Severity scale:  
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Remove PopCornTime ransomware / virus (Improved Guide) - Dec 2016 update

removal by Julie Splinters - - | Type: Ransomware

The dangers of PopCornTime ransomware:

PopCornTime virus is a crypto-ransomware infection that originates from HiddenTear source code and imitates an online movie streaming service to infect computers. Please beware that the original PopCorn Time website has nothing to do with this virus. After finding out that their domain name was exploited for hacking purposes, the administrators of this domain issued a public warning [1]. Interestingly, the software which shares popularity among countless of netizens worldwide also sparks the extortionists’ imagination. It is not the first time since the domains have been compromised. There were multiple cases when the domain was suspected of spreading malware. Using popular brand names is not an uncommon phenomenon among the ransomware hackers. Recently, Locky ransomware has been discussing under Amazon name to infiltrate netizens‘ devices [2]. DailyMotion has also suffered a hijack assault [3]. In relation to this, the ransomware hides under PopCorn Time name, but it marks files with a distinguishable .filok and .kok file extension. It is interesting that before starting the encryption, the virus looks for specific files called been_here and server_step_one. The presence of these files on the computer indicate that is is already infected and no further actions need to be taken. In all other cases, the virus may initiate the lockscreen and begin the encryption. Even if this cyber misfortune has befallen you, there is no need to panic, install Reimage Reimage Cleaner Intego to remove PopCornTime.

The image of PopCornTime ransomware

Questions about PopCornTime ransomware virus

Vindicating the name of the software is becoming a more difficult task for its authors. Hackers still come up with new malware versions which in one way or another exploit Popcorn Time name. It is not surprising since watching movies without charge is one the most popular activities in the cyber space. Luckily, a famous virus researcher Michael Gillespie had found this roaming malware before it wreaked more havoc on the Internet. PopCornTime ransomware exploits SHA-256 hash encryption technique to encode the files. Depending on the technical capacities of your operating system, the malware may take a couple of minutes up to half an hour to encode your files. The very process is disguised with a fake software download screen, so the victims usually do not suspect the encryption is even taking place. Later on, the cyber infection opens up the .txt and .html files named restore_your_files.html and restore_your_files.txt. to inform you about the conditions to retrieve the data. However, paying ransom does not boost up your chances of recovering the files [4].

popcorntime ransomware note

Update: PopCornTime ransomware introduces new and very nasty data decryption option

As evil as they are, PopCornTime virus developers have not used up all of their malicious potential just yet. The hackers are currently implementing a new ransomware distribution scheme which involves exploiting its victims for spreading the malware voluntarily. Well, not entirely so. The users are offered ransomware distribution as an alternative way of receiving the decryption key. So, instead of paying for it, they have to infect two more computers with this virus. This can be utilized by spreading its referral link included in the ransom note. The link leads to a TOR server which contains a file with PopCornTime payload. The users who download the file are immediately infected and the cycle perpetuates. Thus, the virus dispersion is expected to grow more rapidly in the upcoming weeks. Besides, the hackers now also threaten to start deleting the encrypted files if the victim fails to submit the correct decryption key 4 times in a row. This new intimidation technique that the hackers have implemented in the program’s source code might add to the virus growth as well.

suggestion to distribute ransomware

Ransomware dispersion techniques:

The distribution methods of PopCornTime malware are not limited to spam emails. The latter channel has facilitated the hijack of countless ominous ransomware threats such as Cerber virus [5]. In the case of PopCornTime hijack, the very malware is delivered to victims‘ computers via Trojan-Dropper.Win32.Dapato.opig, and Win32/Trojan.Dropper.bed trojans. Nonetheless, not all security tools are able to detect it so far. Updating your anti-virus utilities should be your current priority. Therefore, restrain from using PopCorn Time domain for a while until virus researchers determine where the virus comes from. Lastly, if you spot that Popcorn Time.exe is trying to invade the system, terminate the process say exiting any installation windows and check the task list in the Task Manager. Let us proceed to PopCornTime removal.

Can I remove PopCornTime virus by myself?

The first thing you should do is either to install an anti-spyware application, such as Reimage Reimage Cleaner Intego or Malwarebytes, or update the current. Afterward, initiate the scanning progress. Usually, PopCornTime removal only takes a couple of minutes. Keep in kind that security tools do not decrypt the files so you will need to use extra utilities to recover your encrypted personal data. Only when the elimination process is finished, you can proceed to the data recovery methods. If you struggle to remove PopCornTime virus because of off system errors, enter the Safe Mode with Networking and follow the below-displayed guidelines.

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What to do if failed?
If you failed to remove 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.

To remove PopCornTime virus, follow these steps:

Remove PopCornTime using 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 PopCornTime

    Log in to your infected account and start the browser. Download Reimage Reimage Cleaner Intego or other legitimate anti-spyware program. Update it before a full system scan and remove malicious files that belong to your ransomware and complete PopCornTime removal.

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

Remove PopCornTime 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 PopCornTime. 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 Reimage Cleaner Intego and make sure that PopCornTime removal is performed successfully.

Bonus: Recover your data

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

Does Data Recovery Pro help to decrypt files?

Regarding current ransomware activity on the Web, the developers of this program updated the software and now it may be able to decrypt some of your files.

  • 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 PopCornTime ransomware;
  • Restore them.

ShadowExplorer and its operation peculiarities

This utility recreates the files by using volume shadow copies which are located in a remote folder of Windows OS.

  • 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.

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

Do not let government spy on you

The government has many issues in regards to tracking users' data and spying on citizens, so you should take this into consideration and learn more about shady information gathering practices. Avoid any unwanted government tracking or spying by going totally anonymous on the internet. 

You can choose a different location when you go online and access any material you want without particular content restrictions. You can easily enjoy internet connection without any risks of being hacked by using Private Internet Access VPN.

Control the information that can be accessed by government any other unwanted party and surf online without being spied on. Even if you are not involved in illegal activities or trust your selection of services, platforms, be suspicious for your own security and take precautionary measures by using the VPN service.

Backup files for the later use, in case of the malware attack

Computer users can suffer various losses due to cyber infections or their own faulty doings. Software issues created by malware or direct data loss due to encryption can lead to problems with your device or permanent damage. When you have proper up-to-date backups, you can easily recover after such an incident and get back to work.

It is crucial to create updates to your backups after any changes on the device, so you can get back to the point you were working on when malware changes anything or issues with the device causes data or performance corruption. Rely on such behavior and make file backup your daily or weekly habit.

When you have the previous version of every important document or project you can avoid frustration and breakdowns. It comes in handy when malware occurs out of nowhere. Use Data Recovery Pro for the system restoring purpose.

About the author
Julie Splinters
Julie Splinters - Malware removal specialist

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References

  1. hackerforlife says:
    December 12th, 2016 at 7:29 am

    It is common sense that the hackers will try to disguise under well-known apps…

  2. MrBoo says:
    December 12th, 2016 at 7:30 am

    DECRYPTER! DOES ANYONE HAVE A DECRYPTER?

  3. kevinhoopray says:
    December 12th, 2016 at 7:30 am

    It is high time FBI did something about these attacks…

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