GHOST ARMY ransomware removal instructions
What is GHOST ARMY?
Discovered by Jiri Kropac, GHOST ARMY is a ransomware-type virus that claims to be a legitimate VPN called Hide My Ass. GHOST ARMY is based on another high-risk malware infection called Crypt888. Immediately after infiltration, GHOST ARMY encrypts most stored files and prepends filenames with "Lock." (for instance, "sample.jpg" is renamed to "Lock.sample.jpg"). From this point, all compromised files become unusable. As well as encrypting files, GHOST ARMY changes the desktop wallpaper.
The new image contains a short message informing victims of the encryption and encouraging them to contact GHOST ARMY's developers via an email address provided. Victims then supposedly receive further decryption instructions. Bear in mind, however, that this is a scam. It is currently unknown whether GHOST ARMY uses symmetric or asymmetric cryptography, however, in any case, decryption requires a unique key. Cyber criminals hide these keys on a remote server, allowing them to make ransom demands for their release. To receive their key, the victim must pay a ransom. The cost is currently unknown (we did not attempt to contact these people), however, these costs typically fluctuate between $500 and $1500. In most cases, criminals demand payment in various cryptocurrencies (most likely, Bitcoins). Importantly, they often ignore victims once payments are submitted. In most cases paying gives no positive result - users are merely scammed. In addition, by paying, victims inadvertently support cyber criminals' malicious businesses. For these reasons, you are strongly advised to ignore all requests to contact these people or pay any ransoms. Fortunately, ESET has developed a tool that can be used to decrypt files compromised by GHOST ARMY free of charge (download link). Therefore, there is no need to pay any ransom. If, however, your computer has been infected with other undecryptable ransomware, you should restore your files/system from a backup.
Screenshot of a message encouraging users to pay a ransom to decrypt their compromised data:
There are tens of ransomware-type viruses identical to GHOST ARMY. The list of examples includes (but not limits to) PLANETARY, SERVER, Rapid, Cryptedx, and TripleM. These viruses are developed by different cyber criminals, but all have identical behavior - they encrypt files and make ransom demands. In most cases, the only major differences are size of ransom and type of encryption algorithm used. Research shows that, unfortunately, most of these viruses employ algorithms that generate unique decryption keys. Therefore, file decryption manually is impossible, unless the malware is not fully developed or has certain bugs/flaws (for example, the key is hard-coded, stored locally, or similar). Ransomware-type viruses are one of the main reasons for keeping regular data backups, however, your backups must be stored on an unplugged external storage or a remote server (for instance, Cloud), otherwise they will also be encrypted.
How did ransomware infect my computer?
|Name||GHOST ARMY virus|
|Threat Type||Ransomware, Crypto Virus, Files locker|
|Symptoms||Can't open files stored on your computer, previously functional files now have a different extension, for example my.docx.locked. A ransom demanding message is displayed on your desktop. Cyber criminals are asking to pay a ransom (usually in bitcoins) to unlock your files.|
|Distribution methods||Infected email attachments (macros), torrent websites, malicious ads.|
|Damage||All files are encrypted and cannot be opened without paying a ransom. Additional password stealing trojans and malware infections can be installed together with a ransomware infection.|
To eliminate GHOST ARMY virus our malware researchers recommend scanning your computer with Spyhunter.
How to protect yourself from ransomware infections?
The key to computer safety is caution. Therefore, pay close attention when browsing the Internet. Never open files received from suspicious email addresses - these emails should be deleted immediately, without reading. Download your applications from official sources only and avoid using third party downloaders/installers (use direct download links), since they are likely to proliferate dubious apps. Keep installed applications up-to-date and use a legitimate anti-virus suite, however, you are strongly advised to use implemented update functions or tools provided by official developers (as mentioned above, criminals proliferate ransomware via fake updaters).
Text presented in GHOST ARMY desktop wallpaper:
YOU HAVE BEEN HACKED =)
ALL YOUR FILES HAS BEEN ENCRYPTED. FOR REPAIR CONTACT US:
IF YOU ARE NOT SURE, TURN OFF THE COMPUTER
Screenshot of GHOST ARMY ransomware's decrypter developed by ESET:
Screenshot of files encrypted by GHOST ARMY (prepends filenames with "Lock."):
GHOST ARMY ransomware removal:
Instant automatic removal of GHOST ARMY 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 GHOST ARMY virus. Download it by clicking the button below:
- What is GHOST ARMY?
- STEP 1. GHOST ARMY virus removal using safe mode with networking.
- STEP 2. GHOST ARMY 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 GHOST ARMY 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 GHOST ARMY 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 GHOST ARMY 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 GHOST ARMY 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 GHOST ARMY 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.
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 GHOST ARMY ransomware: