Explorer Ransomware

Also Known As: Explorer virus
Distribution: Low
Damage level: Severe

Explorer ransomware removal instructions

What is Explorer?

Discovered by security researcher, Karsten Hahn, Explorer is a ransomware-type virus based on an open-source ransomware project called Hidden Tear. Once infiltrated, Explorer encrypts various data using AES cryptography. During encryption, this malware appends names of encrypted files with the ".explorer" extension. For instance, "sample.jpg" is renamed to "sample.jpg.explorer". Explorer then changes the desktop wallpaper and creates a text file ("READ_IT.TXT"), placing it on the desktop.

The text file and desktop wallpaper contain an identical message that informs victims of the encryption and encourages them to contact Explorer's developers. As mentioned above, Explorer uses AES - a symmetric encryption algorithm and, thus, a unique encryption/decryption key is generated. Cyber criminals store this key on a remote server and victims are encouraged to pay a ransom to receive it. The cost is currently unconfirmed, however, ransoms usually fluctuate between the equivalent of $500 and $1500 in Bitcoins. Explorer's message also states that victims who contact developers within 24 hours after the encryption pay only half the price. In any case, never trust cyber criminals. Research shows that these people often ignore victims once ransoms are paid. There is a high probability that you will be scammed and paying will not deliver any positive result. In addition, you will support cyber criminals' malicious businesses. Therefore, never attempt to contact these people or pay any ransom. Unfortunately, there are no tools capable of restoring files encrypted by Explorer and 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:

Explorer decrypt instructions

Explorer ransomware is similar to Reyptson, BLACKOUT, Striked, Oxar, and dozens of other ransomware-type viruses. As with Explorer, these malware infections also encrypt files and makes ransom demands. The only major differences are size of ransom and type of encryption algorithm used. Furthermore, most of these viruses employ algorithms (for example, RSA, AES) that generate unique decryption keys. Therefore, manual file decryption is mostly impossible.

How did ransomware infect my computer?

To proliferate ransomware, cyber criminals often use spam emails (malicious attachments), peer-to-peer (P2P) networks (torrents, eMule, etc.), unofficial software download sources (freeware download websites, free file hosting websites, etc.), trojans, and fake software updaters. Malicious attachments are usually delivered in the format of JavaScript files or MS Office documents (with macros) designed to download/install malware. P2P networks and other unofficial software download sources often proliferate malicious files by presenting them as legitimate software. Fake software updaters exploit old software bugs/flaws to infect the system.

How to protect yourself from ransomware infections?

To prevent ransomware infections, be very cautious when browsing the Internet. Firstly, never open files received from suspicious emails or download software from unofficial sources. Secondly, keep your installed applications up-to-date and use a legitimate anti-virus/anti-spyware suite. The key to computer safety is caution.

Screenshot of Explorer desktop wallpaper:

Explorer wallpaper

Text presented within Explorer ransomware desktop wallpaper and text file ("READ_IT.TXT"):

Attention!!!
All Your Documents, Photos, Databases And Other Impotant Personal Files were Encrypted By A Strong Algorithm With Unique Key.
To Restore Your Files, Contact Us With Email Address:
decrypter.files@mail.ru
NOTE: If you Email Us in less than 24 hours , you will be paying half the regular price
your ID=
Explorer V1.58

Screenshot of files encrypted by Explorer (".explorer" extension):

Files encrypted by Explorer

Explorer ransomware removal:

Instant automatic removal of Explorer virus: Manual threat removal might be a lengthy and complicated process that requires advanced computer skills. Spyhunter is a professional automatic malware removal tool that is recommended to get rid of Explorer virus. Download it by clicking the button below:
▼ DOWNLOAD Spyhunter By downloading any software listed on this website you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. Free scanner checks if your computer is infected. To remove malware, you have to purchase the full version of Spyhunter.

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":

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.

windows 10 safe mode with networking

Video showing how to start Windows 10 in "Safe Mode with Networking":

Step 2

Log in to the account infected with the Explorer 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 Explorer 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 Explorer 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 Explorer 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 Explorer, 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 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 Explorer 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 Explorer ransomware:

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 virus and spyware activity level today:

Medium threat activity
Medium

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

QR Code
Explorer virus QR code
A QR code (Quick Response Code) is a machine-readable code which stores URLs and other information. This code can be read using a camera on a smartphone or a tablet. Scan this QR code to have an easy access removal guide of Explorer virus on your mobile device.
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Platform: Windows

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