Merry Christmas ransomware removal instructions
What is Merry Christmas?
Merry Christmas is a ransomware-type virus that stealthily infiltrates systems and encrypts various files. Depending on its variant, Merry Christmas appends one of the following extensions to each file : ".PEGS1", ".MRCR1", ".MERRY", or ".RARE1". Following successful encryption, Merry Christmas opens a pop-up window containing a ransom-demand message. Ransom demanding message is presented in MERRY_I_LOVE_YOU_BRUCE.HTA or YOUR_FILES_ARE_DEAD.HTA files.
As compared to other similar viruses, Merry Christmas's message is relatively short and merely states that files are encrypted and that the victim must contact developers (via "@comodosecuriy" telegram or "firstname.lastname@example.org" email) and pay a specific ransom. The cost is not specified, however, developers of similar viruses usually demand $500 - 1500 Bitcoins. It is also stated that the ransom must be paid within the given time frame (the window contains a timer), otherwise all files are permanently deleted. It is currently unknown whether Merry Christmas uses symmetric or asymmetric cryptography. In any case, decryption without a unique key is impossible. Cyber criminals store this key on a remote server and victims are encouraged to pay hundreds of dollars to receive it. Despite these demands, cyber criminals should never be trusted. Research shows that these people often ignore victims, despite submitted payment - paying does not guarantee that your files will ever be decrypted and it is highly probable that you will be scammed. Therefore, never attempt to contact these people or pay any ransom. There are currently no tools capable of restoring files encrypted by Merry Christmas ransomware. This problem can only be resolved by restoring your 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 that share similarities with Merry Christmas including MafiaWare, Erebus, and EdgeLocker - these are just some examples from many. All ransomware encrypts files and makes ransom demands. There are just two major differences: 1) size of ransom, and; 2) type of encryption algorithm (symmetric or asymmetric) used. Ransomware is often distributed using spam emails (infectious attachments), peer-to-peer networks (for example, torrents, eMule), third party software download sources (free file hosting websites, freeware download websites, etc.), fake software update tools, and trojans. Therefore, be cautious when opening files received from suspicious/unrecognizable emails, and when downloading files/software from unofficial sources. Cyber criminals are capable of exploiting software bugs/flaws. Therefore, keep your installed applications up-to-date and use a legitimate anti-virus/anti-spyware suite. In addition, apps should never be updated via third party tools. The key to computer safety is caution.
Text presented within Merry Christmas pop-up:
ALL COMPUTER DATA ENCRYPTED!
TIME AFTER ALL FILES WILL BE DELETED
YOUR ID -
NOW YOU NEED TO PAY TO RECOVER YOUR DATA AFTER MONEY TRANSFER YOU WILL RECEIVE THE DECRYPTOR
Any attempts to return your files with the third-party tools can be fatal for your encrypted files! The most part of the third-party software change data within the encrypted file to restore it but this cause damage to the files.
Finally it will be impossible to decrypt your files! There are several plain steps to restore your files but if your do not follow them we will not be able to help you!
Merry Christmas ransomware second pop-up variant:
Screenshot of files encrypted by Merry Christmas (".RARE1" extension):
Merry Christmas ransomware removal:
- What is Merry Christmas?
- STEP 1. Merry Christmas virus removal using safe mode with networking.
- STEP 2. Merry Christmas 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 Merry Christmas 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 Merry Christmas 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 Merry Christmas 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 Merry Christmas 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 Merry Christmas 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 Merry Christmas ransomware: