ANNABELLE Ransomware

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

ANNABELLE ransomware removal instructions

What is ANNABELLE?

First discovered by Bart, ANNABELLE is a ransomware-type virus that stealthily infiltrates the system and encrypts most stored files. During encryption, this malware appends filenames with the ".ANNABELLE" extension (e.g., "sample.jpg" is renamed to "sample.jpg.ANNABELLE"). From this point, using files becomes impossible. Research results show that, after successfully encrypting files, ANNABELLE also performs various tasks to corrupt the system and, after rebooting it, locks the entire screen.

Research shows that once executed, ANNABELLE configures itself to run automatically on each system restart. It also terminates a number of running applications/processes (e.g., Google Chrome, Task Manager, MSConfig, etc.) In addition, ANNABELLE modifies IFEO (Image File Execution Options) so that users are unable to run various applications (such as web browsers, text editors, and so on). ANNABELLE is also designed to modify the system's MBR (Master Boot Record) so that users see a message giving credit to certain cyber criminals (responsible for ANNABELLE's development) on each system restart. Research also shows that ANNABELLE attempts to inject itself into removable drives (e.g., USB Flash Drive). ANNABELLE then performs a system restart and, as mentioned above, locks the computer screen and displays a ransom-demand message.

The message informs victims about the encryption and states that decryption supposedly requires keys generated uniquely for each victim. Therefore, to receive a key, each victim must pay a ransom of .1 Bitcoin (currently worth of ~$1000). After submitting payment, users will supposedly be able to decrypt their data. Fortunately, ANNABELLE is developed to use a hard-coded key. In other words, it uses the same key to encrypt all victims' files. Therefore, there is no need to pay any ransom. Malware security researcher Michael Gillespie has released a decryption tool capable of restoring files encrypted by ANNABELLE free of charge (download link). Note, however, that even if ANNABELLE was not decryptable, you should never submit payments to these criminals. Developers of ransomware-type viruses often ignore victims, once the payments are submitted. Paying typically gives no positive result and users are simply scammed. Never trust these people. If your computer has been infected with an undecryptable ransomware, 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:

ANNABELLE decrypt instructions

Although ANNABELLE is somewhat more complex than a regular ransomware-type virus (as mentioned above, it also corrupts the system, rather than simply encrypting data), it shares many similarities with Cypher, Russenger, THANATOS, and dozens of other ransomware infections. Although these viruses are developed by different cyber criminals, all have identical behavior - they encrypt data and make ransom demands. This type of malware typically has just two major differences: 1) size of ransom, and; 2) type of cryptography used. Unfortunately, most of these viruses use RSA, AES, and other similar algorithms that generate unique decryption keys. Therefore, unless the malware is still in development or has certain bugs/flaws (the key is hard-coded, stored locally or similar), file decryption without involvement of developers (contacting these people is not recommended) is impossible. Ransomware-type viruses present a strong case for maintaining regular data backups, however, note that backup files must be stored on a remote server or unplugged external storage. If not, the malware encrypts them as well.

How did ransomware infect my computer?

To proliferate ransomware, criminals often employ spam emails, unofficial software download sources, fake software update tools, and trojans. In some cases, spam emails contain malicious attachments (e.g., MS Office documents, JavaScript files, etc.) that, once opened, stealthily download and install malware. Third party software download sources (freeware download websites, free file hosting websites, torrents, eMule, and so on) present viruses as legitimate software. Therefore, users are tricked into downloading and installing malware. Fake software updaters infect the system by exploiting outdated software bugs/flaws or downloading/installing malware rather than updates. Trojans are the simplest - they open "backdoors" for malware to infiltrate the system. 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 is caution. Therefore, pay close attention when browsing the Internet. Never open any file received from suspicious/unrecognizable email addresses. These emails should be deleted immediately, without reading. It is also recommended that you download your applications from official sources only using a direct download link. Third party downloaders/installers are often used to proliferate rogue apps. Therefore, these tools should not be used. Furthermore, keep installed applications up-to-date and use a legitimate anti-virus/anti-spyware suite, however, it is important to remember that criminals proliferate ransomware via fake updaters. Therefore, apps should be updated using implemented functions or tools provided by the official developer.

The appearance of ANNABELLE ransomware lock screen (GIF):

ANNABELLE pop-up gif

Text presented within this lock screen:

What happened to my files?
All your files are encrypted and secured with a strong key. There is no way to get them back without your personal key.

How can I get my personal key?

Well you need to pay for it. You need to visit one of the special site below & then you need to enter your personal ID (you find it on the top) & buy it. Actually it costs exactly 0.1 Bitcoins.

What is going to happen if i'm not going to pay?
If you are not going to pay, then the countdown will easily ran out an then your system will be broken.

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

Files encrypted by ANNABELLE

ANNABELLE ransomware removal:

Instant automatic removal of ANNABELLE 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 ANNABELLE 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 ANNABELLE 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 ANNABELLE 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 ANNABELLE 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 ANNABELLE 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 ANNABELLE, 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 ANNABELLE 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 ANNABELLE ransomware: