FOX Ransomware

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

FOX ransomware removal instructions

What is FOX?

Discovered by MalwareHunterTeam, FOX is a new variant of high-risk ransomware called Matrix. Developers proliferate this malware using Remote Desktop Service - they hijack victims' computers and install FOX manually. Once infiltrated, FOX encrypts most stored data and renames files using the "[developer's_email].[random_characters].FOX" pattern (e.g., "sample.jpg" might be renamed to a filename such as "[PabFox@protonmail.com ].3qAbTbsd-RgfExin0.FOX"). Once encrypted, data becomes unusable and indistinguishable. In addition, FOX performs a number of other malicious actions, including deletion of File Shadow Volume Copies and removal of Windows Recovery Startup. After performing these functions, FOX generates a text file ("#FOX_README#.rtf") and places a copy in every existing folder.

FOX checks whether files are opened and, if so, closes them before encryption. Fortunately, this makes the entire process very slow. Therefore, victims can detect the infection early and terminate it before encryption is complete. As usual, the new text file contains a message stating that data is encrypted using AES-128 and RSA-2048 algorithms and, thus, can only be restored with unique keys. Unfortunately, this information is accurate. Each victim receives a pair of unique keys - these are stored on a remote server controlled by cyber criminals. To receive their keys and decrypt data, victims are encouraged to contact FOX's developers. After contacting these people, users are asked to pay a ransom in exchange for release of the keys. The cost is currently unknown - all details are provided via email. Generally, cyber criminals demand $500-1500 in Bitcoins, Monero, or another cryptocurrency. Regardless of the cost, do not pay. Research shows that criminals often ignore victims, once payments are submitted. Therefore, paying typically gives no positive result and users are scammed. You are strongly advised to ignore all requests to submit payments. Unfortunately, there are no tools capable of cracking FOX's encryption and restoring data 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:

FOX decrypt instructions

FOX shares many similarities with dozens of other ransomware-type viruses, such as ShutUpAndDance, Embrace, and LanRan. These are developed by different cyber criminals, but all encrypt data and makes ransom demands. In most cases, ransomware-type viruses have just two major differences: 1) size of ransom, and; 2) type of encryption algorithm used. Unfortunately, these viruses often employ algorithms that generate unique decryption keys. Therefore, unless malware is still in development or has certain bugs/flaws, restoring data manually without involvement of developers (contacting these people is not recommended) is impossible. Viruses such as FOX present a strong case for maintaining regular data backups, however, it is important to store them on a remote server or unplugged storage device, otherwise malware encrypts backups together with regular data.

How did ransomware infect my computer?

As mentioned above, FOX is distributed manually - developers hijack victims' computers and infect the system. This is quite unusual - in most cases, ransomware is distributed using spam emails, trojans, fake software updaters, and third party software download sources. Spam emails are delivered together with malicious attachments (typically, Microsoft Office documents) that, once opened, stealthily download and install malware. Trojans open "backdoors" for other malware to infiltrate the system. Fake updaters infect computers by exploiting outdated software bugs/flaws or simply downloading and installing malware rather than updates. Unofficial software download sources (peer-to-peer [P2P] networks, freeware download websites, free file hosting sites, etc.) present malware as legitimate software. Therefore, users are tricked into downloading and installing viruses.

Threat Summary:
NameFOX virus
Threat TypeRansomware, Crypto Virus, Files locker
SymptomsCan'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 methodsInfected email attachments (macros), torrent websites, malicious ads.
DamageAll 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 FOX 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?

The main reasons for computer infections are lack of knowledge and careless behavior. The key to safety is caution. Therefore, pay close attention when browsing the Internet and downloading/installing/updating software. Carefully analyze each email attachment received. Files that seem irrelevant or have been received from suspicious/unrecognizable email addresses should never be opened. Furthermore, download software from official sources only, using direct download links. The same applies to software updates. It is important to keep installed applications up-to-date, however, software should be updated only using implemented functions or tools provided by the official developer. The presence of a legitimate anti-virus/anti-spyware suite is also paramount. If your computer is already infected with FOX, we recommend running a scan with Spyhunter for Windows to automatically eliminate this ransomware.

Text presented in FOX ransomware text file ("#FOX_README#.rtf"):

HOW TO RECOVER YOUR FILES INSTRUCTION
ATENTION!!!
We are realy sorry to inform you that ALL YOUR FILES WERE ENCRYPTED
by our automatic software. It became possible because of bad server security.
ATENTION!!!
Please don't worry, we can help you to RESTORE your server to original
state and decrypt all your files quickly and safely!
INFORMATION!!!
Files are not broken!!!
Files were encrypted with AES-128+RSA-2048 crypto algorithms.
There is no way to decrypt your files without unique decryption key and special software. Your unique decryption key is securely stored on our server. For our safety, all information about your server and your decryption key will be automaticaly DELETED AFTER 7 DAYS! You will irrevocably lose all your data!
* Please note that all the attempts to recover your files by yourself or using third party tools will result only in irrevocable loss of your data!
* Please note that you can recover files only with your unique decryption key, which stored on our side. If you will use the help of third parties, you will only add a middleman.
HOW TO RECOVER FILES???
Please write us to the e-mail (write on English or use professional translator):
PabFox@protonmail.com
FoxHelp@cock.li
FoxHelp@tutanota.com
You have to send your message on each of our 3 emails due to the fact that the message may not reach their intended recipient for a variety of reasons!
In subject line write your personal ID: c0pyc@tfr0mpcr1sk
We recommed you to attach 3 encrypted files to your message. We will demonstrate that we can recover your files.
* Please note that files must not contain any valuable information and their total size must be less than 5Mb.
OUR ADVICE!!!
Please be sure that we will find common languge. We will restore all the data and give you recommedations how to configure the protection of your server.
We will definitely reach an agreement ;) !!!

ALTERNATIVE COMMUNICATION
If yоu did nоt rеcеivе thе аnswеr frоm thе аfоrеcitеd еmаils fоr mоrе then 24 hours please sеnd us Bitmеssаgеs frоm а wеb brоwsеr thrоugh thе wеbpаgе hxxps://bitmsg.me. Bеlоw is а tutоriаl оn hоw tо sеnd bitmеssаgе viа wеb brоwsеr:
1. Оpеn in yоur brоwsеr thе link hxxps://bitmsg.me/users/sign_up аnd mаkе thе rеgistrаtiоn bу еntеring nаmе еmаil аnd pаsswоrd.
2. Уоu must cоnfirm thе rеgistrаtiоn, rеturn tо уоur еmаil аnd fоllоw thе instructiоns thаt wеrе sеnt tо уоu.
3. Rеturn tо sitе аnd сlick "Lоgin" lаbеl оr usе link hxxps://bitmsg.me/users/sign_in, еntеr уоur еmаil аnd pаsswоrd аnd click thе "Sign in" buttоn.
4. Сlick thе "Сrеаtе Rаndоm аddrеss" buttоn.
5. Сlick thе "Nеw mаssаgе" buttоn.
6. Sеnding mеssаgе:
Tо: Еntеr аddrеss: BM-2cXRWRW5Jv5hxbhgu2HJSJrtPf92iKshhm
Subjесt: Еntеr уоur ID: 2D0D30719CD9D741
Mеssаgе: Dеscribе whаt уоu think nеcеssаrу.
Сlick thе "Sеnd mеssаgе" buttоn.
s0NDfj7c

Screenshot of files encrypted by FOX ("[developer's_email].[random_characters].FOX" filename pattern):

Files encrypted by FOX

FOX ransomware removal:

Instant automatic removal of FOX 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 FOX 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 FOX 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 FOX 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 FOX 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 FOX 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 FOX, 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 FOX 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 FOX 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 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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Removal Instructions in other languages
Malware activity

Global virus and spyware activity level today:

Medium threat activity
Medium

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

QR Code
FOX 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 FOX virus on your mobile device.
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Platform: Windows

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