THREAT REMOVAL

Remove Protected Ransomware and Restore .protected Files

SensorsTechForum-ransom-note-html-cryptowall-3-copycat-message

Computer systems have been infected with a virus that tries to imitate the CryptoWall 3.0 ransomware. The virus is also a ransomware type as it locks files and leaves a ransom message demanding 0.5 BitCoins to be paid for a decryption tool. To see how to remove it and what you could try to recover your files, you should read this article carefully.

Threat Summary

NameProtected
TypeRansomware
Short DescriptionThe ransomware encrypts files and demands a ransom to be paid for decryption. It asks the sum of 0.5 BitCoins.
SymptomsThe ransomware will encrypt files and place the extension .protected. An image will show up with a message describing the payment method for getting a decryptor.
Distribution MethodSpam Emails, Email Attachments, Executable Files
Detection Tool See If Your System Has Been Affected by malware

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Malware Removal Tool

User ExperienceJoin Our Forum to Discuss Protected.

Protected Ransomware – Distribution

Protected ransomware has a couple of distribution methods. Similar to many other ransomware viruses this one uses spam emails as a common distribution way as well. These emails have file attachments which contain the malware code inside. Sometimes, opening the body of the email is enough to inject the malicious code inside your computer.

Another probability of a computer getting infected with the ransomware is through networks as social media and file-sharing sites. Those services might also happen to spread malware with executable files disguised as helpful applications. A great tip for preventing any ransomware infection from happening is to be careful about what you download, open or click around the Internet.

Protected Ransomware – In Detail

Protected is the name given to a new ransomware virus encrypting files with an extension of the same name. Interestingly enough, the virus tries to mimic the CryptoWall 3.0 ransomware.

The ransomware note mentions that your files are encrypted by CryptoWall, and the note is a copy of CryptoWall’s note. However, that is just another copycat ransomware. When the encryption process completes, you will see the ransom message appear in the file HOW_TO_RESTORE_YOUR_DATA.html. The image displays instructions on how to pay the ransom. This is a screenshot of that image:

SensorsTechForum-ransom-note-html-cryptowall-3-copycat-message

The ransom note reads the following:

What happened to your files ?
All of your data has been encrypted with CryptoWall 3.0
What does this mean ?
The data within your files has been irrevocably changed, you will not be able to work with them, read them or see them,
it is the same thing as losing them forever, but with our help, you can restore them.
Decrypting of your files is only possible with the help of the private key and the decription tool, which is available for a small fee.
What do I do?
If you really value your data, then we suggest you do not waste valuable time searching for other solutions because they do not exist.
If you remove this program your data will NOT be decrypted, additionally you will loose the opportunity to ever decrypt your files.
How do I decrypt my files?
To receive the decryption tool and the associated decryption key, you will have to pay a fee of 0.5 BTC (Bitcoin) which is equivalent to around $200.
The fee has to be paid within 7 days. If you fail to pay the fee in time, the decyption key will be destroyed and you will loose your files forever!
How do I get Bitcoin?
There’s several ways to buy Bitcoin, please have a read through one or multiple of the following guides:
https://localbitcoins(.)com/guides/how-to-buy-bitcoins
https://en.bitcoin(.)it/wiki/Buying_Bitcoins_%28the_newbie_version%29
Please note: Most of these guides will tell you to create a Bitcoin wallet. You can skip this step and use the provided Bitcoin wallet address below.
You can copy and paste these links into your browser to open the sites.
The fastest way to buy Bitcoin is to use an Bitcoin ATM, Bitcoin ATM’s can be found all over the world, a list / map of Bitcoin ATM’s can be found here:
http://www.coindesk(.)com/bitcoin-atm-map/
On some systems this page may take a while to load, please be patient.
When using a Bitcoin ATM we will receive the payment instantly and thus, your files can be decrypted as soon as today!
Where to send the payment to?
Your personal Bitcoin wallet address:
Please use only this wallet address when making the payment of 0.5 BTC
What happens after the payment?
After you have made the payment, please click the check payment button below. After successful receipt of payment you will receive the decryption tool and associated decryption key.

Check Payment

Thanks, have a lovely day.

The Protected ransomware copies CryptoWall’s ransom note but only up to some point. After that, it demands nearly 300 US dollars for decryption (what 0.5 costs at the time this article is being written). The message accentuates on that, if you don’t pay within a seven day period, your files will be gone forever. There is also the claim that other methods for recovering files don’t exist, which is a simple, yet effective scare tactic. If you read the article to the end, you will find out about alternative ways to try and restore your files.

Do NOT pay, nor contact the ransomware creator. Funding cyber criminals is the same as helping them do the same to other people. They might get inspired to up their game and make stronger ransomware viruses. No guarantee is there that you will get your files back if you pay.

The Protected ransomware encrypts files, but for now it is unknown which ones. The goal of encryption for ransomware is usually to get to pictures and documents as these are precious to users. The fact is that such files still preserve important information for people to this day. The Protected ransomware ransomware will put the .protected extension to locked files.

Protected ransomware probably deletes the Shadow Volume Copies from the Windows Operating System. If you stop the ransomware on time you might have intact copies of the Shadow Explorer process.

Remove Protected Ransomware and Restore .protected Files

If your computer got infected with the Protected ransomware, you should have experience with removing viruses. Getting rid of this ransomware as quickly as you can is recommended. That is because it could spread deeper into your network and infect more machines and their files. You should remove this ransomware now and follow the step-by-step instructions guide below.

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Berta Bilbao

Berta is a dedicated malware researcher, dreaming for a more secure cyber space. Her fascination with IT security began a few years ago when a malware locked her out of her own computer.

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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 Protected from Windows.


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

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 Protected 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 Protected 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 Protected 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 Protected 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 Protected.

Ransomware infections and Protected 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 Protected from Mac OS X.


Step 1: Uninstall Protected 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 Protected:

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 Protected. 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 Protected. 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 Protected 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 Protected. 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 Protected:


Download

SpyHunter for Mac



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

Ransomware infections and Protected 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.


Protected FAQ

What is Protected ransomware and how does it work?

Protected 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 Protected ransomware infect my computer?

Via several ways.Protected 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 Protected 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 .Protected files?

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

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

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

Also, keep in mind that viruses like Protected 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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