Written by Tomas Meskauskas on
MafiaWare ransomware removal instructions
What is MafiaWare?
MafiaWare is malware based on an open-source ransomware project called Hidden Tear. Following successful infiltration, MafiaWare encrypts files using AES cryptography. In addition, MafiaWare appends the ".Locked-by-Mafia" (or ".Locked-Mafiaware") extension to the name of each encrypted file (e.g., "sample.jpg" is renamed to "sample.jpg.Locked-by-Mafia"). A text file ("READ_ME.txt") containing a ransom-demand message is then created and placed on the desktop.
As compared to other ransomware-type viruses, MafiaWare's message is short and merely states that files are encrypted and that victim must pay a ransom of $155 in the Bitcoin currency. Other similar viruses provide more detailed information such as type of cryptography, payment/decryption instructions, etc. As mentioned above, MafiaWare employs AES cryptography and, therefore, files cannot be restored without a unique key. MafiaWare's developers store this key on a remote server - victims are encouraged to pay to receive this decryption key. Research shows, however, that the people responsible for the development of ransomware-type viruses often ignore victims, despite submitted payments. Therefore, never believe these instructions. We strongly advise you to ignore all requests to pay or contact these people. There is a high probability that paying will not deliver any positive result - you will simply be scammed. Unfortunately, there are currently no tools capable of restoring files encrypted by MafiaWare. Therefore, the only solution is to restore files/system from a backup.
Screenshot of a message encouraging users to pay a ransom to decrypt their compromised data:
There are dozens of ransomware-type viruses similar to MafiaWare including FirstRansomware, Red Alert, and PayDay - these are just some examples from many. As with MafiaWare, most ransomware encrypts files and makes ransom demands. There are just two major differences between these viruses: 1) type of encryption algorithm [symmetric or asymmetric] used, and; 2) cost of decryption. Most ransomware is distributed using trojans, fake software update tools, spam emails (infectious attachments), and third party software download sources (peer-to-peer networks, free file hosting and freeware download websites, etc.). Therefore, use a legitimate anti-virus/anti-sypware suite and keep your installed applications up-to-date. Never update your software via third party updaters. Furthermore, be cautious when opening files received from suspicious/unrecognizable emails and never download applications from unofficial sources. Poor knowledge and careless behavior is often the reason for computer infections. The key to computer safety is caution.
Text presented within MafiaWare text file:
Your files has been encrypted by depsex
Pay $155 to my bitcoin address 1cs7xqkujGWQAMq1y54D68QWKyCz266zz
And send the proof to my email email@example.com
Update 1 February 2017 - Security researchers from Avast have released a decrypter that works for most of HiddenTear ransomware variants. You can download it HERE.
Screenshot of files encrypted by MafiaWare (".Locked-by-Mafia" extension):
MafiaWare ransomware removal:
Quick menu: Quick solution to remove .Locked-by-Mafia virus
- What is MafiaWare?
- STEP 1. MafiaWare virus removal using safe mode with networking.
- STEP 2. MafiaWare ransomware removal using System Restore.
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.
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.
Video showing how to start Windows 8 in "Safe Mode with Networking":
Windows 10 users: Click the Windows logo and select the Power icon. In the opened menu click "Restart" while holding "Shift" button on your keyboard. In the "choose an option" window click on the "Troubleshoot", next select "Advanced options". In the advanced options menu select "Startup Settings" and click on the "Restart" button. In the following window you should click the "F5" button on your keyboard. This will restart your operating system in safe mode with networking.
Video showing how to start Windows 10 in "Safe Mode with Networking":
Log in to the account infected with the MafiaWare 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.
2. When Command Prompt mode loads, enter the following line: cd restore and press ENTER.
3. Next, type this line: rstrui.exe and press ENTER.
4. In the opened window, click "Next".
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 MafiaWare ransomware virus infiltrating your PC).
6. In the opened window, click "Yes".
7. After restoring your computer to a previous date, download and scan your PC with recommended malware removal software to eliminate any remaining MafiaWare 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 MafiaWare 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.
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 protect your computer from file encryption 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 MafiaWare ransomware.
HitmanPro.Alert CryptoGuard - detects encryption of files and neutralises any attempts without need for user-intervention:
Malwarebytes Anti-Ransomware Beta uses advanced proactive technology that monitors ransomware activity and terminates it immediately - before reaching users' files:
- 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 MafiaWare ransomware: