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

removal by Julie Splinters - - | Type: Ransomware

Authors of the ShellLocker present new variant of crypto-malware

ShellLocker ransomware virus

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[1] that renames targeted files as [random characters].L0cked.

Created in .NET framework, ransomware[2] 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.

Questions about ShellLocker ransomware virus

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.[3] Thus, we recommend focusing on ShellLocker removal using professional security software, such as Reimage.

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[4] 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 (

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,
  • malvertising.

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.[5] 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, Reimage or Plumbytes Anti-MalwareNorton Internet Security. 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.

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To remove ShellLocker virus, follow these steps:

Remove ShellLocker using Safe Mode with Networking

If you cannot run automatic virus removal, follow the steps below to disable the virus first:

  • 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 ShellLocker

    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 ShellLocker removal.

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

Remove ShellLocker 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 ShellLocker. 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 ShellLocker removal is performed successfully.

Bonus: Recover your data

Guide 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 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 (;
  • 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.

ShellLocker decryptor

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.

About the author

Julie Splinters
Julie Splinters - Malware removal specialist

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