Aurora Ransomware

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

Aurora ransomware removal instructions

What is Aurora?

Recently discovered by MalwareHunterTeam, Aurora is a ransomware-type virus that stealthily infiltrates systems and encrypts most stored files. To achieve this, Aurora uses RSA-2048 - an asymmetric encryption algorithm. During the process, this malware appends filenames with the ".Aurora" extension (e.g., "sample.jpg" is renamed to "sample.jpg.Aurora"). Encrypted data immediately becomes unusable. After successfully encrypting data, Aurora creates a text file ("HOW_TO_DECRYPT_YOUR_FILES.txt" or "!-GET_MY_FILES-!.txt") and places a copy in every existing folder.

As usual, the new file contains text that informs users of the encryption. If victims wish to restore their data, they must contact Aurora's developers via an email address provided and purchase a decryption key. As mentioned above, Aurora uses RSA-2048 algorithm. Therefore, public (encryption) and private (decryption) keys are generated individually for each victim. Restoring files without the private key is impossible. Aurora's developers store all keys on a remote server and make ransom demands for their release. Each victim must pay $100 (using a cryptocurrency) in exchange for their key. As compared to other ransomware-type viruses, this cost is low (costs typically fluctuate between $500 and $1500, and, in some cases, increase to many thousands of dollars). Despite these demands, do not pay. Research shows that cyber criminals (ransomware developers) often ignore victims, once payments are submitted. Therefore, paying usually gives no positive result and you will be scammed. Furthermore, you will support cyber criminals' malicious businesses. Therefore, never attempt to contact these people and certainly do not pay any ransoms. Unfortunately, there are no tools capable of cracking RSA-2048 encryption and restoring files free of charge. 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:

Aurora decrypt instructions

The Internet is full of ransomware-type viruses similar to Aurora. Embrace, JosepCrypt, and CryptoConsole are just some examples from many. Note that although these viruses are developed by different cyber criminals, they have identical behavior - they encrypt data and make ransom demands. The only major differences are size of ransom and type of encryption algorithm used. Unfortunately, most employ algorithms such as RSA, AES, and others that generate unique decryption keys. Therefore, unless the virus is not fully developed or has certain bugs/flaws (for example, the key is hard-coded, stored locally or something like), restoring data manually without involvement of developers (contacting these people is not recommended ) is impossible. Ransomware is one of the main reasons why you should maintain regular data backups, however, store them on an unplugged storage device (i.e., external hard drive, Flash drive, etc.) or remote server (e.g., Cloud), otherwise backups are encrypted with regular data.

How did ransomware infect my computer?

Ransomware-type viruses are proliferated in various ways, however, the most popular five are: 1) spam emails; 2) third party software download sources; 3) peer-to-peer [P2P] networks; 4) fake software update tools, and; 5) trojans. Spam emails are delivered with malicious attachments (e.g., JavaScript files, MS office documents, and similar) that, once opened, execute scripts designed to download and install malware. Unofficial download sources (free file hosting websites, freeware download websites, etc.) and P2P networks (eMule, torrents, etc.) present malicious executables as legitimate software, thereby tricking users into downloading and installing viruses. Fake updaters infect the system by exploiting outdated software bugs/flaws or simply downloading and installing viruses rather than updates. Trojans are probably the simplest of all - they merely open "backdoors" for malware such as Aurora to infiltrate the system.

Threat Summary:
NameAurora 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.
Removal

To eliminate Aurora virus our malware researchers recommend scanning your computer with Spyhunter.
▼ Download Spyhunter
Free scanner checks if your computer is infected. To remove malware, you have to purchase the full version of Spyhunter.

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, to prevent PUP infiltration, be very cautious when browsing the Internet. If received email attachments seem irrelevant or have been sent by a suspicious/unrecognizable email address, do not open any file and delete the email immediately. In addition, download your programs from official sources only (direct download links) rather than using third party downloaders/installers. These tools are used to proliferate rogue apps (or even malware), and thus should never be used. The same applies to updating software. Keep installed software up-to-date. To achieve this, use implemented features or tools provided by the official developer only. Having a legitimate anti-virus/anti-spyware suite installed and running is also essential.

Text presented in Aurora ransomware text file :

aurora ransomware
SORRY! Your files are encrypted.
File contents are encrypted with random key.
Random key is encrypted with RSA public key (2048 bit).
We STRONGLY RECOMMEND you NOT to use any "decryption tools".
These tools can damage your data, making recover IMPOSSIBLE.
Also we recommend you not to contact data recovery companies.
They will just contact us, buy the key and sell it to you at a higher price.
If you want to decrypt your files, you have to get RSA private key.
In order to get private key, write here:
lenboza@protonmail.ch
And send me your id, your id:
1260682360
And pay 100$ on 172fqoLfYkMQXk6tmEqGH3y43gQwAzSSFJ wallet
If someone else offers you files restoring, ask him for test decryption.
Only we can successfully decrypt your files; knowing this can protect you from fraud.
You will receive instructions of what to do next.
aurora ransomware

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

Files encrypted by Aurora

Update 27 December, 2018 - Michael Gillespie has recently released a decryption tool capable of restoring data encrypted by this ransomware for free. This tool restores encrypted files with the following extensions: ".animus", ".Aurora", ".desu", ".ONI", ".aurora", ".Nano". You can download this tool by clicking this link.

Screenshot of this decryption tool:

AuroraDecrypter by Michael Gillespie

Update April 2nd, 2019 - Emsisoft cyber security company has recently released a decryption tool that can also decrypt data compromised by Aurora ransomware for free (download link):

Aurora ransomware decrypter by Emsisoft

Aurora ransomware removal:

Instant automatic removal of Aurora 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 Aurora 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 Aurora 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 Aurora 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 Aurora 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 Aurora 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 Aurora, 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 Aurora 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 Aurora 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 pcrisk.com 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 virus and spyware activity level today:

Medium threat activity
Medium

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

QR Code
Aurora 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 Aurora virus on your mobile device.
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