BLACKOUT ransomware removal instructions
What is BLACKOUT?
Discovered by malware security researcher, S!Ri, BLACKOUT is a ransomware-type virus that stealthily infiltrates systems and encrypts stored data. During encryption, BLACKOUT renames compromised filenames to include a number of random characters. Unlike other ransomware-type viruses, however, BLACKOUT does not append a file extension. Following successful encryption, the virus creates a text file ("README_3797824_81306.txt") containing a ransom-demand message and places it in every existing folder.
The message informs victims of the encryption and encourages them to contact BLACKOUT's developers via email to restore the data. It is currently unknown whether BLACKOUT uses symmetric or asymmetric cryptography. In both cases, decryption requires a unique key. Cyber criminals store this key on a remote server and victims are encouraged to pay a ransom to receive a decryption tool (with an embedded key). The cost is unconfirmed, however, criminals usually demand the equivalent of between $500 and $1500 in Bitcoins. Despite these demands, never trust cyber criminals. These people often ignore victims, once payments are submitted. There is a high probability that paying will not deliver any positive result and you will be scammed. Furthermore, you will you lose your money and support cyber criminals' businesses. Never attempt to contact these people or pay any ransom. Unfortunately, there are no tools capable of restoring files encrypted by BLACKOUT. The only solution is to restore 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 similar to BLACKOUT including Ranrans, Striked and and PowerShell. These are just some examples from many. Note that all of these viruses have identical behavior - they encrypt files and make ransom demands. There are just two major differences: 1) size of ransom, and; 2) type of encryption algorithm used. Furthermore, most ransomware uses cryptographies that generate unique decryption keys (for example, AES, RSA). Therefore, file decryption without developer/criminal involvement is mostly impossible.
How did ransomware infect my computer?
How to protect yourself from ransomware infections?
To prevent ransomware infections, be very cautious when downloading and installing software. Do not open files received from suspicious email addresses, never download software from unofficial sources, and keep your installed applications up-to-date. Bear in mind, however, that criminals proliferate malware via fake updaters. Therefore, updating software via third party tools might lead to high-risk computer infections. Using a legitimate anti-virus/anti-spyware suite is also essential.
Message presented within BLACKOUT text file ("README_3797824_81306.txt"):
Your files have been encrypted ransomware!
Your personal Id: -
Blackout ransomware is a free open source software.
The program is designed to test the protection of OS Windows against ransomware.
The developer of this software is not responsible for any damage caused by the program.
The program is experimental and the entire responsibility for use lies with the user.
HOW TO USE:
To decrypt your files, you need the program blackout_decryptor.exe
If you do not have it, write to email: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
In the letter, send your personal Id and two small encrypted files for trial decryption.
If you dont get answer from email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org in 72 hours,
you need to install tor browser, you can download it here: hxxps://www.torproject.org/download/download.html.en
After installation, open the tor browser to website: hxxp://mail2tor2zyjdctd.onion/register.php
Register on the site a new email address and write to us with his letter to our address: email@example.com
Screenshot of files encrypted by BLACKOUT (renamed to random characters):
BLACKOUT ransomware removal:
- What is BLACKOUT?
- STEP 1. BLACKOUT virus removal using safe mode with networking.
- STEP 2. BLACKOUT 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 BLACKOUT 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 BLACKOUT 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 BLACKOUT 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 BLACKOUT 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 BLACKOUT 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 BLACKOUT ransomware: