WORK Ransomware

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

WORK ransomware removal instructions

What is WORK?

Discovered by Lawrence Abrams, WORK is a new variant of high-risk ransomware called CryptoMix. Immediately after infiltration, WORK encrypts stored files and renames them using the "[32_random_letters_and_digits].WORK" pattern. For instance, "sample.jpg" might be renamed to a filename such as "1B25CCFA3B511DCB4215844E3BDE2177.WORK". From this point, files become unusable/indistinguishable. Once files are encrypted, WORK creates a "_HELP_INSTRUCTION.TXT" file and places a copy in every existing folder.

The new text file contains a short message informing users of the encryption and encourages them to immediately contact developers via one of the email addresses provided. CryptoMix is designed to  use RSA-2048 cryptography and, thus, it is safe to assume that WORK also uses this algorithm (RSA-2048 asymmetric cryptography). Therefore, public (encryption) and private (decryption) keys are generated uniquely for each victim. Since restoring files without private keys is impossible, criminals store them on a remote server and charge specific sums for their release. The cost of a key is currently unknown, however, it typically fluctuates between $500 and $1500 in Bitcoins. No matter how low the cost, do not pay. Cyber criminals will ignore you once your payment is submitted. You will be scammed, your their money, and support cyber criminals' malicious businesses. Therefore, ignore all requests to pay ransoms or contact these people. Unfortunately, there are no tools capable of cracking the RSA-2048 algorithm and restoring files compromised by WORK. The only solution is to restore everything from a backup.

Screenshot of a message encouraging users to pay a ransom to decrypt their compromised data:

WORK decrypt instructions

There are dozens of ransomware-type viruses that share similarities with WORK. The list of examples includes (but is not limited to) File Spider, Wallet, ExecutionerPlus, and Shadow. Note that, although these viruses are developed by different cyber criminals, they have identical behavior. All encrypt data and makes ransom demands. These viruses typically have just two major differences: size of ransom and type of encryption algorithm used. Most employ algorithms (e.g., AES, RSA, etc.) that generate unique decryption keys. Therefore, unless the malware stores keys locally (or are hard-coded or accessible in some way), restoring files manually without involvement of developers (contacting these people is not recommended) is impossible. WORK and other ransomware infections are one of the main reasons for keeping regular data backups, however, your backups must be stored on a remote server (for example, Cloud) or a type of external storage. If not, ransomware encrypts them as well.

How did ransomware infect my computer?

Ransomware is proliferated in various ways, however, the most popular five are: 1) spam emails; 2) unofficial software download sources; 3) peer-to-peer [P2P] networks; 4) fake software updaters, and; 5) trojans. Spam emails often contain malicious attachments (e.g., MS Office documents with macros, JavaScript files, etc.) that, once opened, download and install malware, whilst third party download sources (free file hosting websites, freeware download websites, etc.) and P2P networks (torrents, eMule, etc.) often present malicious executables as legitimate software. In doing so, they trick users into downloading and installing malware. Fake software update tools exploit outdated software bugs/flaws to infect the system. Trojans are the simplest ones - they merely open "gates" for malware to infiltrate the system. Ultimately, the main reasons for computer infections are poor knowledge and careless behavior.

How to protect yourself from ransomware infections?

The key to computer safety is caution. Be very careful when browsing the Internet. Never ope attachments sent from suspicious email addresses. In fact, these emails should be deleted without reading. Furthermore, download software only from official/certified sources, using a direct download links. Be aware that third party downloaders/installers are designed to stealthily install rogue programs. Keep installed software updated, and use a legitimate anti-virus suite, however, remember that criminals proliferate malware via fake updaters. Therefore, use implemented update features or tools provided by the official developer.

Text presented in WORK ransomware text file ("_HELP_INSTRUCTION.TXT"):

Attention! All Your data was encrypted!
For specific informartion, please send us an email with Your ID number:
Please send email to all email addresses! We will help You as soon as possible!
DECRYPT-ID-0de02245-3503-4094-aaf8-80702b012c8b number

Screenshot of files encrypted by WORK ("[32_random_letters_and_digits].WORK" filename pattern):

Files encrypted by WORK

WORK ransomware removal:

Instant automatic removal of WORK 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 WORK 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 WORK 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 WORK 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 WORK 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 WORK 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 WORK, 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 WORK ransomware.

Note that the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update includes a "Controlled Folder Access" feature that blocks ransomware attempts to encrypt your files. By default, this feature automatically protects files stored in the Documents, Pictures, Videos, Music, Favorites as well as Desktop folders.

Controll Folder Access

Windows 10 users should install this update to protect their data from ransomware attacks. Here is more information on how to get this update and add an additional protection layer from ransomware infections.

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 WORK ransomware: