Golden Axe is a ransomware that encrypts the personal documents found on victim’s computer, then displays a message which offers to decrypt the data if a payment in Bitcoin is made. The instructions are placed on the victims desktop in the # instructions-ID#.txt, # instructions-ID#.vbs and # instructions-ID#.jpg files.
We cannot help you recover your files, and we recommend that you use ShadowExplorer or free file recovery software to restore your documents.
This guide was written to help you remove the infection itself, and if a 100% proven method to recover the encrypted files is found we will update this guide.
There is no decryption tool available for the Golden Axe ransomware. However, you can try to search these sites for updates:
- 1. How did the Golden Axe ransomware get on my computer?
- 2. What is Golden Axe ransomware?
- 3. Is my computer infected with Golden Axe extension?
- 4. Is it possible to decrypt files encrypted by Golden Axe ransomware?
- 5. How to remove the Golden Axe ransomware (Virus Removal Guide)
- 6. How to prevent your computer from becoming infected by Golden Axe ransomware
1. How did the Golden Axe ransomware get on my computer?
The Golden Axe ransomware is distributed via spam email containing infected attachments or by exploiting vulnerabilities in the operating system and installed software.
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 Golden Axe ransomware.
Golden Axe ransomware was also observed attacking victims by hacking open Remote Desktop Services (RDP) ports. The attackers scan for the systems running RDP (TCP port 3389), and then attempt to brute force the password for the systems.
2. What is Golden Axe ransomware?
- Ransomware family: Golden Axe ransomware
- Extensions: 5 random characters
- Ransomware note: # instructions-ID#.txt
- Ransom: From $500 to $1500 (in Bitcoins)
- Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
The Golden Axe ransomware restricts access to data by encrypting files. It then attempts to extort money from victims by asking for “ransom”, in form of Bitcoin cryptocurrency, in exchange for access to data.
The Golden Axe ransomware targets all versions of Windows including Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows 10. When the Golden Axe 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.
The Golden Axe 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 change the extension to 5 random characters, so they are no longer able to be opened.
The Golden Axe ransomware changes the name of each encrypted file to the following format: Golden Axe.
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
Once your files are encrypted with the 5 random characters extension, the Golden Axe ransomware will create the # instructions-ID#.txt file ransom note in each folder that a file has been encrypted and on the Windows desktop.
These files are located in every folder that a file was encrypted as well as in the user’s Startup folder so that they are automatically displayed when a user logs in. These files will contain the information on how to contact the cyber criminals and get your files back.
When the infection has finished scanning your computer it will also delete all of the Shadow Volume Copies that are on the affected computer. It does this so that you cannot use the shadow volume copies to restore your encrypted files.
3. Is my computer infected with Golden Axe Ransomware?
When Golden Axe ransomware infects your computer it will scan all the drive letters for targeted file types, encrypt them, and then append 5 random characters extension to them. Once these files are encrypted, they will no longer able to be opened by your normal programs. When this ransomware has finished encrypting the victim’s files, it will also display a ransom note that includes instructions on how you can make a payment.
The messages displayed by this ransomware infection can be localized depending on the user’s location, with text written in the appropriate language.
This is the message that the Golden Axe ransomware (# instructions-ID#.txt) will display:
*** UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES UNTIL DECRYPT YOUR FILES DO NOT DELETE THIS INSTRUCTIONS FILE ***
# What Happened?
All your files, documents, photos, databases, and other important files are encrypted by ‘Golden Axe’ ransomware!
It means you will not be able to access them anymore until they are decrypted.
Recovery process impossible without purchasing your special decryption package from us!
# Free Decryption Guarantee!
We will decrypt one of your files before you making payment to show our honesty.
Pick up and attach one of your random encrypted files less than ~1 megabytes in the first contact with us.
* Make sure you will send the file as clear. Not archived, compressed or etc…
# How to contact with you?
Send your message with your ‘DATA’ block on the blow of this file to our email address – firstname.lastname@example.org
and wait for our response.
Write in email message what you think necessary.
Do not forget, write to us in English or get help for a professional translator.
Also do not forget!
When we does not reply your email after 24 hour, send your message to our backup email – email@example.com
# How to Purchase Decryption Package?
We will send you next step instructions about payment and decryption in the email.
The decryption price base on how fast you contact with us!
We accept only cryptocurrency named Bitcoin (BTC) as a payment method.
# How to Purchase Bitcoin?
Use the global and trusted Bitcoin exchange website – https://localbitcoins.com for fast and easy Bitcoin purchase.
For more information search about ‘How to buy Bitcoin’ on the internet.
* DO NOT MODIFY, MOVE OR RENAME ENCRYPTED FILES. THIS CAUSES A CORRUPT YOUR FILES!
4. Is it possible to decrypt files encrypted with the Golden Axe ransomware?
No, at this time it’s not possible to recover the files encrypted by the Golden Axe ransomware. Unfortunately, once the Golden Axe encryption of the data is complete, decryption is not feasible without paying the ransom.
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 address to the law enforcement agency in your country to report this attack.
5. How to remove the Golden Axe ransomware (Virus Removal Guide)
This page is a comprehensive guide, which will remove the Golden Axe 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.
Malwarebytes and HitmanPro can detect and remove this infection, but these programs cannot recover your encrypted files.
STEP 1: Use Malwarebytes to remove Golden Axe ransomware
Malwarebytes is one of the most popular and most used anti-malware software for Windows, and for good reasons. It is able to destroy many types of malware that other software tends to miss, without costing you absolutely nothing. When it comes to cleaning up an infected device, Malwarebytes has always been free and we recommend it as an essential tool in the fight against malware.
The first time you install Malwarebytes, you’re given a free 14-day trial of the premium edition, which includes preventative tools like real-time scanning and specific protection from ransomware. After two weeks, it automatically reverts to the basic free version that will detect and clean up malware infections only when you run a scan. It is important to note that Malwarebytes will run alongside antivirus software without conflicts.
You can download Malwarebytes by clicking the link below.MALWAREBYTES DOWNLOAD LINK
(The above link open a new page from where you can download Malwarebytes)
Double-click on the Malwarebytes setup file.
When Malwarebytes has finished downloading, double-click on the mb3-setup-consumer-x.x.x.xxxx.exe file to install Malwarebytes on your PC. In most cases, downloaded files are saved to the Downloads folder.
You may be presented with an User Account Control pop-up asking if you want to allow Malwarebytes to make changes to your device. If this happens, you should click “Yes” to continue with the installation.
Follow the on-screen prompts to install Malwarebytes.
When the Malwarebytes installation begins, you will see the Malwarebytes Setup Wizard which will guide you through the installation process. To install Malwarebytes on your PC, click on the “Agree and Install” button.
Click on “Scan Now”.
Once installed, Malwarebytes will automatically start and update the antivirus database. To perform a system scan, click on the “Scan Now” button.
Wait for the Malwarebytes scan to complete.
Malwarebytes will now start scanning your computer for adware and other malicious programs. This process can take a few minutes, so we suggest you do something else and periodically check on the status of the scan to see when it is finished.
Click on “Quarantine Selected”.
When the scan has completed, you will be presented with a screen showing the malware infections that Malwarebytes has detected. To remove the malicious programs that Malwarebytes has found, click on the “Quarantine Selected” button.
Reboot your computer.
Malwarebytes will now remove all the malicious files and registry keys that it has found. To complete the malware removal process, Malwarebytes may ask you to restart your computer.
When the malware removal process is complete, you can close Malwarebytes and continue with the rest of the instructions.
STEP 2: Use HitmanPro to scan for malware and unwanted programs
HitmanPro is a second opinion scanner that takes a unique cloud-based approach to malware scanning. HitmanPro scans the behavior of active files and also files in locations where malware normally resides for suspicious activity. If it finds a suspicious file that’s not already known, HitmanPro sends it to the their clouds to be scanned by two of the best antivirus engines today, which are Bitdefender and Kaspersky.
Although HitmanPro is shareware and costs $24.95 for 1 year on 1 PC, there is actually no limit in scanning. The limitation only kicks in when there is a need to remove or quarantine detected malware by HitmanPro on your system and by then, you can activate the one time 30 day trial to enable the clean up.
You can download HitmanPro by clicking the link below.HITMANPRO DOWNLOAD LINK
(The above link will open a new web page from where you can download HitmanPro)
When HitmanPro has finished downloading, double-click on “hitmanpro.exe” (for 32-bit versions of Windows) or “hitmanpro_x64.exe” (for 64-bit versions of Windows) to install this program on your PC. In most cases, downloaded files are saved to the Downloads folder.
You may be presented with an User Account Control pop-up asking if you want to allow HitmanPro to make changes to your device. If this happens, you should click “Yes” to continue with the installation.
Follow the on-screen prompts.
When HitmanPro starts you will be presented with the start screen as shown below. Click on the “Next” button to perform a system scan.
Wait for the HitmanPro scan to complete.
HitmanPro will now begin to scan your computer for malicious programs. This process will take a few minutes.
Click on “Next”.
When HitmanPro has finished the scan, it will display a list of all the malware that the program has found. Click on the “Next” button to remove the malicious programs.
Click on “Activate free license”.
Click on the “Activate free license” button to begin the free 30 days trial and remove all the malicious files from your PC.
When the process is complete, you can close HitmanPro and continue with the rest of the instructions.
STEP 3: Restore the files encrypted by Golden Axe ransomware with recovery software
Option 1: Restore your files encrypted by Golden Axe ransomware with ShadowExplorer
The Golden Axe 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.
Option 2: Restore your files encrypted with the .Golden Axe extension with File Recovery Software
When the files are encrypted with the .Golden Axe, this ransomware first makes a copy of them, 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
How to prevent your computer from becoming infected by Golden Axe ransomware
To protect your computer from the Golden Axe ransomware, you should always have an antivirus installed on your computer and always have a backup for your personal documents. As an extra protection method, you can use programs called HitmanPro.Alert which will prevent any file encrypting malware from running.