
Kind Regards,
Mohammad Asaf

my files were same but there were some encrypted thing too. i just selected all and deleted it . all my documents are now safe and sound. but i dont know if it infected one of my drive.

My network of two desktops and one server have been attacked with cerber ransomware encrypting my data files. Need decryption and malware removal software.

My files in a pendrive was encripted by Cerber Ramsomware last night. I was using my laptop which has been attacked by Ramsomeware. I left it as it is. I am changing a new laptop. The subsequent files in my laptop was unaffected. The files in my pendrive unfortunately I did not backup . They are important working files.
How can I remove the encription ?
If need , though I do not condon such dishonest act of making money, I will pay . However will they actually do the encription?

Thank You

my files are got hacked by cerber ransomware so any solution for removing cerber ransomware.please help me

My file get encrypt with .9ade any solution? Helps me please>.<

Hello. I got all my files of my USB encrypted by the cerber ransomware. Is there anything can do to de-crypto my files or do you know what I can get? my all files extension change into *.9063

Hi, It have been affected since 2016 by Cerber Ransomware. My file has been encrypt form of 8ed7. Do you any solution?

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