Written by Tomas Meskauskas on
Hermes ransomware removal instructions
What is Hermes?
Hermes is ransomware-type malware discovered by Michael Gillespie. Once infiltrated, Hermes encrypts files using RSA-2048 cryptography. This malware does not append extensions to the encrypted files. Following successful encryption, Hermes creates an HTML file containing a ransom-demand message ("DECRYPT_INFORMATION.html"), placing in each folder containing encrypted files. It also provides a UNIQUE_ID_DO_NOT_REMOVE file that victims are encouraged to attach to email messages when communicating with the cyber criminals responsible for this malware.
The message informs victims of the encryption and states that they must purchase decryption software to restore their compromised files. They must do this by contacting cyber criminals via an email addresses provided. As mentioned above, Hermes uses RSA-2048, an asymmetric encryption algorithm, and, thus, public (encryption) and private (decryption) keys are generated. Decrypting files without a private key is impossible. Cyber criminals hide this key on a remote server and make ransom demands to receive it. The cost is currently unconfirmed, however, criminals usually demand $500 - 1500 Bitcoins. Despite these threats and demands, never trust these people - they ignore victims once payments are submitted. Paying does not guarantee that your files will ever be decrypted - you might be scammed. Ignore all requests to contact these people or pay any ransom. Unfortunately, there are no tools capable of cracking RSA-2048 cryptography and restoring files compromised by Hermes. Therefore, 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 hundreds of ransomware-type viruses similar to Hermes including, for example, SerbRansom 2017, Serpent, Zyka, and Digisom. All have identical behavior - they encrypt files and make ransom demands. There are just two major differences between these viruses: 1) type of cryptography [symmetric/asymmetric] used, and; 2) cost of decryption. The distribution methods are also identical. Ransomware-type viruses are distributed using spam emails (malicious attachments), third party software download sources (freeware download sources, free file hosting websites, torrents and other peer-to-peer based networks, etc.), fake software updaters, and trojans. Therefore, never download any software from unofficial sources or open files received from suspicious emails. Furthermore, keep your installed applications up-to-date and use a legitimate anti-virus/anti-spyware suite. Bear in mind, however, that cyber criminals often employ fake software updaters to infect computer system. Therefore, never update your programs via third party tools. The key to computer safety is caution.
Update 14 March, 2017 - Security researcher Michael Gillespie has released a free decrypter that can be used by this ransomware victims to regain control of their compromised files. You can download it HERE. More information on how to use it HERE.
Ransom-demand message presented within the HTML file:
All your important files are encrypted Your files has been encrypted using RSA2048 algorithm using unique public-key stored on your PC. There is only one way to get your files back: contact with us, pay, and get decryptor software. You have “UNIQUE_ID_DO_NOT_REMOVE” file on your desktop also it duplicated in some folders, its unique idkey, attach it to letter when contact with us. Also you can decrypt 3 files for test. We accept Bitcoin, you can find exchangers on hxxp://www.bitcoin.com/buy-bitcoin and others. Contact information: primary email: BM-2cXfK4B5W9nvci7dYxUhuHYZSmJZ9zibwH@bitmessage.ch reserve email: email@example.com
Screenshot of files encrypted by Hermes (no added extensions, folders contain DECRYPT_INFORMATION.html and UNIQUE_ID_DO_NOT_REMOVE files):
Hermes ransomware removal:
Quick menu: Quick solution to remove HERMES virus
- What is Hermes?
- STEP 1. Hermes virus removal using safe mode with networking.
- STEP 2. Hermes 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 Hermes 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 Hermes 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 Hermes 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 Hermes 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 EasySync CryptoMonitor, which artificially implant group policy objects into the registry to block rogue programs such as Hermes 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 Hermes ransomware: