.harditem file virus (Free Guide) - Recovery Instructions Included

.harditem file virus Removal Guide

What is .harditem file virus?

.harditem is a ransomware-type virus that demands bitcoin in exchange for a decryption tool

.harditem file virusHarditem ransomware can be stopped by the security software

.harditem is a Windows virus that can be particularly damaging. Once it breaks into the system, it encrypts all pictures, documents, databases, videos, and other important personal files, with a few exceptions. For this job, a sophisticated encryption algorithm is used, so that once it's complete, all files lose their regular icons and are replaced by black ones, and they also receive .hard extension. These symptoms mean that data can no longer be used, as it is locked by a uniquely generated key, which is only accessible to the malware authors.

After the encryption process is finished, ransomware drops a note titled RESTORE_FILES_INFO.txt, which can be found on the desktop and other locations on the system. According to the note, users are meant to contact ransomware authors via one of the two emails (harditem@firemail.cc or harditem@hitler.rocks) or Jabber account harditem@xmpp.jp. We recommend not communicating with malicious actors and instead, attempting to recover .hard files in alternative ways – we provide all details about below.

Name .harditem virus/Hard virus
Type Ransomware, file-locking malware
File extension .hard, appended to each of the personal files
Ransom note RESTORE_FILES_INFO.txt
Contact harditem@firemail.cc, harditem@hitler.rocks
File Recovery The only secure way to restore files is by using data backups. If such is not available or were encrypted as well, options for recovery are very limited – we provide all possible solutions below
Malware removal Disconnect the computer from the network and internet and then perform a full system scan with SpyHunter 5Combo Cleaner security software
System fix Once installed on the system, malware might seriously damage some system files, resulting in crashes, errors, and other stability issues. You can employ ReimageIntego PC repair to fix any of such damage automatically by replacing system corruption

How ransomware spreads and how to avoid it

It is evident that users don't install ransomware intentionally, as they don't want to compromise access to their files. Instead, they are usually tricked into doing so, thanks to social engineering[1] used by cybercriminals. For example, a cleverly written spam email might contain an attachment with the malware payload, which, once executed, would deploy ransomware and encrypt all files on the system.

In other cases, users might be fooled by a fake update that encourages them to install the newest version of Flash or other well-known software. Please never download anything from websites that claim that the system has infections that need to be removed or that a software update is ready to be installed. Always visit official websites in this case.

Software cracks and malicious installers are one of the main reasons why users get infected with ransomware such as .harditem. Low-security levels of pirated software distributor sites are a perfect environment for malicious actors to spread various malware, and ransomware is no exception.

Ransom note

.harditem virus does not seem to stem from any previously-known malware strain. It is not surprising, as many groups of people are trying to monetize on something that's extremely successful. Regardless of its roots, it operates in a relatively regular manner as it is common for malware of such type.

Upon encrypting all files, ransomware delivers a ransom note which serves as the main means for communication between hackers and victims. For its accessibility, these notes are usually sent in TXT format so that all users can open them without problems. Here's the message from the attackers:

Your files are secured…
Contact emails: harditem@firemail.cc and harditem@hitler.rocks (spare) or jabber harditem@xmpp.jp
Send me your ID in the first email to all specified addresses

Key Identifier:

Unsurprisingly, the message is relatively brief, which is extremely common for strains that are not yet fully developed. What crooks want is to establish the first contact with victims, so they can communicate the price of the decryptor to be paid in bitcoin cryptocurrency.

.harditem ransomware.harditem virus delivers a ransom note right after file encryption is complete

Communicating with crooks is not recommended due to numerous reasons, for example, they can't be trusted with their promises. You might never receive the promised decryptor and end up losing money along with your files. Thus, follow the instructions below to remove malware correctly and then attempt to recover files in alternative ways.

Malware removal steps

Users who get infected with ransomware are usually first-time victims, and that's why they know little – if anything – about it. The first important thing here is not to panic, as incorrect steps might even make the whole situation even worse. That being said, it is important to know how and when to remove .harditem virus and when to begin the data recovery.

Upon infiltration, ransomware may establish a remote connection to Command & Control[2] server, which is in control by cybercriminals. Thanks to these connections, they can send malicious commands, update malware, or even infect the system with additional malware. Thus, the first step is to remove any networked connections from the affected PC:

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

Once you are completely sure that the connection with any kind of network has been terminated, you can begin .harditem file virus removal. It is evident that you should use SpyHunter 5Combo Cleaner, Malwarebytes, or another powerful anti-malware software for this job, as manual elimination, can be extremely problematic. If the virus is tampering with the removal process, you can always access Safe Mode and perform the scan from there. Please check the instructions below if you need help with that.

Data recovery

Some users believe that their files would return to normal right after they get rid of the infection. Unfortunately, this is not true, and files will remain encrypted; this is precisely why ransomware is considered to be one of the most devastating malware types out there. It is also important to note that data is not corrupted and can be recovered under special circumstances.

Before you attempt data recovery, you should make copies of encrypted files, or they might be lost forever so that even a working decryptor would not help. Simply use a USB stick or upload files to a cloud storage area somewhere on the internet. Once the preparations are complete, you can attempt to restore .harditem files as follows:

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

Decryption tools might also be created for certain ransomware strains thanks to the efforts of security researchers. In some cases, law authorities seize the servers of malicious actors,[3] which allows the keys to be released by the public – reputable security vendors usually do this. Here are a few links you might find helpful:

No More Ransom Project

Repair system files

If your system is crashing or delivering errors after a malware infection, we highly recommend using a one-of-a-kind, patented technology of ReimageIntego repair. Not only can it fix virus damage after the infection, but it is also capable of removing malware that has already broken into the system, thanks to several engines used by the program. Besides, the application is also capable of fixing various Windows-related issues that are not caused by malware infections, for example, Blue Screen errors, freezes, registry errors, damaged DLLs, etc.

  • Download the application by clicking on the link above
  • Click on the ReimageRepair.exe
    Reimage download
  • If User Account Control (UAC) shows up, select Yes
  • Press Install and wait till the program finishes the installation processReimage installation
  • The analysis of your machine will begin immediatelyReimage scan
  • 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

Offer
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Compatible with Microsoft Windows Compatible with macOS
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 .harditem file virus. Follow these steps

Manual removal using Safe Mode

Important! →
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
  1. Click Start > Shutdown > Restart > OK.
  2. 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.
  3. Select Safe Mode with Networking from the list. Windows 7/XP
Windows 10 / Windows 8
  1. Right-click on Start button and select Settings.
    Settings
  2. Scroll down to pick Update & Security.
    Update and security
  3. On the left side of the window, pick Recovery.
  4. Now scroll down to find Advanced Startup section.
  5. Click Restart now.
    Reboot
  6. Select Troubleshoot. Choose an option
  7. Go to Advanced options. Advanced options
  8. Select Startup Settings. Startup settings
  9. Press Restart.
  10. Now press 5 or click 5) Enable Safe Mode with Networking. Enable safe mode

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:

  1. Press Ctrl + Shift + Esc on your keyboard to open Windows Task Manager.
  2. Click on More details.
    Open task manager
  3. Scroll down to Background processes section, and look for anything suspicious.
  4. Right-click and select Open file location.
    Open file location
  5. Go back to the process, right-click and pick End Task.
    End task
  6. Delete the contents of the malicious folder.

Step 3. Check program Startup

  1. Press Ctrl + Shift + Esc on your keyboard to open Windows Task Manager.
  2. Go to Startup tab.
  3. Right-click on the suspicious program and pick Disable.
    Startup

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:

  1. Type in Disk Cleanup in Windows search and press Enter.
    Disk cleanup
  2. 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).
  3. Scroll through the Files to delete list and select the following:

    Temporary Internet Files
    Downloads
    Recycle Bin
    Temporary files

  4. Pick Clean up system files.
    Delete temp files
  5. You can also look for other malicious files hidden in the following folders (type these entries in Windows Search and press Enter):

    %AppData%
    %LocalAppData%
    %ProgramData%
    %WinDir%

After you are finished, reboot the PC in normal mode.

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.

Finally, you should always think about the protection of crypto-ransomwares. In order to protect your computer from .harditem file and other ransomwares, use a reputable anti-spyware, such as ReimageIntego, SpyHunter 5Combo Cleaner or Malwarebytes

How to prevent from getting ransomware

Choose a proper web browser and improve your safety with a VPN tool

Online spying has got momentum in recent years and people are getting more and more interested in how to protect their privacy online. One of the basic means to add a layer of security – choose the most private and secure web browser. Although web browsers can't grant full privacy protection and security, some of them are much better at sandboxing, HTTPS upgrading, active content blocking, tracking blocking, phishing protection, and similar privacy-oriented features. However, if you want true anonymity, we suggest you employ a powerful Private Internet Access VPN – it can encrypt all the traffic that comes and goes out of your computer, preventing tracking completely.

 

Lost your files? Use data recovery software

While some files located on any computer are replaceable or useless, others can be extremely valuable. Family photos, work documents, school projects – these are types of files that we don't want to lose. Unfortunately, there are many ways how unexpected data loss can occur: power cuts, Blue Screen of Death errors, hardware failures, crypto-malware attack, or even accidental deletion.

To ensure that all the files remain intact, you should prepare regular data backups. You can choose cloud-based or physical copies you could restore from later in case of a disaster. If your backups were lost as well or you never bothered to prepare any, Data Recovery Pro can be your only hope to retrieve your invaluable files.

About the author
Linas Kiguolis
Linas Kiguolis - Expert in social media

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