CryptoFortress virus (Improved Instructions) - Dec 2016 update
CryptoFortress virus Removal Guide
What is CryptoFortress virus?
Understanding CryptoFortress ransomware virus
CryptoFortress virus  is a file-encrypting malware that has been attacking computers and encoding users' personal files since the March 2015. Researchers have revealed that malware is an updated version of TorrentLocker ransomware  because it uses the source code for the ransom notes and other web pages from Torrent Locker. It has also been called as a “new generation” ransomware  as it can block unmapped network shares as well. Cyber criminals distribute malware via malicious spam emails and infected links, and when the victim clicks on it, malware steps into the system and starts looking for targeted file types (.unity3d, .blob, .wma, .avi, .rar, .DayZProfile, .doc, .odb, .asset, .forge, .cas, .map, .mcgame, .rgss3a, .big, .wotreplay, .xxx, .m3u, .png, .jpeg, .txt, .crt, .x3f, .ai, .eps, .pdf, .lvl, .sis, .gdb). CryptoFortress ransomware uses AES encryption algorithm and appends either .frtrss or .ecc extension to each encoded picture, document, audio or video files. When data encryption is completed, malware delivers a warning message to the victims:
All your important files (such as files on the network disks, USB devices, etc.): photos, videos, documents were encrypted with CryptoFortress virus. The only way to get your files back is to buy our decryption software. Otherwise, your files will be lost.
Caution: Removing of CryptoFortress will not restore access to your encrypted files.
In this picture, our expert points to a ransom note left by CryptoFortress ransomware virus. Just like any other ransomware virus, CryptoFortress malware is an extortion tool that takes personal files hostage and asks the victim to pay a ransom.
However, you should not let crooks scare you and blackmail you. On the one hand, they tell the truth – CryptoFortress removal will not recover your files. On the other hand, hackers are lying to you about the recovery pf your files because there are other ways to get back access to the lost data. However, in the ransom message hackers included links that lead to the official website and urge to send a certain amount to a particular address and then to transmit a transaction ID to validate the payment. The developers of CryptoFortress have been demanding 1 Bitcoin (about $300), but before transferring the ransom, victims can decrypt two files that are up to the size of 500 Kb for free. Of course, you can panic and fall for paying the ransom. However, don't be surprised after you lose not only the data from your PC but also money from the bank account. To prevent this from happening, make sure that you remove CryptoFortress virus from the system as soon as possible using RestoroIntego or SpyHunter 5Combo Cleaner. Then you can try to restore your files from backups or use additional data recovery methods.
How can this ransomware step in my PC?
CryptoFortress malware can enter your PC system similarly to other ransomware , such as TeslaCrypt, CryptoDefense, SynoLocker, and many others. Usually, the virus spreads via spam emails, fake update alerts, infected links and similar means. By the way, P2P networks may also be involved in the distribution of this virus. To protect your computer from being infected, we highly recommend you to install a reputable anti-spyware and keep it up-to-date. Besides, you should stay away from suspicious email attachments and links. Before opening them, you have to double check the sender and information which is added to the message. You should always look for typo or grammar mistakes to protect yourself from malicious emails.  Finally, make sure you keep your important data in the safe place, e.g. external hard drives and USB sticks.
CryptoFortress removal guidelines
Ransomware viruses are one of the most dangerous and complicated computer infections, so their removal is not easy as well. For CryptoFortress removal you have to employ professional anti-malware program, for instance, RestoroIntego or SpyHunter 5Combo Cleaner. However, if malware does not allow you to install or update security tools, you should reboot your computer with a Safe Mode with Networking and follow the steps presented at the end of the article. Unfortunately, it’s not enough to remove CryptoFortress virus from the PC to get back access to your files. For that, you will need other tools or data backups. Data recovery options are provided below. In the future, you should think about the immunity of your personal data in advance. We highly recommend you to use USB external hard drives, CDs, DVDs, or simply rely on online backups, such as Google Drive, Dropbox, Flickr and other solutions.
Getting rid of CryptoFortress virus. Follow these steps
Manual removal using Safe Mode
Manual removal guide might be too complicated for regular computer users. It requires advanced IT knowledge to be performed correctly (if vital system files are removed or damaged, it might result in full Windows compromise), and it also might take hours to complete. Therefore, we highly advise using the automatic method provided above instead.
Step 1. Access Safe Mode with Networking
Manual malware removal should be best performed in the Safe Mode environment.
Windows 7 / Vista / XP
- Click Start > Shutdown > Restart > OK.
- When your computer becomes active, start pressing F8 button (if that does not work, try F2, F12, Del, etc. – it all depends on your motherboard model) multiple times until you see the Advanced Boot Options window.
- Select Safe Mode with Networking from the list.
Windows 10 / Windows 8
- Right-click on Start button and select Settings.
- Scroll down to pick Update & Security.
- On the left side of the window, pick Recovery.
- Now scroll down to find Advanced Startup section.
- Click Restart now.
- Select Troubleshoot.
- Go to Advanced options.
- Select Startup Settings.
- Press Restart.
- Now press 5 or click 5) Enable Safe Mode with Networking.
Step 2. Shut down suspicious processes
Windows Task Manager is a useful tool that shows all the processes running in the background. If malware is running a process, you need to shut it down:
- Press Ctrl + Shift + Esc on your keyboard to open Windows Task Manager.
- Click on More details.
- Scroll down to Background processes section, and look for anything suspicious.
- Right-click and select Open file location.
- Go back to the process, right-click and pick End Task.
- Delete the contents of the malicious folder.
Step 3. Check program Startup
- Press Ctrl + Shift + Esc on your keyboard to open Windows Task Manager.
- Go to Startup tab.
- Right-click on the suspicious program and pick Disable.
Step 4. Delete virus files
Malware-related files can be found in various places within your computer. Here are instructions that could help you find them:
- Type in Disk Cleanup in Windows search and press Enter.
- Select the drive you want to clean (C: is your main drive by default and is likely to be the one that has malicious files in).
- Scroll through the Files to delete list and select the following:
Temporary Internet Files
- Pick Clean up system files.
- You can also look for other malicious files hidden in the following folders (type these entries in Windows Search and press Enter):
After you are finished, reboot the PC in normal mode.
Remove CryptoFortress using System Restore
Step 1: Reboot your computer to Safe Mode with Command Prompt
Windows 7 / Vista / XP
- Click Start → Shutdown → Restart → OK.
- When your computer becomes active, start pressing F8 multiple times until you see the Advanced Boot Options window.
- Select Command Prompt from the list
Windows 10 / Windows 8
- Press the Power button at the Windows login screen. Now press and hold Shift, which is on your keyboard, and click Restart..
- Now select Troubleshoot → Advanced options → Startup Settings and finally press Restart.
- Once your computer becomes active, select Enable Safe Mode with Command Prompt in Startup Settings window.
Step 2: Restore your system files and settings
- Once the Command Prompt window shows up, enter cd restore and click Enter.
- Now type rstrui.exe and press Enter again..
- When a new window shows up, click Next and select your restore point that is prior the infiltration of CryptoFortress. After doing that, click Next.
- Now click Yes to start system restore.
Bonus: Recover your dataGuide which is presented above is supposed to help you remove CryptoFortress from your computer. To recover your encrypted files, we recommend using a detailed guide prepared by 2-spyware.com security experts.
Before thinking about data recovery, you have to remove CryptoFortress virus from the computer. Otherwise, ransomware can encrypt your files one more time. When your computer is clean from viruses, you can plug in external device where you keep data backups and copy them. If you do not have data backups, you can try additional data recovery options presented below. Keep in mind that these solutions may not recover all your files; however, some of the importannt ones should be decrypted.
If your files are encrypted by CryptoFortress, you can use several methods to restore them:
Restore your files with Data Recovery Pro
Data Recovery Pro is a professional tool that allows automatically restore accidentally deleted or encrypted files. Many computer users, who had dealt with data recovery after ransomware attack, claimed that this tool helped them to restore the majority of the corrupted files.
- Download Data Recovery Pro;
- Follow the steps of Data Recovery Setup and install the program on your computer;
- Launch it and scan your computer for files encrypted by CryptoFortress ransomware;
- Restore them.
Take advantage of Windows Previous Versions feature
This method allows traveling back in time and getting back the latest saved version of the encrypted files. However, you should know that this method cannot restore all files encrypted by CryptoFortress ransomware. It allows restoring only individual files. Besides, this method will work only if you have enabled System Restore function before ransomware attack.
- Find an encrypted file you need to restore and right-click on it;
- Select “Properties” and go to “Previous versions” tab;
- Here, check each of available copies of the file in “Folder versions”. You should select the version you want to recover and click “Restore”.
Data recovery with ShadowExplorer
If CryptoFortress virus failed to delete Shadow Volume Copies, you could call yourself lucky. You can use ShadowExplorer and restore your files following these steps:
- Download Shadow Explorer (http://shadowexplorer.com/);
- Follow a Shadow Explorer Setup Wizard and install this application on your computer;
- Launch the program and go through the drop down menu on the top left corner to select the disk of your encrypted data. Check what folders are there;
- Right-click on the folder you want to restore and select “Export”. You can also select where you want it to be stored.
Finally, you should always think about the protection of crypto-ransomwares. In order to protect your computer from CryptoFortress and other ransomwares, use a reputable anti-spyware, such as RestoroIntego, SpyHunter 5Combo Cleaner or Malwarebytes
How to prevent from getting ransomware
Do not let government spy on you
The government has many issues in regards to tracking users' data and spying on citizens, so you should take this into consideration and learn more about shady information gathering practices. Avoid any unwanted government tracking or spying by going totally anonymous on the internet.
You can choose a different location when you go online and access any material you want without particular content restrictions. You can easily enjoy internet connection without any risks of being hacked by using Private Internet Access VPN.
Control the information that can be accessed by government any other unwanted party and surf online without being spied on. Even if you are not involved in illegal activities or trust your selection of services, platforms, be suspicious for your own security and take precautionary measures by using the VPN service.
Backup files for the later use, in case of the malware attack
Computer users can suffer from data losses due to cyber infections or their own faulty doings. Ransomware can encrypt and hold files hostage, while unforeseen power cuts might cause a loss of important documents. If you have proper up-to-date backups, you can easily recover after such an incident and get back to work. It is also equally important to update backups on a regular basis so that the newest information remains intact – you can set this process to be performed automatically.
When you have the previous version of every important document or project you can avoid frustration and breakdowns. It comes in handy when malware strikes out of nowhere. Use Data Recovery Pro for the data restoration process.
- ^ Ransomware Variant (CryptoFortress) Advisory. eSentire. Cybsecurity News.
- ^ Marc-Etienne M.Leveille. CryptoFortress mimics TorrentLocker but is a different ransomware. Welivesecurity. News, views, and insight from the ESET security community.
- ^ Stu Sjouwerman. New Ransomware CryptoFortress Encrypts Unmapped Network Shares. KnowBe4. Security Awareness Training Blog.
- ^ Ransomware. Microsoft Protection Center.
- ^ Ransomware on the rise: Norton tips on how to prevent getting infected.. Norton by Symantec. Reports about cyber threats.