If your pictures, videos and documents have an .exx extension at the end, then your computer has been infected with the Alpha Crypt ransomware.
Alpha Crypt is a file-encrypting ransomware, which will encrypt the personal documents found on victim’s computer using RSA-2048 key (AES CBC 256-bit encryption algorithm). Alpha Crypt then displays a message which offers to decrypt the data if a payment of 0.7 BTC (Bitcoins) is made within 96 hours, otherwise the data will be destroyed.
1. How did the .exx extension virus got on my computer?
2. What is .exx extension Ransomware?
3. Is my computer infected with .exx extension virus?
4. Is it possible to decrypt files encrypted by .exx extension?
5. How to remove the .exx extension ransomware (Virus Removal Guide)
1. How did the .exx extensionvirus got on my computer?
The .exx ransomware is distributed through several means. Malicious websites, or legitimate websites that have been hacked, can infect your machine through exploit kits that use vulnerabilities on your computer to install this Trojan without your permission of knowledge.
Another method used to propagate this type of malware is spam email containing infected attachments or links to malicious websites. Cyber-criminals spam out an email, with forged header information, tricking you into believing that it is from a shipping company like DHL or FedEx. The email tells you that they tried to deliver a package to you, but failed for some reason. Sometimes the emails claim to be notifications of a shipment you have made. Either way, you can’t resist being curious as to what the email is referring to – and open the attached file (or click on a link embedded inside the email). And with that, your computer is infected with the .exx (Alpha Crypt) ransowmare
The threat may also be downloaded manually by tricking the user into thinking they are installing a useful piece of software, for instance a bogus update for Adobe Flash Player or another piece of software.
2. What is .exx extension Ransomware?
The .exx extension is part of the Alpha Crypt ransomware program which targets all versions of Windows including Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, and Windows 8. This infection is notable due to how it encrypts the user’s files – namely, it uses AES-265 and RSA encryption method – in order to ensure that the affected user has no choice but to purchase the private key.
When .exx extension ransomware is first installed on your computer it will create a random named executable in the %AppData% or %LocalAppData% folder. This executable will be launched and begin to scan all the drive letters on your computer for data files to encrypt.
Alpha Crypt ransomware searches for files with certain file extensions to encrypt. The files it encrypts include important productivity documents and files such as .doc, .docx, .xls, .pdf, among others. When these files are detected, this infection will append a new .exx extension to the file name.
Files targeted are those commonly found on most PCs today; a list of file extensions for targeted files include:
.sql, .mp4, .7z, .rar, .m4a, .wma, .avi, .wmv, .csv, .d3dbsp, .zip, .sie, .sum, .ibank, .t13, .t12, .qdf, .gdb, .tax, .pkpass, .bc6, .bc7, .bkp, .qic, .bkf, .sidn, .sidd, .mddata, .itl, .itdb, .icxs, .hvpl, .hplg, .hkdb, .mdbackup, .syncdb, .gho, .cas, .svg, .map, .wmo, .itm, .sb, .fos, .mov, .vdf, .ztmp, .sis, .sid, .ncf, .menu, .layout, .dmp, .blob, .esm, .vcf, .vtf, .dazip, .fpk, .mlx, .kf, .iwd, .vpk, .tor, .psk, .rim, .w3x, .fsh, .ntl, .arch00, .lvl, .snx, .cfr, .ff, .vpp_pc, .lrf, .m2, .mcmeta, .vfs0, .mpqge, .kdb, .db0, .dba, .rofl, .hkx, .bar, .upk, .das, .iwi, .litemod, .asset, .forge, .ltx, .bsa, .apk, .re4, .sav, .lbf, .slm, .bik, .epk, .rgss3a, .pak, .big, wallet, .wotreplay, .xxx, .desc, .py, .m3u, .flv, .js, .css, .rb, .png, .jpeg, .txt, .p7c, .p7b, .p12, .pfx, .pem, .crt, .cer, .der, .x3f, .srw, .pef, .ptx, .r3d, .rw2, .rwl, .raw, .raf, .orf, .nrw, .mrwref, .mef, .erf, .kdc, .dcr, .cr2, .crw, .bay, .sr2, .srf, .arw, .3fr, .dng, .jpe, .jpg, .cdr, .indd, .ai, .eps, .pdf, .pdd, .psd, .dbf, .mdf, .wb2, .rtf, .wpd, .dxg, .xf, .dwg, .pst, .accdb, .mdb, .pptm, .pptx, .ppt, .xlk, .xlsb, .xlsm, .xlsx, .xls, .wps, .docm, .docx, .doc, .odb, .odc, .odm, .odp, .ods, .odt
While encrypting your files, this ransomware also create a HELP_TO_SAVE_FILES.txt text file ransom note in each folder that a file has been encrypted and on the Windows desktop. The ransomware will also change your Windows desktop wallpaper to HELP_TO_SAVE_FILES.bmp.
Both the wallpaper and the text ransom note will contain the same information on how to access the payment site and get your files back.
When you go to the URLs listed in the ransom note you will be taken to a TOR site where you can learn how much your ransom is and how to make the payment.
The .exx ransomware will also hijack your .EXE extensions so that when you launch an executable it will attempt to delete the Shadow Volume Copies that are on the affected computer. It does this because you can use shadow volume copies to restore your encrypted files. Once the infection has successfully deleted your shadow volume copies, it will restore your exe extensions back to the Windows defaults.
When it has finished encrypting your data files it will then show the .exx extension at the end of your personal documents, and a screen demanding a ransom of 0.7 BTC in order to decrypt your files. It also states that you must pay this ransom within 96 hours or the private encryption key will be destroyed on the developer’s servers.
3. Is my computer infected with .exx extension virus?
If your computer is infected with the .exx ransomware will display a black HELP_TO_SAVE_FILES.bmp wallpaper that covers the entire desktop. A HELP_TO_SAVE_FILES.txt text file will be placed on your desktop. Both files contain instruction on how or recover the encrypted files.
The messages displayed by this ransomware infection can be localized depending on the user’s location, with text written in the appropriate language.
This the message that the .exx ransomware may display:
Your personal files are encrypted!
Your files have been safely encrypted on this PC: photos, videos, documents, etc. Click “Show encrypted files” Button to view a complete list of encrypted files, and you can personally verify this. Encryption was produced using a unique public key RSA-2048 generated for this computer. To decrypt files you need to obtain the private key. The only copy of the private key, which allow you to decrypt your files, is located on a secret server in the Internet; the server will eliminate the key after a time period specified in this window.
Once this has been done, nobody will ever be able to recover.
4. Is it possible to decrypt files encrypted by .exx ransomware?
No, at this time it’s not possible.
The .exx ransomware is notable due to how it encrypts the user’s files – namely, it uses AES-265 and RSA encryption method – in order to ensure that the affected user has no choice but to purchase the private key. The RSA public key can only be decrypted with its corresponding private key. Since the AES key is hidden using RSA encryption and the RSA private key is not available, decrypting the files is not feasible as of this writing.
Brute forcing the decryption key is not realistic due to the length of time required to break an AES encryption key.
Because the needed private key to unlock the encrypted file is only available through the cyber criminals, victims may be tempted to purchase it and pay the exorbitant fee. However, doing so may encourage these bad guys to continue and even expand their operations. We strongly suggest that you do not send any money to these cyber criminals, and instead adress to the law enforcement agency in your country to report this attack.
5. How to remove the .exx ransomware (Virus Removal Guide)
This page is a comprehensive guide, which will remove the .exx extension infection from your computer, however we cannot guarantee that your personal files will be recovered. We cannot be held responsible for losing the documents during this removal process.
A. Remove .exx extension ransomware from your computer
Malwarebytes and HitmanPro can detect and remove this infection, but these programs cannot recover your encrypted files due to the nature of asymmetric encryption, which requires a private key to decrypt files encrypted with the public key.
STEP 1: Remove .exx virus with Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Free
Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Free uses industry-leading technology to detect and remove all traces of malware, including worms, Trojans, rootkits, rogues, dialers, spyware, and more.
It is important to note that Malwarebytes Anti-Malware works well and should run alongside antivirus software without conflicts.
- You can download download Malwarebytes Anti-Malware from the below link.
MALWAREBYTES ANTI-MALWARE DOWNLOAD LINK (This link will open a new web page from where you can download “Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Free”)
- Once downloaded, close all programs, then double-click on the icon on your desktop named “mbam-setup” to start the installation of Malwarebytes Anti-Malware.
You may be presented with a User Account Control dialog asking you if you want to run this file. If this happens, you should click “Yes” to continue with the installation.
- When the installation begins, you will see the Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Setup Wizard which will guide you through the installation process.
To install Malwarebytes Anti-Malware on your machine, keep following the prompts by clicking the “Next” button.
- Once installed, Malwarebytes Anti-Malware will automatically start and you will see a message stating that you should update the program, and that a scan has never been run on your system. To start a system scan you can click on the “Scan Now” button.
- Malwarebytes Anti-Malware will now start scanning your computer for the .exx virus. When Malwarebytes Anti-Malware is scanning it will look like the image below.
- When the scan has completed, you will now be presented with a screen showing you the malware infections that Malwarebytes Anti-Malware has detected. To remove the malicious programs that Malwarebytes Anti-malware has found, click on the “Remove Seletected” button.
Please note that the infections found may be different than what is shown in the image.
- Malwarebytes Anti-Malware will now quarantine all the malicious files and registry keys that it has found. When removing the files, Malwarebytes Anti-Malware may require a reboot in order to remove some of them. If it displays a message stating that it needs to reboot your computer, please allow it to do so.
After your computer will restart, you should open Malwarebytes Anti-Malware and perform another “Threat Scan” scan to verify that there are no remaining threats
STEP 2: Double-check for the .exx malware infection with HitmanPro
HitmanPro is a second opinion scanner, designed to rescue your computer from malware (viruses, trojans, rootkits, etc.) that have infected your computer despite all the security measures you have taken (such as anti-virus software, firewalls, etc.). HitmanPro is designed to work alongside existing security programs without any conflicts. It scans the computer quickly (less than 5 minutes) and does not slow down the computer.
- You can download HitmanPro from the below link:
HITMANPRO DOWNLOAD LINK (This link will open a new web page from where you can download “HitmanPro”)
- Double-click on the file named “HitmanPro.exe” (for 32-bit versions of Windows) or “HitmanPro_x64.exe” (for 64-bit versions of Windows). When the program starts you will be presented with the start screen as shown below.
Click on the “Next” button, to install HitmanPro on your computer.
- HitmanPro will now begin to scan your computer for .exx malicious files.
- When it has finished it will display a list of all the malware that the program found as shown in the image below. Click on the “Next” button, to remove .exx extension virus.
- Click on the “Activate free license” button to begin the free 30 days trial, and remove all the malicious files from your computer.
B. How (try) to restore your files encrypted by .exx extension ransomware
In some cases, it may be possible to recover previous versions of the encrypted files using System Restore or other recovery software used to obtain “shadow copies” of files.
Option 1: Restore your files encrypted by .exx ransomware with ShadowExplorer
The .exx ransomware will attempt to delete all shadow copies when you first start any executable on your computer after becoming infected. Thankfully, the infection is not always able to remove the shadow copies, so you should continue to try restoring your files using this method.
- You can download ShadowExplorer from the below link:
SHADOW EXPLORER DOWNLOAD LINK (This link will open a new web page from where you can download “ShadowExplorer”)
- Once you have downloaded and installed ShadowExplorer, you can follow the below video guide on how to restore your files while using this program.
Alternatively, you can use the System Restore to try to recover the encrypted documents.
Option 2: Restore your files encrypted by .exx ransomware with File Recovery Software
When .exx malware encrypts a file it first makes a copy of it, encrypts the copy, and then deletes the original. Due to this you can use file recovery software such as:
You can follow the below guide on how to use Recuva:
- EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard Free