Moss ransomware (Virus Removal Guide) - Bonus: Decryption Steps

Moss virus Removal Guide

What is Moss ransomware?

Moss ransomware – malicious program designed to make users pay ransom for a data recovery tool

Moss ransomwareMoss ransomware - threat that creates a money-demanding message in a text file named _readme.txt and delivers it to the desktop. Moss ransomware is a data-encrypting computer infection that steps from an extensive malware family known as Djvu. Once inside a Windows system, it encrypts all personal pictures, videos, databases, documents on local and networked drives with RSA cipher. During this process, users' files also receive a .moss extension, are stripped of their regular icons, and can no longer be accessed.

To make compromised data usable again, victims need to retrieve a unique key that is only accessible to Moss virus authors – and they are not willing to give it away for free. In the ransom note _readme.txt, which is dropped on several folders that contain locked files. In the note, malicious actors explain that users need to contact them via or emails and pay a ransom in bitcoins worth $980 or $490.

Since the Moss files virus belongs to the most prominent data-locking family, a free decryption tool exists that might help some victims to recover their files whiteout paying the attackers. However, this program is only recovering files encoded using offline IDs, that are no longer used by developers. You can check if the Emsisofts Djvu decryption tool can help you by uploading some file samples.

Name Moss files virus
Type Ransomware, data locking malware, cryptovirus
Malware family STOP/Djvu ransomware
File extension .moss
Ransom note _readme.txt, which is dropped into every folder where encrypted files are located
Contact information,
File Recovery The only guaranteed way to recover files is by retrieving them from backups. If none such backups were made, there are several other options, which include using third-party recovery software/built-in Windows features, employing Emsisoft's decryption tool, or paying cyber criminals (which is not recommended)
Malware removal Perform a full system scan with powerful security software and remove Moss ransomware
System fix Malware can seriously tamper with Windows systems, causing errors, crashes, lag, and other stability issues after it is terminated. To remediate the OS and avoid its reinstallation, we recommend scanning it with the FortectIntego repair tool

Moss ransomware is almost exclusively spread via software cracks or similar malicious installers downloaded on insecure websites, such as torrents. This method has proved extremely successful for the malware authors, as they are releasing new variants (e.g., Lyli, Copa, Kolz, Lalo, and others) every week, infecting thousands of users in the process. According to researchers, Djvu accounts for around 70% of global ransomware infections, although the real number is likely to be much higher.[1]

As soon as the Moss virus breaks into a Windows computer, it begins to prepare it for the encryption process. These system modifications ensure that the malware can run uninterrupted and can be booted with each computer launch. Besides, it also deletes Shadow Copies from the machine, ensuring that users can not recover their files easily.

There are several other processes that are initiated during the infection phase, which include:

  • Modifications to Windows “hosts” file, which prevents them from accessing security-related websites which provide Moss ransomware removal instructions (to revert this, visit C:\Windows\System32\drivers\etc\ location and delete the URL addresses within the file);
  • Delivery of secondary payloads, such as AZORult data-stealing malware;
  • Injection of data-stealing modules into Chrome, Firefox, or another web browser.

Moss ransomware then begins the data encryption sequence, during which a fake Windows update prompt is shown to victims. Just as other malware of such type, it targets the most popular file types, including MS Office documents, PDF, RAR, JPG, and similar, skipping most of the executables and system files in the process. This is done because the attackers do not want to corrupt the Windows system, but rather extort money for the decryption tool.

After the encryption is done, the following file, called _readme.txt, is dropped on the desktop and other locations within the system:


Don't worry, you can return all your files!
All your files like photos, databases, documents and other important are encrypted with strongest encryption and unique key.
The only method of recovering files is to purchase decrypt tool and unique key for you.
This software will decrypt all your encrypted files.
What guarantees you have?
You can send one of your encrypted file from your PC and we decrypt it for free.
But we can decrypt only 1 file for free. File must not contain valuable information.
You can get and look video overview decrypt tool:
Price of private key and decrypt software is $980.
Discount 50% available if you contact us first 72 hours, that's price for you is $490.
Please note that you'll never restore your data without payment.
Check your e-mail “Spam” or “Junk” folder if you don't get answer more than 6 hours.

To get this software you need write on our e-mail:

Reserve e-mail address to contact us:

Your personal ID:

Unfortunately, it is true that only cybercriminals have access to the unique key that is required to restore .moss files. Nonetheless, there are other methods that could be effective – check for more details in the next paragraph. Remember to remove threats and all the related files before any file recovery. You should rely on AV detection rates for the virus[2] and such engine-based tools like SpyHunter 5Combo Cleaner or Malwarebytes.

Moss ransomware virusMoss ransomware is the virus that marks encoded data with a file appendix .moss.

.moss file recovery options

One of the biggest questions that the victims have is “how can I recover .moss files?” and, in many cases, they mistakenly believe that this can happen as soon as the ransomware infection is eliminated with security software. Unfortunately, this is not correct, as malware uses a secure encryption algorithm to encrypt data.

Essentially, this means that each Moss virus victim is assigned with a randomly-generated ID and a key, which is only accessible to the attackers. Think of it as a unique password that is only applied to your particular computer.

Therefore, even if you remove Moss ransomware, the files will remain encrypted. This can be especially devastating, as users tend to keep the most important work documents, school papers, and invaluable family pictures on their devices. Experts[3] do not recommend paying cybercriminals, however, as they might not send the required decryption tool back, leaving you without your files and money in the process.

There are several other methods you could try when trying to remove .moss extension from your files. One of the most effective methods is a free decryption tool provided by Emisosft for Djvu ransomware victims. However, this decryptor only works under certain circumstances. For the tool to work, the following conditions must be met:

  • Ransomware needs to use an offline ID (which is static) for your files. This happens when malware fails to contact its C&C server[4] to retrieve a unique key from.
  • Somebody with the same .moss extension needs to pay the ransom to criminals, retrieve an offline key, and share it with Emsisoft security researchers.

If the virus managed to contact the remote server and encrypt your data with an online ID, the decryption is currently not possible. Nonetheless, you can attempt to restore at least some. Moss files with the help of third party recovery tools or by using built-in Windows restore points.

Moss file virusMoss virus is the ransomware-type infection that creates issues with the system, but can be removed using anti-malware tools.

Perform Moss ransomware removal using a reputable anti-malware

Before you remove Moss ransomware, you should keep in mind several things. Even if data decryption methods listed below did not help you currently, it does not mean that it will not be possible in the future. For example, security researchers can create a working decryption software for all variants, or cybercriminals' servers might be seized by the law enforcement agencies and all the keys retrieved, allowing victims to recover files for free.

Since Moss virus removal might permanently damage the encrypted data in a way that even a working tool would not help, you should make a copy of the important data – simply use an external storage device or use other data backup methods. Note that encrypted files do not hold any malicious code, so they are safe to keep.

Finally, you can delete the Moss ransomware virus from your system using robust security applications such as SpyHunter 5Combo Cleaner or Malwarebytes. Security software can ensure that all the malware components, along with other potential infections, can be eliminated at once. You can also use FortectIntego to fix damage to Windows, which could have been sustained during the infection process. If the malware remains, it can continue encrypting the incoming files, so it is vital to scan your machine with anti-malware before attempting file recovery.

do it now!
Fortect Happiness
Intego Happiness
Compatible with Microsoft Windows Compatible with macOS
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 Moss virus. Follow these steps

Manual removal using Safe Mode

If malware is tampering with your security software, you can access Safe Mode with Networking and perform a full system scan from there:

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 Moss using System Restore

System Restore can also help with the termination of malware:

  • 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 Moss. 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 Moss removal is performed successfully.

Bonus: Recover your data

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

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

Data Recovery pro might be useful when trying to restore .moss files

Attempt to recover at least some of the files with Data Recovery Pro. This software is more effective if used right after the infection is spotted and eliminated.

  • 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 Moss ransomware;
  • Restore them.

Make use of Windows Previous Versions feature

You might be able to recover files one-by-one with the help of the Windows Previous Versions feature.

  • 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 can automate the data recovery process if the virus failed to delete Shadow Volume Copies

  • Download Shadow Explorer (;
  • 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.

Use Emsisoft's decryption tool

If your files were encrypted with an offline ID, Emsisoft's Decryptor for Djvu might be able to help you.

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

How to prevent from getting ransomware

Access your website securely from any location

When you work on the domain, site, blog, or different project that requires constant management, content creation, or coding, you may need to connect to the server and content management service more often. The best solution for creating a tighter network could be a dedicated/fixed IP address.

If you make your IP address static and set to your device, you can connect to the CMS from any location and do not create any additional issues for the server or network manager that needs to monitor connections and activities. VPN software providers like Private Internet Access can help you with such settings and offer the option to control the online reputation and manage projects easily from any part of the world.


Recover files after data-affecting malware attacks

While much of the data can be accidentally deleted due to various reasons, malware is one of the main culprits that can cause loss of pictures, documents, videos, and other important files. More serious malware infections lead to significant data loss when your documents, system files, and images get encrypted. In particular, ransomware is is a type of malware that focuses on such functions, so your files become useless without an ability to access them.

Even though there is little to no possibility to recover after file-locking threats, some applications have features for data recovery in the system. In some cases, Data Recovery Pro can also help to recover at least some portion of your data after data-locking virus infection or general cyber infection. 


About the author
Jake Doevan
Jake Doevan - Computer technology expert

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