THREAT REMOVAL

Remove Alfa Ransomware and Restore .bin Encrypted Files

Alfa-decryptor-sensorstechforum-ransomwareNew ransom virus, carrying the name Alfa has appeared. It uses a strong cipher to encrypt files adding .bin file extension to them and making them no longer accessible. To restore access to the files, Alfa demands via a ransom message the sum of 1.5 BTC from its victims to buy a so-called Alfa Decryptor. This ransomware spreads via a malicious executable and all users who have been infected should be advised not to pay any money to cyber-criminals. Instead, it is strongly recommended to try removing the malware with the instructions provided in this article and try our suggested alternative solutions to attempt restoring the damage done by Alfa Ransomware.

Threat Summary

Name Alfa
Type Ransomware
Short Description The ransomware encrypts files using a strong encryption and asks for 1 to 1.5 BTC in ransom payoff.
Symptoms Files are encrypted and become inaccessible and the .bin file extensions added. Ransom note files appear as .TXT and .HTML files.
Distribution Method Spam Emails, Email Attachments
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User Experience Join our forum to Discuss Alfa Ransomware.
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.

Alfa Ransomware’s Distribution Methods

If it is to be widespread and infect maximum amount of users, Alfa Ransomware has to have a very powerful distribution technique. This is why it may use massively spread spam message campaigns to distribute its malicious files. The spam campaign may include the distribution of various files attached to e-mails that seem legitimate. An example of topics of spam e-mails which have the malicious payload of Alfa Ransomware are:

  • “Your confirmation mail.”
  • “Your free software installation.”
  • “Payment confirmation.”
  • “Your account has been suspended.”

Upon opening the malicious attachment in the e-mail, the user may open an exploit kit or a Trojan.Downloader which is obfuscated to conceal itself from real-time shields of antivirus programs. To prevent further infections, it may be a good solution to download second generation cloud-based antivirus-software, like Heimdal Pro, for example.

Alfa Ransomware – In Depth Analysis

As soon as a computer has been infected by Alfa Ransomware, it gives the virus the permissions to create its malicious files:

  • In %UserProfile%\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Essential\, the file msestl32.exe
  • README HOW TO DECRYPT YOUR FILES.HTML
  • README HOW TO DECRYPT YOUR FILES.TXT

Pretending to be Microsoft Essentials free antivirus security software, Alfa Ransomware also creates registry entries so that it runs everytime Windows is booted up:

  • HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run\MSEstl “%UserProfile%\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Essential\msestl32.exe”
  • HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\ {random value string}

As soon as the encryptor (msestl32.exe) is ran on the infected computer, Alfa Ransomware starts to scan the computer and encrypt the files in it. It looks for videos, audio files, databases, different document file formats, etc. The file extensions that may be affected could be the following:

→ .c, .h, .m, .ai, .cs, .db, .nd, .pl, .ps, .py, .rm, .3dm, .3ds, .3fr, .3g2, .3gp, .ach, .arw, .asf, .asx, .avi, .bak, .bay, .cdr, .cer, .cpp, .cr2, .crt, .crw, .dbf, .dcr, .dds, .der, .des, .dng, .doc, .dtd, .dwg, .dxf, .dxg, .eml, .eps, .erf, .fla, .flvv, .hpp, .iif, .jpe, .jpg, .kdc, .key, .lua, .m4v, .max, .mdb, .mdf, .mef, .mov, .mp3, .mp4, .mpg, .mrw, .msg, .nef, .nk2, .nrw, .oab, .obj, .odb, .odc, .odm, .odp, .ods, .odt, .orf, .ost, .p12, .p7b, .p7c, .pab, .pas, .pct, .pdb, .pdd, .pdf, .pef, .pem, .pfx, .pps, .ppt, .prf, .psd, .pst, .ptx, .qba, .qbb, .qbm, .qbr, .qbw, .qbx, .qby, .r3d, .raf, .raw, .rtf, .rw2, .rwl, .sql, .sr2, .srf, .srt, .srw, .svg, .swf, .tex, .tga, .thm, .tlg, .txt, .vob, .wav, .wb2, .wmv, .wpd, .wps, .no, .xlk, .xlr, .xls, .yuv, .back, .docm, .docx, .flac, .indd, .java, .jpeg, .pptm, .pptx, .xlsb, .xlsm, .xlsx Source: Hackmag.com

In addition to those, Alfa ransomware may also delete shadow volume copies, by executing a privileged command in Windows Command Prompt:

shadow-command-sensorstechforum-3

The encrypted files may be scrambled with either RSA or AES cipher or even both at the same time. Encrypted files’ names are changed and they are appended the .bin file extension. The name is a unique identification number for the infected computer, for example:

  • 23039593.bin

After encryption, Alfa drops its ransom message on the compromised computer in the form of a .TXT and .HTML files:

readme-files-alfa-ransowmare-sensorstechforum

The files both have the same content:

Untitled-2

They also have instructions on how to open the page of Alfa ransomware which contains its “Alfa Decryptor” and additional instructions on how to use Tor Networking to pay the ransom:

alfa-decryptor-main-page-sensorstechforum

Alfa Ransomware – Conclusion, Removal and File Decryption

In conclusion, Alfa Ransomware appears to be an entirely new ransomware virus and it may use advanced encryption. The virus may also delete backups and include a so called CBC mode which breaks the files permanently if you try to directly encrypt them. Cyber-criminals behind Alfa Ransomware have created this virus for one and only purpose – to make profit. Since by paying to them, you support the development of their operation and there may not be a guarantee that you are getting access to the files again, malware experts strongly advise against it.

If you want to fully erase Alfa Ransomware from your computer, we urge you to follow the instructions posted after this article. They will help you find the files of this ransomware and erase them permanently. For best results, experts advise the usage of an anti-malware program that will assist you with automatically detecting and removing all files and registry objects created by Alfa Ransomware and protect you from future infections as well.

In case you wish to decrypt your files, at this point, there is no direct solution. However, we will post an update in this article if a decryptor has been released to the public. In the meantime, we advise you to follow step “3. Restore files encrypted by Alfa” to help you with restoring at least some of your files. You may also use the free decryption of Alfa Ransomware’s main page to at least restore one file for free.

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Ventsislav Krastev

Ventsislav is a cybersecurity expert at SensorsTechForum since 2015. He has been researching, covering, helping victims with the latest malware infections plus testing and reviewing software and the newest tech developments. Having graduated Marketing as well, Ventsislav also has passion for learning new shifts and innovations in cybersecurity that become game changers. After studying Value Chain Management, Network Administration and Computer Administration of System Applications, he found his true calling within the cybersecrurity industry and is a strong believer in the education of every user towards online safety and security.

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Windows Mac OS X Google Chrome Mozilla Firefox Microsoft Edge Safari Internet Explorer

How to Remove Alfa from Windows.


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

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 Alfa 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 Alfa 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 Alfa 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 Alfa 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.


Windows Mac OS X Google Chrome Mozilla Firefox Microsoft Edge Safari Internet Explorer

Get rid of Alfa from Mac OS X.


Step 1: Uninstall Alfa 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 Alfa:

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 Alfa. 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 Alfa. 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 Alfa 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 Alfa. 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.


Step 2: Scan for and remove malware from your Mac

When you are facing problems on your Mac as a result of unwanted scripts, programs and malware, the recommended way of eliminating the threat is by using an anti-malware program. Combo Cleaner offers advanced security features along with other modules that will improve your Mac’s security and protect it in the future.



Windows Mac OS X Google Chrome Mozilla Firefox Microsoft Edge Safari Internet Explorer


Remove Alfa from Google Chrome.


Step 1: Start Google Chrome and open the drop menu


Step 2: Move the cursor over "Tools" and then from the extended menu choose "Extensions"


Step 3: From the opened "Extensions" menu locate the unwanted extension and click on its "Remove" button.


Step 4: After the extension is removed, restart Google Chrome by closing it from the red "X" button at the top right corner and start it again.


Windows Mac OS X Google Chrome Mozilla Firefox Microsoft Edge Safari Internet Explorer


Erase Alfa from Mozilla Firefox.

Step 1: Start Mozilla Firefox. Open the menu window


Step 2: Select the "Add-ons" icon from the menu.


Step 3: Select the unwanted extension and click "Remove"


Step 4: After the extension is removed, restart Mozilla Firefox by closing it from the red "X" button at the top right corner and start it again.



Windows Mac OS X Google Chrome Mozilla Firefox Microsoft Edge Safari Internet Explorer


Uninstall Alfa from Microsoft Edge.


Step 1: Start Edge browser.


Step 2: Open the drop menu by clicking on the icon at the top right corner.


Step 3: From the drop menu select "Extensions".


Step 4: Choose the suspected malicious extension you want to remove and then click on the gear icon.


Step 5: Remove the malicious extension by scrolling down and then clicking on Uninstall.



Windows Mac OS X Google Chrome Mozilla Firefox Microsoft Edge Safari Internet Explorer


Remove Alfa from Safari.


Step 1: Start the Safari app.


Step 2: After hovering your mouse cursor to the top of the screen, click on the Safari text to open its drop down menu.


Step 3: From the menu, click on "Preferences".

stf-safari preferences


Step 4: After that, select the 'Extensions' Tab.

stf-safari-extensions


Step 5: Click once on the extension you want to remove.


Step 6: Click 'Uninstall'.

stf-safari uninstall

A pop-up window will appear asking for confirmation to uninstall the extension. Select 'Uninstall' again, and the Alfa will be removed.


How to Reset Safari
IMPORTANT: Before resetting Safari make sure you back up all your saved passwords within the browser in case you forget them.

Start Safari and then click on the gear leaver icon.

Click the Reset Safari button and you will reset the browser.


Windows Mac OS X Google Chrome Mozilla Firefox Microsoft Edge Safari Internet Explorer


Eliminate Alfa from Internet Explorer.


Step 1: Start Internet Explorer.


Step 2: Click on the gear icon labeled 'Tools' to open the drop menu and select 'Manage Add-ons'


Step 3: In the 'Manage Add-ons' window.


Step 4: Select the extension you want to remove and then click 'Disable'. A pop-up window will appear to inform you that you are about to disable the selected extension, and some more add-ons might be disabled as well. Leave all the boxes checked, and click 'Disable'.


Step 5: After the unwanted extension has been removed, restart Internet Explorer by closing it from the red 'X' button located at the top right corner and start it again.


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