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LIGMA ransomware. How to remove? (Uninstall guide)

removal by Olivia Morelli - - | Type: Ransomware

LIGMA ransomware is a virus that functions as a wiper

LIGMA ransomware
LIGMA ransomware is a dangerous cyber infection capable of licking files and preventing users from booting the system correctly

LIGMA ransomware is a new infection that showed up in September 2018. Thousands of Crypto-viruses are developed for money extortion from its victims. However, this cyber threat is different – it functions as a wiper, meaning that file recovery is not possible via the ransom payment (crooks don't even ask for it). Nevertheless, the malware encrypts data using the AES-256 encryption algorithm and appends .ForgiveME file extension. LIGMA ransomware is designed for Windows 7 x86 users and creates a path in C:\ WinWOW32 and the Temp folder, inserting files LIGMA.exe, Payloads.dll, work.bat, mbr.bin, and quite a few others.

SUMMARY
Name LIGMA ransomware
Type Ransomware-wiper
Cipher AES-256
Ransom size Not asked for/is impossible
File extension .ForgiveME
Distribution Unknown, but most likely 
Detection and elimination Use reputable anti-malware software like Reimage 

It is not known how the cyber threat is distributed, but it is most likely to spread via contaminated spam email attachments or links. Additionally, hacked or malicious websites, as well as file-sharing ones, are highly likely to be used for LIGMA ransomware distribution. 

As soon as the LIGMA ransomware payload modifies system and personal files, it forces a Blue Screen of Death. After the reboot, victims realize that they cannot access their computers anymore. The reason is that the virus modifies not only personal files to encrypt them, but also cases a PC crash and messes up the Master Boot Record (MBR),[1] which prevents the machine from starting correctly. Therefore, victims don't even get a chance to remove LIGMA ransomware from their computers.

Users are then greeted with the plain black screen that contains the following unpleasant message:

YOUR PC LIGMA BALLS xD
This PC is dead because you did n't follow the rules.
Your PC will never work again.

NOTE: Even if you fix the MBR your Your PC Is Dead.
Entire Registry is Fucked and your files are infected.

It does seem like LIGMA ransomware authors are trying to mock its victims, announcing that their files, together with the Windows OS cannot be recovered. Unfortunately, it is true, and LIGMA ransomware removal is impossible. It is hard to tell why bad actors use such malicious programs t inflict the maximum amount of damage, as they do not receive anything in return. However, the experimental viruses like these are often used for testing purposes, or to gain some negative fame online.

That is why keeping backup is so essential when it comes to ransomware infections. While some more prominent crypto lockers are decryptable by now, some less-known viruses like LIGMA might never be researched by experts, simply because the infection volume is too low.

While researchers[2] might find a way to fix the MBR in the near future, the files will remain encoded until decryptor is created. Therefore, to recover from the wiper attack, users will have to reinstall Windows entirely. To make sure that all the traces are gone users should scan their machines with Reimage and repair any damage that could be caused by the LIGMA virus.

Stay away from spam emails as it is the most prominent ransomware distribution technique

Most users have probably found a spam email in their Inboxes by now. While some phishing messages are reasonably easily recognizable, there are some that come around that even the most computer-savvy individuals might fail to notice. Hackers often use clever social engineering techniques to persuade users to open the infected attachment or click on the malicious link that would download and execute the payload automatically.

Therefore, always take precautions when checking your email. Most of the providers have a built-in scanner that checks messages for scams. However, quite a few of them can bypass the protection and end up in the users' inbox. Thus, do not casually open attachments – scan them using an updated anti-malware software first.

Other things to watch out for:

  • Update your machine whenever it is possible – patches fix critical vulnerabilities
  • Protect your RDP[3] – use strong passwords
  • Avoid questionable websites, such as file-sharing, porn, and similar
  • Do not download software or its updates on third-party sites
  • Install reputable security software
  • BACK UP your files!

Get rid of LIGMA ransomware one way or another

LIGMA ransomware removal might be impossible since computer entry is denied. If, however, in some way you will manage to enter your machine, you should reboot it in Safe Mode with Networking and perform a full system scan using Reimage. Security software will get rid of the infection, and you can then use backups to recover your files.

If you can't access your PC, there will be no way to remove LIGMA ransomware virus without reinstalling Windows operating system. It is a wise idea to upgrade to the latest version of Windows, as it provides more security from cyber attacks. 

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What to do if failed?
If you failed to remove virus damage using Reimage, submit a question to our support team and provide as much details as possible.
Reimage is recommended to remove virus damage. 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.
Alternative Software
Different security software includes different virus database. If you didn’t succeed in finding malware with Reimage, try running alternative scan with Malwarebytes.
Alternative Software
Different security software includes different virus database. If you didn’t succeed in finding malware with Reimage, try running alternative scan with Combo Cleaner.

To remove LIGMA virus, follow these steps:

Remove LIGMA using Safe Mode with Networking

To remove LIGMA ransomware, follow these steps to enter Safe Mode with Networking:

  • 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 LIGMA

    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 LIGMA removal.

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

Remove LIGMA using System Restore

You can also disable malware by using System Restore:

  • 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 LIGMA. 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 LIGMA removal is performed successfully.

Bonus: Recover your data

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

LIGMA ransomware functions as data wiper. Thus, recovering data without backups is almost impossible. Nevertheless, if you will manage to enter your computer, use the below third-party programs to attempt file recovery. If lucky, maybe at least some of your data will be saved.

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

Data Recovery Pro can be used to recover affected files

Data Recovery Pro is typically used to get back files that were accidentally deleted or corrupted in some other ways. Fortunately, some users reported that the application can sometimes recover files that are modified by ransomware.

  • 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 LIGMA ransomware;
  • Restore them.

Try Windows Previous Versions feature

This method will only work if you had System Restore function enabled before the virus 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 is a great tool that could get all your data back

ShadowExplorer is an excellent tool if the LIGMA virus failed to delete Shadow Volume copies.

  • 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 decryptor is available yet

Finally, you should always think about the protection of crypto-ransomwares. In order to protect your computer from LIGMA and other ransomwares, use a reputable anti-spyware, such as Reimage, Malwarebytes MalwarebytesCombo Cleaner or Plumbytes Anti-MalwareMalwarebytes Malwarebytes

About the author

Olivia Morelli
Olivia Morelli - Ransomware analyst

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References