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PwndLocker Virus (.key or .pwnd extension) Removal Guide

PwndLocker Ransomware virus remove

The PwndLocker Ransomware is a ransomware that is designed to infect target networks and computers. There is no information available about the hacking group behind it. It features several advanced modules which are designed to cause a lot of system issues.

Once the PwndLocker Ransomware has started it will execute its built-in sequence of dangerous commands. Depending on local conditions or the specific hacker instructions various actions will take place. The file encryption will begin after them — the encrypting component will use a built-in list of target file type extensions. In the end the victim files will be renamed with a designated extension.

Threat Summary

Name PwndLocker virus
Type Ransomware, Cryptovirus
Short Description The ransomware encrypts files on your computer machine and demands a ransom to be paid to allegedly restore them.
Symptoms The ransomware will blackmail the victims to pay them a decryption fee. Sensitive user data may be encrypted by the ransomware code.
Distribution Method Spam Emails, Email Attachments
Detection Tool See If Your System Has Been Affected by malware


Malware Removal Tool

User Experience Join Our Forum to Discuss PwndLocker virus.
Data Recovery Tool Windows 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.

PwndLocker Virus March 2020 Update

As a complex ransomware threat the PwndLocker virus has been under analysis by malware security experts. The first detected samples that originate from this family date back to the late months of 2019. Ever since the first organized attacks have been detected there have been numerous victims across the globe. The malware has been used both against individual end users and also organizations and companies. Depending on the preset configuration options and system variables a different ransom note sum can be requested from the victims — $175,000 to over $660,000.

When the PwndLocker virus is started on a given machine the main engine will stop services and processes that it deems that can block the proper functioning of the ransomware. This includes backup programs, anti-virus engines and some Microoft Windows services. The full list includes the following:

CSFalconService, McAfeeFramework, Alerter, AcronisAgent, Acronis VSS Provider, BackupExecAgentAccelerator, BackupExecDeviceMediaService,
BackupExecJobEngine, BackupExecManagementService, BackupExecRPCService, BackupExecVSSProvider, DFSR, EPIntegrationService, EPProtectedService,
EPSecurityService, EPUpdateService, MB3Service, MBAMService, MBEndpointAgent, MSExchangeES, MSExchangeMGMT, MSExchangeMTA, MSExchangeSA,
MSExchangeSRS, MSExchangeADTopology, MSExchangeDelivery, MSExchangeDiagnostics, MSExchangeEdgeSync, MSExchangeHM, MSExchangeHMRecovery,
MSExchangeIS, MSExchangeMailboxReplication, MSExchangeRPC, MSExchangeRepl, MSExchange ServiceHost, MSExchangeTransport, MSExchangeUM,
MSExchangeUMCR, MSOLAP$*, MSSQLSERVER, MsDtsServer, MySQL57, OSearch15, OracleClientCache80, QuickBooksDB25, SPAdminV4, SPSearchHost Controller,
SPTraceV4, SPUserCodeV4, SPWriterV4, SQLBrowser, SQLSafeOLRService, SQLsafe Backup Service, SQLSERVERAGENT, SQLTELEMETRY, SQLBackups, SQLAgent$*,
MSSQL$*, MSMQ, Report Server, ReportServer$*, SQLWriter, SQLBackupAgent, Symantec System Recovery, SyncoveryVSSService, VeeamBackupSvc, VeeamCatalogSvc,
VeeamCloudSvc, VeeamEndpointBackupSvc, VeeamEnterpriseManagerSvc, VeeamMountSvc, VeeamNFSSvc, VeeamRESTSvc, VeeamTransportSvc.”Veeam Backup Catalog Data Service,
epag, epredline, mozyprobackup, masvc, macmnsvc, mfemms, McAfeeDLPAgentService, psqlWGE, swprv, wsbexchange, WinVNC4, TMBMServer, tmccsf, tmlisten, VSNAPVSS,
stc_endpt_svc, wbengine, bbagent, NasPmService, BASupportExpressStandaloneService_N_Central, BASupportExpressSrvcUpdater_N_Central, hasplms, EqlVss,
ReportServer$SQL_2008, ReportServer$SYSTEM_BGC, ReportServer$TPS, ReportServer$TPSAMA

Following this the next step in the encryption process will be to delete Shadow Volume Copies and other backups. This will make file recovery very difficult. As for the encryption a custom cipher will be used to rename the process and rename the target user data.

PwndLocker Virus Overview

The PwndLocker virus is an advanced ransomware which has been found to infect victims across the world — the latest attack was found to be set against Lasalle country in the US state of Illinois. Soon after the first attacks another campaign was launched against the city of Novi Sad in Serbia. It appears that the hackers are experienced enough to have organised and run these campaigns. There is no information available about the hacking group behind the attacks — as the security analysis continues we may gain more information about the possible origins of the criminals. According to one of the reports this sample may be a derivative of the Hakbit virus.

At the moment there is no single attack mechanism used to spread the virus files, as such we anticipate that the most popular extensions have been used:

  • Phishing Emails — They are used to manipulate the victims into thinking that they are receiving a legitimate notification or service message. The contents of these messages may originate from a domain name which sounds very similar to well-known companies and services.
  • Infected Files — The virus code can be be placed in multiple types of files — the two most popular types are infected documents which can be of all popular formats and malicious setup bundles. The criminals will create the dangerous files and send them over to the intended victims using different types of channels — they may be inserted and attached as files in messages or file-sharing networks like BitTorrent.
  • Online Communities — The virus files can be easily linked and attached over forums, chatrooms, social networks and etc.
  • Active Attacks — The virus files can be used to exploit existing vulnerabilities in a given system. When a potential weakness is found the hackers will use special scripts in order to intrude onto the computers and their associated networks.

When the virus infection is started a series of dangerous actions will occur. The PwndLocker virus will start a sequence of the built-in modules and components. According to the hacker configuration one of the first actions that are started will be related to the security bypass function — the main virus will attempt to disable key operating system processes and user-installed security apps. Apart from other viruses PwndLocker will also stop the following running programs:

Veeam, Microsoft SQL Server, MySQL, Exchange, Acronis, Zoolz, Backup Exec, Oracle and the Internet Information Server (IIS).

During the analysis the researchers also uncovered that the virus will stop any running office programs. Files removal will also take place — key data will be removed including Backups and Shadow Volume Copies — this means that the restore process will be very difficult unless a combination of a data recovery and anti-malware programs are used.

The captured samples will start the encryption engine, but instead of using the traditional approach and using only a list of target file extensions, two distinct types of blacklists will be used as well. The first one is the inclusion of files that are to be skipped by the virus engine:

.exe, .dll, .lnk, .ico, .ini, .msi, .chm, .sys, .hlf, .lng, .inf, .ttf, .cmd, .bat, .vhd, .bac, .bak, .wbc, .bkf, .set, .win, .dsk

Related: [wplinkpreview url=”https://sensorstechforum.com/part-virus-removal/”].part Virus (.part Ransomware) Removal and Recovery Guide

All data found in these folders will also be skipped:

System Volume Information
Common Files
DVD Maker
Internet Explorer
Kaspersky Lab
Kaspersky Lab Setup Files
Mozilla Firefox
Windows Defender
Windows Mail
Windows Media Player
Windows NT
Windows Photo Viewer
Windows Portable Devices
Windows Sidebar
All Users
Uninstall Information

The PwndLocker virus will start to encrypt all of the files which are placed in the list of data that is to be encrypted. A strong cipher will be used to process them. Depending on the exact version of the acquired ransomware the victim files will receive the .key or .pwnd extension. The hackers can change the extensions in order to differentiate between victims of the virus versions, it is possible that other extensions can be added as well.

A ransom note will be created in a file called H0w_T0_Rec0very_Files.txt which will be placed on the user’s desktop. Its main goal is to manipulate the victims into paying the hackers a decryption fee to access their data.

Remove PwndLocker Ransomware

If your computer system got infected with the PwndLocker Files ransomware virus, you should have a bit of experience in removing malware. You should get rid of this ransomware as quickly as possible before it can have the chance to spread further and infect other computers. You should remove the ransomware and follow the step-by-step instructions guide provided below.

Martin Beltov

Martin graduated with a degree in Publishing from Sofia University. As a cyber security enthusiast he enjoys writing about the latest threats and mechanisms of intrusion.

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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.


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

About the PwndLocker virus Research

The content we publish on SensorsTechForum.com, this PwndLocker virus how-to removal guide included, is the outcome of extensive research, hard work and our team’s devotion to help you remove the specific malware and restore your encrypted files.

How did we conduct the research on this ransomware?

Our research is based on an independent investigation. We are in contact with independent security researchers, and as such, we receive daily updates on the latest malware and ransomware definitions.

Furthermore, the research behind the PwndLocker virus ransomware threat is backed with VirusTotal and the NoMoreRansom project.

To better understand the ransomware threat, please refer to the following articles which provide knowledgeable details.


1. How to Recognize Spam Emails with Ransomware
2. How Does Ransomware Encryption Work?
3. How to Decrypt Ransomware Files
4. Ransomware Getting Greedier and Bigger, Attacks Increase by 40%
5. 1 in 5 Americans Victim of Ransomware

Windows Mac OS X

How to Remove PwndLocker virus from Windows.

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


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 PwndLocker virus 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 PwndLocker virus 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 PwndLocker virus 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.

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 PwndLocker virus 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.


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


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.


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

Video Guide for Automatic and Fast Removal

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

Ransomware infections and PwndLocker virus 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 recommended Data Recovery software by clicking on the link underneath:

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

Step 6: How to Restore Files Encrypted by Ransomware (Video Guide)

Windows Mac OS X

Get rid of PwndLocker virus from Mac OS X.

Step 1: Uninstall PwndLocker virus and remove related files and objects

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 PwndLocker virus:

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 PwndLocker virus. 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 PwndLocker virus. 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 PwndLocker virus 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 PwndLocker virus. 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

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

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


SpyHunter for Mac

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

Ransomware infections and PwndLocker virus 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 recommended 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.

PwndLocker virus FAQ

What is PwndLocker virus ransomware and how does it work?

PwndLocker virus 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 PwndLocker virus ransomware infect my computer?

Via several ways.PwndLocker virus 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 PwndLocker virus 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 .PwndLocker virus files?

You can't. At this point the .PwndLocker virus 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 .PwndLocker virus files successfully, then do not despair, because this virus is still new.

One way to restore files, encrypted by PwndLocker virus 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 ".PwndLocker virus" files (Other Methods)?

Yes, sometimes files can be restored. We have suggested several file recovery methods that could work if you want to restore .PwndLocker virus 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 PwndLocker virus 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 PwndLocker virus ransomware and then remove it without causing any additional harm to your important .PwndLocker virus files.

Also, keep in mind that viruses like PwndLocker virus 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.

How to Report Ransomware to Authorities?

In case your computer got infected with a ransomware infection, you can report it to the local Police departments. It can help authorities worldwide track and determine the perpetrators behind the virus that has infected your computer. Below, we have prepared a list with government websites, where you can file a report in case you are a victim of a cybercrime:

Cyber-security authorities, responsible for handling ransomware attack reports in different regions all over the world:

Reports may be responded to in different timeframes, depending on your local authorities.

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