Hermes 2.1 Ransomware

Also Known As: Hermes 2.1 virus
Distribution: Moderate
Damage level: Severe

Hermes 2.1 ransomware removal instructions

What is Hermes 2.1?

Hermes 2.1 is an updated version of a ransomware-type virus called Hermes. Developers proliferate this malware by using spam email campaigns. Once infiltrated, Hermes 2.1 encrypts most stored data, thereby making it unusable. To achieve this, Hermes 2.1 employs a RSA-2048 encryption algorithm. Note, however, that unlike other ransomware, Hermes 2.1 does not append any extension or rename compromised files in any way. After successfully encrypting data, this virus generates an HTML file ("DECRYPT_INFORMATION.HTML") and places a copy in each existing folder.

The new HTML file contains a ransom-demand message. It is stated that data is encrypted and that the victim must pay to receive a decryption tool. Bear in mind that Hermes 2.1 uses RSA-2048 (very complex asymmetric cryptography). This encryption algorithm generates two unique keys (public [encryption] and private [decryption]) for each victim. Restoring files without the private key is impossible. Cyber criminals hide all private keys on a remote server and then attempt to blackmail victims for their release. The cost is currently unknown - all details are provided to victims via email. In most cases, however, the size of ransom fluctuates between $500 and $1500, and must be paid in a type of cryptocurrency (usually, Bitcoins). Regardless of the cost, do not pay. Research shows that ransomware developers often ignore victims, once payments are submitted. Therefore, paying typically gives no positive result and users are scammed. Unfortunately, there are no tools capable of cracking RSA algorithm 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:

Hermes 2.1 decrypt instructions

There are dozens of ransomware-type virus that have similar characteristics to Hermes 2.1 (including, for example, Jigsaw, LanRan, and Evil Locker). 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, the only major differences are size of ransom and type of encryption algorithm used. Unfortunately, these viruses typically employ algorithms that generate unique decryption keys (e.g., RSA, AES, and so on). Therefore, it is virtually impossible to decrypt data manually, without involvement of developers (contacting these people is not recommended). The only possible scenarios are the ransomware not being fully developed or having certain bugs/flaws (e.g., the key is hard-coded, stored locally, or similar). It is very important to maintain regular data backups, however, note that they must be stored on an unplugged storage device or cloud. This will prevent ransomware from encrypting backups together with regular data.

How did ransomware infect my computer?

Hermes 2.1 is mainly distributed using spam emails (malicious attachments). Infectious email attachments are usually delivered in the format of JavaScript files or MS Office documents. Once opened, these files stealthily download and install malware. Note, however, that ransomware-type viruses are often proliferated using trojans, peer-to-peer (P2P) networks (torrents, eMule, etc.), third party software download sources (freeware download websites, free file hosting sites, and so on), and fake software updates. Trojans open "backdoors" for other viruses to infiltrate the system. P2P networks and other unofficial download sources present malicious executables as legitimate software, thereby tricking users into downloading and installing malware. Fake software updaters infect the system by exploiting outdated software bugs/flaws or simply downloading and installing viruses rather than updates. In summary, the main reasons for computer infections are poor knowledge and careless behavior. The key to safety is caution.

Threat Summary:
Name Hermes 2.1 virus
Threat Type Ransomware, Crypto Virus, Files locker
Encrypted Files Extension Updated variants of Hermes 2.1 ransomware append "[].HRM" or "[].HRM" extensions.
Cyber Criminal Contact,,,
Detection Names BitDefender (Gen:Variant.Graftor.646175), Emsisoft (Gen:Variant.Graftor.646175 (B)), ESET-NOD32 (A Variant Of Win32/Kryptik.GWJU), Fortinet (W32/Kryptik.GWJU!tr), Full List (VirusTotal)
Rogue Process Name sAMsUNg, Vh Pal Dod (process names vary) 
Symptoms Can'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 methods Infected email attachments (macros), torrent websites, malicious ads.
Damage All 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?

To prevent system infiltration by PUPs, be very cautious when browsing the Internet and downloading/installing/updating software. Carefully analyze each email attachment received. Irrelevant files and those received from suspicious/unrecognizable email addresses should never be opened. Furthermore, avoid using third party downloaders/installers, since developers monetize them by promoting PUPs. Software should be downloaded from official sources only, using direct download links. It is also important to keep installed applications up-to-date, however, use implemented functions or tools provided by the official developer only. Having a reputable anti-virus/anti-spyware suite installed and running is also paramount. The key to computer safety is caution. If your computer is already infected with Hermes 2.1, we recommend running a scan with Spyhunter for Windows to automatically eliminate this ransomware.

Text presented in Hermes 2.1 ransomware HTML file ("DECRYPT_INFORMATION.html"):


All your important files are encrypted
Your files has been encrypted using RSA2048 algorithm with unique public-key stored on your PC.
There is only one way to get your files back: contact with us, pay, and get decryptor software.
We accept Bitcoin, and other cryptocurrencies, you can find exchangers on
You have unique idkey (in a yellow frame), write it in letter when contact with us.
Also you can decrypt 1 file for test, its guarantee what we can decrypt your files.
Contact information:
primary email:
reserve email:

Screenshot of Hermes 2.1 ransomware process in Windows Task Manager:

Hermes 2.1 ransomware in task manager

Screenshot of spam email distributing malicious attachments that download/install Hermes 2.1:

Email spam used to distribute Hermes 2.1 ransomware

Text presented in this email:

Subject: Job Application
How's it going?
My name is Britney and I'm interested in a job.
I've attached a copy of my resume.
The password is 321
Thank you!

Screenshot of the malicious attachment (MS Word document) that downloads and installs Hermes 2.1 ransomware:

Malicious attachment that downloads and installs Hermes 2.1

Text presented in this attachment:


1. Open the document in MS Office. Previewing online does not work for protected documents.
2. Use a PC/Desktop. Protected document doesn’t work on a mobile phone.
3. Since you have downloaded this document Online, you will need to click “Enable Editing” or “Enable Macro” and then click “Enable Content” on the yellow bar, which may be shown to you.

Screenshot of files encrypted by Hermes 2.1 (no extension):

Files encrypted by Hermes 2.1

Update June 19, 2019 - Cyber criminals have recently released an updated variant of Hermes 2.1 ransomware. The entire ransom note is exactly the same, yet the updated variant is designed to append filenames with  "[].HRM" extension (e.g., "sample.jpg" would be renamed to "sample.jpg[").

Screenshot of files encrypted by the updated Hermes 2.1 ransomware:

Hermes 2.1 ransomware encrypted files

Screenshot of updated Hermes 2.1 ransomware's process ("Vh Pal Dod") in Windows Task Manager:

Hermes 2.1 ransomware process in Windows Task Manager

Update November 13, 2019 - Crooks have released yet another variant of Hermes 2.1 ransomware which provides a different email address (""). Everything else is completely the same.

Hermes 2.1 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:
▼ 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 Hermes 2.1 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 Hermes 2.1 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 Hermes 2.1 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 Hermes 2.1 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 Hermes 2.1, 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 Hermes 2.1 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 Hermes 2.1 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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Malware activity

Global malware activity level today:

Medium threat activity

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

QR Code
Hermes 2.1 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 Hermes 2.1 virus on your mobile device.
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