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MerryChristmas ransomware virus. How to remove? (Uninstall guide)

removal by Olivia Morelli - -   Also known as Merry X-Mas! ransomware virus | Type: Ransomware
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MerryChristmas ransomware starts new season with an update

Image of MerryChristmas virus displaying the ransom note

Christmas ransomware (also known as MerryChristmas ransomware, .Merry file extension virus, MRCR1 or Merry X-Mas! ransomware) is a file-encrypting virus that is more a joke than a serious virus. However, if you are not a tech-savvy person, Christmas ransomware may ruin your holiday mood by encrypting your files and asking $100 in bitcoin to get them back. 

Christmas virus[1] encrypts files with an ordinary cipher[2] that blocks the victim from opening his/hers files. However, encrypted files are distorted in a way that no one can restore them without having a special decryption key. To the damaged files, the virus also appends complementary file extensions, such as:

  • .PEGS1,
  • .RARE1,
  • .MRCR1,
  • .RMCM1,
  • .MERRY.

Following data encryption, MerryChristmas ransomware leaves a ransom note called “YOUR_FILES_ARE_DEAD.HTA”. The message opens in the web browser and includes information that users have to purchase a specific decryption key to recover their files:

ALL SERVER DATA ENCRYPTED! [or] ALL COMPUTER DATA ENCRYPTED
03 days 22:55:29 0149
TIME AFTER ALL FILES WILL BE DELETED
YOUR ID [removed]
Merry X-Mas!
NOW YOU NEED TO PAY TO RECOVER YOUR DATA
AFTER MONEY TRANSFER YOU WILL RECIEVE THE DECRYPTOR
CONTACTS
TELEGRAM @comodosecurity
EMAIL comodosec@yandex.com

The latest virus version uses a simplified note:

Your Files are Encrypted
Send 100 $ in Bitcoin to Decrypt Your Files
Merry Christmas

In the first example, you can see that the Christmas ransomware does not provide the exact price of the decryption software. It makes us think that virus’ authors ask for different sums of money from individual victims.

What is more, it is very likely that malware is a software developed by Globe[3] virus’ authors, because it provides the same Telegram messenger contact for victims who want to get in touch with the virus’ authors – @comodosecurity. It’s interesting that criminals use a name of a cyber security company, which is not related to this ransomware virus at all.

Paying the ransom for cybercriminals is always not recommended and risky method to recover encrypted data. But when dealing with this ransomware, transferring bitcoins is unnecessary. Security specialists have already cracked malware’s code and created a decryption tool. The MerryChristmas decrypter is safe and free to use.

However, before data recovery, you must eliminate malware from the system. At the end of the article, you will find detailed instructions how to remove Christmas virus from the computer using Reimage or other reputable malware removal programs.

Christmas ransomware – malicious program that might ruin festive mood in 2017

Security experts noticed that malware developers started preparing for the festive season early this year. A malicious Christmas.exe[4] file has been seen spreading on the web and bringing Christmas ransomware virus on the computer.

The recently discovered Christmas ransomware is still under investigation. However, it can use a strong encryption algorithm to take various image, audio, video, backups, databases or configuration files to hostage. Following successful data encryption, malware delivers a creepy-looking ransom note:

Christmas Ransomware

Your Files Have Been Encrypted!
To Get Your Files Back Pay 0.03 Worth of Bitcoin
to the Given Address Below!

1FrlwkyAvCwxNLT49LkxQdJayLZMCXnZ67

Merry Christmas, He Knows If Your Bad!

Grammar is not the biggest strength of cybercriminals. However, transferring the ransom is not recommended. No one can assure that the virus is decryptable or crooks are willing to share the decryptor with you. Thus, you should remove Christmas ransomware from the computer using reputable antivirus.

As we have told before, Christmas virus is decryptable. Thus, it’s possible that this festive-themed malware will be soon cracked.

Merry X-mas ransomware can steal sensitive information

Even though the holiday season is over, security experts report that ransomware is still active. On January 2017, the festive-themed ransomware has been noticed spreading DiamondFox malware.[5]

DiamondFox is mostly used for stealing passwords, credit card information and other sensitive data. Additionally, it might computers into DDoS bots or opening Remote Desktop (RDP) connections. Therefore, quick MerryChristmas removal is a must for avoiding privacy-related issues or money loss.

This version of the virus still spreads via malicious spam emails. However, it delivers a different-looking ransom note. Data recovery instructions and contact email address remained the same.

Numerous spam email campaigns spread malware executable

Despite the festive name, malware continues spreading after winter holidays. However, the virus continues spreading via email in the form of a deceptive file, which is named COMPLAINT.pdf.exe. Please pay attention that .pdf is not the real file extension – it is part of the filename, and .exe is the real file extension. Therefore, as soon as the victim opens this file, the virus gets activated and roots into the target computer system.

Additionally, the virus might arrive in a malicious document that contains scrambled text and asks the victim to enable Macros to view contents. Sadly, the scrambled text simply obfuscates a script that downloads and installs the ransomware as soon as the victim enables Macros function.

Therefore, security experts from No Virus[6] remind users to avoid suspicious emails that come from unknown people or companies, especially if you weren’t expecting to receive a letter from them. Cybercriminals use many different techniques[7] that help them to deceive naive victims, so try to keep up with the latest cybersecurity news if you do not want to become a victim of a ransomware attack.

Removal guide of the MerryChristmas ransomware virus

It’s important to remove Christmas ransomware (alternatively known as MerryChristmas ransomware) from the device in order to recover files safely using a decryption tool created by Emsisoft. Virus elimination requires obtaining reputable malware removal tool, such as Reimage or Malwarebytes Anti Malware. However, you might encounter some obstacles.

The virus might prevent from installing, opening or running security software. Thus, you should reboot the PC to Safe Mode with Networking before you start automatic Merry Christmas removal. You can find the explanation below:

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What to do if failed?
If you failed to remove infection using Reimage, submit a question to our support team and provide as much details as possible.
Reimage is recommended to uninstall MerryChristmas ransomware virus. 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.
More information about this program can be found in Reimage review.
Press mentions on Reimage
MerryChristmas ransomware virus snapshot
New version of MerryChristmas ransomware

Manual MerryChristmas virus Removal Guide:

Remove MerryChristmas using Safe Mode with Networking

In some cases, ransomware authors make the viruses strong enough to disable antivirus and anti-malware programs. If your scanner is blocked as well, reboot your computer to Safe Mode with Networking. This mode helps deactivate the virus. However, it doesn't get rid of it, so make sure you run a full system scan right after using the following steps:

  • 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 MerryChristmas

    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 MerryChristmas removal.

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

Remove MerryChristmas 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 MerryChristmas. 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 MerryChristmas removal is performed successfully.

Bonus: Recover your data

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

Recover some files with Data Recovery Pro

If your files have been corrupted, run Data Recovery Pro and see if it can restore them. This tool can help to restore various corrupted, damaged, or encrypted files, so in our opinion, it can be really useful.

Use Windows Previous Versions feature to get back your files

System Restore function allows you to restore lost files with a help of Windows Previous Versions. Although this method allows to restore individual files only, we find it very useful:

  • 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”.

Use MerryChristmas decryption tool

To help users infected with MerryChristmas ransomware, security experts presented the official decryter. You can download this tool from here. To use this tool properly, you will need to use an encrypted and the non-encrypted version of the same file. Then, drop those two files (between 64KB and 100MB in size) onto the decrypter's executable and start decryption process. NOTE. This decryptor can help victims who were attacked by ransomware versions leaving .PEGS1, .RAR1, .MERRY, .MRCR1, or .RMCCM1 extensions. 

Finally, you should always think about the protection of crypto-ransomwares. In order to protect your computer from MerryChristmas and other ransomwares, use a reputable anti-spyware, such as Reimage, Plumbytes Anti-MalwareWebroot SecureAnywhere AntiVirus or Malwarebytes Anti Malware

About the author

Olivia Morelli
Olivia Morelli - Ransomware analyst

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References


  • Jukebox

    Malware developers feeling festive, huh.

  • Hreinegrd

    Thanks for holiday wishes, now I want my files back!!!

  • Shaynz

    Thanks God I had backup. I dont know what would I do If I lost all my files at once!