Princess Evolution Ransomware

Also Known As: Princess Evolution virus
Damage level: Severe

What is Princess Evolution?

Princess Evolution is an updated version of high-risk ransomware called Princess. Developers proliferate this virus by using the RIG Exploit Kit. Once infiltrated, Princess Evolution immediately encrypts most stored files, thereby making them unusable.

In addition, it generates a unique string (e.g, ".RcK1") and appends it to the name of each compromised file (for instance, "sample.jpg" might be renamed to "sample.jpg.RcK1").

Once data is encrypted, Princess Evolution generates two files ("^_READ_TO_RE5T0RE_[random_string].txt" and "^_READ_TO_RE5T0RE_[random_string].html"), placing copies of each in all existing folders.

The .txt and HTML files contain identical messages informing users of the encryption and encouraging them to pay a ransom. No additional information is provided. Therefore, it is currently unknown whether Princess Evolution uses symmetric or asymmetric cryptography.

It is worth noting, however, that the previous version (Princess) was designed to use an asymmetric algorithm. In any case, each victim receives a unique key generated and necessary to restore data. Cyber criminals hide all keys on a remote server, and since decryption without keys is impossible, users are forced to pay ransoms for their release.

At time of research, Princess Evolution's developers demanded .12 Bitcoin (at that time, equivalent to ~$725), however, cyber criminals can never be trusted. Research shows that these people often ignore victims, once payments are submitted. In most cases, paying gives no positive result and users are scammed.

Therefore, you are strongly advised to ignore all requests to submit payments or pay ransoms. Unfortunately, there are no tools capable of cracking Princess Evolution's cryptography and restoring data free of charge. The only solution is to restore everything from a backup.

Princess Evolution's developers promote Princess Evolution as RaaS (Ransomware as a Service). Therefore, any aspiring cyber criminal can proliferate this ransomware and generate revenue, however, in exchange, developers take 40% of all submitted payments.

Screenshot of Princess Evolution ransomware website:

Princess Evolution decrypt instructions

Princess Evolution shares many similarities with dozens of other ransomware-type viruses, such as Cmb Dharma, ZOLDON, LockCrypt, Jigsaw, etc. Research shows that, although these viruses are developed by different cyber criminals, their behavior is identical - all encrypt data and make ransom demands.

The cost of decryption and type of cryptography used are often the only main differences. Most of these viruses employ algorithms that generate unique decryption keys. Therefore, unless the virus is not fully developed or has certain bugs/flaws, restoring data manually without involvement of developers (contacting these people is not recommended) is impossible.

Ransomware is one of the main reasons why you should maintain regular data backups, however, store them on a remote server or unplugged storage device, otherwise backups are encrypted with regular data.

How did ransomware infect my computer?

As mentioned, Princess Evolution is proliferated using RIG Exploit Kit. This kit is used to hijack poorly-protected websites and inject them with scripts that download/install malware on visitors' computers.

This is quite an unusual way to distribute ransomware - most of these viruses are proliferated using spam emails (malicious attachments), P2P networks (torrents, eMule, etc.), third party software download sources (free file hosting websites, freeware download websites, and so on), fake updaters, and trojans.

Malicious attachments typically come in the format of Microsoft Office documents. Once opened, these files stealthily execute scripts that download and install malware. P2P networks and other third party download sources present infectious executables as legitimate applications.

This often tricks users into downloading and installing malware. Fake updaters infect the system by exploiting outdated software bugs/flaws or simply downloading and installing viruses rather than updates. Trojans open "backdoors" for other viruses to infiltrate the system.

Threat Summary:
Name Princess Evolution 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.
Malware Removal (Windows)

To eliminate possible malware infections, scan your computer with legitimate antivirus software. Our security researchers recommend using Combo Cleaner.
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How to protect yourself from ransomware infections?

Lack of knowledge and careless behavior are the main reasons for computer infections. The key to safety is caution. Therefore, pay close attention when browsing the Internet and downloading/installing software. Only visit legitimate sites. Furthermore, carefully analyze all email attachments received.

Files that seem irrelevant or have been sent by a dubious email address should never be opened. It is important to download your applications from official sources only, using direct download links. Third party downloaders/installers often include rogue apps and, thus, should never be used. The same applies to software updates.

Keeping installed applications up-to-date is important, however, this should be achieved only through implemented features or tools provided by the official developer.

Having a reputable anti-virus/anti-spyware suite installed and running is also essential. If your computer is already infected with Princess Evolution, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows to automatically eliminate this ransomware.

Screenshot of Princess Evolution HTML file:

Princess Evolution html file

Text presented in Princess Evolution ransomware HTML and text files:

Your extension: RcK1
Your files are encrypted!
Download and install Tor Browser:
Follow this link via Tor Browser:

Screenshot of Princess Evolution website:

Princess Evolution website

Screenshot of files encrypted by Princess Evolution (random string extension):

Files encrypted by Princess Evolution

Cyber criminals promoting Princess Evolution as RaaS (Ransomware as a Service) in the dark web:

Princess Evolution promoted as RaaS in the dark web

Princess Evolution ransomware removal:

Instant automatic malware removal: Manual threat removal might be a lengthy and complicated process that requires advanced computer skills. Combo Cleaner is a professional automatic malware removal tool that is recommended to get rid of malware. Download it by clicking the button below:
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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 Princess Evolution 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 Princess Evolution 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 Princess Evolution 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 Princess Evolution 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 Princess Evolution, 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 Princess Evolution 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 Princess Evolution ransomware:

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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 pcrisk.com 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.

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Princess Evolution virus QR code
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