StalinLocker is a ransomware that locks files and asks the victim to guess the decryption code
StalinLocker is the name of a ransomware virus that has been detected by ransomware research team in the middle of May 2018. It's not typical ransomware what so ever. Its payload spreads on the Internet in the form of StalinLocker.exe. Once it's executed, the data on the system's drives are encrypted using strong encryption algorithm. It then locks the screen with a Stalin picture, starts playing a USSR Hymn and gives the victim 11 minutes to guess the decryption code. Thus, this ransomware virus does not fall for the group of extortionists. It's a destructor that aims to wipe out system's drives out of an idea.
|Related files||StalinLocker.exe, USSR_Anthem.mp3|
|Symptoms||Locks all drives detected on the system and displays a Stalin-themed lock screen|
|Size of redemption||It does not demand for a ransom. Instead, the victim is urged to guess the decryption code. 11 minutes are given to complete the guessing.|
|Decryptable||Neither paid not free decryptor available.|
|The only way to eliminate the ransomware is to scan the system with ReimageIntego while in Safe Mode with Networking.|
StalinLocker ransomware started circulating on the Internet on May 10, 2018. Cybersecurity experts detected StalinLocker.exe file, which once executed appeared to be extremely aggressive.
If opened, the StalinLocker.exe ransomware payload unravels StalinLocker ransomware, which runs a multiplicity of system's scrips under administrative privileges to lock all Windows OS drives, including (C:), (D:) or any other detected.
As soon as the virus locks all drives, it sets the Stalin-themed desktop background and enables USSR_Anthem.mp3. Thus the sound of USSR hymn is heard. The lock screen contains the following information:
The victory of socialism in our country is assured
The foundation of the socialist economy is complete
“The reality of our production plan is millions of working people who are creating a new life.”
The text has been translated from Russian. At the moment of writing, StalinLocker ransomware targets Russian-speaking users. It hasn't been translated into any other language, but experts speculate that it's only a matter of time when it gets the update with an English translation.
The worst part is that the StalinLocker virus cannot be decrypted. In fact, it's the destructive piece of malware, which does not seek for money. One the lock screen appears the victim gets only 600+60 seconds (or 11 minutes) to enter a decryption key. However, there's no way to redeem the data except to guess the code.
Unfortunately, people can hardly guess the code without having a background on the USSR history. Crooks ask the victim to calculate the date: 1922.12.30, which is significant for Russia as it's the date of USSR formation.
As soon as the countdown timer gets to 00, all data from the system is wiped out. To prevent this from happening, we would strongly recommend people to restart the system into Safe Mode with Networking right after the attack and run a scan with ReimageIntego or SpyHunter 5Combo Cleaner. That should be sufficient to remove StalinLocker ransomware from the system.
Unfortunately, it's not clear if StalinLocker removal will leave locked drives as they were before the attack. There's a risk of getting the data removed, but there's the same possibility to find it unlocked. In the worst case scenario, you should try to recover the data encrypted by this ransomware with the help of third-party data recovery tools.
No to mention, experts consider the StalinLocker virus to be unfinished yet. It is speculated that it may be rebuilt into extortionist demanding a redemption.
StalinLocker encrypts system's drives and asks to guess the code. No redemption demanded. A destructive cyber infection.
Ransomware distribution techniques
Spam email attachments are the primary ransomware distribution source. Infested files are being appended to .doc, .pdf, .png and similar attachments, which are introduced in a catchy way to attract as many people to open them as possible. However, spam is not the only medium used to disseminate crypto-ransomware viruses. LosVirus.es team distinguished the following methods that currently stand out as the most common:
- Hacked RDP;
- Exploit Kit;
- Rogue software installers or updates;
- Phishing websites;
Therefore, you should not only be careful when handling emails from unknown sources. Hackers use multiple social engineering attacks, so be cautious and always weigh the risk before doing something on the Internet, especially when contacting with files and installers.
Get rid of StalinLocker ransomware virus
StalinLocker removal is the only way to save your files undeleted. In case of attack, you have only 11 minutes to restore your PC to the previous state.
Unfortunately, there's no way to remove StalinLocker ransomware manually. It's a destructive piece of malware, which injects a variety of malicious entries, which can hardly if at all, be detected without a professional anti-virus.
Before you run a scan, make sure to select a reputable anti-virus and necessarily update its definitions. According to VirusTotal analysis, StalinLocker virus features a quite low detection ratio (29/67), so using a reliable tool is a must.
To remove StalinLocker, follow these steps:
Manual StalinLocker removal using Safe Mode
Security software startup might be hindered by the virus. Hence, restart your computer in Safe Mode with Networking as explained below:
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 StalinLocker using System Restore
An alternative way to uninstall StalinLocker ransomware by performing 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 StalinLocker. 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 StalinLocker 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 StalinLocker, you can use several methods to restore them:
Recover your files with Data Recovery Pro
Data Recovery Pro is useful when your files are corrupted. In some cases, it might be useful in restoring some files which were encrypted by 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 StalinLocker ransomware;
- Restore them.
Try Windows Previous Versions feature to recover locked files
Windows Previous Versions feature will only work if you had System Restore function enabled during malware 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”.
Shadow Explorer might be useful while trying to get the files back
Shadow Explorer works well if the ransomware fails to delete Shadow Volume Copies.
- 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
Finally, you should always think about the protection of crypto-ransomwares. In order to protect your computer from StalinLocker and other ransomwares, use a reputable anti-spyware, such as ReimageIntego, SpyHunter 5Combo Cleaner or Malwarebytes
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.