Safety specialist Tomas Meskauskas was the one who, for the first time, identified the Checkmate virus, which belongs with the ransomware type of infection. Ransomware of such sort encrypts all user’s data on the QNAP (images, documents, excel sheets, music, videos, etc) and adds its own extension to every file, leaving the !CHECKMATE_DECRYPTION_README.txt files in every directory which contains the encrypted files.
It is better to prevent, than repair and repent!
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What is Checkmate virus?
☝️ A scientifically correct denomination for the Checkmate would be “a ransomware malicious agent”.
Checkmate will append its own .checkmate extension to every file’s title. For instance, an image named “photo.jpg” will be renamed to “photo.jpg.checkmate”. Just like the Excel sheet with the name “table.xlsx” will be changed to “table.xlsx.checkmate”, and so forth.
In each folder containing the encrypted files, a !CHECKMATE_DECRYPTION_README.txt text file will be found. It is a ransom money memo. It contains information about the ways of contacting the racketeers and some other remarks. The ransom note usually contains instructions on how to buy the decryption tool from the tamperers. You can get this decrypting software after contacting checkmate_team (Telegram) through email. That is it.
|Ransom||15000 USD in Bitcoin|
|Detection||MSIL/GenKryptik.GGWL, Doina.48214, Win32:Teerac-BX [Trj]|
|Symptoms||Your files (photos, videos, documents) get a .checkmate extension and you can’t open them.|
|Fix Tool||See If Your System Has Been Affected by Checkmate virus|
The !CHECKMATE_DECRYPTION_README.txt file accompanying the Checkmate ransomware provides the following frustrating information:
You was hacked by CHECKMATE team. All your data has been encrypted, backups have been deleted. Your unique ID: - You can restore the data by paying us money. We have encrypted - office files. We determine the amount of the ransom from the number of encrypted office files. The cost of decryption is 15000 USD. Payment is made to a unique bitcoin wallet. Before paying, you will be able to make sure that we can actually decrypt your files. For this: 1) Download and install Telegram Messenger hxxps://telegram.org/ 2) Find us hxxps://t.me/checkmate_team 3) Send a message with your unique ID and 3 files for test decryption. Files should be no more than 15mb each. 4) In response, we will send the decrypted files and a bitcoin wallet for payment. Bitcoin wallet is unique for you, so we can find out what you paid. 5) After the payment is received, we will send you the key and the decryption program.
In the screenshot below, you can see what a folder with files encrypted by the Checkmate looks like. Each filename has the “.checkmate” extension added to it.
How did my machine catch Checkmate ransomware?
There are many possible ways of ransomware infiltration.
Nowadays, there are three most popular methods for evil-doers to have ransomware settled in your digital environment. These are email spam, Trojan introduction and peer-to-peer networks.
If you access your mailbox and see emails that look just like notifications from utility services companies, postal agencies like FedEx, web-access providers, and whatnot, but whose sender is strange to you, be wary of opening those emails. They are very likely to have a malware file attached to them. Thus it is even more dangerous to download any attachments that come with letters like these.
Another thing the hackers might try is a Trojan file scheme1. A Trojan is an object that infiltrates into your QNAP disguised as something else. For example, you download an installer of some program you want or an update for some software. But what is unboxed turns out to be a harmful agent that corrupts your data. Since the installation file can have any title and any icon, you have to make sure that you can trust the source of the things you’re downloading. The best thing is to use the software developers’ official websites.
As for the peer networks like torrent trackers or eMule, the danger is that they are even more trust-based than the rest of the Internet. You can never know what you download until you get it. Our suggestion is that you use trustworthy resources. Also, it is a good idea to scan the folder containing the downloaded items with the antivirus as soon as the downloading is done.
How to remove the Checkmate virus?
It is crucial to inform you that besides encrypting your files, the Checkmate virus will probably install the Spyware on your QNAP to get access to credentials to various accounts (including cryptocurrency wallets). That spyware2 can derive your logins and passwords from your browser’s auto-filling data.
Sometimes racketeers would unblock some of your files so you know that they indeed have the decryption tool. As Checkmate virus is a relatively recent ransomware, safety measures engineers have not yet found a way to undo its work. Nevertheless, the decoding instruments are frequently upgraded, so the effective countermeasure may soon be available.
Understandably, if the tamperers succeed in encoding someone’s critical data, the desperate person will probably comply with their demands. Nevertheless, paying a ransom gives no guarantee that you’re getting your blocked information back. It is still risky. After receiving the money, the racketeers may send a wrong decryption code to the injured party. There were reports about criminals simply vanishing after getting the money without even bothering to reply.
The best solution against ransomware is to have a system restore point or the copies of your essential files in the cloud drive or at least on an external disk. Obviously, that might be insufficient. Your most important thing could be that file you were working upon when it all started. But at least it is something. It is also wise to scan your drives with the anti-malware utility after the OS restoration.
There are other ransomware products, besides Checkmate, that work similarly. For instance, Goaq, Coaq, Qotr, and some others. The two major differences between them and the Checkmate are the ransom amount and the method of encryption. The rest is almost identical: files become encoded, their extensions changed, ransom notes are found in every folder containing encrypted files.
Some fortunate victims were able to decrypt the blocked files with the help of the free software provided by anti-ransomware developers. Sometimes the criminals mistakenly send the decryption key to the wronged in the ransom note. Such an extraordinary fail allows the injured part to restore the files. But of course, one should never expect such a chance. Make no mistake, ransomware is a criminals’ tool to lay their hands on the money of their victims.
How сan I avert ransomware infection?
Checkmate ransomware doesn’t have a superpower, so as any similar malware.
You can armour yourself from ransomware injection in several easy steps:
- Ignore any letters from unknown mailers with unknown addresses, or with content that has likely no connection to something you are waiting for (can you win in a money prize draw without even taking part in it?). In case the email subject is likely something you are expecting, scrutinize all elements of the dubious email with caution. A fake email will surely contain mistakes.
- Do not use cracked or untrusted programs. Trojans are often spreaded as an element of cracked products, most likely under the guise of “patch” to prevent the license check. But potentially dangerous programs are very hard to distinguish from reliable ones, because trojans sometimes have the functionality you seek. You can try to find information on this program on the anti-malware forums, but the best way is not to use such software.
- And to be sure about the safety of the files you downloaded, check them with GridinSoft Anti-Malware. This software will be a powerful defense for your personal QNAP.
Reasons why I would recommend GridinSoft3
There is no better way to recognize, remove and prevent ransomware than to use an anti-malware software from GridinSoft4.
Download Removal Tool.
You can download GridinSoft Anti-Malware by clicking the button below:
Run the setup file.
When setup file has finished downloading, double-click on the setup-antimalware-fix.exe file to install GridinSoft Anti-Malware on your QNAP.
An User Account Control asking you about to allow GridinSoft Anti-Malware to make changes to your device. So, you should click “Yes” to continue with the installation.
Press “Install” button.
Once installed, Anti-Malware will automatically run.
Wait for the Anti-Malware scan to complete.
GridinSoft Anti-Malware will automatically start scanning your QNAP for Checkmate infections and other malicious programs. This process can take a 20-30 minutes, so I suggest you periodically check on the status of the scan process.
Click on “Clean Now”.
When the scan has finished, you will see the list of infections that GridinSoft Anti-Malware has detected. To remove them click on the “Clean Now” button in right corner.
🤔 How can I open “.checkmate” files?Can I somehow access “.checkmate” files?
Negative. That is why ransomware is so frustrating. Until you decode the “.checkmate” files you will not be able to access them.
🤔 I really need to decrypt those “.checkmate” files ASAP. How can I do that?
Hopefully, you have made a copy of those important files. If not, there is still a function of System Restore but it needs a Restore Point to be previously saved. There are other ways to beat ransomware, but they take time.
🤔 Will GridinSoft Anti-Malware remove all the encrypted files alongside the Checkmate virus?
Of course not. The encrypted files are not harmful, so they won’t be deleted.
GridinSoft Anti-Malware will remove the infections from your system. The ransomware that has attacked your QNAP is probably still functional and launching checks periodically to encode any new files you might create on your QNAP after the initial attack. As it has been mentioned above, the Checkmate virus does not come alone. It installs backdoors and keyloggers that can take your account passwords by trespass and provide malefactors with easy access to your system in the future.
🤔 What to do if the Checkmate virus has blocked my QNAP and I can’t get the activation code.
In such a case, you need to prepare a flash memory card with a previously installed Trojan Killer. Use Safe Mode to perform the cleaning. The point is that the ransomware starts automatically as the system boots and encodes any new files created or imported into your machine. To suppress this function – use Safe Mode, which allows only the essential programs to run automatically. Consider reading our manual on running Windows in Safe Mode.
🤔 What could help the situation right now?
Many of the blocked files might still be within your reach
- If you sent or received your important files through email, you could still download them from your online mail server.
- You might have shared photographs or videos with your friends or family members. Just ask them to post those images back to you.
- If you have initially downloaded any of your files from the Internet, you can try doing it again.
- Your messengers, social networks pages, and cloud disks might have all those files too.
- Maybe you still have the needed files on your old QNAP, a notebook, phone, external storage, etc.
USEFUL TIP: You can use data recovery utilities5 to retrieve your lost information since ransomware encodes the copies of your files, deleting the original ones. In the video below, you can learn how to use PhotoRec for such a recovery, but be advised: you won’t be able to do it before you remove the ransomware itself with an antivirus program.
Also, you can contact the following governmental fraud and scam sites to report this attack:
- In the United States: On Guard Online;
- In Canada: Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre;
- In the United Kingdom: Action Fraud;
- In Australia: SCAMwatch;
- In New Zealand: Consumer Affairs Scams;
- In France: Agence nationale de la sécurité des systèmes d’information;
- In Germany: Bundesamt für Sicherheit in der Informationstechnik;
- In Ireland: An Garda Síochána;
To report the attack, you can contact local executive boards. For instance, if you live in USA, you can have a talk with FBI Local field office, IC3 or Secret Service.
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How to Remove CHECKMATE Ransomware & Recover QNAP
Name: CHECKMATE Virus
Description: CHECKMATE Virus is a ransomware-type infections. This virus encrypts important personal files (video, photos, documents). The encrypted files can be tracked by a specific .checkmate extension. So, you can't use them at all.
Operating System: Windows
Application Category: Virus
User Review( votes)
- You can read more on Trojans, their use and types in the Trojan-dedicated section of GridinSoft official website.
- You can read more on spyware variants and nature in the respective section of GridinSoft official website.
- GridinSoft Anti-Malware Review from HowToFix site: https://howtofix.guide/gridinsoft-anti-malware/
- More information about GridinSoft products: https://gridinsoft.com/products
- Here’s the list of the best 10 file recovery tools of 2021.