WildFire Locker ransomware / virus (Improved Guide) - Aug 2016 update
WildFire Locker virus Removal Guide
What is WildFire Locker ransomware virus?
WildFire: how dangerous is it?
WildFire Locker virus is a fraudulent software which hit the Internet in the middle of April and was initially targeted at the Dutch users. During that time this virus has been developing and changing, so you might as well recognize it as GNL or Zyklon. WildFire creators have tried different techniques to spread this software around. Currently, hackers use the Kelihos botnet to spread this virus around. This way they can generate an enormous amount of spam daily. These emails carry an infected Word file asking its victims to enable macros. Do NOT fall for this trick because this will launch WildFire on your computer. Once it becomes active, it connects to its own Command and Control server where it asks for a special user ID and password. This is the key feature that hasn’t been noticed in the previous ransomware versions. Once the ID and password are submitted, ransomware starts encrypting victim’s files with the help of AES-256 CBC encryption code which is considered an advanced algorithm, which complicates the decryption process. It appends .wflx extension to each of target files an creates several ransom notes named HOW_TO_UNLOCK_FILES_README_[VICTIM’S ID].txt.
The ransom note starts with a header: “All your files have been encrypted by WildFire Locker.” Then follows information about the encryption type and how the victim can decrypt data. Sadly, the only way to decrypt files is to a pay a ransom, or, as cyber criminals say, “buy a decryption password,” which costs 299 Euros or Dollars. Cyber criminals also inform the victim that he/she has to pay the ransom as soon as possible; otherwise, the price will increase to 999 Euros/Dollars. The ransom note by WildFire ransomware also provides links to the payment site, where the user can learn how to buy Bitcoins (because cyber criminals want to get the payment via BitCoin system), see payment status and try to decrypt two files for free to perceive that decryption is possible and that the criminals do have the decryption key. However, if you are willing to pay the ransom, we want to inform you that paying ransoms only helps cyber criminals prosper and work on new ransomware projects. Besides, our experience suggests that sometimes frauds do not provide the decryption tool after receiving the payment. You should take care of WildFire removal instead.
What is also interesting is that the payment site provides WildFire Locker helpdesk, where the user can send a message to criminals and get an answer within 24 hours. However, we want to warn you and say that crooks are not going to show pity for you, and they are not going to lower the ransom price for you, so you should not even try to negotiate with them. If this virus has encrypted your files, you have to decide whether you want to pay the ransom or not. We do not encourage you to pay; nonetheless, if almost 300 Euros is a small sum of money to you, you can try to buy the decryption key, however, consider the fact that you can lose your money. Also, take note that it is an incredibly complicated task to remove WildFire Locker, therefore, we recommend you to use anti-malware application for that, for example, RestoroIntego.
UPDATE: Good news for the WildFire victims! Recently the famous “No More Ransom” anti-ransomware project has added two WildFire decryptors to its collection. The researchers managed to find a crack in the program’s setup and obtained the code of the botnet panel the hackers were using for the software distribution. The access to the panel also revealed some staggering statistics about the virus as well. It was found that within 31 days the virus has been able to infiltrate 5.309 computers. Only 236 of their users have paid the ransom, generating a profit of around 79.000 USD. Hopefully, the newly released decryptors will help diminish these numbers.
Taking care of the virus prevention:
Various variants of ransomware, including WildFire virus, can be delivered via exploit kits, spam email campaigns, malvertising attacks, and drive-by downloads. You can protect your computer from this malicious infection by applying several layers of protection:
- Install a powerful anti-malware program and install its updates it as soon as its developers release them;
- Also, update all of your programs regularly. If you do not want to do that manually, just enable Automatic Updates;
- DO NOT open emails that come from untrustworthy or unknown sources, also do not open hyperlinks included in the message, and do not open any suspicious attachments;
- Back up your files. For more information, read this post – Why should I create backups?
If you want to remove this virus but it does not allow you to run the anti-malware software, then follows WildFire Locker removal instructions that are provided below.
Removing WildFire Locker and restoring data:
Typically, such dangerous viruses as WildFire are programmed to prevent the user from running anti-malware programs. However, if you are dealing with one of the first versions of this threat, you should be capable of scanning your computer with RestoroIntego or Malwarebytes which showed great results when helping people deal with ransomware. However, if you can’t launch any of these programs, you can use instructions on how to stop the virus for a while and launch antimalware. Follow the instructions carefully to remove WildFire Locker virus. You can recover your files from a backup, or unlock them using one of the two WildFire Decryptors. Nevertheless, there is no 100% guarantee that these decryptors will work on your computer. If you are having difficulties recovering your data and have no backup copies of your files, you can try out the following:
1. Restore the most important files using Windows Previous Versions feature
If your data encrypted by WildFire is not important to you and you need to decrypt only individual files, try using Windows Previous Versions feature. NOTE! This method could help you only if the System Restore function was enabled on your computer. If it was, then try using this guide:
- 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”.
2. Recover your files after WildFire removal using ShadowExplorer
If you are successful enough to deal with the ransomware that does not remove Shadow Volume Copies of the target files, you can use ShadowExplorer to restore your encrypted data:
- Download Shadow Explorer (http://shadowexplorer.com/);
- Follow a ShadowExplorer 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.
Getting rid of WildFire Locker virus. Follow these steps
Manual removal using Safe Mode
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 WildFire Locker 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 WildFire Locker. After doing that, click Next.
- Now click Yes to start system restore.
Finally, you should always think about the protection of crypto-ransomwares. In order to protect your computer from WildFire Locker and other ransomwares, use a reputable anti-spyware, such as RestoroIntego, 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.