Locky Imposter Ransomware

Also Known As: Locky Imposter virus
Distribution: Low
Damage level: Severe

Locky Imposter ransomware removal instructions

What is Locky Imposter?

First discovered by malware security researcher, dao ming si, Locky Imposter (also known as "PyLocky") is a ransom-type virus that imitates another high-risk ransomware infection called Locky. After stealthily infiltrating the system, Locky Imposter encrypts data using the RSA and AES encryption algorithms, creates a copy of each file, and then appends filenames with the ".locky" extension (e.g., "sample.jpg" is renamed to "sample.jpg.locky"). Updated variants of this ransomware use ".lockedfile" and ".lockymap" extensions for encrypted files. Ultimately, there are two copies of each existing file (one with the original name and extension, and another with the ".locky" extension), both are encrypted and unusable. Once data is encrypted, Locky Imposter generates a text file (named "LOCKY-README.TXT") and places a copy in every existing folder.

As usual, the new text file contains a message informing users of the encryption and encouraging them to visit Locky Imposter's website and purchase the decryption tool. Note, however, is that the message is in English, French, Italian, and Korean. Therefore, it is safe to assume that developers target mainly users from the associated countries. As mentioned above, Locky Imposter uses RSA and AES cryptographies. Therefore, each victim receives two unique keys that are necessary to restore data. All keys are stored on a remote server controlled by cyber criminals and users are encouraged to purchase decryption tools with keys embedded within. It is also stated that payment must be submitted within 96 hours, otherwise decryption keys are deleted. The cost is not specified, yet it typically fluctuates between $500 and $1500. In any case, no matter what the cost, do not pay. Cyber criminals are very likely to ignore victims, once payments are submitted. Therefore, paying typically gives no positive result and users are scammed. Therefore, you are strongly advised to ignore all requests to purchase decryption tools. There are currently no tools capable of cracking RSA and AES cryptographies 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:

Locky Imposter decrypt instructions

There are dozens of ransomware-type viruses such as Locky Imposter. The list of examples includes (but it is not limited to) CryptoConsole, TQV, Cryptes, Jigsaw, and Deep. Note that although these viruses are developed by different cyber criminals, their behavior barely differs - all encrypt data and make ransom demands. There are typically just two major differences: 1) cost of decryption, and; 2) type of encryption algorithm used. It is unfortunate that most ransomware uses algorithms that generate unique decryption keys. Therefore, unless the virus is not fully developed or has certain bugs/flaws (e.g., the key is hard-coded, stored locally or similar), restoring data without involvement of developers (contacting these people is not recommended) is impossible. Ransomware presents a strong case for maintaining regular data backups, however, it is important to store them on a remote server (e.g., Cloud) or unplugged storage device. If not, backups are encrypted with regular data.

How did ransomware infect my computer?

Ransomware is proliferated in various ways, however, the most popular five are: 1) trojans; 2) spam emails [infectious attachments]; 3) peer-to-peer [P2P] networks [torrents, eMule, etc.]; 4) third party software download sources [freeware download websites, free file hosting websites, etc.], and; 5) fake software updaters. Trojans open "backdoors" for other viruses to infiltrate the system. Malicious attachments typically come in the format of JavaScript files or MS Office documents. Once opened, these files execute commands that download and install malware. P2P networks and other unofficial download sources present malware as legitimate software. In this way, many users are tricked into downloading and installing malware. Fake updaters infect the system by exploiting outdated software bugs/flaws or simply downloading and install malware rather than updates.

Threat Summary:
Name Locky Imposter virus
Threat Type Ransomware, Crypto Virus, Files locker
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.
Removal

To eliminate Locky Imposter 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?

Lack of knowledge and careless behavior are the main reasons for computer infections. Caution is the key to computer safety. 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 suspicious email addresses should never be opened. Furthermore, download your programs from official sources only (via direct download links) rather than using third party downloaders/installers. These tools often include rogue apps, and thus using them is not recommended. In addition, keep installed applications up-to-date. To achieve this, 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. If your computer is already infected with Locky Imposter, we recommend running a scan with Spyhunter for Windows to automatically eliminate this ransomware.

Text presented in Locky Imposter ransomware text file ("LOCKY-README.TXT"):

Please be adviced:
All your files, pictures document and data has been encrypted with Military Grade Encryption RSA AES-256.
Your information is not lost. But Encrypted.
In order for you to restore your files you have to purchase Decrypter.
Follow this steps to restore your files.
1* Download the Tor Browser. ( Just type in google "Download Tor" ).
2* Browse to URL : http://4wcgqlckaazugwzm.onion/index.php
3* Purchase the Decryptor to restore your files.
It is very simple. If you don't believe that we can restore your files, then you can restore 1 file of image format for free.
Be aware the time is ticking. Price will be doubled every 96 hours so use it wisely.
Your unique ID : -
CAUTION:
Please do not try to modify or delete any encrypted file as it will be hard to restore it.
SUPPORT:
You can contact support to help decrypt your files for you.
Click on support at http://4wcgqlckaazugwzm.onion/index.php

--------BEGIN BIT KEY---------
-
--------END BIT KEY-----------
------------------------------
BEGIN FRENCH
------------------------------
S'il vous plaît soyez avisé:
Tous vos fichiers, images, documents et données ont été cryptés avec Military Grade Encryption RSA AES-256.
Vos informations ne sont pas perdues. Mais chiffré.
Afin de vous permettre de restaurer vos fichiers, vous devez acheter Decrypter.
Suivez ces étapes pour restaurer vos fichiers.
1 * Téléchargez le navigateur Tor. (Il suffit de taper google "Télécharger Tor").
2 * Aller à l'URL: http://4wcgqlckaazugwzm.onion/index.php
3 * Achetez le Decryptor pour restaurer vos fichiers.
C'est très simple. Si vous ne croyez pas que nous pouvons restaurer vos fichiers, alors vous pouvez restaurer 1 fichier de format d'image gratuitement.
Soyez conscient que le temps est compté. Le prix sera doublé toutes les 96 heures, alors utilisez-le à bon escient.
Votre ID unique: -
MISE EN GARDE:
N'essayez pas de modifier ou de supprimer un fichier crypté, car il sera difficile de le restaurer.
SOUTIEN:
Vous pouvez contacter le support pour aider à déchiffrer vos fichiers pour vous.
Cliquez sur support à http://4wcgqlckaazugwzm.onion/index.php
------------------------------
END FRENCH
------------------------------
------------------------------
BEGIN ITALIAN
------------------------------
Si prega di essere avvisati:
Tutti i tuoi file, immagini, documenti e dati sono stati crittografati con Military Grade Encryption RSA AES-256.
Le tue informazioni non sono perse. Ma crittografato.
Per poter ripristinare i tuoi file devi acquistare Decrypter.
Seguire questa procedura per ripristinare i file.
1 * Scarica il Tor Browser. (Basta digitare su google "Download Tor").
2 * Passa a URL: http://4wcgqlckaazugwzm.onion/index.php
3 * Acquista Decryptor per ripristinare i tuoi file.
È molto semplice Se non credi che possiamo ripristinare i tuoi file, puoi ripristinare 1 file di formato immagine gratuitamente.
Sii consapevole che il tempo stringe. Il prezzo sarà raddoppiato ogni 96 ore, quindi usalo saggiamente.
Il tuo ID univoco: -
ATTENZIONE:
Si prega di non provare a modificare o eliminare alcun file crittografato in quanto sarà difficile ripristinarlo.
SUPPORTO:
È possibile contattare l'assistenza per decrittografare i file per conto dell'utente.
Clicca sul supporto in http://4wcgqlckaazugwzm.onion/index.php
------------------------------
END ITALIAN
------------------------------
------------------------------
BEGIN KOREAN
------------------------------
조언을 받으십시오 :
모든 파일, 사진 문서 및 데이터는 군용 등급 암호화 RSA AES-256으로 암호화되어 있습니다.
귀하의 정보는 손실되지 않습니다. 그러나 암호화.
파일을 복원하려면 Decrypter를 구입해야합니다.
이 단계에 따라 파일을 복원하십시오.
1 * Tor 브라우저를 다운로드하십시오. (구글에 "Tor 다운로드"만 입력하면됩니다.)
2 * URL 찾아보기 : http://4wcgqlckaazugwzm.onion/index.php
3 * 파일을 복원하려면 Decryptor를 구입하십시오.
그것은 매우 간단합니다. 파일을 복원 할 수 있다고 생각지 않으면 이미지 형식의 파일 1 개를 무료로 복원 할 수 있습니다.
시간이 똑딱 거리고 있다는 것을 알아 두십시오. 가격은 96 시간마다 두 배가되므로 현명하게 사용하십시오.
고유 ID : -
주의:
암호화 된 파일을 수정하거나 삭제하지 마십시오. 복원하기가 어려울 수 있습니다.
지원하다:
지원 센터에 문의하여 파일의 암호를 해독하는 데 도움을받을 수 있습니다.
http://4wcgqlckaazugwzm.onion/index.php에서 지원을 클릭하십시오.
------------------------------
END KOREAN
------------------------------

Screenshot of Locky Imposter process in Windows Task Manger:

Locky Imposter in Task Manager

Screenshot of Locky Imposter website:

Locky Imposter website

Text presented in this website:

Locky
Unlock Your Files
In Minutes!
What Happends?
Your files are encrypted using Locky Locker.
You have a chance to restore your files by Downloading Locky Decryptor. And restore all your files.
Be aware that no other decryptor will work for you. You can try but remember price double every 96 hour. So act fast.
LOCKY UNLOCKER.

Screenshot of files encrypted by Locky Imposter (".locky" extension):

Files encrypted by Locky Imposter

Update January 11, 2019 - Cisco Talos cyber-security company has recently released a tool that is capable of decrypting data compromised by Locky Imposter ransomware. However, this tool requires a PCAP of the outbound connection attempt to the C&C servers. This connection occurs immediately after encryption and contains a variety of system data, including Initializing Vector (IV) and password (key, generated at runtime) which is used to encrypt data. Without this PCAP and said values decryption is impossible. You can download the tool and find more information/instructions in this GitHub page.

Locky Imposter ransomware removal:

Instant automatic removal of Locky Imposter 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 Locky Imposter 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 Locky Imposter 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 Locky Imposter 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 Locky Imposter ransomware files.

To restore individual files encrypted by this ransomware, try using the 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 Locky Imposter 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 Locky Imposter, 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 Locky Imposter 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 Locky Imposter ransomware: