Alcatraz Locker

Also Known As: .Alcatraz virus
Damage level: Severe

What is Alcatraz Locker?

Alcatraz Locker is ransomware-type virus designed to encrypt files using AES-256 cryptography. During encryption, Alcatraz Locker appends the ".Alcatraz" extension to the name of each encrypted file. For instance, encrypted "sample.jpg" is renamed to "sample.jpg.Alcatraz".

Once files are encrypted, Alcatraz Locker creates an HTML file ("ransomed.html") and places it on the desktop.

The HTML file contains a ransom-demand message informing victims of the encryption and stating that files can only be restored by paying a ransom. As mentioned above, Alcatraz Locker uses AES-256 cryptography and, thus, decryption without a unique key is impossible. This key is stored on remote servers controlled by cyber criminals.

Therefore, victims must pay a ransom of 0.3 - 0.5 Bitcoin (at time of writing, 1 Bitcoin was equivalent to ~$700). The ransom must be paid within 30 days, otherwise keys are permanently deleted and decryption becomes impossible. Be aware, however, that developers of ransomware often ignore victims, despite submitted payments.

Therefore, you are strongly advised to ignore all requests to pay the ransom or contact these people. Paying does not guarantee that your files will ever be decrypted and it is highly probable that you will be scammed.

Unfortunately, there are currently no tools capable of restoring files encrypted by Alcatraz Locker. Therefore, the only solution is to restore files/system from a backup.

Screenshot of a message encouraging users to contact the developers of Alcatraz Locker ransomware to decrypt their compromised data:

Alcatraz Locker decrypt instructions

Alcatraz Locker shares many similarities with dozens of other ransomware-type viruses. For example, as with Alcatraz Locker, malware such as Locky, Cerber, CTB-Locker, and Comrade Circle also encrypt files and make ransom demands. There are just two differences between these viruses: 1) type of encryption algorithm (symmetric/asymmetric), and; 2) size of ransom.

Even the distribution methods are identical. Cyber criminals proliferate ransomware via malicious files attached to spam emails, third party software download sources (for example, peer-to-peer [P2P] networks, freeware download websites, etc.), fake software update tools, and trojans.

Therefore, be cautious when opening files received from suspicious email addresses, and when downloading software from unofficial sources.

Furthermore, note that cyber criminals are capable of exploiting software bugs/flaws to infiltrate the system. Therefore, you should keep your installed software up-to-date and use a legitimate anti-virus/anti-spyware suite. Poor knowledge of these threats and rushing steps is often the reason for system infection. The key to computer safety is caution.

Update 2 December, 2016 - Security researchers from Avast have developed a free decrypter for this ransomware. Victims of this malware can use it to decrypt their files for free. Download it HERE.

alcatraz ransomware decrypter by avast

Ransom-demand message (presented in "ransomed.html" file):

Help | Aiuto | Au secours | Ayuda | Hilfe
Pay 0.3283 BTC at 16nQiJ3FQq1hsLK5xHiW51HZMskbgZXVbF
Your ID:sqGBwgbBrWSRMUiF
Q: What's happens?
A : You have been infected by a Alcatraz Locker
Q : What I have to do now ?
A : The only method to get back your document is to pay.
Q : There is a method to decrypt without pay ?
A : No.there isn't, all your data are encrypted with AES-256 with a 128-bit password. NSA use the same algorithm to encrypt top-secret documents
Q : If I don't want pay?
A : You have 30 days to choose if pay or lose your data for ever.
Q : How to Pay ?
A : The only method accepted is Bitcoin follow this link to start pay.

Screenshot of Alcatraz Locker ransomware website:

Alcatraz Locker ransomware website

Screenshot of files encrypted by Alcatraz Locker ransomware (".Alcatraz" extension):

Alcatraz Locker ransomware encrypting victim's files

Alcatraz Locker ransomware removal:

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Quick menu:

Step 1

Windows XP and Windows 7 users: Start your computer in Safe Mode. Click Start, click Shut Down, click Restart, click OK. During your computer start process, press the F8 key on your keyboard multiple times until you see the Windows Advanced Option menu, and then select Safe Mode with Networking from the list.

Safe Mode with Networking

Video showing how to start Windows 7 in "Safe Mode with Networking":

Windows 8 users: Start Windows 8 is Safe Mode with Networking - Go to Windows 8 Start Screen, type Advanced, in the search results select Settings. Click Advanced startup options, in the opened "General PC Settings" window, select Advanced startup. Click the "Restart now" button. Your computer will now restart into the "Advanced Startup options menu".

Click the "Troubleshoot" button, and then click the "Advanced options" button. In the advanced option screen, click "Startup settings". Click the "Restart" button. Your PC will restart into the Startup Settings screen. Press F5 to boot in Safe Mode with Networking.

Windows 8 Safe Mode with networking

Video showing how to start Windows 8 in "Safe Mode with Networking":

Step 2

Log in to the account infected with the Alcatraz Locker virus. Start your Internet browser and download a legitimate anti-spyware program. Update the anti-spyware software and start a full system scan. Remove all entries detected.

If you cannot start your computer in Safe Mode with Networking, try performing a System Restore.

Video showing how to remove ransomware virus using "Safe Mode with Command Prompt" and "System Restore":

1. During your computer start process, press the F8 key on your keyboard multiple times until the Windows Advanced Options menu appears, and then select Safe Mode with Command Prompt from the list and press ENTER.

Boot your computer in Safe Mode with Command Prompt

2. When Command Prompt mode loads, enter the following line: cd restore and press ENTER.

system restore using command prompt type cd restore

3. Next, type this line: rstrui.exe and press ENTER.

system restore using command prompt rstrui.exe

4. In the opened window, click "Next".

restore system files and settings

5. Select one of the available Restore Points and click "Next" (this will restore your computer system to an earlier time and date, prior to the Alcatraz Locker ransomware virus infiltrating your PC).

select a restore point

6. In the opened window, click "Yes".

run system restore

7. After restoring your computer to a previous date, download and scan your PC with recommended malware removal software to eliminate any remaining Alcatraz Locker ransomware files.

To restore individual files encrypted by this ransomware, try using Windows Previous Versions feature. This method is only effective if the System Restore function was enabled on an infected operating system. Note that some variants of Alcatraz Locker are known to remove Shadow Volume Copies of the files, so this method may not work on all computers.

To restore a file, right-click over it, go into Properties, and select the Previous Versions tab. If the relevant file has a Restore Point, select it and click the "Restore" button.

Restoring files encrypted by CryptoDefense

If you cannot start your computer in Safe Mode with Networking (or with Command Prompt), boot your computer using a rescue disk. Some variants of ransomware disable Safe Mode making its removal complicated. For this step, you require access to another computer.

To regain control of the files encrypted by Alcatraz Locker, you can also try using a program called Shadow Explorer. More information on how to use this program is available here.

shadow explorer screenshot

To protect your computer from file encrypting ransomware such as this, use reputable antivirus and anti-spyware programs. As an extra protection method, you can use programs called HitmanPro.Alert and Malwarebytes Anti-Ransomware, which artificially implant group policy objects into the registry to block rogue programs such as Alcatraz Locker ransomware.

HitmanPro.Alert CryptoGuard - detects encryption of files and neutralises any attempts without need for user-intervention:

hitmanproalert ransomware prevention application

Malwarebytes Anti-Ransomware Beta uses advanced proactive technology that monitors ransomware activity and terminates it immediately - before reaching users' files:

malwarebytes anti-ransomware

  • The best way to avoid damage from ransomware infections is to maintain regular up-to-date backups. More information on online backup solutions and data recovery software Here.

Other tools known to remove Alcatraz Locker ransomware:

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About the author:

Tomas Meskauskas

Tomas Meskauskas - expert security researcher, professional malware analyst.

I am passionate about computer security and technology. I have an experience of over 10 years working in various companies related to computer technical issue solving and Internet security. I have been working as an author and editor for pcrisk.com since 2010. Follow me on Twitter and LinkedIn to stay informed about the latest online security threats. Contact Tomas Meskauskas.

PCrisk security portal is brought by a company RCS LT. Joined forces of security researchers help educate computer users about the latest online security threats. More information about the company RCS LT.

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Malware activity

Global malware activity level today:

Medium threat activity

Increased attack rate of infections detected within the last 24 hours.

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