Hackers retire Troldesh ransomware and release 750,000 decryption keys

The team behind the malware has mysteriously shut it down just months after spearheading an explosion in activity

A prominent hacking outfit that deployed the ransomware known as Shade, or Troldesh, to devastating effect has “irrevocably destroyed” the Trojan and released 750,000 decryption keys.

The cyber criminals behind the malware confirmed they retired the prominent ransomware towards the end of last year after six years of activity and have apologised to victims, offering no explanation as to why. An expert with Kaspersky has confirmed the decryption keys as being genuine.

The Trojan, which made up 6% of all ransomware attacks in 2017, experienced a massive increase in detections from the fourth quarter of 2018 to the first quarter of 2019, spiking in February last year, according to Malwarebytes. This was among the most, if not the most, widely distributed malware in the first half of the year.

Those spearheading Troldesh campaigns, however, have now unexpectedly released 750,000 decryption keys, as well as its “decryption soft”, in the hope that cyber security companies can develop intuitive decryption tools.

“We are the team which created a trojan-encryptor mostly known as Shade, Troldesh or Encoder.858. In fact, we stopped its distribution in the end of 2019,” the now-former hackers said in a GitHub post. “Now we made a decision to put the last point in this story and to publish all the decryption keys we have (over 750 thousands at all).

“All other data related to our activity (including the source codes of the trojan) was irrevocably destroyed. We apologize to all the victims of the trojan and hope that the keys we published will help them to recover their data.”

Related Resource

Decade of the RATs - remote access trojans

Cross-platform APT espionage attacks targeting Linux, Windows and Android

Download now

Troldesh typically spread through malicious email attachments, normally zip files presented as something the victim must open quickly. The extracted zip was a Javasript that then downloaded the payload, which was hosted on sites with a compromised content management system (CMS).

The ransomware is thought to have been organised by Russian hackers, given the notes were often written in both English and Russian.

The cyber criminal group has offered no explanation as to why it decided to shut down its ransomware towards the end of 2019.

It’s impossible not to draw associations with the fact that Troldesh activity exploded suddenly and exponentially earlier in the year, well beyond recorded levels since it was first spotted in 2014.

Featured Resources

Managing security risk and compliance in a challenging landscape

How key technology partners grow with your organisation

Download now

Security best practices for PostgreSQL

Securing data with PostgreSQL

Download now

Transform your MSP business into a money-making machine

Benefits and challenges of a recurring revenue model

Download now

The care and feeding of cloud

How to support cloud infrastructure post-migration

Watch now


Best ransomware removal tools

Best ransomware removal tools

9 Apr 2021

Most Popular

Microsoft is submerging servers in boiling liquid to prevent Teams outages
data centres

Microsoft is submerging servers in boiling liquid to prevent Teams outages

7 Apr 2021
Data belonging to 500 million LinkedIn users found for sale on hacker marketplace

Data belonging to 500 million LinkedIn users found for sale on hacker marketplace

8 Apr 2021
How to find RAM speed, size and type

How to find RAM speed, size and type

8 Apr 2021