Ransomware is a malicious program that blocks the screen or encrypts your images, documents, or files and then asks for a ransom to recover your data or access the computer.
If you have been attacked, ransomware infections will encrypt the personal documents found on the victim’s computer, then displays a message which offers to decrypt the data if payment in Bitcoin or another cryptocurrency is made. The instructions are usually placed on the victim’s desktop in a text or HTML file or pop-up window.
Here are a few ransom notes that are displayed when a computer is infected with ransomware:
Table of Contents
What is Ransomware?
The most common types of ransomware are screen lockers and crypto-ransomware that encrypts data stored on the victim’s computer. File encrypting ransomware is by far the most common type of ransomware, however, we will cover them both.
- Crypto-ransomware is a file-encrypting ransomware infection that restricts access to data (documents, images, videos) by encrypting files. It then attempts to extort money from victims by asking for “ransom”, in the form of Bitcoin or another cryptocurrency, in exchange for access to data.
When you are first infected with this type of ransomware it will scan your computer for images, videos, and important productivity documents and files such as .doc, .docx, .xls, .pdf. When these files are detected, the ransomware will encrypt them and change the extension, so that you are no longer able to be open them.Once this ransomware has encrypted the files on your computer, it will display a file that contains the ransom note and instructions on how to contact the authors.
Unfortunately, in most cases, this type of ransomware cannot be decrypted because the decryption keys are on the cybercriminals’ servers.
If you do not plan on paying the ransom, it is advised that you make an image of the encrypted drives so that you can decrypt them in the future.
- The Screen locker ransomware blocks access to the device’s screen and then asks for payment to let the victim access its desktop. This type of ransomware does not encrypt your data and usually, it can be removed by using Safe Mode.To trick and scare the victims into paying the ransomware this type of ransomware may pretend to be from Microsoft, the FBI, the police, or another legitimate entity.
How did Ransomware get on my computer?
Ransomware is distributed via spam email containing infected attachments or by exploiting vulnerabilities in the operating system and installed programs.
Here’s how Ransomware might get on your computer:
- 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 inside the email). And with that, your computer is infected with Ransomware.
- Ransomware was also observed attacking victims by exploiting vulnerabilities in the program installed on the computer or the operating system itself. Commonly exploited software includes the operating system itself, browsers, Microsoft Office, and third-party applications.
Remove the ransomware and recover the files
It’s important to understand that by starting the removal process you risk losing your files, as we cannot guarantee that you will be able to recover them. Your files may be permanently compromised when trying to remove this infection or trying to recover the encrypted documents.
We cannot be held responsible for losing your files or documents during this removal process.
It’s recommended to create a backup image of the encrypted drives or files before proceeding with the malware removal instructions so that you can restore them if the decryption keys are recovered from the cybercriminals’ servers. To create a backup for your encrypted files or drives, you can use EaseUS Todo Backup Free.
This malware removal guide may appear overwhelming due to the number of steps and numerous programs that are being used. We have only written it this way to provide clear, detailed, and easy-to-understand instructions that anyone can use to remove malware for free.
Please perform all the steps in the correct order. If you have any questions or doubts at any point, stop and ask for our assistance.
- STEP 1: Use Rkill to terminate suspicious programs.
- STEP 2: Use Malwarebytes to remove for Ransomware and Unwanted Programs
- STEP 3: Use HitmanPro to remove Trojans and other Malware
- STEP 4: Use AdwCleaner to remove Malicious Browser Extensions and Adware
- STEP 5: Perform a final check with ESET Online Scanner
- STEP 6: Restore the files encrypted by ransomware
STEP 1: Use Rkill to terminate suspicious programs.
In this first step, we will download and run Rkill to terminate suspicious programs that may be running on your computer.
RKill is a program that was developed at BleepingComputer.com that attempts to terminate known malware processes so that your normal security software can then run and clean your computer of infections. When RKill runs it will kill malware processes and then removes incorrect executable associations and fixes policies that stop us from using certain tools.
You can download RKill to your computer from the below link. When at the download page, click on the Download Now button labeled iExplore.exe. We are downloading a renamed version of Rkill (iExplore.exe) because some malware will not allow processes to run unless they have a certain filename.RKILL DOWNLOAD LINK
(The above link will open a new page from where you can download Rkill)
After downloading, double-click the iExplore.exe icon to kill malicious processes. In most cases, downloaded files are saved to the Downloads folder.
The program may take some time to search for and end various malware programs.
When it is finished, the black window will close automatically and a log file will open. Do not restart your computer. Proceed to the next step in this guide.
STEP 2: Use Malwarebytes to remove Ransomware and Unwanted Programs
In this second step, we will install Malwarebytes to scan and remove any infections, adware, or potentially unwanted programs that may be present on your computer.
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.
Download Malwarebytes for Windows.
You can download Malwarebytes by clicking the link below.MALWAREBYTES FOR WINDOWS DOWNLOAD LINK
(The above link will 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 MBSetup file to install Malwarebytes on your computer. In most cases, downloaded files are saved to the Downloads folder.
You may be presented with a 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 Malwarebytes 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. The Malwarebytes installer will first ask you what type of computer are you installing this program on, click either Personal Computer or Work Computer.
On the next screen, click “Install” to install Malwarebytes on your computer.
When your Malwarebytes installation completes, the program opens the Welcome to Malwarebytes screen.
Click on “Scan”.
Malwarebytes is now installed on your computer, to start a scan click on the “Scan” button. Malwarebytes will automatically update the antivirus database and start scanning your computer for malicious programs.
Wait for the Malwarebytes scan to complete.
Malwarebytes will now scan your computer for browser hijackers 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”.
When the Malwarebytes scan is finished scanning it will show a screen that displays any malware, adware, or potentially unwanted programs that it has detected. To remove the adware and other malicious programs that Malwarebytes has found, click on the “Quarantine” button.
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.
STEP 3: Use HitmanPro to remove Rootkits and other Malware
In this third step, while the computer is in normal back, we will download and run a scan with HitmanPro to remove Trojans, rootkits, and other malicious 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 its 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 no limit on 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-days trial to enable the cleanup.
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 computer. In most cases, downloaded files are saved to the Downloads folder.
You may be presented with a 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.
Click on “Next”.
When HitmanPro has finished the scan, it will display a list of all the malware that it has found. Click on the “Next” button to have HitmanPro remove the detected items.
Click on “Activate free license”.
HitmanPro may now require to activate the free 30-days trial to remove the malicious files. To do this, click on the “Activate free license” button to begin the free 30 days trial and remove all the malicious files from your computer.
When the malware removal process is complete, it will display a screen that shows the status of the various programs that were removed. At this screen, you should click on the Next button and then if prompted you should click on the Reboot button. If HitmanPro does not prompt you to reboot, please just click on the Close button.
STEP 4: Use AdwCleaner to remove Malicious Browser Extensions and Adware
In this next step, we will use AdwCleaner to remove malicious browser policies and unwanted browser extensions from your computer.
AdwCleaner is a free popular on-demand scanner that can detect and remove malware that even the most well-known anti-virus and anti-malware applications fail to find. This on-demand scanner includes a lot of tools that can be used to fix the side effects of adware. browser hijackers and other malware.
You can download AdwCleaner by clicking the link below.ADWCLEANER DOWNLOAD LINK
(The above link will open a new web page from where you can download AdwCleaner)
Double-click on the setup file.
Double-click on the file named “adwcleaner_x.x.x.exe” to start AdwCleaner. In most cases, downloaded files are saved to the Downloads folder.
AdwCleaner program will now open and you will be presented with the program’s license agreement. After you read it, click on the I agree button if you wish to continue. If Windows prompts you as to whether or not you wish to run AdwCleaner, please allow it to run.
Enable “Reset Chrome policies” to remove malicious browser policies.
When AdwCleaner starts, on the left side of the window, click on “Settings” and then enable “Reset Chrome policies“.
Click on the “Scan” button.
On the left side of the AdwCleaner window, click on “Dashboard” and then click “Scan” to perform a computer scan.
Wait for the AdwCleaner scan to finish.
AdwCleaner will now scan your computer for malware. This process can take a few minutes.
Click on “Quarantine” to remove malware.
When the AdwCleaner scan is completed it will display all of the items it has found. Click on the “Quarantine” button to remove the malicious programs from your computer.
Click on “Continue” to remove the malicious programs.
AdwCleaner will now prompt you to save any open files or data as the program will need to close any open programs before it starts to clean. Click on the “Continue” button to finish the removal process.
AdwCleaner will now delete all detected malware from your computer. When the malware removal process is complete, you may be asked to restart your computer.
STEP 5: Perform a final check with ESET Online Scanner
This final step involves installing and running a scan with ESET Online Scanner to check for any additional malicious programs that may be installed on the computer..
ESET Online Scanner is a free 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.).
Download ESET Online Scanner.
You can download ESET Online Scanner by clicking the link below.ESET ONLINE SCANNER DOWNLOAD LINK
(The above link will open a new web page from where you can download ESET Online Scanner)
Double-click on esetonlinescanner.exe to run the installer.
When ESET Online Scanner has finished downloading, double-click on “esetonlinescanner.exe” to install it program on your computer. In most cases, downloaded files are saved to the Downloads folder.
Install ESET Online Scanner.
When ESET Online Scanner starts you will be presented with the start screen as shown below. Select your desired language from the drop-down menu and click Get started.
Select your preference for the Customer Experience Improvement Program and the Detection feedback system and click Continue.
Start a Full Scan with ESET Online Scanner
Click on Full Scan to perform an in-depth inspection of the entire computer.
Select Enable for Detection of Potentially Unwanted Applications, then click Start scan.
Wait for the ESET Online Scanner scan to finish.
ESET Online Scanner will now begin to scan your computer for malware. This process can take quite a while, so we suggest you do something else and periodically check on the status of the scan to see when it is finished.
ESET Online Scanner will automatically remove the malicious files.
At the end of the scan, the Found and resolved detections screen will be displayed. You can click View detailed results to view specific information. Detected threats are automatically cleaned and quarantined.
STEP 6: Restore the files encrypted by ransomware
Unfortunately, in most cases, it’s not possible to recover the files encrypted by this ransomware virus because the private key which is needed to unlock the encrypted files is only available through the attackers. However, below we’ve listed three options you can use to try and recover your files.
Option 1: Search a decryption tool for this ransomware
The cybersecurity community is constantly working to create ransomware decryption tools, so you can try to search these sites for updates:
Option 2: Use EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard Free to recover the encrypted files
EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard Free can restore files and repair corrupted files with simple clicks. Its powerful scanning algorithms can identify and retrieve huge file type library, including all of the popular video files, audio files, photos, and document formats.
While the free version only allows you to recover 2 GB of data, this can be helpful to see if the recovery is possible and restore back the most important files from your computer.
Download EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard Free.
You can download EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard Free by clicking the link below.EASEUS DATA RECOVERY WIZARD FREE DOWNLOAD LINK
(The above link will open a new page from where you can download EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard)
Double-click on the EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard Free setup file.
When EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard Free has finished downloading, double-click on the setup file to install EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard on your computer. In most cases, downloaded files are saved to the Downloads folder.
You may be presented with a User Account Control pop-up asking if you want to allow EaseUS to make changes to your device. If this happens, you should click “Yes” to continue with the EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard Free installation.
Follow the on-screen prompts to install EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard.
When the EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard installation begins, click on the “Install Now” as seen in the image below.
When your EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard installation completes, click the “Start Now” button to start the program.
Select a location to start recovering the encrypted files.
Choose the drive or folder where you are the encrypted files that you want to recover and click “Scan“.
Wait for the EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard scan to complete.
EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard will now scan your computer files that can be restored. 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.
Find the files you want to recover.
When the EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard scan is finished scanning it will show a screen that displays the files that can be recovered. This tool can recover a lot of data, use the “Filter” button to quickly filter specific file types and find the files that you want to recover.
Click the “Preview” button or double-click on a file for a full preview.
Select your files and click “Recover”.
Finally, select the the files you want to recover and click “Recover“.
Choose a safe location to save all the files.
The free version only allow you to recover 2 GB of data, however, this will allow you to recover the most important files and see if EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard can correctly recover them.
Option 3: Try to restore your files with ShadowExplorer
This 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”)
Double-click on the ShadowExplorer-x.x-setup file to start the installation process, then follow the on-screen promts to install this program.
Select snapshot date.
Open ShadowExplorer and then from the top bar select the drive where the files that you want to save are located, then select from the snapshot available one previous to this infection.
Export the files that you want to recover.
Once you have found a copy of the original file or folder, right-click on it and the select “Export”. A window will prompt you where you want to save the file or folder.
Your computer should now be free of Ransomware infections and other malware.
If your current antivirus allowed this malicious program on your computer, you may want to consider purchasing the full-featured version of Malwarebytes Anti-Malware to protect against these types of threats in the future.
If you are still having problems with your computer after completing these instructions, then please follow one of the steps:
- Run a computer scan with Emsisoft Emergency Kit
- Ask for help in our Malware Removal Assistance for Windows forum.