Severity scale:  
  (99/100)

Defender ransomware. How to remove? (Uninstall guide)

removal by Gabriel E. Hall - - | Type: Ransomware

Defender ransomware appends .defender file extension to locked files

A picture of Defender ransomware lock screen

Defender ransomware is a file-encrypting ransomware[1] virus, which has been revealed in February 2018. Malware locks most of the file types on infected computer by appending the .defender file extension to each of them. Defender virus then changes desktop's background to white brick wallpaper impersonating Windows Defender and generates a ransom note, which is downloaded from @zippyshare.

Security experts are currently testing this new ransomware and confirmed that Defender ransomware decryptor is not available yet. Neither free nor paid. Criminals lock personal files but do not ask for a ransom or anything else. They merely render the data useless and do not generate a key to decrypt them. That's how .defender virus ransom note looks like:

Your files have been encrypted by Defender Ransomware. The wall will not fall.This ransomware is not decryptable. Sorry about that.

Like most other infamous ransomware virus does, Defender virus is also distributed via spam email[2] attachments, which can be named like Microsoft visual C# v7.0 / Basic .NET. Once installed, the virus runs an executable file MpCmdRun.exe and starts the encryption procedure. In addition to that, it can also:

  • Create a resource fork (ADS) file to hide data and prevent detection;
  • Modify file/console tracing settings to hide footprints;
  • Read the active computer name;
  • Modify auto-execute functionality by setting/creating value in the registry;
  • Contact random Domain Names;
  • Mark files for removal;
  • Open files with deletion access rights;
  • Remove Shadow Volume Copies, etc.

Nevertheless, Defender ransomware virus should not intimidate you. Most of professional AV engines can detect it, so you should remove Defender ransomware with Reimage, Malwarebytes MalwarebytesCombo Cleaner or Plumbytes Anti-MalwareMalwarebytes Malwarebytes and then try to restore your files from backups.
If, however, you don't have backups for important files, data decryption may be complicated or even impossible. As

pointed out by ransomware experts, this virus does not have a decryptor – neither free nor paid.
Nevertheless, Defender ransomware removal is inevitable. Otherwise, extortionists can use it for transmission of other high-severity malware, which may render your PC useless.

Criminals often spend much time while trying to develop techniques which would allow them to infect computers easily. So far, the crooks have highly beloved malspam campaigns. They send fraudulent emails letters with malicious attachments inside. This way people are tricked to install ransomware by themselves.

The peculiarities of ransomware distribution

Criminals are looking for various security breaches to inject ransomware virus onto PCs. However, that's not a difficult task because OS, software, and service developers keep unifying their strengths against ransomware attacks.

Despite the fact that new techniques been found, crooks prefer malspam campaigns. All they have to do is to prepare a list of emails and send a fraudulent email letter with malicious attachment expecting that someone will fall for the trick. If someone attempts to open the attachment, he or she is asked to enable Macros and, in case of the agreement is received, the executable file runs the ransomware virus.

However, spam is not the only method used by hackers to spread severe computer infections. Experts from LosVirus[3] name the following techniques among less, but still actively used, ransomware distribution techniques:

  • stand-alone file installers;
  • malicious content on the web;
  • fake software updates;
  • malicious ads or interlinks.

It's important to stress the fact that many ransomware viruses are capable of evading detection. Therefore, it's not sufficient to install anti-malware program and expect that it will ensure hundred percent protection. People's responsibility is to avoid visiting illegal websites, carefully check software or its parts before downloading, and so on. In short, it's a must practice secure web browsing rules.

Make Defender virus removal an easy task

Ransomware virus is the most prominent cyber threat in 2018[4] and will probably remain in this position for quite a long time. If the files that the file-encrypting virus locks are not important, then Defender ransomware virus and the whole family of ransomware are not that severe as that can be detected and eliminated with the help of a powerful anti-malware tool quite easily.

Manual Defender ransomware removal is hardly possible unless you are an experienced IT professional. Those who want to remove Defender virus quickly and efficiently, you can use programs like Reimage, Malwarebytes MalwarebytesCombo Cleaner or Plumbytes Anti-MalwareMalwarebytes Malwarebytes.

Right after Defender virus removal, you may try to decrypt files using one of the data recovery programs or other applicable data recovery methods.

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What to do if failed?
If you failed to remove virus damage using Reimage, submit a question to our support team and provide as much details as possible.
Reimage is recommended to remove virus damage. Free scanner allows you to check whether your PC is infected or not. If you need to remove malware, you have to purchase the licensed version of Reimage malware removal tool.
Alternative Software
Different security software includes different virus database. If you didn’t succeed in finding malware with Reimage, try running alternative scan with Malwarebytes.
Alternative Software
Different security software includes different virus database. If you didn’t succeed in finding malware with Reimage, try running alternative scan with Combo Cleaner.

To remove Defender virus, follow these steps:

Remove Defender using Safe Mode with Networking

If .defender virus blocks your anti-virus program, then you should restart your PC into Safe Mode with Networking. The following steps will help you to do so correctly:

  • Step 1: Reboot your computer to Safe Mode with Networking

    Windows 7 / Vista / XP
    1. Click Start Shutdown Restart OK.
    2. When your computer becomes active, start pressing F8 multiple times until you see the Advanced Boot Options window.
    3. Select Safe Mode with Networking from the list Select 'Safe Mode with Networking'

    Windows 10 / Windows 8
    1. Press the Power button at the Windows login screen. Now press and hold Shift, which is on your keyboard, and click Restart..
    2. Now select Troubleshoot Advanced options Startup Settings and finally press Restart.
    3. Once your computer becomes active, select Enable Safe Mode with Networking in Startup Settings window. Select 'Enable Safe Mode with Networking'
  • Step 2: Remove Defender

    Log in to your infected account and start the browser. Download Reimage or other legitimate anti-spyware program. Update it before a full system scan and remove malicious files that belong to your ransomware and complete Defender removal.

If your ransomware is blocking Safe Mode with Networking, try further method.

Remove Defender using System Restore

You have to remove Defender ransomware to get the chance to recover files and start using your PC normally. If you cannot do that because virus keeps blocking your antivirus, here's what you have to do:

  • Step 1: Reboot your computer to Safe Mode with Command Prompt

    Windows 7 / Vista / XP
    1. Click Start Shutdown Restart OK.
    2. When your computer becomes active, start pressing F8 multiple times until you see the Advanced Boot Options window.
    3. Select Command Prompt from the list Select 'Safe Mode with Command Prompt'

    Windows 10 / Windows 8
    1. Press the Power button at the Windows login screen. Now press and hold Shift, which is on your keyboard, and click Restart..
    2. Now select Troubleshoot Advanced options Startup Settings and finally press Restart.
    3. Once your computer becomes active, select Enable Safe Mode with Command Prompt in Startup Settings window. Select 'Enable Safe Mode with Command Prompt'
  • Step 2: Restore your system files and settings
    1. Once the Command Prompt window shows up, enter cd restore and click Enter. Enter 'cd restore' without quotes and press 'Enter'
    2. Now type rstrui.exe and press Enter again.. Enter 'rstrui.exe' without quotes and press 'Enter'
    3. When a new window shows up, click Next and select your restore point that is prior the infiltration of Defender. After doing that, click Next. When 'System Restore' window shows up, select 'Next' Select your restore point and click 'Next'
    4. Now click Yes to start system restore. Click 'Yes' and start system restore
    Once you restore your system to a previous date, download and scan your computer with Reimage and make sure that Defender removal is performed successfully.

Bonus: Recover your data

Guide which is presented above is supposed to help you remove Defender from your computer. To recover your encrypted files, we recommend using a detailed guide prepared by 2-spyware.com security experts.

It's not yet clear whether it's possible to recover encrypted .defender files. Therefore, you should give the following methods a try. 

If your files are encrypted by Defender, you can use several methods to restore them:

Install Data Recovery Pro

Data Recovery Pro is an application capable of recovering accidentally deleted files of files lost due to system's crash. However, it often appears useful in decryption of files damaged by ransomware. 

  • 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 Defender ransomware;
  • Restore them.

Try Windows Previous Versions feature

This method may help to recover individual files encrypted by Defender ransomware virus. This way, you won't recover folders or groups of file, but only the most important documents. However, the feature is not available for those who haven't had a System Restore feature enabled before the 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”.

ShadowExplorer might be useful

If Defender virus does not removed Shadow Volume Copies, this method can help you to recover most of the files. There's only one way to find that out – to follow 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.

Currently neither paid nor free Defender decryptor is available

Finally, you should always think about the protection of crypto-ransomwares. In order to protect your computer from Defender and other ransomwares, use a reputable anti-spyware, such as Reimage, Malwarebytes MalwarebytesCombo Cleaner or Plumbytes Anti-MalwareMalwarebytes Malwarebytes

About the author

Gabriel E. Hall
Gabriel E. Hall - Passionate web researcher

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References