Insta Ransomware

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

Insta ransomware removal instructions

What is Insta?

Recently discovered by Michael Gillespie, Insta is a ransomware-type virus that stealthily infiltrates the system and encrypts most stored files. In doing so, Insta adds the ".insta" extension to each filename (e.g., "sample.jpg" is renamed to "sample.jpg.insta"). Encrypted data immediately becomes unusable. Once the encryption process is complete, Insta generates a text file ("filesinfo.txt") and places a copy in every existing folder.

As with most ransomware, the new text file contains a message stating that data is encrypted and that users must contact Insta's developers (via an email address provided) to receive a decryption tool and key. The message provides no details regarding the encryption. Therefore, it is currently unknown whether Insta uses a symmetric or asymmetric algorithm. Regardless, a unique key (generated individually for each victim) is necessary to restore data. Developers store these keys on a remote server and make ransom demands for their release - to receive their decryption tools and keys, victims must pay a ransom. The cost is not specified (all details are supposedly provided via email), however, ransomware developers typically demand $500-1500 in a type of cryptocurrency (e.g., Bitcoin, Monero, etc.) Users are also permitted to attach two selected files, which are supposedly decrypted and returned to the victim as 'proof' that restoring files is possible. Bear in mind that cyber criminals can never be trusted. These people often ignore victims after payments are submitted. Do not pay - you will be scammed. Unfortunately, there are no tools capable of cracking Insta's encryption and restoring data free of charge. There is just one solution: to restore files/system from a backup.

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

Insta decrypt instructions

There are dozens of ransomware-type viruses that share similarities with Insta (e.g., DiskDoctor, OpsVenezuela, Pedcont, Aurora, and many others). Research shows that, although these viruses are developed by different cyber criminals, they have identical behavior - they encrypt data and make ransom demands. There are typically just two major differences: 1) size of ransom, and; 2) type of encryption algorithm used. Unfortunately, most use algorithms that generate unique decryption keys. Therefore, unless the virus is not fully developed or has certain bugs/flaws (the key is hard-coded, stored locally or similar), restoring data manually without involvement of developers (contacting these people is not recommended) is impossible. Therefore, ransomware presents a strong case for maintaining regular data backups, however, store them on a remote server (e.g., Cloud) or an unplugged storage device, otherwise backups are encrypted with regular files.

How did ransomware infect my computer?

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

How to protect yourself from ransomware infections?

Poor knowledge and careless behavior are the main reasons for computer infections. The key to safety is caution. Therefore, pay close attention when downloading/installing/updating software and browsing the Internet. Bear in mind that third party downloaders/installers often include rogue programs. These tools should never be used. Software should be downloaded from official sources only, using direct download links. Follow identical rules during software updates: keep installed apps up-to-date, but use implemented features or tools provided by the official developer only. We also strongly recommend that you analyze received email attachments before opening them. Files that seem irrelevant or have been sent by a suspicious/unrecognizable email address should never be opened. Having a reputable anti-virus/anti-spyware suite installed and running is also paramount.

Text presented in Insta ransomware text file ("filesinfo.txt"):

Your data set are encrypted.
All files with .insta extension are encrypted.
We can help decrypted files.
You will get decrypt soft + personal key(for your personal id) + manual.
For you to be sure, that we can decrypt your files
You can send us 1-2 encrypted files and we will send back it in a decrypt format FREE.
For download files use only not more then 10 Mb
Send us an email:
1.Personal ID
after wait decrypted files and further instructions.
You can send a message within 72 hours after encrypting, else full decrypt will be heavily.
Please use public email for contact: gmail etc.
For recover your files - contact us email:
Your personal ID: -

Screenshot of files encrypted by Insta (".insta" extension):

Files encrypted by Insta

Insta ransomware removal:

Instant automatic removal of Insta 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 Insta 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 Insta 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 Insta 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 Insta 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 Insta 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 Insta, 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 Insta 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 Insta ransomware: