THREAT REMOVAL

Vortex Ransomware – Remove and Restore .Aes Files

This article will help you remove Vortex ransomware efficiently. Follow the ransomware removal instructions at the end of the article.

Vortex is a Polish ransomware cryptovirus. Whether it is just targeted at Polish-speaking users or not the ransomware could infect other users’ computers, as well. Your files will become encrypted and receive the extension .aes when the encryption process completes. Some malware researchers believe that the AES encryption algorithm with 256-bit ciphers is used for locking the files. The Vortex cryptovirus will leave a ransom note with demands for payment, written in the Polish language. Continue to read below to see how you could try to potentially restore some of your data.

Threat Summary

NameVortex
TypeRansomware
Short DescriptionThe ransomware encrypts files on your computer and displays a ransom message afterward.
SymptomsThe ransomware will encrypt your files and put the extension .aes to them after it finishes its encryption process.
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 Vortex.
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.

Vortex Ransomware – Update April 2018

Update! CERT.PL – the Computer Emergency Response Team of Poland, have issued a statement about a decryption tool available for the ransomware described in this article.

With the help of Google Translate, you can see some of the information posted on the https://nomoreransom.cert.pl/vortex/ page below.

District Prosecutor’s Office in Warsaw informs you that it conducts proceedings PO II Ds 129.2017 against Tomasz T. responsible, among others for encrypting computers using the Vortex / Flotera / Polski ransomware viruses.

The tool on this page will allow you to obtain a key that can recover encrypted files.

Please note that at this moment the tool does not have keys from all campaigns in which the software encrypting files was used in. As new security measures are added, new keys will be added, so please check files that you have not been able to recover regularly.

If you managed to decrypt the files using the key obtained on this site, we kindly ask you to submit a notification of suspected offense together with the prosecutor in the nearest place of residence for your Police unit with reference to the case file PO II Ds 129.2017 District Prosecutor’s Office in Warsaw.

If you have an e-mail message that the perpetrator sent to you a malicious file, please save it on a CD/DVD (along with full headers and attachments) and hand it over to the police as an attachment to the interrogation protocol. It will not be necessary to submit for examination the computer on which the files were encrypted.

– District Prosecutor’s Office in Warsaw

Select or drag the encrypted file below to check if we have the key needed to decrypt it. The key recovery process can take about a minute. Only a small portion of the file will be sent.

Click and select the file or drag it here.
[EMPTY FIELD] Currently selected file: (missing).

In case files are encrypted with one of the first versions of the Vortex ransomware, you can try using the tool created by Michael Gillespie from MalwareHunterTeam: VortexDecrypter-Michael_Gillespie.zip.

If you managed to recover the key:

The recovered key can be used to decrypt files using the free AES Crypt program. The recovered key from one file should decrypt all encrypted files on your PC.

Contacts

If you have any questions, please contact CERT.pl at info@cert.pl, alternatively you can post a question below, in the comment section of this article.

Vortex Ransomware – Infection Spread

Vortex ransomware might spread its infection with various methods. The payload file which initiates the malicious script for this ransomware is being spread around the World Wide Web, and researchers have gotten their hands on one such payload file. If that file lands on your computer system and you somehow execute it – your PC will become infected. You can see the detections of such a file on the VirusTotal service:

Vortex ransomware might also distribute its payload file on social media and file-sharing services. Freeware which is found on the Web can be presented as helpful also be hiding the malicious script for the cryptovirus. Refrain from opening files right after you have downloaded them. You should first scan them with a security tool, while also checking their size and signatures for anything that seems out of the ordinary. You should read the tips for preventing ransomware found in the forum section.

Vortex Ransomware – Technical Analysis

Vortex ransomware is also a cryptovirus. Malware researchers believe that it might be targeting mainly Polish-speaking people, as its ransom message is written in the Polish language. The extension .aes is appended to all files that become locked after the encryption process is finished.

Vortex ransomware could make entries in the Windows Registry to achieve persistence, and probably launch or repress processes in a Windows environment. Such entries are typically designed in a way to launch the virus automatically with each start of the Windows operating system.

The note is written in Polish and gives details about the restoration of your files and how to pay the cybercriminals. You can view the ransom message that loads after file encryption below:

That ransom note reads the following:

Vortex Ransomware
Nie możesz znaleźć potrzebnych plików na dysku twardym? Zawartość Twoich plików jest nie do otwarcia?
Jest to skutek działania programu który zaszyfrował większość Twoich danych przy pomocy silnego alogrytmu aes-256, używanego min. przez służby mundurowe do zatajania danych przesyłanych drogą elektroniczną.
Jedyna metoda aby odzyskać Twoje pliki to wykupienie od nas programu deszyfrującego, wraz z jednorazowym kluczem wygenerowanym unikalnie dla Ciebie!
Gdy już postanowisz odzyskać swoje dane skontaktuj się z nami pod adrem e-mail: rsapl@openmailbox.org lub poiskiransom@airmail.cc
2 Pliki odszyfrujemy za darmo aby udowodnić że jesteśmy w stanie tego dokonać, Za resztę niestety musisz zapłacić!
Cena za odszyfrowanie wszystkich plików: 199$
Uwaga! Nie marnuj czasu, czas to pieniądz za 4 dni cena wzrośnie o 100%!
IP= ID=

A rough translation of that note in English states the following:

Vortex Ransomware
You cannot find the necessary files on your hard drive? The contents of your files cannot be opened?
This is the result of the program that encrypted the most of your data using strong algorithm AES 256-bit, used min. the uniformed services for disguising data transmitted electronically.
The only way to recover your files is to buy a decryption program from us, with a single key generated uniquely for you!
Once you choose to recover your data, please contact us at the e-mail address: rsapl@openmailbox.org or poiskiransom@airmail.cc
2 Files can be decrypted for free to prove that we are able to do so, for the rest, unfortunately, you have to pay!
Price for the decryption of all files: $199
Warning! Do not waste your time, time is money for 4 days price will increase by 100%!
IP = ID =

The note of the Vortex ransomware states that your files are encrypted with the AES 256-bit encryption algorithm. A ransom sum of 199 US dollars is demanded as payment for unlocking your data. You are given 4 days as a deadline by the ransom criminals to unlock your files, or else the ransom sum will double in price. You should NOT under any circumstance pay these cybercriminals. Your files may not get restored, and nobody could give you any real guarantee for that. Moreover, giving money to these criminals will likely motivate them to create more ransomware or do other criminal activities.

Vortex Ransomware – Encryption Process

You should try to get those 2 files decrypted for free, as promised in the ransom message, as that might prove quite useful in case an actual decryption tool is released in the future.

A list with file extensions that the Vortex ransomware seeks to encrypt is available, and you can see exactly what file extensions will end up getting encrypted from that list given right here:

→.3g2, .3gp, .7z, .acc, .amr, .asf, .avi, .cpp, .cs, .css, .doc, .docx, .flv, .gzip, .html, .java, .js, .mkv, .mov, .mp3, .mp4, .mpg, .ogg, .ogv, .pdf, .ppt, .pptx, .py, .rar, .rb, .rm, .rmvb, .rtf, .swf, .tar, .txt, .vb, .vob, .wav, .wma, .wmv, .xls, .xlsx, .zip

All of the files that get encrypted will receive the same extension appended to them, and that is the .aes extension. The same extension is being used by another Polish ransomware, called Polski Ransomware.

The Vortex cryptovirus is quite likely to erase all the Shadow Volume Copies from the Windows operating system by using the following command:

→vssadmin.exe delete shadows /all /Quiet

Keep on reading to find out what kind of ways you could try to potentially restore some of your files.

Remove Ransomware and Restore .aes Files

If your computer got infected with the Vortex 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.

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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 Vortex from Windows.


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

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 Vortex 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 Vortex 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 Vortex 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 Vortex 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 Vortex.

Ransomware infections and Vortex 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 Vortex from Mac OS X.


Step 1: Uninstall Vortex 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 Vortex:

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 Vortex. 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 Vortex. 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 Vortex 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 Vortex. 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 Vortex:


Download

SpyHunter for Mac



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

Ransomware infections and Vortex 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.


Vortex FAQ

What is Vortex ransomware and how does it work?

Vortex 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 Vortex ransomware infect my computer?

Via several ways.Vortex 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 Vortex 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 .Vortex files?

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

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

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

Also, keep in mind that viruses like Vortex 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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