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LightningCrypt Ransomware (Restore .LIGHTNING Files)

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This article aims to help you remove the LightningCrypt ransomware virus from your computer and restore the files encrypted with .LIGHTNING file extension added to them.

Discovered at the end of May 2017, the LightningCrypt ransomware is a well-designed virus that uses the AES encryption algorithm to render the files on the infected computer no longer able to be opened. The files are then appended the .LIGHTNING file extension to them and then the virus uses the LighningCrypt_Recover_Instuctions.txt ransom note to scare off victims to pay a ransom of 0.17 BTC to get the files decrypted and working again. The virus threatens to deleted the files on each try of the victim to erase it. In case your computer has been infected by LightningCrypt ransomware, we recommend that you read this article to understand this virus and how to remove it and try to get back the data.

Threat Summary

NameLightningCrypt
TypeRansomware, Cryptovirus
Short DescriptionEncrypts important files on the compromised computer and asks the victim to pay 0.17 BTC in order to get the encrypted files decoded.
SymptomsDrops a ransom note in a text file, an animated screen message and changes the wallpaper on the victim PC. Adds .LIGHTNING file extension to the encrypted files.
Distribution MethodSpam Emails, Email Attachments, Executable files
Detection Tool See If Your System Has Been Affected by LightningCrypt

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User ExperienceJoin Our Forum to Discuss LightningCrypt.
Data Recovery ToolWindows Data Recovery by Stellar Phoenix Notice! This product scans your drive sectors to recover lost files and it may not recover 100% of the encrypted files, but only few of them, depending on the situation and whether or not you have reformatted your drive.

LightningCrypt – Distribution

In order for this ransomware to be effective while infecting victims, the creators of LightningCrypt may spread the virus via spam e-mails that infect victims via tricking them. The messages in those e-mails may pretend that the attachments uploaded along them are legitimate documents, like invoices or other important files. Some messages may even be sent without a description, known as “blank slate” malspam. But most of them have convincing messages like the following:

Other methods by which computers can become infected with LightningCrypt ransomware is via fake installers as well as fake updates of programs or fraudulent license activators and key generators.

Lightning Crypt – More Information

As soon as the malicious executable which is essentially the loader of LightningCrypt is downloaded, multiple files are dropped onto the victim PC:

  • ChkDsk.exe – the malicious executable of the ransomware.
  • LightningCrypt_Recover_Instructions.txt – the ransom note in a text file.
  • LightningCrypt_Recover_Instructions.png – an image file.

Besides those files, multiple support modules that may be temporary or .dll files might be seen in other system folders of Windows as well as the usually targeted directories:

  • %AppData%
  • %Roaming%
  • %Local%
  • %LocalLow%
  • %Temp%
  • %Windows%

In addition to this, the ransomware virus also connects to multiple different hosts, as reported by Amigo-A:

→ xxxx://arizonacode.bplaced.net (144.76.167.69:80 – Germany)
xxxx://rammichael.com/downloads/7tt_setup.exe
xxxx://lolaail.bplaced.net/4rw4w.exe
xxxx://lolaail.bplaced.net/4rw5wdecryptor.exe
xxxx://rammichael.com/
xxxx://lupa-romana.de/blog/tag/marcus-antonius/

Since the executable to which the virus connects is called 4rw4w.exe, the ransomware is believed to be related in a way to 4rw5w Ransomware virus, which was detected at the beginning of May 2017.

In addition to this activity, the LightningCrypt ransomware virus also drops multiple different ransom notes all with similar demands:

YOU BECAME A VICTIM OF THE LIGHTNINGCRYPT RANSOMWARE!
ALL YOUR FILES HAVE BEEN ENCRYPTED WITH RSA 2048
DONT TRY TO DELETE ME
FOR EACH TRY TO DO ANYTHING I WILL DELETE FILES
PAY 0.17 BITCOINS TO THIS ADDRESS:
1LSgvYFY7SDNje2Mhsm51FxhqPsbvXEhpE
YOU CAN BUY BITCOINS ON “BLOCKCHAIN.INFO”
SEND YOUR UNIQE ID IN THE DESCRIPTION OF THE BITCOIN PAYMENT
YOU CAN FIND THEM ON YOUR DESKTOP IN “LIGHTNINGCRYPT_UNIQEID.TXT”
AFTER THE PAYMENT YOUR FILES WILL BE DECRYPTED!
HAVE FUN 😉
£ PAY 0.17 Bitcoins to : {BITCOIN WALLET}

LightningCrypt – Encryption Process

The encryption of LightningCrypt is supported by one of the most powerful encryption algorithms which may still be in use by the NSA today – AES, also known as Advanced Encryption Standard. The files targeted by LightningCrypt for file encryption are the following:

.avi, .dll, .DOC, .DOCX, .DOT, .DOTM, .exe, .jpg, .lnk, .mp3, .mp4, .NEF, .ODT, .PDF, .pif, .png, .png, .rar, .txt, .url, .wav, .zip

After the virus encrypts the files they assume the .LIGHTNING file extension and victims see them as the following:

Remove LightningCrypt and Restore .LIGHTNING Files

Before beginning the removal process of LightningCrypt ransomware, recommendations are to backup the files beforehand, because the virus may have a fail safe function that may delete them if you tamper with it.

After doing so, we recommend following the steps bellow to get rid of all the virus files. In case manual removal proves to be not fully effective, security experts often advise using anti-malware software for the removal.

As soon as you have already removed LightningCrypt from your computer system, we recommend following the alternative methods in step “2. Restore files encrypted by LightningCrypt” below. They are not a full guarantee to work, but you may restore at least some of the encrypted files by this ransomware virus, at least until malware researchers come up with a decrypter for this threat. We also recommend you to check this article since we will update it when such software is released.

Note! Your computer system may be affected by LightningCrypt and other threats.
Scan Your PC with SpyHunter
SpyHunter is a powerful malware removal tool designed to help users with in-depth system security analysis, detection and removal of threats such as LightningCrypt.
Keep in mind, that SpyHunter’s scanner is only for malware detection. If SpyHunter detects malware on your PC, you will need to purchase SpyHunter’s malware removal tool to remove the malware threats. Read our SpyHunter 5 review. Click on the corresponding links to check SpyHunter’s EULA, Privacy Policy and Threat Assessment Criteria.

To remove LightningCrypt follow these steps:

1. Boot Your PC In Safe Mode to isolate and remove LightningCrypt files and objects
2. Find files created by LightningCrypt on your PC

Use SpyHunter to scan for malware and unwanted programs

3. Scan for malware and unwanted programs with SpyHunter Anti-Malware Tool
4. Try to Restore files encrypted by LightningCrypt

Ventsislav Krastev

Ventsislav has been covering the latest malware, software and newest tech developments at SensorsTechForum for 3 years now. He started out as a network administrator. Having graduated Marketing as well, Ventsislav also has passion for discovery of new shifts and innovations in cybersecurity that become game changers. After studying Value Chain Management and then Network Administration, he found his passion within cybersecrurity and is a strong believer in basic education of every user towards online safety.

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