PLANETARY ransomware removal instructions
What is PLANETARY?
First discovered by malware security analyst, Lawrence Abrams, PLANETARY is an updated variant of another high-risk ransomware called HC7. A feature of this malware is that criminals spread it manually. They hijack computer networks remotely and install malware on all connected computers. Immediately after infiltration, PLANETARY encrypts most of the stored files and adds the ".PLANETARY" extension to the name of each encrypted file. For instance, "sample.jpg" is renamed to "sample.jpg.PLANETARY". From this point, using files becomes impossible. Following successful encryption, PLANETARY places a text file ("RECOVER.txt") on the desktop.
The new text file contains a short message informing victims of the encryption and makes ransom demands. It is currently unconfirmed whether PLANETARY uses symmetric or asymmetric cryptography. In any case, decryption requires a key that is generated uniquely for each victim (potentially, for each machine connected to the network). Furthermore, cyber criminals hide these keys on a remote server, allowing them to make ransom demands for their release. To restore data, victims must pay $700 dollars for a single/several machines, or $5000 for the entire network. Note also that PLANETARY's developers accept payment in the Bitcoin, Monero, and Ethereum cryptocurrencies. We have encountered hundreds of ransomware-type viruses, most of which demand Bitcoins and, in some cases, Moneros. PLANETARY is the first to accept payments in the Ethereum cryptocurrency. Due to popularity and increasing cost, it is not surprising that cyber criminals have started using this cryptocurrency. Despite this, be aware that cyber criminals can never be trusted. Most ransomware developers ignore victims, after payments are submitted. Paying typically gives no positive results and users are scammed. In addition, paying will support cyber criminals' malicious businesses. For these reasons, all requests to contact these people or pay ransoms should be ignored. Unfortunately, at time of writing, there were no tools capable of restoring files compromised by PLANETARY and 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:
PLANETARY is virtually identical to Krypton, Leon, SERVER, TripleM, and dozens of other ransomware-type viruses. Although all are developed by different cyber criminals, their behavior is identical - all encrypt data and make ransom demands. Most have just two major differences: 1) size of ransom, and; 2) type of encryption algorithm used. Ransomware-type viruses typically use algorithms (for example, RSA, AES, etc.) that generate unique decryption keys. Therefore, unless the key is hard-coded, stored locally, or the ransomware has other similar flaws, restoring files manually is impossible. PLANETARY and other ransomware-type viruses present a strong case for maintaining regular data backups, however, it is very important to store backup files on a remote server (for instance, Cloud) or unplugged external storage. If not, backups are encrypted together with other data.
How did ransomware infect my computer?
How to protect yourself from ransomware infections?
The key to computer safety is caution. Therefore, pay close attention when browsing the Internet. Delete emails received from suspicious addresses and never open files attached to them. Furthermore, download your applications from official sources only and, if possible, using a direct download link (third party downloaders/installers promote dubious programs). Furthermore, keep installed applications updated, however, since criminals proliferate malware via fake updaters, you are advised to use implemented update functions or tools provided by the official developers. Using a legitimate anti-virus/anti-spyware suite is also paramount.
Text presented in PLANETARY ransomware text file ("RECOVER.txt"):
ALL FILES ARE ENCRYPTED.
TO RESTORE, YOU MUST SEND $700 EQUIVALENT FOR ONE COMPUTER
OR $5,000 FOR ALL NETWORK
PAYMENTS ACCEPTED VIA BITCOIN, MONERO AND ETHEREUM
BTC ADDRESS: [bitcoin_address]
MONERO (XMR) ADDRESS: [monero_address]
CONTACT US WHEN ETHEREUM PAYMENT INFORMATION
BEFORE PAYMENT SENT EMAIL firstname.lastname@example.org
ALONG WITH YOUR IDENTITY: [base64_encoded_computer_name]
INCLUDE SAMPLE ENCRYPTED FILE FOR PROOF OF DECRYPT
NOT TO SHUT OFF YOUR COMPUTER, UNLESS IT WILL BREAK
Screenshot of files encrypted by PLANETARY (".PLANETARY" extension):
PLANETARY ransomware removal:
- What is PLANETARY?
- STEP 1. PLANETARY virus removal using safe mode with networking.
- STEP 2. PLANETARY 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 PLANETARY 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.
Download remover for PLANETARY virus
1) Download and install 2) Run system scan 3) Enjoy your clean computer!
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 PLANETARY 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 PLANETARY 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 PLANETARY 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 PLANETARY ransomware.
Note that 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.
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:
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 PLANETARY ransomware: