Babuk Tortilla ransomware dealt major blow with release of new decryptor – here’s how victims can recover their data

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A decryptor for the Babuk Tortilla ransomware variant has been made available by Cisco Talos following a police sting operation which saw a threat actor apprehended in Amsterdam. 

Cisco Talos collaborated with Dutch police to identify and apprehend a threat actor involved in cyber attacks using the ransomware variant, authorities said. 

In an announcement this week, Cisco Talos researcher Vanja Svajcer said authorities recovered executable code capable of decrypting files affected by Babuk Tortilla ransomware, from which researchers were able to extract and publish the private decryption key used by the hackers.

Talos has shared the key with Avast Threat labs who maintain a decryptor that can recover data encrypted using a number of different strains of the Babuk ransomware.

Avast Threat Labs’ decryptor was originally released in 2021, after the initial disclosure of the Babuk ransomware family and includes all of the known private keys involved in attacks using variants of the malware.

Avast’s Threat Research Team revealed its efforts were made easier by the fact that a single private key was used for all victims of the threat actor, meaning those affected can use the service easily. 

Avast’s Babuk decryptor tool is available for free, as are similar tools made to recover files encrypted using a number of different ransomware groups.

Victims unsure of the specific strain of ransomware they have been targeted with  can also use free resources such as the NoMoreRansom project, which boasts the largest collection of ransomware decryption tools as well as the ability to identify ransomware strains based on user-uploaded sample files.

Babuk group, from ethical hackers to targeting government agencies

The Babuk group first emerged in 2021. Early signs suggested the group had non malicious intentions, with their focus on revealing security failings in corporate networks. 

But this was quickly shown to be false when the group received global media attention after leaking data exfiltrated in an attack on the Washington DC police department in Washington DC.

Other notable targets of the ransomware gang include the Houston Rockets basketball team, with the group threatening to leak 500GB of stolen data if it did not receive payment. 

The group also drew headlines when it claimed it would no longer encrypt data it had stolen, opting in favor of a more streamlined approach to extracting ransoms using the threat of leaking data instead.


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For a moment it looked like the group was going to cease operations after it announced via a post on the dark web that the ransomware’s source code would be made publicly available, which was seized upon by threat researchers to build decryptor tools.

This decision was speculated to be the result of an internal conflict on whether the group should publish all of its stolen data, and risk increased attention from law enforcement agencies.

The Tortilla strain was disclosed by Talos in an exploit involving Microsoft Exchange vulnerabilities in November 2023.

The ransomware was known for its ability to compromise Windows and NAS environments, including ESXi environments, which are a primary component of  the infrastructure underpinning VMware’s software suite.

Solomon Klappholz
Staff Writer

Solomon Klappholz is a Staff Writer at ITPro. He has experience writing about the technologies that facilitate industrial manufacturing which led to him developing a particular interest in IT regulation, industrial infrastructure applications, and machine learning.