POLINA ransomware (virus) - Recovery Instructions Included

POLINA virus Removal Guide

What is POLINA ransomware?

POLINA ransomware locks users' personal files to receive payment for the decryption

POLINA ransomwareRansomware infections can cause permanent data loss

POLINA ransomware is a file-locking virus that uses encryption[1] algorithms to lock users' personal files, like photos, videos, and documents. Such an infection can be very devastating for those who do not have backups. When the malicious program infiltrates the system, it starts the encryption process.

The files are appended with a .POLINA extension. So if a file was previously named picture.jpg, after encryption it would look like this – picture.jpg.POLINA. The icons also change to white pages so thumbnails are unavailable. The main goal behind these attacks is financial gain.

NAME POLINA
TYPE Ransomware, cryptovirus, data locking malware
DISTRIBUTION Email attachments, peer-to-peer file sharing platforms, malicious ads
FILE EXTENSION .POLINA
RANSOM NOTE READ_HELP.txt
FILE RECOVERY It is almost impossible to recover the files if you do not have backups. We provide a third-party recovery option in our guide.
MALWARE REMOVAL Scan your machine with anti-malware software to eliminate the malicious files. This will not recover them.
SYSTEM FIX Windows reinstallation can be avoided with ReimageIntego maintenance tool, which can fix the damaged OS

The ransom note

POLINA ransom noteIt is important to adopt safe browsing habits to avoid ransomware attacks

The full READ_HELP.txt ransom note reads as follows:

All of your files have been ENCRYPTED with POLINA RANSOMWARE

Your computer was infected with a 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.

Email our team at: myfilesrecovery@proton.me OR TELEGRAM: hxxps://t.me/filesrecovery

Don't worry, you can return all your files!

Shortly after the encryption process is done, a ransom note is generated on the machine. It is written by cybercriminals and provides instructions on what people should do. Of course, they want victims to pay for a decryption key. The amount is not specified so it is most likely negotiated privately.

Mostly, threat actors want to be paid in cryptocurrencies[2] because they provide anonymity. We strongly advise against contacting cybercriminals or paying them. Many previous ransomware victims say that they did not receive the promised decryption tools after paying.

Distribution methods

A lot of different techniques are used to spread malicious programs online. But the most common way ransomware is spread is through email attachments. Criminals use social engineering[3] tactics to make people download the infected attachment and open it. Some hacker groups target specific organizations and people so they may cater the email specifically to them.

Ransomware developers can find out victims' friend lists and pretend to be someone they know. It is best to not open attachments you were not expecting or from random users. Even if it is from someone you know, double-check with them through a different platform to make sure it is really them and the file is safe.

Another very popular method for ransomware distribution is software “cracks.”[4] Users often download them from unsafe websites like torrent or peer-to-peer file-sharing platforms. Because they are unregulated, no one can be held responsible for the safety of the files. That is why they are the perfect breeding ground for malware.

Even though it can get costly, it is best to choose official web stores and developer websites. You might save in the long run by not losing your files and damaging your operating system beyond repair. There is a wide range of free apps to choose from as well so you should definitely find something that suits your needs.

How to eliminate ransomware from the system?

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. You should not attempt removing 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.

Malware could prevent you from using antivirus software by turning it off. In that case, you should proceed with accessing Safe Mode first:

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 XP/7

Windows 10 / Windows 8

  1. Right-click on Start button and select Settings.
  2. Scroll down to pick Update & Security.Update & Security
  3. On the left side of the window, pick Recovery.
  4. Now scroll down to find Advanced Startup section.
  5. Click Restart now.Recovery
  6. Select Troubleshoot.Choose an option
  7. Go to Advanced options.Advanced options
  8. Select Startup Settings.Startup settings
  9. Click Restart.
  10. Press 5 or click 5) Enable Safe Mode with Networking.Press F5 to enable Safe Mode with Networking

File recovery using third-party software

Only hackers hold the decryption key, 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 POLINA ransomware.

  1. Download Data Recovery Pro.
  2. Double-click the installer to launch it.
    POLINA ransomware
  3. Follow on-screen instructions to install the software.Install program
  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 from.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

The operating system is left damaged after an attack

Performance, stability, and usability issues, to the point where a full Windows reinstall is required, are expected after 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
    Reimage download
  • If User Account Control (UAC) shows up, select Yes
  • Press Install and wait till the program finishes the installation processReimage installation
  • 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

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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 POLINA virus. Follow these steps

Isolate the infected computer

Some ransomware strains aim to infect not only one computer but hijack the entire network. As soon as one of the machines is infected, malware can spread via 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 simply to plug out the ethernet cable. However, in the corporate environment, this might be extremely difficult to do (also would take a long time). The method below will disconnect from all the networks, including local and the internet, isolating each of the machines involved.

  • Type in Control Panel in Windows search and press Enter
  • Go to Network and Internet Network and internet
  • Click Network and Sharing Center Network and internet 2
  • On the left, pick Change adapter settings Network and internet 3
  • Right-click on your connection (for example, Ethernet), and select Disable Network and internet 4
  • Confirm with Yes.

If you are using some type of cloud storage you are 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.

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

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
Olivia Morelli
Olivia Morelli - Ransomware analyst

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