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

removal by Olivia Morelli - - | Type: Ransomware

Vortex ransomware – crypto malware that is still actively infecting users

The image displaying Vortex malware

Questions about Vortex ransomware virus

Vortex ransomware is a dangerous crypto-virus[1] which is believed to belong to Polish hackers. The original variation of this ransomware is called Polski ransomware. The file-encrypting threat employs AES-256[2] cipher to encode victim’s photos, documents, videos, and other potentially important data. When encrypting files, the malware adds .aes file extension to every file affected file. All three variations: Vortex, Polski, and Flotera are known to append the same extension.

Name Vortex ransomware
Variations Polski, Flotera
Ransom note JAK-ODZYSKAC-PLIIKI.txt
File extension .aes
Detected as Trojan.Ransom.Vortex, TR/FileCoder.mshfm, Trojan.GenericKD.5465013
Email addresses rsapl@openmailbox.org, polskiransom@airmail.cc, Hc9@2.pl, Hc9@goat.si.
Removal To get rid of ransomware, we recommend usinf Reimage or Plumbytes Anti-MalwareMalwarebytes Malwarebytes. Then, proceed to data recovery.

Vortex virus corrupts files in all computer drives but skips system folders to keep the computer running. Once the virus is done with the encryption process, it immediately saves some text into a ransom note, which it names as ODZSZYFRUJ-DANE (stands for DECRYPTION DETAILS in the English language). It also gets a random 40-char password from sethcardoza[.]com/api/rest/tools/random_password_generator/length:40/complexity:alphaNumeric site. 

The latest version of Vortex ransomware reportedly uses #$# JAK-ODZYSKAC-PLIIKI.txt name for the ransom note. In this text file, the virus calls itself P_o_l_s_k_i – – r_a_n_s_o_m_w_a_r_e. It demands $100 as a ransom (if the victim pays immediately) or $200 after 4 days.

The first signs of the malware were detected in March, 2016. However, after a month, researchers noticed a hike in its activity again. Flotera ransomware uses the same ransom note and file extension to mark affected files. It exclusively targets Polish[3] users.

The virus subsided for a couple of months, but it got active again in summer months, particularly, June, 2017. The virus hides under pg_ctl.exe or any other randomly named file. Most of anti-virus tools detect the threat as Trojan.Ransom.Vortex, TR/FileCoder.mshfm, and Trojan.GenericKD.5465013, etc. It is not recommended to pay the ransom as the decrypter is already created.[4]

Vortex virus does not create any fancy-looking .html-based ransom notes like Spora virus does[5]. It simply saves the information in a simple .txt file and drops it on the desktop. It is possible that such ransom notes are stored in every folder with encrypted files, too. 

It turns out that Vortex ransomware virus wants to get $299 from the victim in exchange for a decryption tool. It provides two email addresses for the victim and asks to write to them to get further instructions regarding data recovery. This crypto-virus is associated with these email addresses: rsapl@openmailbox.org, polskiransom@airmail.cc, Hc9@2.pl or Hc9@goat.si.

According to the ransom note, the victim has four days to get in touch with the criminals and pay the money they demand; otherwise, cybercriminals promise to lift the ransom price by 100%. We do not recommend you to deal with cyber terrorism by following cybercriminals’ commands. You should not pay the ransom, especially because the chances of recovering your files are low.

Even if you paid, you would get no guarantees regarding data restoration[6]. Since your files are encrypted, there is nothing you can do to force cybercriminals to help you. Therefore, instead of writing a letter to ransomware developers, remove Vortex ransomware with Reimage or another trustworthy anti-malware software. If you have never experienced a ransomware attack, read Vortex virus removal instructions first.

You can find the instructions right below the post. It is very important to eradicate all malicious files from PC because leaving some ransomware remains automatically makes your system more vulnerable to malicious attacks.

A new look – Flotera ransomware

It seems that Polski ransomware developers have decided to step up their ransomware game one more time and release a slightly improved version of Vortex. This time, they dubbed the virus as Flotera ransomware, or, as the virus calls itself, Ŧl๏tєгค гคภร๏๓ฬคгє.

This version is not significantly different compared to the original version – it still uses !!!-ODZYSKAJ-DANE-!!!.TXT as a ransom note and encrypts files using the same encryption routine. Two email addresses provided in the ransom note are flotera@2.pl and flotera@protonmail.ch. Flotera also adds .aes extensions to encrypted files and seeks to extort money from the miserable computer users who accidentally allow Flotera ransomware to be installed on the system.

Victims are advised to rely on data backups. Of course, data recovery measures should be taken only after Flotera virus removal. Luckily, virus researcher Michael Gillespie has found a decryption tool[7].

Known distribution methods

Ransomware viruses do not get into computer system out of thin air. Certain circumstances are needed in order for such malicious virus to hijack the PC system. The first reason allowing malicious programs sneak into your system easily is a lack of computer protection. If you do not have an anti-malware or anti-spyware software installed on your PC, nothing can stop the malicious program from infecting your PC.

Furthermore, the ransomware succeeds in infiltrating the system partially due to users' interaction. Malware is mostly distributed via email. As a result, cyber criminals manage to convince victims to open malicious email attachments just by using basic social engineering skills[8].

Finally, the ransomware can slither into the device with the help of exploit kits, but in such case, the victim needs to have some outdated software on the system. Security vulnerabilities in old programs allow exploit kits to execute code, and that is why you should keep all your programs up-to-date.

Remove Vortex virus today and recover your files

If either of previously-mentioned variations occupied your PC and your files are corrupted, do not waste any time and remove Vortex virus. Update the security program and perform the scan. If the virus blocks you from accessing it, take a look at the below instructions. It will help you regain access to the system and complete Vortex ransomware removal. After the malware is fully eradicated, proceed to data recovery.

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Alternative Software
Different security software includes different virus database. If you didn’t succeed in finding malware with Reimage, try running alternative scan with Malwarebytes.
Alternative Software
Different security software includes different virus database. If you didn’t succeed in finding malware with Reimage, try running alternative scan with Combo Cleaner.
Vortex ransomware virus snapshot
Files encrypted by Vortex ransomware virus are renamed: the virus adds .aes file extension.

To remove Vortex virus, follow these steps:

Remove Vortex using Safe Mode with Networking

Run your PC in a Safe Mode with Networking to eliminate the crypto-malware safely. If you have never heard about Safe Mode with Networking and you do not know how to run your PC in it, follow these guidelines. 

  • 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 Vortex

    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 Vortex removal.

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

Remove Vortex 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 Vortex. 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 Vortex removal is performed successfully.

Bonus: Recover your data

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

You can recover the vast of lost data from a backup. Sadly, many computer users do not see regard as obligatory. They might be the most viable way to detec That is entirely wrong, because only backup can save you from a complete data loss. If you do not have a backup, try one of these techniques.

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

Use data recovery software: Data Recovery Pro

Most computer users find Data Recovery Pro useful, so we definitely recommend trying this tool in case Vortex malware corrupted 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 Vortex ransomware;
  • Restore them.

Shadow Explorer

For data recovery, you can try ShadowExplorer tool. It can help you to detect and take advantage of Volume Shadow Copies, which can be used to recreate corrupted 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.

Vortex Decrypter

Users affected by this malware and seeking for a decryption tool, should visit this link.

Finally, you should always think about the protection of crypto-ransomwares. In order to protect your computer from Vortex and other ransomwares, use a reputable anti-spyware, such as Reimage, Malwarebytes MalwarebytesCombo Cleaner or Plumbytes Anti-MalwareMalwarebytes Malwarebytes

About the author

Olivia Morelli
Olivia Morelli - Ransomware analyst

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References

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