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ExoLock ransomware virus. How to remove? (Uninstall guide)

removal by Olivia Morelli - - | Type: Ransomware
12

After taking files to hostage, ExoLock demands 0.01 Bitcoins

The screenshot of ExoLock ransom note

ExoLock is a ransomware virus that has been discovered on the first part of September 2017. The virus appends .exolocked file extension to the encrypted files and demands 0.01 Bitcoins in exchange of data decryptor. No matter how important your files are, you should not follow these instructions.[1]

Following data encryption, ExoLock ransomware opens a ransom-demanding window. The authors of the crypto-malware inform about this unpleasant situation and tell that victims can get back access to their files if they pay. In order to scare people, criminals claim to delete files and make them unrecoverable if a user closes the ransom note or shuts down the computer.

No matter how hard crooks try to convince that paying the ransom is the only data recovery method, you should not let them fool you. Malware[2] researchers are currently investigating the virus and might soon present a free, and most importantly, safe decryption software. Meanwhile, you should remove ExoLock without worrying that this action might lead to deletion of data.

ExoLock virus usually arrives on the system with the help of malicious email attachment. Once a user opens it, malware payload is dropped and executed on the system. Then it not only starts a complicated data encryption process but might make other changes, such as:

  • create new or modify old Registry entries;
  • inject malicious code into the legitimate system processes;
  • install dangerous files, programs, and other entries;
  • open the backdoor;
  • make programs crash;
  • disable computer’s security.

Thus, the file-encrypting malware is a complex cyber infection that negatively impacts computer’s performance, and there’s no way that you will be able to use your PC normally. To reject all the changes to your device, you have to perform automatic ExoLock removal with Reimage or Plumbytes Anti-MalwareWebroot SecureAnywhere AntiVirus. The detailed explanation is given at the end of the article.

Methods used to spread the ransomware

Developers of crypto-virus usually employ several distribution and infiltration methods. Thus, ExoLock might also be traveling in various forms, shapes, and channels. According to the primary investigation data, it might launch the attack using one of these strategies:

  • dangerous emails that include infected links, buttons or files;
  • fake downloads or updates;
  • illegal programs;
  • exploit kits;
  • insecure RDP connections;
  • malware-laden ads.

The variety of distribution methods allow spreading the virus all over the world, including Norway,[3] China, and other countries. Thus, no matter where you live, you have to follow security tips to avoid ransomware. Moreover, you should strengthen your computer’s security with antivirus and create backup copies of your files.

Termination of the ExoLock ransomware virus

You can remove ExoLock without causing the damage to the system with security software only. We firmly recommend obtaining Reimage, Plumbytes Anti-MalwareWebroot SecureAnywhere AntiVirus or Malwarebytes Anti Malware and terminate the virus with the help of one of these tools. If you cannot install, update or run anti-malware, the instructions below will help you to deal with such obstacles.

Please, do not try to complete manual ExoLock removal. Malware might be hiding under legitimate system names and affect critical system processes. Thus, trying to stop malicious processes manually might be damaging.

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What to do if failed?
If you failed to remove infection using Reimage, submit a question to our support team and provide as much details as possible.
Reimage is recommended to uninstall ExoLock ransomware virus. 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.
More information about this program can be found in Reimage review.
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Manual ExoLock virus Removal Guide:

Remove ExoLock using Safe Mode with Networking

These guidelines will help you to disable the virus and run its automatic removal:

  • 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 ExoLock

    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 ExoLock removal.

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

Remove ExoLock using System Restore

It's an alternative method to disable malware and access elimination software:

  • 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 ExoLock. 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 ExoLock removal is performed successfully.

Bonus: Recover your data

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

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

Data Recovery Pro – alternative tool to restore files

Until the official ExoLock decryptor is not released, Data Recovery Pro might be a handy tool to restore corrupted files.

Windows Previous Versions feature might help to get back access to the most important files

This method allows accessing earlier versions of encrypted files if System Restore was enabled 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”.

ShadowExplorer helps to restore files using Shadow Volume Copies

This program can recover files from Shadow Volume Copies. Thus, if malware did not delete them, feel free to use this tool:

  • 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.

ExoLock decryptor

Purchasing decryptor from cyber criminals is not recommended because it's most likely to be a waste of money. However, security experts are working on free and safe decryptor. We will announce about its release as soon as it will be available.

Finally, you should always think about the protection of crypto-ransomwares. In order to protect your computer from ExoLock and other ransomwares, use a reputable anti-spyware, such as Reimage, Plumbytes Anti-MalwareWebroot SecureAnywhere AntiVirus or Malwarebytes Anti Malware

About the author

Olivia Morelli
Olivia Morelli - Ransomware analyst

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References