Twist Ransomware

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

Twist ransomware removal instructions

What is Twist?

First discovered by malware security researcher, Michael Gillespie, Twist is a ransomware-type virus that stealthily infiltrates the system and encrypts most files. During encryption, Twist adds the ".[twist@airmail.cc].twist" extension to the name of each encrypted file. For example, "sample.jpg" would be renamed to "sample.jpg.[twist@airmail.cc].twist". Once files are encrypted, using them becomes impossible. After successfully encrypting files, Twist creates a text file ("How_Decrypt_Files.txt"), placing it on the desktop.

The new text file contains a short message informing victims about the encryption and encouraging them to contact Twist's developers via an email address provided. It is currently unknown whether Twist uses symmetric or asymmetric cryptography - this information is not provided. In any case, restoring files without a key generated uniquely for each victim is impossible. Unfortunately, Cyber criminals hide these keys on a remote server and make ransom demands for their release - victims are encouraged to pay in exchange for the key. The cost is currently unknown (we did not contact these people), however, criminals typically demand $500-$1500 in Bitcoins (or another cryptocurrency). Furthermore, these people are likely to ignore victims, once payments are submitted. Therefore, paying often delivers no positive result and users are scammed. For these reasons, never attempt to contact these criminals or pay any ransom. There are currently no tools capable of decryption of files compromised by Twist. The only solution is to restore everything using a backup.

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

Twist decrypt instructions

Twist is regular ransomware and, thus, shares many similarities with BlackRuby, SYSTEM, Payerranso, and LOCKME. Although these viruses are developed by different cyber criminals, they have identical behavior - they encrypt data and make ransom demands. In most cases, ransomware has just two major differences: 1) cost of decryption, and; 2) type of cryptography used. Be aware that these viruses typically use RSA, AES, and/or other similar algorithms that generate unique decryption keys. In these cases, file decryption manually without involvement of the developers (not recommended) is impossible, unless the malware is not fully developed or has certain bugs/flaws (e.g., the key is hard-coded, stored locally, or similar).

How did ransomware infect my computer?

Cyber criminals employ various tools to proliferate ransomware, however, the most popular four are: 1) trojans; 2) fake software updaters; 3) spam emails, and; 4) third party download sources. Trojans work simply - in most cases they merely open "backdoors" for high-risk malware to infiltrate the system, whilst fake updaters infect the system by exploiting outdated software bugs/flaws or downloading and installing malware rather than updates. Spam emails often contain malicious attachments (e.g., MS Office documents, JavaScript files, etc.) that, once opened, download and install malware. Unofficial software download sources (freeware download websites, free file hosting sites, P2P [peer-to-peer] networks, and so on) present malicious executables as legitimate software, thereby tricking users into downloading and installing malware. Essentially, the main reasons for computer infections are poor knowledge and careless behavior.

How to protect yourself from ransomware infections?

The key to computer safety. Therefore, be very careful when browsing the Internet. Never open files received from suspicious/unrecognizable email addresses. Delete these emails immediately, without reading. We advise you to download your applications only from official/certified sources, using direct download links (third party downloaders/installers should not be used, since they often include rogue apps). Furthermore, keep installed software updated, however, cyber criminals proliferate malware via fake updaters, and so applications should be updated using implemented functionality or tools provided by the official developer. Having a legitimate anti-virus/anti-spyware suite installed on your computer is also essential.

Text presented in Twist ransomware text file :

Hello !
All your files have been encrypted !
If you want restore your files write on email - twist@airmail.cc
In the subject write -

Screenshot of files encrypted by Twist (".[twist@airmail.cc].twist" extension):

Files encrypted by Twist

Update 19 February, 2018 - Security researcher Michael Gillespie has created a free decrypter for this ransomware. You can download it HERE.

Twist ransomware removal:

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 Twist 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 Twist virus
1) Download and install   2) Run system scan   3) Enjoy your clean computer!

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 Reimage.

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 Twist 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 Twist 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 Twist 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 Twist, 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 Twist 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.

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 Twist ransomware: