Spartacus ransomware (Removal Instructions) - Recovery Instructions Included

Spartacus virus Removal Guide

What is Spartacus ransomware?

Spartacus ransomware is a crypto-virus that uses hard-coded RSA encryption

Spartacus ransomware renders files inaccessible

Spartacus ransomware is a dangerous virus that was spotted for the first time in the middle of April 2018. It is closely related to the SF.exe file, which may be injected into spam emails, rogue software updates, or installed on the system using brute-force attacks via unprotected Remote Desktop services.[1] It encrypts files using a combination of AES and guard-coded RSA.[2] ciphers. Upon encryption, locked files get .Spartacus or [MastersRecovery@protonmail.com].Spartacus file extension, while the relevant information about the attack can be found on a READ ME.txt file.

Name Spartacus
Classification Ransomware
Danger level High. Corrupts system's settings, locks personal files with hard-coded cipher, demands to pay a ransom
Symptoms Personal files inaccessible. Each of them exhibits an unusual file extension
File extensions used .Spartacus or [MastersRecovery@protonmail.com].Spartacus
Encryption model A combination of AES and RSA
Decryptable No
Download ReimageIntego to eliminate Spartacus completely

Ransomware researchers detected SF.exe file circulating on the Internet and revealed it to be the executable of a Spartacus ransomware. If the potential victim runs the file, the virus unravels the payload and initiates the following Windows OS modifications:

  • Launches Command Prompt using administrative privileges and runs scripts to delete Volume Shadow Copies (cmd.exe / c vssadmin.exe delete shadows / all / quiet);
  • Runs a hard-coded encryptor (AES – RSA) and runs a key generator to create a unique victim's ID;
  • Creates Test mutex to make the system immune to repeated Spartacus ransomware attack;
  • Enables SetForegroundWindow function to display lock screen;
  • Creates a ransom note called READ ME.txt on the desktop;

Spartacus malware does not target files according to their extensions. Instead, it attacks particular system's folders and directories. That's the list of system's locations targeted by Spartacus crypto-ransomware:

  • System
  • ProgramData
  • Desktop
  • MyComputer
  • DesktopDirectory
  • Favorites
  • Personal
  • MyMusic
  • History
  • Personal
  • Downloads
  • Documents
  • Pictures
  • Videos
  • Music

Once the virus renders the data inaccessible by appending .Spartacus or [MastersRecovery@protonmail.com].Spartacus file extension, the ID KEY is created and provided on the ransom note. The victim subsequently is urged to write an email message to MastersRecovery@protonmail.com or MastersRecovery@cock.li and indicate the unique identification number to get payment instructions.

All of your data has been locked us.
You want to return?
Write email MastersRecovery@protonmail.com or MastersRecovery@cock.li
Your personal ID KEY: XXXX
The same notification shows up in the form of a lock screen.

Crooks demand to pay the ransom in Bitcoins, while the size of redemption is said to differ according to how fast the victim contact them. Experts claim that the sum of the ransom Spartacus demands varies from 300 to 500 USD.

The ransom note contains intimidating information urging victims not to try decrypting files manually or using third-party software recovery tools. Currently, it's not known whether it's capable of deleting the files permanently, but we believe that it's possible as long as you do not perform Spartacus ransomware removal.

Spartacus virus displays lock screenSpartacus is a ransomware-type cyber infection that renders hard-coded cipher to lock personal files and demands the victim to pay a redemption in Bitcoins.

We would strongly recommend you not to pay the ransom because any support for hackers motivates them to initiate further attacks. Besides, it's not clear whether criminals have a working decryptor either. At best, you should remove Spartacus ransomware and try to recover your files using third-party data recovery programs. To get rid of ransomware infection, use a reliable security tool, such as ReimageIntego, SpyHunter 5Combo Cleaner or Malwarebytes.

Unsafe browsing behavior is the most common culprit of ransomware attacks

The characteristics of this ransomware are not distinctive from other ransomware family members. It attacks users unexpectedly, encrypts personal files, and demands to pay the ransom in the digital currency. Distribution technique is not unique either. As pointed out by NoVirus.uk.[3] cybersecurity research team, to protect the system from this ransomware it's a must to bypass suspicious emails without opening their attachments.

Some of the emails, indeed, can look trustworthy or catchy. However, keep in mind that cybercriminals are specialists of various social engineering strategies, which is why they know how to mimic public authorities, such as IRS, Amazon, Windows, Apple, and similar.

The distinctive feature of spam emails is an attachment (or link), which is disclosed as a document, pdf file, image or another popular file type. Note that such attachments will require enabling Macros to read the content. That's a catch, so do not allow macros under any circumstances unless you opt for downloading ransomware.

However, spam is not the only ransomware distribution method. Currently, crooks exploit unprotected Remote Desktop Services or create fake software updates, so it's essential to browse the Internet safely. Do not forget to keep anti-virus updated and always enabled.

Learn how to remove Spartacus in a few clicks

Spartacus ransomware removal is the best option you have. Run a full system scan with ReimageIntego, SpyHunter 5Combo Cleaner or Malwarebytes and get rid of all malicious components. Paying the ransom is a mistake because the intentions of cybercriminals may be more aggressive than you thought. They might send you a worm or spyware instead of a working Spartacus decryptor.

Once you remove Spartacus virus from the system, try to recover your files with the help of third-party tools or use Windows Recovery feature.

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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 Spartacus virus. Follow these steps

Manual removal using Safe Mode

Ransomware elimination process can be blocked by malicious processes. The only way to stop them is to restart Windows into Safe Mode with Networking.

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.
    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.
    Reboot
  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.
    Startup

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
    Downloads
    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):

    %AppData%
    %LocalAppData%
    %ProgramData%
    %WinDir%

After you are finished, reboot the PC in normal mode.

Remove Spartacus 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 Spartacus. 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 ReimageIntego and make sure that Spartacus removal is performed successfully.

Bonus: Recover your data

Guide which is presented above is supposed to help you remove Spartacus from your computer. To recover your encrypted files, we recommend using a detailed guide prepared by 2-spyware.com security experts.

Spartacus deletes Volume Shadow Copies, so retrieving them is not possible. Nevertheless, you should try to recover your files using Data Recovery Pro or previous Windows versions. 

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

Data Recovery Pro can help

Data Recovery Pro is a powerful software utility that can extract accidentally deleted files or recover those damaged after system's crash. Nevertheless, it's powerful enough to decrypt files encrypted by Spartacus and other ransomware. 

  • 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 Spartacus ransomware;
  • Restore them.

Separate files can be recovered from Previous Windows versions

System Restore is a feature that allows saving a copy of a particular Windows OS state. It's useful because people can go back to the previous state in case the system starts encountering errors, BSOD or gets infected with a virus. If you are using this feature and has a System Restore Point that was created before the attack, here's what you can to to decrypt at least a part of locked files:

  • 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.

No decryptor available yet.

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

How to prevent from getting ransomware

Stream videos without limitations, no matter where you are

There are multiple parties that could find out almost anything about you by checking your online activity. While this is highly unlikely, advertisers and tech companies are constantly tracking you online. The first step to privacy should be a secure browser that focuses on tracker reduction to a minimum.

Even if you employ a secure browser, you will not be able to access websites that are restricted due to local government laws or other reasons. In other words, you may not be able to stream Disney+ or US-based Netflix in some countries. To bypass these restrictions, you can employ a powerful Private Internet Access VPN, which provides dedicated servers for torrenting and streaming, not slowing you down in the process.

Data backups are important – recover your lost files

Ransomware is one of the biggest threats to personal data. Once it is executed on a machine, it launches a sophisticated encryption algorithm that locks all your files, although it does not destroy them. The most common misconception is that anti-malware software can return files to their previous states. This is not true, however, and data remains locked after the malicious payload is deleted.

While regular data backups are the only secure method to recover your files after a ransomware attack, tools such as Data Recovery Pro can also be effective and restore at least some of your lost data.

About the author
Linas Kiguolis
Linas Kiguolis - Expert in social media

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