Charm Ransomware

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

Charm ransomware removal instructions

What is Charm?

There are many high-risk ransomware-type viruses available online, including Charm, which was was first discovered by malware researcher Michael Gillespie. Once this virus has infiltrated the system, it encrypts users' files using the AES-256 encryption algorithm. Charm ransomware renames all encrypted files by adding the ".charm" appendix. For example, "sample.jpg" is renamed to "sample.jpg.charm". One encrypted, files cannot be used. This virus also places the "HOW_TO_RETURN_FILES.txt" file in every folder containing encrypted files.

The "HOW_TO_RETURN_FILES.txt" text file states that the virus has encrypted all data. To retrieve their lost files, victims must pay a ransom and then cyber criminals will send a decryption key. Affected users are promised free decryption of one small file (100 to 500 kilobytes) as a 'guarantee' that these particular cyber criminals can be trusted. Victims are encouraged to contact Charm developers using the email address provided ( Payment is required in the Bitcoin cryptocurrency, but the amount is not specified. They do, however, state that this will increase daily and users have one week to pay. If not, all encrypted files are locked forever and the key required for decryption will be deleted. Despite these threats, do not comply with these demands. Cyber criminals cannot be trusted and often ignore victims even when ransoms are paid. Unfortunately, there are no tools capable of cracking Charm encryption free of charge. The only free method is to restore lost files using an existing backup.

Screenshot of a message encouraging users to pay a ransom to decrypt their compromised data:

Charm decrypt instructions

As we mentioned in our introduction, there are many ransomware-type viruses. Charm is very similar to other viruses of this type, such as Gamma, District, Qinynore, and many more. They are often developed by different cyber criminals, but most ransomware-type viruses have the same purpose: to encrypt users' files and make ransom demands. The most common differences are encryption algorithm used and cost of decryption. These viruses usually encrypt files using RSA, AES, or other cryptography that generate unique decryption keys. Generally, it is impossible to restore the files without the involvement of cyber criminals, unless the virus is still in a development state or has bugs/flaws (e.g., it stores the key locally, the key is hard-coded, or similar). Therefore, maintain regular backups and store them on a remote server such as Cloud or an unplugged storage device. If not, backups might be encrypted with other regular data.

How did ransomware infect my computer?

Ransomware-type viruses can infiltrate in a number of ways, but are usually proliferated via spam email campaigns, fake software update tools, P2P (peer-to-peer) networks, untrustworthy third party software download sources, and trojans. Spam email campaigns are used to proliferate malicious attachments (usually Microsoft Office documents). Once opened, these download and install malware. Fake software update tools usually exploit outdated software flaws/bugs or download and install viruses rather than the promised updates (or other fixes). P2P networks (such as torrents, eMule, and so on) and other third party download sources usually present malicious executables as legitimate apps. These sources are used to trick users into downloading and installing viruses. Trojans (malicious programs) proliferate other viruses (a technique called chain-infections). If a trojan exists on a system, it is possible that it also caused a ransomware-type virus to infiltrate.

Threat Summary:
NameCharm 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.

To eliminate Charm virus our malware researchers recommend scanning your computer with Spyhunter.
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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?

To prevent your system from being infected by ransomware-type viruses, be very cautious when browsing the web, and installing, downloading, or updating software. If you receive an email sent from unknown/untrustworthy address with an attachment , do not open the attachment. Avoid opening files attached to irrelevant emails. Keep your software updated, but use only implemented functions or tools provided by official developers. Do not download software from untrustworthy/unofficial websites or using third party downloaders. Third party download or installation set-ups often contain rogue software that might cause infections. Have a reputable anti-spyware or/and anti-virus software installed and keep it enabled (and updated) at all times. The key to safety is caution. If your computer is already infected with Charm, we recommend running a scan with Spyhunter for Windows to automatically eliminate this ransomware.

Text presented in Charm ransomware text file :

Dear manager,
your database server has been locked, your databases files are encrypted and you have unfortunately "lost" all your data, Encryption was produced using unique key AES-256 generated for this server.
To decrypt files you need to obtain the decryption key and tool.
All encrypted files ends with .charm
To obtain the program for this server, which will decrypt all files, you need to write me to email: "";
Before payment you can send us one small file (100..500 kilobytes) and we will decrypt it - it's your guarantee that we have decryption tool. And send us your userkey
We don't know who are you, All what we need is some money.
Don't panic if we don't answer you during 24 hours. It means that we didn't received your letter and write us again.
You can use one of that bitcoin exchangers for transfering bitcoin:
You dont need install bitcoin programs - you need only use one of this exchangers or other exchanger that you can find in for your country.
Please use english language in your letters. If you don't speak english then use to translate your letter on english language.
You don't have enough time to think each day payment will increase and after one week your key will be deleted and your files will be locked forever.

Screenshot of files encrypted by Charm (".charm" extension):

Files encrypted by Charm

Charm ransomware removal:

Instant automatic removal of Charm 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 Charm 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 Charm 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 Charm 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 Charm 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 Charm 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 Charm, 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 Charm 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 Charm 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 virus and spyware activity level today:

Medium threat activity

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

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

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