New ransomware vaccine kills programs wiping Windows shadow volumes

Shield

A new ransomware vaccine program has been created that terminates processes that try to delete volume shadow copies using Microsoft’s vssadmin.exe program,

Every day, Windows will create backups of your system and data files and store them in Shadow Volume Copy snapshots.

These snapshots can then be used to recover files if they are mistakenly changed or deleted.

As ransomware infections do not want victims to use this feature to recover files for free, one of the first things they do when executed is to delete all Shadow Volume copies on the computer.

One method of deleting Shadow Volumes is to use the following vssadmin.exe command:

The Raccine ransomware vaccine

This weekend, security researcher Florian Roth released the ‘Raccine’ ransomware vaccine that will monitor for the deletion of shadow volume copies using the vssadmin.exe command.

“We see ransomware delete all shadow copies using vssadmin pretty often. What if we could just intercept that request and kill the invoking process? Let’s try to create a simple vaccine,” Raccine’s GitHub page explains.

Raccine works by registering the raccine.exe executable as a debugger for vssadmin.exe using the Image File Execution Options Windows registry key.

Once raccine.exe is registered as a debugger, every time vssadmin.exe is executed, it will also launch Raccine, which will check to see if vssadmin is trying to delete shadow copies.

If it detects a process is using ‘vssadmin delete,’ it will automatically terminate the process, which is usually done before ransomware begins encrypting files on a computer.

Raccine killing processes

While this method will prevent encryption by a large amount of ransomware, some modern ransomware families delete shadow volumes using other commands, as listed below.

For these ransomware variants, Raccine will not currently block the ransomware as they do not use vssadmin.exe. Support for these commands may be added in the future.

It should also be noted that Raccine may terminate legitimate software that uses vssadmin.exe as part of their backup routines.

Roth plans on adding the ability to allow certain programs to bypass Raccine in the future so that they are not mistakenly terminated.

How to install Raccine

To install Raccine, you can follow these steps:

  1. Download Raccine.exe and use an elevated command prompt to copy it to the C:\Windows folder.
  2. Download the raccine-reg-patch.reg Registry file and double-click on it. When it prompts you to merge the contents into the Registry, allow it to do so.

Raccine is now registered as a debugger for the vssadmin.exe command monitors for attempts to delete shadow volume copies.

If you find that Raccine is terminating legitimate programs that you use, you can uninstall it by running the raccine-reg-patch-uninstall.reg registry file and deleting C:\windows\raccine.exe.

Once you uninstall Raccine, it will no longer terminate processes that attempt to delete shadow volume copies using vssadmin.exe.

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