MOLE66 Ransomware

Also Known As: MOLE66 virus
Distribution: Low
Damage level: Severe

MOLE66 ransomware removal instructions

What is MOLE66?

First discovered by MalwareHunterTeam, MOLE66 is an updated version of a high-risk ransomware infection called CryptoMix. Immediately after infiltration, MOLE66 encrypts most stored data using RSA-2048 cryptography. During encryption, MOLE66 renames files using the "[32_random_letters_and_digits].MOLE66" pattern. For example, "sample.jpg" might be renamed to a filename such as "F0E341ACD5BCD456AD21ACD37856EF21.MOLE66". Once files are encrypted, they become unusable and indistinguishable. After successfully encrypting files, MOLE66 generates a text file ("_HELP_INSTRUCTIONS_.TXT") and places a copy in every existing folder.

Following infiltration, MOLE66 checks if there is a Russian locale installed on the operating system. If so, files will not be encrypted. Therefore, it is safe to assume that developers are Russian and attempt to protect their compatriots. The new text file contains a message informing users of the current situation and encourages them to contact MOLE66's developers to restore data. As with CryptoMix, MOLE66 uses RSA-2048 encryption algorithm, which generates two unique keys (public [encryption] and private [decryption]) individually for each victim. Unfortunately, decryption without the private keys is impossible. Cyber criminals store these keys on a remote server, thus giving them an advantage - victims are blackmailed. After contacting the criminals, victims are encouraged to pay a ransom for release of the keys. It is also stated that victims must contact MOLE66's developers within three days after the encryption, otherwise the files are lost forever (they will probably delete the private keys). The cost is currently unknown (users will receive detailed decryption instructions, including the cost via email), however, cyber criminals typically demand $500-$1500 in a cryptocurrency (usually Bitcoins). Be aware that no matter how low or high the cost, you should never pay. Cyber criminals are likely to ignore victims, once payments are submitted. Therefore, paying gives no positive result and victims are scammed. As well as losing their money, victims will support cyber criminals' malicious businesses. For these reasons, you are strongly advised to ignore all requests to contact these people or pay any ransom. Unfortunately, there are currently no tools capable of cracking MOLE66's decryption and, thus, 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:

MOLE66 decrypt instructions

MOLE66 shares many similarities with Gedantar, BansomQare Manna, WhiteRose, L0cked, and dozens of other ransomware-type viruses. Although these viruses are developed by different cyber criminals, their behavior is identical - all encrypt data and make ransom demands. Most ransomware has just two major differences: 1) size of ransom, and; 2) type of cryptography used. Most use algorithms (such as RSA, AES, and so on) that generate unique decryption keys. Therefore, decryption without developers' help is impossible, unless the virus is not fully developed or has certain bugs/flaws (e.g., the key is hard-coded, stored locally or similar). Ransomware is one of the main reasons for maintaining regular data backups, however, it is very important to store backup files on a remote server (for example, cloud) or an unplugged external storage device. If not, malware encrypts them together with regular files.

How did ransomware infect my computer?

To proliferate ransomware, developers use spam emails (malicious attachments), peer-to-peer (P2P) networks, third party software download sources, trojans, and fake software updaters. Spam emails often contain malicious attachments (that typically come in the format of JavaScript files or MS Office documents). By opening them, users inadvertently execute scripts that stealthily download and install malware. P2P networks (torrents, eMule, etc.) and other unofficial download sources (free file hosting websites, freeware download websites, etc.) present malware as legitimate software. Therefore, users are tricked into downloading and installing viruses .Most trojans work very simply - they open backdoors for other high-risk viruses to infiltrate the system. Fake software updaters infect the system by exploiting outdated software bugs/flaws or downloading and installing viruses rather than software updates.

Threat Summary:
NameMOLE66 virus
Threat TypeRansomware, Crypto Virus, Files locker
SymptomsCan'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 methodsInfected email attachments (macros), torrent websites, malicious ads.
DamageAll 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 malware infections our security researchers recommend scanning your computer with Spyhunter.
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How to protect yourself from ransomware infections?

The main reasons for computer infections are poor knowledge and careless behavior. The key to safety is caution. Therefore, pay close attention when browsing the Internet. We strongly recommend that you think twice before opening email attachments. If they look irrelevant and have been sent from suspicious/unrecognizable addresses, never open such files. Delete these emails immediately, without reading. Furthermore, download your applications from official sources only, using direct download links. Third party downloaders/installers are likely to promote rogue programs, and thus, should not be used. Furthermore, keep installed applications up-to-date and use a legitimate anti-virus/anti-spyware suite, however, since criminals proliferate malware via fake updaters, use implemented update functions or tools provided by the official developer only.

Text presented in MOLE66 ransomware text file ("_HELP_INSTRUCTIONS_.TXT"):

!!!All your files are encrypted!!!
What to decipher write on mail
Do not move or delete files!!!!
---- Your ID: ec31f6d6-d73f-44ae-bc10-926e4046c32a ----
!!! You have 3 days otherwise you will lose all your data.!!!

MOLE66 ransomware process in Task Manager:

MOLE66 ransomware in task manager

Screenshot of files encrypted by MOLE66 ("[32_random_letters_and_digits].MOLE66" filename pattern):

Files encrypted by MOLE66

MOLE66 ransomware removal:

Instant automatic malware removal: 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 malware. Download it by clicking the button below:
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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 MOLE66 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 MOLE66 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 MOLE66 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 MOLE66 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 MOLE66, 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 MOLE66 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 MOLE66 ransomware:

About the author:

Tomas Meskauskas

Tomas Meskauskas - expert security researcher, professional malware analyst.

I am passionate about computer security and technology. I have an experience of over 10 years working in various companies related to computer technical issue solving and Internet security. I have been working as an author and editor for since 2010. Follow me on Twitter and LinkedIn to stay informed about the latest online security threats. Contact Tomas Meskauskas.

PCrisk security portal is brought by a company RCS LT. Joined forces of security researchers help educate computer users about the latest online security threats. More information about the company RCS LT.

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Removal Instructions in other languages
Malware activity

Global malware activity level today:

Medium threat activity

Increased attack rate of infections detected within the last 24 hours.

QR Code
MOLE66 virus QR code
A QR code (Quick Response Code) is a machine-readable code which stores URLs and other information. This code can be read using a camera on a smartphone or a tablet. Scan this QR code to have an easy access removal guide of MOLE66 virus on your mobile device.
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