Remove Locky Ransomware 2.0 and Restore Encrypted Files - How to, Technology and PC Security Forum | SensorsTechForum.com
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Remove Locky Ransomware 2.0 and Restore Encrypted Files

A new variant of an already devastating ransomware, Locky is back with different tactics of infection and advanced features. The ransomware is reported to affect users on a massive scale. The newer variant of the ransomware attacks users on a massive scale and infects their computers via a Nuclear Exploit Kit. Not only this, but the ransomware also can perform several other activities on the user PC such as defend itself and evade anti-malware software. All users who have been affected are strongly advised to remove this ransomware using instructions, such as the ones after this article.

NameLocky
TypeRansomware
Short DescriptionEncrypts the user files with a combination of AES and RSA encryption algorhithms and demands ransom payment for the return of the files.
SymptomsThe user may witness changed wallpaper and a “HELP_instructions.txt” file to automatically open on startup.
Distribution MethodVia PUPs, installed by bundling (Browser Hijackers) or by visiting a suspicious third-party site that is advertising it.
Detection ToolDownload Malware Removal Tool, to See If Your System Has Been Affected by Locky
User Experience Join our forum to discuss Locky.
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.

Locky 2.0 Ransomware Distribution

To be spread, this ransomware has been reported by CheckPoint malware researchers to use the Nuclear exploit kit. This is particularly effective method primarily because this kit uses several different targets to spread:

  • Adobe Flash Player.
  • Microsoft Silverlight.
  • Adobe PDF.
  • Internet Explorer Exploits.

The Nuclear exploit kit exists since the year 2009, and it is widely used and effective in dropping a payload of this and other malware on unsuspecting users’ computers.

Related Article:
Exploit Kit Attacks Grow in 2015 Q3; Patch Management is Crucial

Locky Ransomware 2.0 In Detail

Similar to the first variant of Locky Ransomware, the malware is dropped, looks for the same file extensions and uses the two very same primary encryption algorithms to lock the user files:

The combination of the algorithms makes the data impossible to be decrypted. The ransomware scans for the same file extensions such as the first variant, and after encryption changes the wallpaper with the following ransom message:

locky-ransom-message-sensorstechforumSource:Infected YouTube users.

The differences and improvements that the newer variant of Locky possesses are the following:

  • Using Nuclear Exploit Kit to infect more users successfully.
  • Obfuscated its configuration file to make tracing the C&C centers of the cyber-crooks impossible.
  • Shadow execution of its Payload in the shadow volume copies of Windows.
  • New HTTP additions and patches that strengthen its communications and make it significantly more difficult to trace.
  • A new included DGA algorithm to additionally strengthen the communication process with the cyber-criminals.

Conclusion and Removal

The bottom line for the newer variant of Locky ransomware is that it is reported to be even more effective by malware researchers. Given that Locky has had an immense impact on user PCs so far, the second variant of the ransomware may be equal or even better.

Regarding the removal of malicious files used by this Ransomware, it is good to know that the removal instructions remain the same. To remove it permanently without affecting your OS, it is strongly advised to use the steps illustrated below and then to make sure you employ a decent anti-malware software to protect you in the future.

If you want to decrypt your files, unfortunately, you should know that there is no relevant method for the direct decryption of the files. Researchers have not yet discovered any holes and exploits in the code of the malware because the configuration file has its data concealed. But you are welcome to try those mentioned above standard alternative methods for restoring your files.

1. Boot Your PC In Safe Mode to isolate and remove Locky

Boot Your PC Into Safe Mode

1. For Windows 7,XP and Vista. 2. For Windows 8, 8.1 and 10.

For Windows XP, Vista, 7 systems:

1. Remove all CDs and DVDs, and then Restart your PC from the “Start” menu.
2. Select one of the two options provided below:

For PCs with a single operating system: Press “F8” repeatedly after the first boot screen shows up during the restart of your computer. In case the Windows logo appears on the screen, you have to repeat the same task again.

donload_now_140

For PCs with multiple operating systems: Тhe arrow keys will help you select the operating system you prefer to start in Safe Mode. Press “F8” just as described for a single operating system.

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3. As the “Advanced Boot Options” screen appears, select the Safe Mode option you want using the arrow keys. As you make your selection, press “Enter“.

4. Log on to your computer using your administrator account

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While your computer is in Safe Mode, the words “Safe Mode” will appear in all four corners of your screen.

Step 1: Open the Start Menu

donload_now_140

Step 2: Whilst holding down Shift button, click on Power and then click on Restart.
Step 3: After reboot, the aftermentioned menu will appear. From there you should choose Troubleshoot.

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Step 4: You will see the Troubleshoot menu. From this menu you can choose Advanced Options.

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Step 5: After the Advanced Options menu appears, click on Startup Settings.

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Step 6: Click on Restart.
donload_now_140

Step 7: A menu will appear upon reboot. You should choose Safe Mode by pressing its corresponding number and the machine will restart.

2. Remove Locky with SpyHunter Anti-Malware Tool

Remove Locky with SpyHunter Anti-Malware Tool

1. Install SpyHunter to scan for and remove Locky.2. Scan with SpyHunter to Detect and Remove Locky.
Step 1:Click on the “Download” button to proceed to SpyHunter’s download page.

donload_now_140
It is highly 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.

Step 2: Guide yourself by the download instructions provided for each browser.
Step 3: After you have installed SpyHunter, wait for it to automatically update.

pets-by-myway-ads-virus

Step1: After the update process has finished, click on the ‘Scan Computer Now’ button.
pets-by-myway-ads-virus
Step2: After SpyHunter has finished scanning your PC for any Locky files, click on the ‘Fix Threats’ button to remove them automatically and permanently.
pets-by-myway-ads-virus
Step3: Once the intrusions on your PC have been removed, it is highly recommended to restart it.

3. Back up your data to secure it against infections and file encryption by Locky in the future

Back up your data to secure it against attacks in the future

IMPORTANT! Before reading the Windows backup instructions, we highly recommend to back up your data automatically with cloud backup and insure it against any type of data loss on your device, even the most severe. We recommend reading more about and downloading SOS Online Backup .

To back up your files via Windows and prevent any future intrusions, follow these instructions:

1. For Windows 7 and earlier 1. For Windows 8, 8.1 and 10 1. Enabling the Windows Defense Feature (Previous Versions)

1-Click on Windows Start Menu
backup-1
2-Type Backup And Restore
3-Open it and click on Set Up Backup
w7-backup3
4-A window will appear asking you where to set up backup. You should have a flash drive or an external hard drive. Mark it by clicking on it with your mouse then click on Next.
backup-3
5-On the next window, the system will ask you what do you want to backup. Choose the ‘Let Me Choose’ option and then click on Next.
backup-4
6-Click on ‘Save settings and run backup’ on the next window in order to protect your files from possible attacks by Locky.
backup-5

1-Press Windows button + R
filehistory-1
2-In the window type ‘filehistory’ and press Enter
filehistory-2
3-A File History window will appear. Click on ‘Configure file history settings’
filehistory-3
4-The configuration menu for File History will appear. Click on ‘Turn On’. After its on, click on Select Drive in order to select the backup drive. It is recommended to choose an external HDD, SSD or a USB stick whose memory capacity is corresponding to the size of the files you want to backup.
filehistory-4
5-Select the drive then click on ‘Ok’ in order to set up file backup and protect yourself from Locky.

1- Press Windows button + R keys.
sysdm
2- A run windows should appear. In it type ‘sysdm.cpl’ and then click on Run.
windows-defense2
3- A System Properties windows should appear. In it choose System Protection.
windows-defense3
5- Click on Turn on system protection and select the size on the hard disk you want to utilize for system protection.
6- Click on Ok and you should see an indication in Protection settings that the protection from Locky is on.
windows-defense1
Restoring a file via Windows Defense feature:
1-Right-click on the encrypted file, then choose Properties.
file-restore1
2-Click on the Previous Versions tab and then mark the last version of the file.
file-restore2
3-Click on Apply and Ok and the file encrypted by Locky should be restored.

4. Restore files encrypted by Locky

Restore Files Encrypted by Locky

Security engineers strongly advise users NOT to pay the ransom money and attempt restoring the files using other methods. Here are several suggestions:

To restore your data, your first bet is to check again for shadow copies in Windows using this software:

Shadow Explorer

If this method does not work, Kaspersky have provided a decryptors for files encrypted with the this and other encryption algorithms:

Kaspersky Decryptors

Another method of restoring your files is by trying to bring back your files via data recovery software. Here are some examples of data recovery programs:

Video tutorial on how to recover your data using data recovery software and find hidden files on your computer:

Recover Your Data and Find Hidden Files

There is also the technical option to use a network sniffer:

Another way to decrypt the files is by using a Network Sniffer to get the encryption key, while files are encrypted on your system. A Network Sniffer is a program and/or device monitoring data traveling over a network, such as its internet traffic and internet packets. If you have a sniffer set before the attack happened you might get information about the decryption key.

NOTE! Substantial notification about the Locky threat: Manual removal of Locky requires interference with system files and registries. Thus, it can cause damage to your PC. Even if your computer skills are not at a professional level, don’t worry. You can do the removal yourself just in 5 minutes, using a malware removal tool.
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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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