Excuses ransomware removal instructions
What is Excuses?
Excuses is another ransomware-type virus discovered by malware security researcher, Michael Gillespie. Once infiltrated, Excuses encrypts most stored files (thereby making them unusable) and adds the ".excuses" extension to each filename. For example, "sample.jpg" is renamed to "sample.jpg.excuses". Excuses then generates a text file ("MESSAGE.txt"), placing a copy in every existing folder.
As usual, the new file contains a message informing victims of the encryption and encouraging them to purchase a decryption tool. Note that the entire text is in Russian. Thus, it is safe to assume that developers are Russians or target users who live in this country. There is no additional information provided. Therefore, it is currently unknown whether Excuses uses symmetric or asymmetric cryptography. In any case, decryption requires a unique key (generated individually for each victim). All keys are stored on a remote server controlled by developers of Excuses. To receive their keys (or rather decryption tools with the keys embedded within), user are encouraged to pay a ransom. The cost is also currently unknown - users supposedly receive these details after contacting developers via an email address provided. In most cases, ransoms fluctuate between $500 and $1500, and must be paid in a form of cryptocurrency (e.g., Bitcoins, Monero, etc.) Regardless of the cost, do not pay. Research shows that cyber criminals are very likely to ignore victims, once payments are submitted. Paying typically gives no positive result and users are scammed. You are strongly advised to ignore all requests to contact these people or submit payments. Unfortunately, there are no tools capable of cracking Excuses encryption and restoring data free of charge. There is just one solution: to restore everything from a backup.
Screenshot of a message encouraging users to pay a ransom to decrypt their compromised data:
Excuses is regular ransomware and, therefore, shares many similarities with Donut, RedEye, Insta, DiskDoctor, and many others. Research shows that although these viruses are developed by different cyber criminals, their behavior is identical - all encrypt data and make ransom demands. In most cases, ransomware-type viruses have just two major differences: 1) size of ransom, and; 2) type of encryption algorithm used. They employ algorithms that generate unique decryption keys. Therefore, unless the virus is still in development or has certain bugs/flaws (e.g., the key is hard-coded, stored locally or similar), restoring data manually is impossible. Ransomware is one of the main reasons why you should maintain regular data backups, however, it is very important to store them on a remote server (i.e., Cloud) or an unplugged storage device (e.g., external hard drive, Flash drive or similar). If not, backups are encrypted together with regular data.
How did ransomware infect my computer?
How to protect yourself from ransomware infections?
The key to computer safety is caution. Therefore, pay close attention when browsing the Internet and downloading/installing/updating software. Think twice before opening email attachments - files that seem irrelevant or have been received from a suspicious email address should never be opened. These emails should be deleted immediately. Furthermore, download your software from official sources only, using direct download links. Third party downloaders/installers often include rogue applications, and thus should never be used. The same rule applies to software updating. Installed applications must be kept up-to-date. To achieve this, however, use implemented "update" functions or tools provided by the official developer only. We also strongly recommend that you have a reputable anti-virus/anti-spyware suite installed and running.
Russian text presented in Excuses ransomware text file ("MESSAGE.txt"):
Приобрести декриптор можно до 06.04.2018
Запросить стоимость: email@example.com
В ТЕМЕ письма укажите ваш ID: -
Письма без указания ID игнорируются.
Убедительная просьба не пытаться расшифровать файлы сторонними инструментами.
Вы можете их окончательно испортить и даже оригинальный декриптор не поможет.
Заявки обрабатываются автоматической системой.
Screenshot of files encrypted by Excuses (".excuses" extension):
Excuses ransomware removal:
- What is Excuses?
- STEP 1. Excuses virus removal using safe mode with networking.
- STEP 2. Excuses ransomware removal using System Restore.
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.
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.
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.
Video showing how to start Windows 10 in "Safe Mode with Networking":
Log in to the account infected with the Excuses 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.
Download recommended remover for
1) Download and install 2) Run system scan 3) Enjoy your clean computer!
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.
2. When Command Prompt mode loads, enter the following line: cd restore and press ENTER.
3. Next, type this line: rstrui.exe and press ENTER.
4. In the opened window, click "Next".
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 Excuses ransomware virus infiltrating your PC).
6. In the opened window, click "Yes".
7. After restoring your computer to a previous date, download and scan your PC with recommended malware removal software to eliminate any remaining Excuses 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 Excuses 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.
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 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 Excuses 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.
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:
Malwarebytes Anti-Ransomware Beta uses advanced proactive technology that monitors ransomware activity and terminates it immediately - before reaching users' files:
- 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 Excuses ransomware: