STOP Ransomware

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

STOP ransomware removal instructions

What is STOP?

Discovered by malware security researcher, Michael Gillespie, STOP is a ransomware-type virus that stealthily infiltrates the system and encrypts stored data using RSA-1024 cryptography. In doing so, this malware appends filenames with the ".STOP" extension (e.g., "sample.jpg" is renamed to "sample.jpg.STOP"). Once files are encrypted, STOP creates a "!!!YourDataRestore!!!.txt" file, placing it on the desktop. Other variants of this ransomware use .PAUSA and .CONTACTUS extensions for encrypted files.

The new text file informs victims of the current situation and instructs them what to do next. As mentioned above, STOP employs RSA-1024 cryptography. This is an asymmetric encryption algorithm that generates public (encryption) and private (decryption) keys uniquely for each victim. Decryption without the private key is impossible. Cyber criminals store it on a remote server and make ransom demands for its release - to restore their files, users must purchase decryption software together with the key. The total cost is $600. To submit payment, victims must contact STOP's developers via an email address provided. They are also permitted to attach up to three selected files, which are decrypted free of charge and returned to the victim. In this way, cyber criminals supposedly guarantee that the files can be restored, however, these people cannot be trusted. Research shows that cyber criminals often ignore victims, once ransoms are paid. Therefore, paying does not guarantee that your files will ever be decrypted and you will probably be scammed. Furthermore, you will support cyber criminals' malicious businesses. Therefore, we strongly advise you to ignore all requests to contact these people or pay any ransom. Unfortunately, there are no tools capable of cracking RSA-1024 cryptography and restoring files encrypted by STOP. Therefore, you can only restore everything from a backup.

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

STOP decrypt instructions

STOP is virtually identical to Dangerous, GenoCheats, File-Locker, and dozens of other ransomware-type viruses. All are developed by different cyber criminals, however, they have identical behavior - they encrypt data and make ransom demands. In most cases, there are just two major differences: 1) size of ransom, and; 2) type of encryption algorithm used. Research shows that, unfortunately, most of these viruses employ algorithms that generate unique decryption keys (e.g., AES, RSA, etc.) Therefore, unless the malware has certain bugs/flaws (e.g., stores the key locally, is hard-coded, or similar), restoring files without developers' help is impossible. STOP and other ransomware-type viruses are one of the main reasons for maintaining regular data backups. Note that backup files must be stored on a remote server or external storage, otherwise malware encrypts them as well.

How did ransomware infect my computer?

Ransomware-type viruses are proliferated in various ways, however, the most popular five are: 1) spam emails; 2) peer-to-peer [P2P] networks; 3) third party software download sources; 4) fake software update tools, and; 5) trojans. Spam emails often contain malicious attachments (e.g., MS Office documents, JavaScript files, etc.) that, once opened, download and install malware. P2P networks and other unofficial download sources proliferate malware by presenting it as legitimate software. Users are tricked into downloading and installing malware. Fake software updaters exploit outdated software bugs/flaws to infect the system. Trojans are the simplest of all - they open "backdoors" 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. Therefore, pay close attention when browsing the Internet. Never open attachments received from suspicious email addresses - these emails should be deleted without reading. Furthermore, download your applications from official sources only and, preferably, using a direct download link. We also recommend that you avoid using third party download/installation tools, since criminals monetize them by promoting dubious programs (the "bundling" method). Keep installed applications up-to-date and use a legitimate anti-virus/anti-spyware suite.

Text presented in STOP ransomware text file ("!!!YourDataRestore!!!.txt"):

All your important files were encrypted on this PC.

All files with .STOP extension are encrypted.

Encryption was produced using unique private key RSA-1024 generated for this computer.

To decrypt your files, you need to obtain private key + decrypt software.

To retrieve the private key and decrypt software, you need to contact us by email send us an email your !!!YourDataRestore!!!.txt file and wait for further instructions.

For you to be sure, that we can decrypt your files - you can send us a 1-3 any not very big encrypted files and we will send you back it in a original form FREE.

Price for decryption $600 if you contact us first 72 hours.

Your personal id: -

E-mail address to contact us:

Reserve email address to contact us:

Screenshot of files encrypted by STOP (".STOP" extension):

Files encrypted by STOP

STOP ransomware removal:

Instant automatic removal of STOP 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 STOP 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 STOP 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 STOP 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 STOP 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 STOP 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 STOP, 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 STOP 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 STOP ransomware: