The most troublesome part about ransomware raids is that the victim’s personal information is targeted. The extortion scheme, therefore, involves a deal between the infected user and the criminals, where the former is bound to buy a file decryption service. These attacks are highly severe because it’s nearly impossible to surmount the encryption algorithms used by the fraudsters, but thankfully there are some tips and tricks to restore the data.
Affected computer users typically discover the Crypt0L0cker assault after the fact, when it’s too late to prevent their files from being encoded. The infection is initially executed on the system without a slightest chance of red flags being possibly raised. It scans the hard drive, network disks and plugged-in removable media just as silently, promptly coming up with a list of targeted documents, photos, videos and other personal files. Everything on the PC that doesn’t match the pre-set exclusions list of system level items is subject to encryption with strong public-key crypto standard. It’s not until this malicious job has been completed that the virus comes into the open with its ransom demands.
The trojan is constantly running on the plagued machine because it adds a program information file named system.pif to the startup entries list. Every time it is executed, the victim will get a warning in the form of DECRYPT_INSTRUCTIONS.html popup. It briefly notifies the user that their data is being held hostage and provides a couple of FAQs along with a link to pay for files recovery. There is an identical TXT document created inside each folder that contains encrypted items. The victim is hence told to access the Buy Decryption website via a unique Tor gateway. Said page provides the amount of ransom to be paid, which is about 2.3 BTC, or a local currency equivalent of the sum. A built-in script counts down the time before the price doubles, the deadline being set to 96 hours. One file can be restored for free as a ‘bonus’.
The concurrent malware processes going on behind the scenes are yet more menacing. Crypt0L0cker sustains a permanent connection with the Command and Control server, so it can easily transmit random data back and forth, not only the encryption-related part of it. It may also erase Shadow Copies of files, which means that one of the possible recovery workarounds is likely to be inefficient. Despite this particular hurdle as well as the strength of asymmetric cryptography, the predicament isn’t hopeless and some personal information can be restored.
Use automatic solution to remove Crypt0L0cker
The issue of Crypt0L0cker compromising a PC can be effectively resolved if you use trusted security software. Along with the obvious ease of such removal, other benefits include thoroughness of virus detection and elimination from all system locations it might have affected. Be advised, however, that removing the ransomware and recovering the hijacked files are two different things. So please follow these steps just for a start:
1. Download and install Crypt0L0cker removal tool. Run the application and select Start Computer Scan option in order to have your computer checked for adware, viruses, Trojans, and other malicious objects.
2. When the scan is complete, it will return a list with results on what infections have been found. Go ahead and click Fix Threats to completely get rid of the detected items. The virus should now be gone from your PC.
Recover files encrypted by Crypt0L0cker
The bitter truth about this ransomware assault is that there doesn’t exist a tool that can automatically decrypt your personal files, except perhaps the service endorsed by the virus publishers who spread this infection in the first place and have the right private key at their disposal. Asymmetric crypto algorithms are too strong to crack or brute-force, therefore users can only leverage alternate workarounds.
1. File recovery software
Some variants of ransom trojans create copies of their victims’ files, encrypt them and delete the original data. In this case, forensic utilities like Data Recovery Pro can restore the information. Download and install the program, launch it and select the scan option (Quick, Full, or Guided). Click Start Scan button, wait for the results and see what can be recovered.
2. Shadow Explorer
This method presupposes restoring the so-called “Shadow Copies” of locked files through the use of an app called Shadow Explorer. While this routine can be performed manually, the above-mentioned software automates the process all the way. Just download and install Shadow Explorer, run it, select the drive letter and date, and get down to recovery. Pick the folder or file of interest, right-click on it, select Export and follow further prompts. Note this option only works with System Restore enabled on the PC.
3. Previous Versions feature
The automatic option above has a manual counterpart, where you needn’t go any further than Windows itself. As long as System Restore has been active on the machine, users can right-click on a random file, select Properties, hit the tab that says Previous Versions, and click Copy or Restore, depending on the location that the file will be reinstated to. This is a slow-moving approach because you have to go through the above steps for every file, therefore using Shadow Explorer is a much more user-friendly experience.
This option is self-explanatory. In the event you have been backing up your information to external media or cloud resources, the damage from
Crypt0L0cker attack will be minimal. Note that it’s a must to completely eradicate the ransomware before downloading your intact files from the secure storage.
Make sure Crypt0L0cker virus has vanished
When it comes to persistent threats, double-checking never hurts. Therefore it’s highly recommended to complete the remediation process with a final scan that will once again look for any potential bits and pieces of the infection.