Hornet ransomware (virus) - Recovery Instructions Included

Hornet virus Removal Guide

What is Hornet ransomware?

Hornet ransomware makes peoples' personal files impossible to open with encryption

Hornet ransomwareRansomware may cause permanent damage to users' data

Hornet ransomware is a malicious program that uses encryption algorithms to lock users' personal files, like photos, videos, and documents. The main goal of this malware is to extract money from victims. Very often, such infections result in permanent data loss because users do not have backups.

When the virus infiltrates the system, it begins encrypting files and displays a fake Windows update screen during the process. The affected files are appended with an extension that is consisted of random characters. The icons also change to white pages so thumbnails become unavailable. Encrypted files are impossible to open or view.

NAME Hornet
TYPE Ransomware, cryptovirus, data locking malware
DISTRIBUTION Email attachments, peer-to-peer file sharing platforms, malicious ads
FILE EXTENSION Random character string
RANSOM NOTE README_[random_number].txt
FILE RECOVERY It is almost impossible to recover the files if you do not have backups
MALWARE REMOVAL Scan your machine with anti-malware software to eliminate malicious files. This will not recover your files.
SYSTEM FIX Windows reinstallation can be avoided with ReimageIntego maintenance tool, which can fix damaged files

The ransom note

Hornet ransomware generates a ransom note README_[random_number].txt on the device. The full message reads as follows:

! GET HACKED! //////////////HORNET RANSOMWARE\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\!GET HACKED!
You are an idiot why you execute suspicious file this is what you get
All of your files have been encrypted
Your computer was infected with a hornet ransomware . Your files have been encrypted and you won't
be able to decrypt them without our help.What can I do to get my files back?You can buy our special
decryption software, this software will allow you to recover all of your data and remove the
ransomware from your computer.The price for the software is 0. Payment can be made in Bitcoin only.
How do I pay, where do I get Bitcoin?
Purchasing Bitcoin varies from country to country, you are best advised to do a quick google search
yourself to find out how to buy Bitcoin.
Many of our customers have reported these sites to be fast and reliable:
Coinmama – hxxps://www.coinmama.com Bitpanda – hxxps://www.bitpanda.com

Payment informationAmount: 0
Bitcoin Address: 0

Your personal Id:

A ransom note is a message from cyber criminals directed to victims. They inform users that they executed a malicious file and that is why their files got encrypted. People are made aware that if they want to get their data back they will have to pay. Cybercriminals want to receive payments in cryptocurrencies[1] because it provides anonymity.

However, we strongly recommend not paying the threat actors because they cannot be trusted. Many previous ransomware attack victims say that they never received the promised decryption tools after paying the ransom. Although it is almost impossible to decrypt files without the key that only the cybercriminals hold, we suggest trying third-party recovery tools that help in some cases.

Hornet ransom noteDo not trust the cybercriminals as you can lose your money

Distribution methods

Ransomware is mostly spread through Torrent websites or peer-to-peer file-sharing platforms. Users frequently look for “cracked” software[2] to install programs for free. However, platforms that distribute them are unregulated so it is impossible to know if the files you are downloading are safe.

Many people trust freeware distribution platforms. However, they can also include bundled software in the installers. Additional programs can be PUPs (potentially unwanted programs), like adware, and hijackers but they can attach malware as well.

You should always pay attention during the installation process. Choose the “Custom” or “Advanced” installation methods, read the Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. The most important step is to check the file list and untick the boxes next to any unrelated applications.

Another channel used by cybercriminals is email. They use social engineering skills to create letters that look like important and urgent messages from well-known companies that are trusted. They include infected attachments or infected links. That is why it is best to never open attachments from unknown senders.

Disconnect the device from the local network

You need to isolate the affected machine so the virus would not infect the entire network. As soon as one of the machines is infected, malware can spread via the 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 to plug out the ethernet cable. In the corporate environment, this might be extremely hard to do and time-consuming. The method below will disconnect from all the networks, including local and the internet, isolating each machine involved.

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

If you are using some type of cloud storage 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.

Remove the malicious program

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. It would be best if you did not attempt to remove the malicious program yourself. 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. Automatic removal is the best option because there is less risk of leaving some of the traces behind.

If the virus prevents you from using security software, you first need to access Safe Mode.[3] If you do not know how to do it, look for instructions at the bottom of the post.

File recovery options

The decryption key is only in the hackers' hands, which can unlock your files, so if you did not back them up 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 Hornet ransomware.

  1. Download Data Recovery Pro.
  2. Double-click the installer to launch it.
  3. Follow on-screen instructions to install the software.
  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.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.Scan
  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

Your operating system after an attack

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 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 Hornet 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.

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

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

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