THREAT REMOVAL

Remove Minotaur Ransomware (.Lock Extension)

HowToDecryptFiles.txt ransom note dropped by Minotaur ransomware

This is an article that provides specific details on Minotaur ransomware infection as well as a step-by-step removal and data recovery guide.

The recently detected Minotaur ransomware invades computer systems with the purpose to encrypt valuable files and extort ransom from infected users. For data encryption stage it utilizes a symmetric block cipher algorithm called AES. After it transforms the code of target files and generates a possibly working decryption key, the ransomware marks corrupted files with .Lock extension. Currently, hackers demand a ransom of 0.125 BTC for the decryption key they possess. To extort victims the ransomware drops ransom note file called How To Decrypt Files.txt.

Threat Summary

NameMinotaur
TypeRansomware, Cryptovirus
Short DescriptionA data locker ransomware that utilizes AES cihper algorithm to encrypt valuable files on stored on the infected computer and demands a ransom for thier decryption.
SymptomsImportant files are corrupted and renamed with .Lock extension. A ransom message demands ransom payment (0.125 BTC).
Distribution MethodSpam Emails, Email Attachments
Detection Tool See If Your System Has Been Affected by malware

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Malware Removal Tool

User ExperienceJoin Our Forum to Discuss Minotaur.
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.

Minotaur Ransomware – Distribution

The spread of Minotaur ransomware across the web could happen with the help of common distribution techniques such as massive spam email campaigns, URLs of corrupted web pages, compromised freeware installers, fake software updates notifications and other.

Among all of the mentioned spread techniques, the most popular one remains malwspam. Hackers prefer it due to several factors. The first one is the convenient option for them to spoof email addresses and senders so that users could be misled to open them and interact with the provided content. The second factor is the chance for uploading their malicious ransomware payload as an email attachment. With an appropriate text message, they could attempt to trick users to download the attached file and start it on their devices. Malicious email attachments are usually presented as:

  • Invoices
  • Tax receipts
  • Delivery notes
  • And some kind of legal statements

However, since these files contain the malicious code of Minotaur they trigger the ransomware soon after users open them on their devices. Another advantage associated with this spread channel is the possibility of adding a link in the email text message. Once followed this link could load a corrupted web page that is set to activate specific scripts and download the ransomware directly on the computer.

Combined all these factors provide for the desired efficiency. This in turn makes this spread technique the most preferred by cyber criminals. So it is highly possible that hackers behind Minotaur ransomware could be using it as well.

As identified by security experts malvertising campaigns that lead to fake dating website domain of which starts with datingittlive are also used for the distribution of Minotaur ransomware. Infected websites were detected to activate the Fallout EK that in turn infects target systems with Minotaur. According to recent reports the same exploit kit was also part of the spread campaigns of the infamous GandCrab ransomware.

Minotaur Ransomware – Overview

An infection with Minotaur ransomware begins with the execution of a file of the same name – Minotaur.exe. This file is designed to access certain system directories and components in order to implement changes that will lead to a successful attack.

At first, the ransomware is likely to drop or create several malicious files placing them of system directories like:

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

Once is establishes all needed malicious files it could start manipulating various system functionalities in order to evade active security detection tools and continue with the completion of all remaining infection stages. The Registry Editor is likely to be among the affected system components due to the fact that it stores all essential system settings as well as user preferences.

By adding malicious values under the registry sub-keys Run and RunOnce, Minotaur ransomware could become able to load its infection files on each system start. As these keys manage the automatic execution of all files and services that support the regular system performance, the crypto virus could manipulate their functionalities when it’s time for its ransom note to appear on the screen.

The ransom message dropped by Minotaur is contained in a text file called How To Decrypt Files.txt. As revealed by the analysis of its samples, the message informs the following:

HowToDecryptFiles.txt ransom note dropped by Minotaur ransomware

—————————————————————————————-
(KEY) : J3oLtCrE14ELmziDhz1lPgRMxBvcPiW01t4eI63Ffk8kqMaL7SSRrI***
(EMAIL) : minotaur0428blaze.it
—————————————————————————————-
ALL YOUR FILES ARE ENCRYPTED BY (MINOTAUR) RANSOMWARE!
—————————————————————————————-
FOR DECRYPT YOUR FILES NEED TO PAY US A (0.125 BTC)!
—————————————————————————————-
FILES ARE ENCRYPTED BY (MINOTAUR) RANSOMWARE!
—————————————————————————————-

Minotaur Ransomware – Encryption Process

Like all other data locker ransomware Minotaur ransomware has the primary purpose to encrypt predefined types of files. This process happens with the help of strong symmetric cipher algorithm called AES. Once it transforms the original code of target files, the ransomware marks them with the extension .Lock.

Unfortunately, all files that store valuable data are likely to be mentioned in the encryption module of Minotaur ransomware. So in case of infection with this crypto virus users could not be able to access their:

  • Audio files
  • Video files
  • Document files
  • Image files
  • Backup files
  • Banking credentials, etc

Following encryption, the ransomware generates unique decryption key that that could possibly restore .Lock files. This key could be either stored somewhere on the infected device or transferred to a hackers’ controlled server. Either way hackers attempt to blackmail infected users into paying a ransom of 0.125 BTC for their encrypted files. Since there is no evidence that Minotaur’s code is fully functional there is no guarantee that they keys it generates are capable of decoding .Lock files. So the help of alternative data recovery tools is much better option than ransom payment.

Remove Minotaur Ransomware and Restore .Lock Files

Below you could find how a step-by-step removal guide that may be helpful in attempting to remove Minotaur ransomware. The manual removal approach demands practice in recognizing traits of malware files. Beware that ransomware is a threat with highly complex code that plagues not only your files but your whole system. So it should be secured properly before it could be used regularly again.

For alternative data recovery methods make sure to read thoroughly the information under “Restore Files” step form our guide. Beware that before recovery process you should back up all encrypted files to an external drive in order to prevent their irreversible loss.

Gergana Ivanova

Gergana Ivanova

Gergana has a bachelor's degree in Marketing. She has been with the STF team for five years, researching malware, reporting on the latest computer infections, and following digital marketing trends.

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Attention! SensorsTechForum strongly recommends that all malware victims should look for assistance only by reputable sources. Many guides out there claim to offer free recovery and decryption for files encrypted by ransomware viruses. Be advised that some of them may only be after your money.

As a site that has been dedicated to providing free removal instructions for ransomware and malware since 2014, SensorsTechForum’s recommendation is to only pay attention to trustworthy sources.

How to recognize trustworthy sources:

  • Always check "About Us" web page.
  • Profile of the content creator.
  • Make sure that real people are behind the site and not fake names and profiles.
  • Verify Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter personal profiles.


OFFER

REMOVE IT NOW (PC)
with Anti-Malware
We recommend you to download SpyHunter and run free scan to remove all virus files on your PC. This saves you hours of time and effort compared to doing the removal yourself.
SpyHunter 5 free remover allows you, subject to a 48-hour waiting period, one remediation and removal for results found. Read EULA and Privacy Policy


Windows Mac OS X

How to Remove Minotaur from Windows.


Step 1: Boot Your PC In Safe Mode to isolate and remove Minotaur

OFFER

Manual Removal Usually Takes Time and You Risk Damaging Your Files If Not Careful!
We Recommend To Scan Your PC with SpyHunter

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

1. Hold Windows key() + R


2. The "Run" Window will appear. In it, type "msconfig" and click OK.


3. Go to the "Boot" tab. There select "Safe Boot" and then click "Apply" and "OK".
Tip: Make sure to reverse those changes by unticking Safe Boot after that, because your system will always boot in Safe Boot from now on.


4. When prompted, click on "Restart" to go into Safe Mode.


5. You can recognise Safe Mode by the words written on the corners of your screen.


Step 2: Uninstall Minotaur and related software from Windows

Here is a method in few easy steps that should be able to uninstall most programs. No matter if you are using Windows 10, 8, 7, Vista or XP, those steps will get the job done. Dragging the program or its folder to the recycle bin can be a very bad decision. If you do that, bits and pieces of the program are left behind, and that can lead to unstable work of your PC, errors with the file type associations and other unpleasant activities. The proper way to get a program off your computer is to Uninstall it. To do that:


1. Hold the Windows Logo Button and "R" on your keyboard. A Pop-up window will appear.


2. In the field type in "appwiz.cpl" and press ENTER.


3. This will open a window with all the programs installed on the PC. Select the program that you want to remove, and press "Uninstall"
Follow the instructions above and you will successfully uninstall most programs.


Step 3: Clean any registries, created by Minotaur on your computer.

The usually targeted registries of Windows machines are the following:

  • HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run
  • HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run
  • HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\RunOnce
  • HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\RunOnce

You can access them by opening the Windows registry editor and deleting any values, created by Minotaur there. This can happen by following the steps underneath:

1. Open the Run Window again, type "regedit" and click OK.


2. When you open it, you can freely navigate to the Run and RunOnce keys, whose locations are shown above.


3. You can remove the value of the virus by right-clicking on it and removing it.
Tip: To find a virus-created value, you can right-click on it and click "Modify" to see which file it is set to run. If this is the virus file location, remove the value.

IMPORTANT!
Before starting "Step 4", please boot back into Normal mode, in case you are currently in Safe Mode.
This will enable you to install and use SpyHunter 5 successfully.

Step 4: Scan for Minotaur with SpyHunter Anti-Malware Tool

1. Click on the "Download" button to proceed to SpyHunter's download page.


It is recommended to run a scan before purchasing the full version of the software to make sure that the current version of the malware can be detected by SpyHunter. Click on the corresponding links to check SpyHunter's EULA, Privacy Policy and Threat Assessment Criteria.


2. After you have installed SpyHunter, wait for it to update automatically.

SpyHunter5-update-2018


3. After the update process has finished, click on the 'Malware/PC Scan' tab. A new window will appear. Click on 'Start Scan'.

SpyHunter5-Free-Scan-2018


4. After SpyHunter has finished scanning your PC for any files of the associated threat and found them, you can try to get them removed automatically and permanently by clicking on the 'Next' button.

SpyHunter-5-Free-Scan-Next-2018

If any threats have been removed, it is highly recommended to restart your PC.

Step 5 (Optional): Try to Restore Files Encrypted by Minotaur.

Ransomware infections and Minotaur aim to encrypt your files using an encryption algorithm which may be very difficult to decrypt. This is why we have suggested a data recovery method that may help you go around direct decryption and try to restore your files. Bear in mind that this method may not be 100% effective but may also help you a little or a lot in different situations.

1. Download the reccomended Data Recovery software by clicking on the link underneath:

Simply click on the link and on the website menus on top, choose Data Recovery - Data Recovery Wizard for Windows or Mac (depending on your OS), and then download and run the tool.


Windows Mac OS X

Get rid of Minotaur from Mac OS X.


Step 1: Uninstall Minotaur and remove related files and objects

OFFER
Manual Removal Usually Takes Time and You Risk Damaging Your Files If Not Careful!
We Recommend To Scan Your Mac with SpyHunter for Mac
Keep in mind, that SpyHunter for Mac needs to purchased to remove the malware threats. Click on the corresponding links to check SpyHunter’s EULA and Privacy Policy


1. Hit the ⇧+⌘+U keys to open Utilities. Another way is to click on “Go” and then click “Utilities”, like the image below shows:


2. Find Activity Monitor and double-click it:


3. In the Activity Monitor look for any suspicious processes, belonging or related to Minotaur:

Tip: To quit a process completely, choose the “Force Quit” option.


4. Click on the "Go" button again, but this time select Applications. Another way is with the ⇧+⌘+A buttons.


5. In the Applications menu, look for any suspicious app or an app with a name, similar or identical to Minotaur. If you find it, right-click on the app and select “Move to Trash”.


6: Select Accounts, after which click on the Login Items preference. Your Mac will then show you a list of items that start automatically when you log in. Look for any suspicious apps identical or similar to Minotaur. Check the app you want to stop from running automatically and then select on the Minus (“-“) icon to hide it.


7: Remove any left-over files that might be related to this threat manually by following the sub-steps below:

  • Go to Finder.
  • In the search bar type the name of the app that you want to remove.
  • Above the search bar change the two drop down menus to “System Files” and “Are Included” so that you can see all of the files associated with the application you want to remove. Bear in mind that some of the files may not be related to the app so be very careful which files you delete.
  • If all of the files are related, hold the ⌘+A buttons to select them and then drive them to “Trash”.

In case you cannot remove Minotaur via Step 1 above:

In case you cannot find the virus files and objects in your Applications or other places we have shown above, you can manually look for them in the Libraries of your Mac. But before doing this, please read the disclaimer below:

Disclaimer! If you are about to tamper with Library files on Mac, be sure to know the name of the virus file, because if you delete the wrong file, it may cause irreversible damage to your MacOS. Continue on your own responsibility!

1: Click on "Go" and Then "Go to Folder" as shown underneath:

2: Type in "/Library/LauchAgents/" and click Ok:

3: Delete all of the virus files that have similar or the same name as Minotaur. If you believe there is no such file, do not delete anything.

You can repeat the same procedure with the following other Library directories:

→ ~/Library/LaunchAgents
/Library/LaunchDaemons

Tip: ~ is there on purpose, because it leads to more LaunchAgents.


Click the button below below to download SpyHunter for Mac and scan for Minotaur:


Download

SpyHunter for Mac



Step 3 (Optional): Try to Restore Files Encrypted by Minotaur.

Ransomware infections and Minotaur aim to encrypt your files using an encryption algorithm which may be very difficult to decrypt. This is why we have suggested a data recovery method that may help you go around direct decryption and try to restore your files. Bear in mind that this method may not be 100% effective but may also help you a little or a lot in different situations.

1. Download the reccomended Data Recovery software by clicking on the link underneath:

Simply click on the link and on the website menus on top, choose Data Recovery - Data Recovery Wizard for Windows or Mac (depending on your OS), and then download and run the tool.


Minotaur FAQ

What is Minotaur ransomware and how does it work?

Minotaur is a ransomware infection - the malicious software that enters your computer silently and blocks either access to the computer itself or encrypt your files.

Many ransomware viruses use sophisticated encryption algorithm how to make your files inaccessible. The goal of ransomware infections is to demand that you pay a ransom payment to get access to your files back.

How does Minotaur ransomware infect my computer?

Via several ways.Minotaur Ransomware infects computers by being sent via phishing e-mails, containing virus attachment.

This attachment is usually masked as an important document, like an invoice, bank document or even a plane ticket and it looks very convincing to users.

After you download and execute this attachment, a drive-by download occurs and your computer is infected with the ransomware virus.

Another way, you may become a victim of Minotaur is if you download a fake installer, crack or patch from a low reputation website or if you click on a virus link. Many users report getting a ransomware infection by downloading torrents.

How to open .Minotaur files?

You can't. At this point the .Minotaur files are encrypted. You can only open them once they are decrypted.

Decryptor did not decrypt my data. What now?

Do not panic and backup the files. If a decryptor did not decrypt your .Minotaur files successfully, then do not despair, because this virus is still new.

One way to restore files, encrypted by Minotaur ransomware is to use a decryptor for it. But since it's a new virus, advised that the decryption keys for it may not be out yet and available to the public. We will update this article and keep you posted as soon as this decryptor is released.

How Do I restore ".Minotaur" files (Other Methods)?

Yes, sometimes files can be restored. We have suggested several file recovery methods that could work if you want to restore .Minotaur files.

These methods are in no way 100% guarantee that you will be able to get your files back. But if you have a backup, your chances of success are much greater.

How do I get rid of Minotaur ransomware virus?

The safest way and the most efficient one for the removal of this ransomware infection is the use a professional anti malware software. It will scan for and locate Minotaur ransomware and then remove it without causing any additional harm to your important .Minotaur files.

Also, keep in mind that viruses like Minotaur ransomware also install Trojans and keyloggers that can steal your passwords and accounts. Scanning your computer with an anti-malware software will make sure that all of these virus components are removed and your computer is protected in the future.

What to Do If nothing works?

There is still a lot you can do. If none of the above methods seem to work for you, then try these methods:

  • Try to find a safe computer from where you can can login on your own line accounts like One Drive, iDrive, Google Drive and so on.
  • Try to contact your friends, relatives and other people so that they can check if they have some of your important photos or documents just in case you sent them.
  • Also, check if some of the files that were encrypted it can be re-downloaded from the web.
  • Another clever way to get back some of your files is to find another old computer, a flash drive or even a CD or a DVD where you may have saved your older documents. You might be surprised what will turn up.
  • You can also go to your email account to check if you can send any attachments to other people. Usually what is sent the email is saved on your account and you can re-download it. But most importantly, make sure that this is done from a safe computer and make sure to remove the virus first.

More tips you can find on our forums, where you can also asks any questions about your ransomware problem.

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