ANIMUS Ransomware

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

ANIMUS ransomware removal instructions

What is ANIMUS?

ANIMUS is a ransomware-type virus discovered by malware security researcher, Karsten Hahn. This virus is designed to stealthily infiltrate the system and encrypt most stored files using the RSA-2048 encryption algorithm. During encryption, ANIMUS appends filenames with the ".animus" extension (for example, "sample.jpg" is renamed to "sample.jpg.animus"). Compromised data immediately becomes unusable. Once encryption is over, ANIMUS creates three identical text files ("ANIMUS_RESTORE.txt", "ANIMUS_RESTORE2.txt", and "ANIMUS_RESTORE3.txt") and places a copy of each in all existing folders.

As mentioned above, the new text files are identical. All contain a message stating that data is encrypted. To decrypt data, victims must purchase a unique decryption key. Unfortunately, ANIMUS uses RSA-2048 - a complex asymmetric encryption algorithm that generates two keys (public [encryption] and private [decryption]). Restoring data without the private key is impossible. All private keys are stored on a remote server and users are encouraged to pay a ransom of $100 in Bitcoins for their release. As compared to other ransomware, this cost is quite low, since they typically fluctuate between $500 and $1500. In any case, ransoms should not be paid. Research shows that cyber criminals are likely to ignore victims, once payments are submitted - paying typically gives no positive results and users are scammed. Therefore, ignore all requests to contact these people and certainly do not submit any payments. Unfortunately, there are no tools capable of cracking RSA-2048 cryptography and restoring data free of charge. Therefore, 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:

ANIMUS decrypt instructions

The Internet is full of ransomware-type viruses similar to ANIMUS including Nozelesn, KRAB, and Omerta - these are just some examples from many. Research shows that although these viruses are developed by different cyber criminals, their behavior is identical - all encrypt data and make ransom demands. The only major differences are size of ransom and type of encryption algorithm used. Unfortunately, most are developed to use algorithms (RSA, AES, and other) that generate unique decryption keys. Therefore, file decryption manually without involvement of developers (contacting these people is not recommended) is mostly impossible. The only possible scenarios are ransomware not being fully developed or having certain bugs/flaws (the key is hard-coded, stored locally, or similar). Ransomware presents a strong case for maintaining regular data backups, however, it is very important to store them in on a remote server (e.g., Cloud) or an unplugged storage device (Flash drive, external hard drive, or similar). This will prevent ransomware from encrypting backups together with regular data.

How did ransomware infect my computer?

Ransomware is commonly proliferated using spam emails, peer-to-peer (P2P) networks, third party software download sources, fake software update tools, and trojans. Spam emails are delivered with malicious attachments (e.g., MS Office documents, JavaScript files, etc.) that, once opened, stealthily download and install malware. P2P networks (eMule, torrents, etc.) and other unofficial download sources (freeware download websites, free file hosting sites, and so on) proliferate malware by presenting it as legitimate software. Users are tricked into downloading and installing viruses. Fake updaters infect the system by exploiting outdated software bugs/flaws or simply downloading and installing malware rather than updates. Trojans open "backdoors" for other viruses (in this case, ransomware) to infiltrate the system.

How to protect yourself from ransomware infections?

Careless behavior and lack of knowledge are the main reasons for computer infections. The key to safety is caution. Therefore, pay close attention when browsing the Internet and downloading/installing/updating software. You are strongly advised to carefully analyze all received email attachments. Files that seem irrelevant or have been received from a suspicious email address should never be opened. Download your programs from official sources only, using direct download links. Third party downloaders/installers often include rogue apps, and thus should not be used. The same applies to updating software. It is very important to keep installed applications up-to-date, however, this should be achieved through implemented functions or tools provided by the official developer only. Having a reputable anti-virus/anti-spyware suite installed and running is also essential. If your computer is already infected with ANIMUS, we recommend running a scan with Spyhunter for Windows to automatically eliminate this ransomware.

Text presented in ANIMUS ransomware text files ("ANIMUS_RESTORE.txt", "ANIMUS_RESTORE2.txt", and "ANIMUS_RESTORE3.txt"):

# animus locker #
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:
j0ra@protonmail.com
########
!ATTENTION!
Attach file is 000000000.key from %appdata% to email message,
without it we will not be able to decrypt your files
########
And pay 100$ on 1G5TThb5tcJ3LQbF4C4Tibgd9y7m3iYPFH 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.
# animus locker #

Screenshot of files encrypted by ANIMUS (".animus" extension):

Files encrypted by ANIMUS

ANIMUS ransomware removal:

Instant automatic removal of ANIMUS 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 ANIMUS 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 ANIMUS 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 ANIMUS 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 ANIMUS 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 ANIMUS 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 ANIMUS, 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 ANIMUS 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 ANIMUS ransomware: