Tornado Ransomware

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

Tornado ransomware removal instructions

What is Tornado?

Tornado is a ransomware-type virus discovered by malware security researcher Martin Stopka. Once infiltrated, Tornado encrypts most stored files and appends filenames with the ".[].Tornado" extension (e.g., "sample.jpg" is renamed to "sample.jpg.[].Tornado"). From this point, files become unusable. Furthermore, Tornado creates a text file ("key.txt") and places a copy in each existing folder.

The new text file contains a message informing victims of the current situation and instructing them what to do next. To restore files, victims must contact Tornado's developers (via an email address provided) and pay a ransom. Note that, although it is currently unknown which cryptography (symmetric or asymmetric) Tornado uses, decryption requires a key generated uniquely for each victim. Criminals store these keys on a remote server, and thus, victims must pay a ransom for their release. The cost is not specified - it supposedly depends on how quickly victims contact the cyber criminals, however, in most cases, ransoms fluctuate between $500 and $1500 in Bitcoins or another cryptocurrency. No matter how low the cost, never pay. Cyber criminals are known to ignore victims once the payments are submitted. Paying typically gives no positive result and users are scammed. Therefore, you are strongly advised to ignore requests to pay any ransoms or to contact these people. There are currently no tools capable of restoring files compromised by Tornado. 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:

Tornado decrypt instructions

There are dozens of ransomware-type viruses that share similarities with Tornado including (but not limited to) Twist, SYSTEM, BlackRuby, LOCKME, and MindLost. These viruses are developed by different cyber criminals, but all have identical behavior - they encrypt data and make ransom demands. Ransomware-type viruses commonly have just two major differences: 1) size of ransom, and; 2) type of encryption algorithm used. Unfortunately, most of these viruses employ algorithms that generate decryption keys. Therefore, unless the malware is still in development or has certain bugs/flaws (i.e., the key is hard-coded, stored locally, etc.), restoring files manually is impossible. Ransomware presents a strong case for maintaining regular data backups, however, keep backup files on a remote server or an unplugged external storage. If not, backups are encrypted as well.

How did ransomware infect my computer?

To proliferate ransomware, criminals employ spam emails (infectious attachments), peer-to-peer (P2P) networks (eMule, torrents, and so on), unofficial software download sources (freeware download websites, free file hosting websites, etc.), fake software updaters, and trojans. Malicious attachments typically come in the format of JavaScript files or MS Office documents. By opening these files, users execute scripts that download and install malware. P2P networks and other third party download sources proliferate malware by presenting it as legitimate malware (users are tricked into downloading and installing malware ). Fake software updaters infect the system by installing malware rather than updates or exploiting outdated software bugs/flaws. Trojans are the simplest ones - they open 'backdoors' for other 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?

Be aware that the key to computer safety is caution. Therefore, be careful when browsing the Internet. Do not open attachments received from suspicious email addresses. In fact, these emails should be deleted immediately, without reading. You are also advised to download software from official sources only, using direct download links. Third party downloaders/installers are often used to promote dubious software, and thus these tools should not be used. Keep installed applications up-to-date and have a legitimate anti-virus/anti-spyware suite installed. Note, however, that software should be updated using implemented functions or tools provided by official developer. As mentioned above, criminals use fake updaters to proliferate ransomware.

Text presented in Tornado ransomware text file ("key.txt"):

All your files have been encrypted due to a security problem with your PC.

If you want to restore them, write us to the e-mail:

You have to pay for decryption in Bitcoins.

The price depends on how fast you write to us.

After payment we will send you the decryption tool that will decrypt all your files.

In case of no answer in 48 hours write us to theese e-mails:

Screenshot of files encrypted by Tornado (".[].Tornado" extension):

Files encrypted by Tornado

Update 14 February, 2017 - Security researcher Michael Gillespie developed a free decrypter for this ransomware. You can download it HERE:

tornado ransomware decrypter

Tornado ransomware removal:

Instant automatic removal of Tornado 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 Tornado 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 Tornado 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 Tornado 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 Tornado 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 Tornado 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 Tornado, 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 Tornado 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 Tornado ransomware: