Harma ransomware (Virus Removal Instructions) - updated May 2020

Harma virus Removal Guide

What is Harma ransomware?

Harma ransomware is an encryption-based virus that has references to both Dharma and Ouroborus ransomware families

Harma ransomwareHarma ransomware is a file locking malware that locks up personal files like photos, videos, documents, etc., and demands ransom in Bitcoins for the deciphering tool

Harma ransomware is a file-encoding virus that has been detected in 2019. Upon examining its payload, researchers revealed its roots stemming from the infamous Dharma ransomware family. Although this family consists of over 50 versions, this particular variant is exceptionally prevalent and has attacked thousands of people thought one year[1]. It is known for using three diverse encryption algorithms, including AES, DES, and RSA for locking personal files and uses the .harma file extension to mark each of them. The appended suffix is typically preceded by an ID number and email address owned by criminals, so the locked file looks like ID-xxxxxxxx.[WSS911@tutanota.com].harma. Both the ID number and email addresses can vary depending on the ransomware variant, though the final extension remains the same all the time.

In 2020, researchers detected a new Harma strain referring to the new Ouroborus ransomware gang. This version falls in the list alongside ransomware viruses like Odveta, King, Zeropadypt NextGen, RX99, Boruta Virus File, Limbo, Kronos, and many others. It uses AES 256 CSB cipher to encrypt files and creates a ReadMe.txt ransom note. Moreover, it exhibits a lock screen, which informs the victim what happened and how to pay the ransom.

Name Harma
Type Ransomware
Family Dharma or Ouroborus
File extension .harma
Ransom note RETURN FILES.txt, ReadMe.txt
Contact WSS911@tutanota.com, bigbro1@cock.li, encryptor2020@protonmail.com or encryptor1996@protonmail.com ( a full list provided below)
Distribution Spam emails, web injects, fake updates, cracks, pirated software, exploits, etc.
Decryption Only available via backups or third-party tools. No official decryptor has been created.
Virus removal Use anti-malware software such as SpyHunter 5Combo Cleaner
Recovery To restore damaged Windows system files and registry, use FortectIntego

Harma virus developers seek Bitcoin[2] within 24 hours in exchange for the decryption key. The ransom note urges victims to email encryptor2020@protonmail.com or encryptor1996@protonmail.com for further instructions. As usually, crooks recommend victims to send 1MB file for decryption test. This way, criminals try to arouse the victim's “trust” and push them into ransomware payment.

Unfortunately, neither Harma Ouroborus nor Harma Dharma can be decrypted. There is no .dharma decryptor yet, which is why criminals should already feel financially secure. However, it is not advisable to trust criminals and give away your hard-earned money, so reckon well pay the ransom or not. It's best to remove Harma ransomware and try alternative data recovery tools.

The primary Harma ransomware focuses on locking all personal files as well. It targets the host machine and then demands ransom payment for the decryption tool. The encryption procedure is typically performed with the help of AES, DES, or RSA ciphers[3].

As soon as data is locked, victims can soon notice the [WSS911@tutanota.com].harma extension appended to each of the photos, music, video, database, document, and other files. Nevertheless, malware skips system files and executables, as destroying the system is not hackers' goal but rather to extort money (at least not in this case, although wiper-type[4] ransomware does exist).

Although the .harma file virus uses the same extension all the time, the ID number and the email address preceded by the suffix can vary. At the moment, these emails can be used:

  • filesdecrypt@aol.com
  • Dharm727@gmx.de
  • support25@cock.li
  • WTF2000@cock.li
  • RdpLock@protonmail.com
  • hatmatdat@protonmail.com
  • getfilesback@airmail.cc
  • Petya20@tuta.io
  • TheRevenant13@tuta.io
  • crypt0r1@protonmail.com
  • COV-ID19@tuta.io
  • decryptionby@cock.li
  • aroshany@protonmail.com
  • rdphelp@tutanota.com
  • Sansatsuo@protonmail.com
  • savemydata@qq.com
  • support48@cock.li
  • Unlock96@protonmail.com
  • whitwellparke@aol.com
  • MerlinWebster@aol.com
  • hmdjam@protonmail.com
  • marjut56@cock.li
  • hobbsadelaide@aol.com
  • woodson.rosina@aol.com
  • ecnrypt98@cock.li
  • bitcoin1@foxmail.com
  • sumpterzoila@aol.com
  • dorejadid1@protonmail.com
  • Harmahelp73@gmx.de
  • ban.out@foxmail.com

After locking all personal files, Harma virus launches a ransom note – a pop-up window that displays the message from hackers. Additionally, a text file RETURN FILES.txt is also dropped, which is essentially a short version of the note. Threat actors explain that victims have to contact them via WSS911@tutanota.com or bigbro1@cock.li email addresses and pay a ransom using Bitcoin cryptocurrency. Additionally, crooks also threaten to delete the key after seven days if no contact is established.

While there is no decryption tool currently available that would be able to decipher encrypted files, victims should not risk losing their money and avoid contacting criminals. After Harma ransomware removal victims can try using alternative recovery methods that involve third-party software or System Restore features.

There are multiple ways of how Harma ransomware could have infected your computer. For example, many variants of Dharma were spread with the fake Adobe, Microsoft, and other legitimately-looking updates. However, just like any other type of malware, the Harma virus can also be spread with the help of exploits, cracked software, hacked sites, spam emails, etc.

Harma virusHarma is an infamous file-encrypting ransomware that belongs to the Dharma family of cyber infections

Once inside the system, Harma ransomware deletes Shadow Volume snapshots with the help of specific command launched by the virus. Additionally, it also modifies the Windows registry to gain persistence and run the malicious tasks at all times.

After file encryption, Harma ransomware drops the following ransom note:



You can send us up to 1 file for free decryption. The total size of files must be less than 1Mb (non archived), and files should not contain valuable information. (databases,backups, large excel sheets, etc.)

When you make sure of decryption possibility transfer the money to our bitcoin wallet. As soon as we receive the money we will send you:
1. Decryption program.
2. Detailed instruction for decryption.
3. And individual keys for decrypting your files.

Do not rename encrypted files.
Do not try to decrypt your data using third party software, it may cause permanent data loss.
Decryption of your files with the help of third parties may cause increased price (they add their fee to our) or you can become a victim of a scam.

As we already mentioned, do not contact cybercriminals, as they might fail to send you the decryptor. Be aware that they locked your data by using malware – and distributing it is a criminal offense (trusting hackers is the same as trusting thieves in real life). Thus, remove Harma ransomware with anti-malware software and try alternative solutions that might help you to recover your data.

Additionally, to recover from virus damage that was done upon the infection, experts[5] recommend scanning the computer with FortectIntego – it can restore the Windows registry and other damaged system files.

Harma ransomware virusHarma ransomware is a type of computer virus that focuses on money extortion by locking all user files on the device

Harma swaps Dharma family and reborn as a member of Ouroborus

Ouroboros ransomware has been around since 2019. According to researchers, it has been managed by a variety of cybercriminal groups and attacked a significant number of home users and businesses worldwide. It is known that this threat is being distributed via Remote Desktop Protocol brute-force attacks and infected software downloads.

The most proliferate variants of Ouroboros are the .Lazarus, and .Lazarus+ file extensions viruses, though, luckily, experts have already represented a free decryption software for the two. However, there's a list of other versions that belong to this family, including Odveta, King, Zeropadypt NextGen, and Harma.

The .harma Ouroborus virus attracted the attention of researchers due to its file extension and some traits similar to the original version that initially belonged to the infamous Dharma. However, the two are rather different, i.e. built on diverse code, uses unique ransom note, contact emails, and other traits.

Harma Ouroborus virusHarma ransomware stems from two families, i.e. Dharma and Ouroborus

Typically, the .harma file extension virus employs the AES 256 CSB cipher and locks non-system files solely. Upon encryption, it generates a lock screen, which contains the following information:

[+] All Your Files Have Been Encrypted [+]

[-] Do You Really Want To Restore Your Files?
[+] Write Us To The E-Mail : encryptor1996@protonmail.com
[+] If you did not get any response until 24 hours later,Write to this E-Mail : encryptor2020@protonmail.com
[-] Write Your Unique-ID In The Title Of Your Message.
[+] Unique-ID : E49AD5DE
[+] Personal Key:
[+] Please send this to our email
[+] Your Personal KEY: xxxxxxx

Criminals demand to contact them within 24 hours by writing an email to the encryptor2020@protonmail.com or encryption1996@protonmail.com address. However, we do not recommend establishing contact with criminals or supporting their crimes by paying the ransom. Instead of that, perform a full Harma removal with a professional AV engine.

Please note that the Harma Ouroborus may disguise its malicious processes under legitimate Windows executables, such as Runtime Broker.exe[6]. Therefore, you may face difficulties in launching the engine of a security tool. To bypass restrictions, try to remove Harma Ouroborus ransowmare when the system is restarted in Safe Mode with Networking. After that, try to restore encrypted data with the help of instructions provided at the end of this article.

Arm the machine with a powerful security suite to prevent ransomware attacks

It is not a secret that hackers aim to exploit less careful users – and they are doing it successfully for decades now. While some malware distribution methods require no user interaction whatsoever, most infections occur with the help of social engineering. Additionally, unsafe places on the internet, such as Dark Web or sites offering software cracks are the first stops to get infected with ransomware or other threats.

Therefore, to reduce the chance of infection, make sure you follow these tips:

  • Employ robust security software
  • Enable firewall
  • Update your system regularly
  • Enable automatic update feature for all the installed programs on your PC
  • Protect your Remote Desktop connection by using a strong password
  • Avoid websites that offer cracks and keygens, along with pirated software
  • Use ad-blocker
  • Beware that spam email attachments or hyperlinks might be malicious
  • When establishing new software, pick Advanced settings in order to avoid optional applications.

Harma Ouroborus variantPC's can get infected with .harma Ouroborus file extension virus

Better do not try to remove Harma ransomware manually

While it is possible to remove Harma ransomware and all its components manually, it is not recommended. Ransomware is a sophisticated threat that affects different parts of the Windows operating system, and regular users will simply not know where to look to delete the malware completely.

Therefore, rather opt for automatic Harma ransomware removal. For that, you should employ an anti-malware solution that would be able to detect this particular version of Dharma. As evident, not all security applications are capable of doing so, so a scan with alternative anti-malware programs might be needed to terminate the threat altogether.

Once you delete Harma virus, you can connect your backups and restore all your files. If you didn't have any backups prepared, use the guide below for alternative recovery methods that might be able to help you, (although chances are relatively low).

do it now!
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What to do if failed?
If you failed to fix virus damage using Fortect Intego, submit a question to our support team and provide as much details as possible.
Fortect Intego has a free limited scanner. Fortect 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 Fortect, 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 Harma virus. Follow these steps

Manual removal using Safe Mode

If Harma ransomware interferes with your anti-malware software in any way, you should access Safe mode with Networking:

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.
  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.
  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.

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
    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):


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

Remove Harma using System Restore

You can use System Restore to terminate the infection:

  • 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 Harma. 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 FortectIntego and make sure that Harma removal is performed successfully.

Bonus: Recover your data

Guide which is presented above is supposed to help you remove Harma 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 Harma, you can use several methods to restore them:

For file recovery, use Data Recovery Pro

This tool might be able to help you recover at least some of your 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 Harma ransomware;
  • Restore them.

Employ Windows Previous Versions feature if you have no backups

This solution is only available for those who had System Restore feature enabled.

  • 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”.

You can use ShadowExplorer for data recovery

If the virus failed to delete Shadow Volume Copies, there is a high chance you will be able to retrieve all your files using ShadowExplorer.

  • 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.

No decryption tool is currently available for Harma ransomware

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

How to prevent from getting ransomware

Stream videos without limitations, no matter where you are

There are multiple parties that could find out almost anything about you by checking your online activity. While this is highly unlikely, advertisers and tech companies are constantly tracking you online. The first step to privacy should be a secure browser that focuses on tracker reduction to a minimum.

Even if you employ a secure browser, you will not be able to access websites that are restricted due to local government laws or other reasons. In other words, you may not be able to stream Disney+ or US-based Netflix in some countries. To bypass these restrictions, you can employ a powerful Private Internet Access VPN, which provides dedicated servers for torrenting and streaming, not slowing you down in the process.

Data backups are important – recover your lost files

Ransomware is one of the biggest threats to personal data. Once it is executed on a machine, it launches a sophisticated encryption algorithm that locks all your files, although it does not destroy them. The most common misconception is that anti-malware software can return files to their previous states. This is not true, however, and data remains locked after the malicious payload is deleted.

While regular data backups are the only secure method to recover your files after a ransomware attack, tools such as Data Recovery Pro can also be effective and restore at least some of your lost data.

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

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