Flying Dutchman ransomware (virus) - Recovery Instructions Included

Flying Dutchman virus Removal Guide

What is Flying Dutchman ransomware?

Flying Dutchman ransomware can lock users' data using encryption algorithms

Flying Dutchman ransomwareRansomware infections can result in permanent data loss

Flying Dutchman is a newly discovered variant that belongs to the Xorist ransomware family. It uses complicated encryption[1] algorithms to lock users' personal files, like photos, videos, documents, and databases. Malware developers then demand payment if victims want to get their files back.

When the malicious program infiltrates the system, it starts appending the affected files with extensions consisting of random characters. Encrypted files are impossible to open. The icons are also changed to white pages so thumbnails become unavailable.

NAME Flying Dutchman
TYPE Ransomware, data locking virus, crypto virus
MALWARE FAMILY Xorist ransomware
FILE EXTENSION Random characters
RANSOM NOTE Desktop wallpaper; РАСШИФРОВАТЬ ФАЙЛЫ.txt or ДЕШИФРАТОР.txt
DISTRIBUTION Infected email attachments, peer-to-peer file-sharing platforms, torrents, malicious ads
DANGERS It is next to impossible to recover the files if you do not have backups or the decryption keys were not leaked; in some cases, recovery is successful with third-party software
ELIMINATION Scan your machine with anti-malware software to eliminate the virus safely; this will not recover the locked files
SYSTEM FIX You can avoid windows reinstallation with ReimageIntego maintenance tool, which can fix damaged files and system errors

The ransom note

When the Flying Dutchman ransomware finishes the encryption process, a ransom note is generated on the machine with the name of РАСШИФРОВАТЬ ФАЙЛЫ.txt or ДЕШИФРАТОР.txt. The file-locking malware changes the desktop wallpaper which also acts as a ransom note. The full message reads as follows:

ПЯТНАДЦАТЬ ЧЕЛОВЕК НА СУНДУК МЕРТВЕЦА!
Хай ! Пиплы ! Комон на борт нашего “Летучего голландца”.
Ваш компьютер взят на абордаж
командой Cомалийских пиратов
Ваши файлы зашифрованы нашим
морским криптографом Базоном Хикса
Если вы, мудрый и не скряга ,
не шизанутый депутат из фракции ЛДПР,то,
мы готовы обменять вашу драгоценную инфу, на жалкие
бумажки именуемые бабками.
Поверьте, бабло зло – отдайте его нам.
Алчных и неадекватных типов за борт.
Весёлым и находчивым скидки.
У вас три дня до отплытия корабля.
Для переговоров собираемся в кают компании, sos на мыло
Номер компании –
somalia@2trom.com
somaliajaz@aol.com

The note is written in Russian which could indicate the cybercriminals' location. They are addressing victims as Somali pirates. They give three days for victims to contact them. Otherwise, the decryption key will be destroyed. The ransom amount is not specified in the note and threat actors urge people to contact them to negotiate.

However, we strongly recommend not contacting cybercriminals as they cannot be trusted. Many previous ransomware victims never received the promised decryption tools after sending the payment. Besides, they will want to get paid in cryptocurrencies,[2] which provides them anonymity.

Even though it is nearly impossible to decrypt files without the threat actors' help, we discourage you from paying them. If you have backups, you should access those first. There is also a third-party recovery solution that helps in some cases. You will find instructions on how to use it below.

Flying Dutchman ransom noteIn the ransom note, cybercriminals are roleplaying as pirates

Distribution methods

Cybercriminals use various techniques to spread their malicious programs. Most of the time, people get infected while installing software “cracks”[3] from Torrent websites or peer-to-peer file-sharing platforms. These websites are unregulated so it is impossible to know if the files you download are safe.

It is also possible to get infected with ransomware through email. Cybercriminals use social engineering to create letters that usually look like urgent messages from well-known companies to appear legitimate and trustworthy. They include malicious links or infected attachments. That is why it is recommended to only open email attachments if they are from senders you know.

Threat actors may also use software vulnerabilities to infiltrate the system. It is extremely important to keep your operating system and software updated. Software developers regularly release security patches which should be installed as soon as they come out.

Eliminate malicious files

The most critical thing you should do is disconnect the affected machine from the local network. For home users, disconnecting the ethernet cable should do the job. If this happened at your workplace, doing that might be complicated, so we have instructions for corporate environments at the bottom of this post.

If you try to recover your data first, it can result in permanent loss. It can also encrypt your files the second time. It will not stop until you remove the malicious files causing it first. You should not attempt removing the malicious program yourself unless you have experience.

Use anti-malware tools like SpyHunter 5Combo Cleaner or Malwarebytes to scan your system. This security software should find all the related files and entries and remove them automatically for you. In some cases, malware is not letting you use antivirus in normal mode, so you need to access Safe Mode and perform a full system scan from there:

Windows 7 / Vista / XP

  1. Click Start > Shutdown > Restart > OK.
  2. When your computer becomes active, start pressing the 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.
  3. Select Safe Mode with Networking from the list.

Windows 10 / Windows 8

  1. Right-click on the Start button and select Settings.
  2. Scroll down to pick Update & Security.
  3. On the left side of the window, pick Recovery.
  4. Now scroll down to find the Advanced Startup section.
  5. Click Restart now.
  6. Select Troubleshoot.
  7. Go to Advanced options.
  8. Select Startup Settings.
  9. Click Restart.
  10. Press 5 or click 5) Enable Safe Mode with Networking.

Fix system errors

Performance, stability, and usability issues, to the point where a complete Windows reinstall is required, are expected after a malware infection. These types of infections can alter the Windows registry database, damage vital bootup, and other sections, delete or corrupt DLL files, etc. Once a system file is damaged by malware, antivirus software is not able to repair it.

This is why ReimageIntego was developed. It can fix a lot of the damage caused by an infection like this. Blue Screen errors, freezes, registry errors, damaged DLLs, etc., can make your computer completely unusable. By using this maintenance tool, you could avoid Windows reinstallation.

  • Download the application by clicking on the link above
  • Click on the ReimageRepair.exe
  • If User Account Control (UAC) shows up, select Yes
  • Press Install and wait till the program finishes the installation process
  • The analysis of your machine will begin immediately
  • Once complete, check the results – they will be listed in the Summary
  • You can now click on each of the issues and fix them manually
  • If you see many problems that you find difficult to fix, we recommend you purchase the license and fix them automatically.Reimage results

File recovery solution

Many people think that they can fix their files with anti-malware tools, but that is not what they are designed for. All the security tools can do is detect suspicious processes in your system and eliminate malicious files. The truth is, the files can be restored only with a decryption key or software that only cybercriminals have.

If you did not back up your data previously, you possibly lost your files forever. You can try using data recovery software, but third-party programs cannot always decrypt the files. We suggest at least trying this method. Before proceeding, you have to copy the corrupted files and place them in a USB flash drive or another storage. And remember – only do this if you have already removed the Flying Dutchman ransomware.

Before you begin, several pointers are essential while dealing with this situation:

  • Since the encrypted data on your computer might permanently be damaged by security or data recovery software, you should first make backups of it – use a USB flash drive or another storage.
  • Only attempt to recover your files using this method after you perform a scan with anti-malware software.

Install data recovery software

  1. Download Data Recovery Pro.
  2. Double-click the installer to launch it.
  3. Follow on-screen instructions to install the software.Install program
  4. As soon as you press Finish, you can use the app.
  5. Select Everything or pick individual folders where you want the files to be recovered from.Select what to recover
  6. Press Next.
  7. At the bottom, enable Deep scan and pick which Disks you want to be scanned.Select Deep scan
  8. Press Scan and wait till it is complete.
  9. You can now pick which folders/files to recover – don't forget you also have the option to search by the file name!
  10. Press Recover to retrieve your files.Recover files

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What to do if failed?
If you failed to fix virus damage using Reimage Intego, submit a question to our support team and provide as much details as possible.
Reimage Intego has a free limited scanner. Reimage Intego offers more through scan when you purchase its full version. When free scanner detects issues, you can fix them using free manual repairs or you can decide to purchase the full version in order to fix them automatically.
Alternative Software
Different software has a different purpose. If you didn’t succeed in fixing corrupted files with Reimage, try running SpyHunter 5.
Alternative Software
Different software has a different purpose. If you didn’t succeed in fixing corrupted files with Intego, try running Combo Cleaner.

Getting rid of Flying Dutchman virus. Follow these steps

Isolate the infected computer

Some ransomware strains aim to infect not only one computer but hijack the entire network. As soon as one of the machines is infected, malware can spread via network and encrypt files everywhere else, including Network Attached Storage (NAS) devices. If your computer is connected to a network, it is important to isolate it to prevent re-infection after ransomware removal is complete.

The easiest way to disconnect a PC from everything is simply to plug out the ethernet cable. However, in the corporate environment, this might be extremely difficult to do (also would take a long time). The method below will disconnect from all the networks, including local and the internet, isolating each of the machines involved.

  • Type in Control Panel in Windows search and press Enter
  • Go to Network and Internet Network and internet
  • Click Network and Sharing Center Network and internet 2
  • On the left, pick Change adapter settings Network and internet 3
  • Right-click on your connection (for example, Ethernet), and select Disable Network and internet 4
  • Confirm with Yes.

If you are using some type of cloud storage you are connected to, you should disconnect from it immediately. It is also advisable to disconnect all the external devices, such as USB flash sticks, external HDDs, etc. Once the malware elimination process is finished, you can connect your computers to the network and internet, as explained above, but by pressing Enable instead.

Find a working decryptor for your files

File encryption is a process that is similar to applying a password to a particular file or folder. However, from a technical point of view, encryption is fundamentally different due to its complexity. By using encryption, threat actors use a unique set of alphanumeric characters as a password that can not easily be deciphered if the process is performed correctly.

There are several algorithms that can be used to lock data (whether for good or bad reasons); for example, AES uses the symmetric method of encryption, meaning that the key used to lock and unlock files is the same. Unfortunately, it is only accessible to the attackers who hold it on a remote server – they ask for a payment in exchange for it. This simple principle is what allows ransomware authors to prosper in this illegal business.

While many high-profile ransomware strains such as Djvu or Dharma use immaculate encryption methods, there are plenty of failures that can be observed within the code of some novice malware developers. For example, the keys could be stored locally, which would allow users to regain access to their files without paying. In some cases, ransomware does not even encrypt files due to bugs, although victims might believe the opposite due to the ransom note that shows up right after the infection and data encryption is completed.

Therefore, regardless of which crypto-malware affects your files, you should try to find the relevant decryptor if such exists. Security researchers are in a constant battle against cybercriminals. In some cases, they manage to create a working decryption tool that would allow victims to recover files for free.

Once you have identified which ransomware you are affected by, you should check the following links for a decryptor:

No More Ransom Project

If you can't find a decryptor that works for you, you should try the alternative methods we list below. Additionally, it is worth mentioning that it sometimes takes years for a working decryption tool to be developed, so there are always hopes for the future.

Create data backups to avoid file loss in the future

One of the many countermeasures for home users against ransomware is data backups. Even if your Windows get corrupted, you can reinstall everything from scratch and retrieve files from backups with minimal losses overall. Most importantly, you would not have to pay cybercriminals and risk your money as well.

Therefore, if you have already dealt with a ransomware attack, we strongly advise you to prepare backups for future use. There are two options available to you:

  • Backup on a physical external drive, such as a USB flash drive or external HDD.
  • Use cloud storage services.

The first method is not that convenient, however, as backups need to constantly be updated manually – although it is very reliable. Therefore, we highly advise choosing cloud storage instead – it is easy to set up and efficient to sustain. The problem with it is that storage space is limited unless you want to pay for the subscription.

Using Microsoft OneDrive

OneDrive is a built-in tool that comes with every modern Windows version. By default, you get 5 GB of storage that you can use for free. You can increase that storage space, but for a price. Here's how to setup backups for OneDrive:

  1. Click on the OneDrive icon within your system tray.
  2. Select Help & Settings > Settings.
    Go to OneDrive settings
  3. If you don't see your email under the Account tab, you should click Add an account and proceed with the on-screen instructions to set yourself up.
    Add OneDrive account
  4. Once done, move to the Backup tab and click Manage backup.
    Manage backup
  5. Select Desktop, Documents, and Pictures, or a combination of whichever folders you want to backup.
  6. Press Start backup.
    Pick which folders to sync

After this, all the files that are imported into the above-mentioned folders will be automatically backed for you. If you want to add other folders or files, you have to do that manually. For that, open File Explorer by pressing Win + E on your keyboard, and then click on the OneDrive icon. You should drag and drop folders you want to backup (or you can use Copy/Paste as well).

Using Google Drive

Google Drive is another great solution for free backups. The good news is that you get as much as 15GB for free by choosing this storage. There are also paid versions available, with significantly more storage to choose from.

You can access Google Drive via the web browser or use a desktop app you can download on the official website. If you want your files to be synced automatically, you will have to download the app, however.

  1. Download the Google Drive app installer and click on it.
    Install Google Drive app
  2. Wait a few seconds for it to be installed. Complete installation
  3. Now click the arrow within your system tray – you should see Google Drive icon there, click it once.
    Google Drive Sign in
  4. Click Get Started. Backup and sync
  5. Enter all the required information – your email/phone, and password. Enter email/phone
  6. Now pick what you want to sync and backup. You can click on Choose Folder to add additional folders to the list.
  7. Once done, pick Next. Choose what to sync
  8. Now you can select to sync items to be visible on your computer.
  9. Finally, press Start and wait till the sync is complete. Your files are now being backed up.

Report the incident to your local authorities

Ransomware is a huge business that is highly illegal, and authorities are very involved in catching malware operators. To have increased chances of identifying the culprits, the agencies need information. Therefore, by reporting the crime, you could help with stopping the cybercriminal activities and catching the threat actors. Make sure you include all the possible details, including how did you notice the attack, when it happened, etc. Additionally, providing documents such as ransom notes, examples of encrypted files, or malware executables would also be beneficial.

Law enforcement agencies typically deal with online fraud and cybercrime, although it depends on where you live. Here is the list of local authority groups that handle incidents like ransomware attacks, sorted by country:

Internet Crime Complaint Center IC3

If your country is not listed above, you should contact the local police department or communications center.

How to prevent from getting ransomware

Access your website securely from any location

When you work on the domain, site, blog, or different project that requires constant management, content creation, or coding, you may need to connect to the server and content management service more often. The best solution for creating a tighter network could be a dedicated/fixed IP address.

If you make your IP address static and set to your device, you can connect to the CMS from any location and do not create any additional issues for the server or network manager that needs to monitor connections and activities. VPN software providers like Private Internet Access can help you with such settings and offer the option to control the online reputation and manage projects easily from any part of the world.

 

Recover files after data-affecting malware attacks

While much of the data can be accidentally deleted due to various reasons, malware is one of the main culprits that can cause loss of pictures, documents, videos, and other important files. More serious malware infections lead to significant data loss when your documents, system files, and images get encrypted. In particular, ransomware is is a type of malware that focuses on such functions, so your files become useless without an ability to access them.

Even though there is little to no possibility to recover after file-locking threats, some applications have features for data recovery in the system. In some cases, Data Recovery Pro can also help to recover at least some portion of your data after data-locking virus infection or general cyber infection. 

 

About the author
Gabriel E. Hall
Gabriel E. Hall - Passionate web researcher

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