ShellLocker virus Removal Guide
What is ShellLocker ransomware virus?
Authors of the ShellLocker present new variant of crypto-malware
ShellLocker is a file-encrypting virus that appends .l0cked file extension. Malware has been first discovered at the end of November 2016. However, on July 2017, developers presented a Russian version of ransomware that renames targeted files as [random characters].L0cked.
Created in .NET framework, ransomware is supposed to encrypt files using AES-256 encryption. Once all files are corrupted, it changes computer’s background and runs ransom-demanding window. The message says that pictures, videos, and music are encrypted. In order to get them back, victims need to pay 100 USD to the provided Bitcoin address until the timer goes to zero (victims are given 48 hours).
ShellLocker virus spreads via Documents.cmd file that is executed on the system as soon as victim opens an infected email attachment. Then malware downloads malicious files to %AppData% and %Startup% folders.
On the system, malware might also make numerous modifications. For instance, it might modify Windows Registry and delete Shadow Volume Copies that are crucial in data recovery procedure. Thus, victims who do not have backups do not have high chances to get back their files.
However, paying the ransom should not be considered decryption option. Crooks might not have necessary software or do not let you use it even if you have paid the money. Thus, we recommend focusing on ShellLocker removal using professional security software, such as ReimageIntego.
ShellLocker is file-encrypting virus that asks to pay the ransom in order to get back access to the encrypted files.
The chronology of ShellLocker’s updates
Since the appearance of Shell Locker, researchers have discovered few versions of it. The original variant works as a regular ransomware virus that encrypts files and runs a pop-up window with instructions how to pay the ransom.
The second version of malware works as a scam. The virus delivers a fake Microsoft notification that claims that detect a copy of Windows is not genuine. Crooks ask to purchase the license within 48 hours. Otherwise, people may need to pay the fine of 250,000 USD or spend five years in prison.
Another variant of ShellLocker appends .x0lzs3c file extension to each of the encrypted photos, music, video and other targeted files. Crooks ask to transfer 2 Bitcoins to the provided address within two days time. Hackers threaten to delete files if the ransom is not paid until the deadline.
On July 2017, security experts spotted a Russian malware variant that renames files with a random name and appends .L0cked file extension. It provides the ransom note in the lock-screen message. Here crooks inform about encrypted files with AES-256 cipher and give instructions how to pay the ransom. They also leave an e-mail address for communication (email@example.com).
Nevertheless, taking care of your personal files seems the most important task; it’s not. You have to remove ShellLocker from the computer and only then think about data recovery possibilities. It’s crucial to delete the malicious program from the device to keep the system and sensitive data protected.
Distribution ways of the file-encrypting virus
Originally, ShellLocker spreads via malicious spam email attachments as Documents.cmd file. However, it’s not the one and the only distribution channel of the virus. Cyber criminals may use a wide range of different ways to spread malware executable:
- outdated software,
- pirated links,
- fake updates,
- exploit kits,
You might lower the risk of the ShellLocker hijack if you avoid staying in the websites overcrowded with ads and questionable links. Besides, you should never download programs or updates from suspicious pop-ups or insecure file-sharing sites.
Secondly, do not rush to open spam emails even if they are addressed to you directly. Hackers might have exploited various forms of spyware to get a hold of personal data and, likewise, forge the email with your full name.
If you receive emails from a supposed FBI or tax institution, look for grammar and typo mistakes. What is more, such emails often contain altered logos and missing official credentials. In order to protect your device from exploit kits, install a reliable anti-spyware tool.
Getting rid of ShellLocker virus
We recommend performing ShellLocker removal with the assistance of a security program, for example, ReimageIntego or Malwarebytes. These tools will ensure that the elimination process is completed properly.
Nonetheless, if you cannot initiate automatic elimination because you cannot download a security app or other crucial system functions ceased working, use the guide below to recover the access to your device.
Either the ransomware possesses a complex structure, or it is less elaborate, we do not recommend eliminating it manually. Malware damages the system and modifies legitimate processes. Thus, attempts to locate and delete its related files and components may end up with irreparable harm.
Once you remove ShellLocker entirely, you can recover your files from backups or try additional methods presented at the end of this article.
Getting rid of ShellLocker virus. Follow these steps
Manual removal using Safe Mode
If you cannot run automatic virus removal, follow the steps below to disable the virus first:
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
- Click Start > Shutdown > Restart > OK.
- 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.
- Select Safe Mode with Networking from the list.
Windows 10 / Windows 8
- Right-click on Start button and select Settings.
- Scroll down to pick Update & Security.
- On the left side of the window, pick Recovery.
- Now scroll down to find Advanced Startup section.
- Click Restart now.
- Select Troubleshoot.
- Go to Advanced options.
- Select Startup Settings.
- Press Restart.
- Now press 5 or click 5) Enable Safe Mode with Networking.
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:
- Press Ctrl + Shift + Esc on your keyboard to open Windows Task Manager.
- Click on More details.
- Scroll down to Background processes section, and look for anything suspicious.
- Right-click and select Open file location.
- Go back to the process, right-click and pick End Task.
- Delete the contents of the malicious folder.
Step 3. Check program Startup
- Press Ctrl + Shift + Esc on your keyboard to open Windows Task Manager.
- Go to Startup tab.
- 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:
- Type in Disk Cleanup in Windows search and press Enter.
- 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).
- Scroll through the Files to delete list and select the following:
Temporary Internet Files
- Pick Clean up system files.
- 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 ShellLocker using System Restore
Step 1: Reboot your computer to Safe Mode with Command Prompt
Windows 7 / Vista / XP
- Click Start → Shutdown → Restart → OK.
- When your computer becomes active, start pressing F8 multiple times until you see the Advanced Boot Options window.
- Select Command Prompt from the list
Windows 10 / Windows 8
- Press the Power button at the Windows login screen. Now press and hold Shift, which is on your keyboard, and click Restart..
- Now select Troubleshoot → Advanced options → Startup Settings and finally press Restart.
- Once your computer becomes active, select Enable Safe Mode with Command Prompt in Startup Settings window.
Step 2: Restore your system files and settings
- Once the Command Prompt window shows up, enter cd restore and click Enter.
- Now type rstrui.exe and press Enter again..
- When a new window shows up, click Next and select your restore point that is prior the infiltration of ShellLocker. After doing that, click Next.
- Now click Yes to start system restore.
Bonus: Recover your dataGuide which is presented above is supposed to help you remove ShellLocker from your computer. To recover your encrypted files, we recommend using a detailed guide prepared by 2-spyware.com security experts.
Currently, data recovery is only possible using backups. If you do not have them, please try alternative recovery methods. They might help to restore at least some of your files.
If your files are encrypted by ShellLocker, you can use several methods to restore them:
Data Recovery Pro work for restoring files
The main principle of the application is that it is able to track the missing or damaged files of different kind and restore them.
- 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 ShellLocker ransomware;
- Restore them.
Take advantage of Windows Previous Versions feature when recovering files encrypted by ShellLocker ransomware
This method is only available if System Restore function has been enabled before ransomware 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”.
The benefits of ShadowExplorer
This utility is highly helpful as it restores the data according to the shadow volume copies stored on your device. However, this option is only effective if ShellLocker did not delete them.
- 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.
Unfortunatelly, the official decryption software for ransomware is not availble yet. However, we want to stress out that obtainging hackers' recovery tool is not recommended. It may lead to installation of other malware or money loss.
Finally, you should always think about the protection of crypto-ransomwares. In order to protect your computer from ShellLocker and other ransomwares, use a reputable anti-spyware, such as ReimageIntego, SpyHunter 5Combo Cleaner or Malwarebytes
How to prevent from getting ransomware
Choose a proper web browser and improve your safety with a VPN tool
Online spying has got momentum in recent years and people are getting more and more interested in how to protect their privacy online. One of the basic means to add a layer of security – choose the most private and secure web browser. Although web browsers can't grant full privacy protection and security, some of them are much better at sandboxing, HTTPS upgrading, active content blocking, tracking blocking, phishing protection, and similar privacy-oriented features. However, if you want true anonymity, we suggest you employ a powerful Private Internet Access VPN – it can encrypt all the traffic that comes and goes out of your computer, preventing tracking completely.
Lost your files? Use data recovery software
While some files located on any computer are replaceable or useless, others can be extremely valuable. Family photos, work documents, school projects – these are types of files that we don't want to lose. Unfortunately, there are many ways how unexpected data loss can occur: power cuts, Blue Screen of Death errors, hardware failures, crypto-malware attack, or even accidental deletion.
To ensure that all the files remain intact, you should prepare regular data backups. You can choose cloud-based or physical copies you could restore from later in case of a disaster. If your backups were lost as well or you never bothered to prepare any, Data Recovery Pro can be your only hope to retrieve your invaluable files.