ARGUS Ransomware

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

ARGUS ransomware removal instructions

What is ARGUS?

ARGUS is a ransomware-type virus discovered by Amigo-A. Following successful infiltration, ARGUS compromises (encrypts) most stored data using an RSA-2048 encryption algorithm. It also appends filenames with the ".ARGUS" extension (e.g., "sample.jpg" is renamed to "sample.jpg.ARGUS"). Encrypted data instantly becomes unusable. In addition to locking files, ARGUS changes the desktop wallpaper and creates an HTML file ("ARGUS-DECRYPT.html"), placing a copy in every existing folder.

The desktop wallpaper and HTML file contain messages informing victims of the current situation. It essentially states that data is encrypted and that it can only be restored using a unique decryption key. Unfortunately, this information is accurate. As mentioned above, ARGUS uses RSA-2048 - an asymmetric encryption algorithm that generates public (encryption) and private (decryption) keys individually for each victim. Decryption without the private key is impossible. Cyber criminals hide all keys on a remote server and blackmail victims for their release. To receive their key, each victim must visit ARGUS's website and pay a ransom. Note that cyber criminals cannot be trusted. Research shows that, in most cases, paying the ransom gives no positive result - users are simply scammed. Therefore, we strongly advise you to ignore all requests to submit payments or even contact these people. By paying, you will simply support cyber criminals' malicious businesses and receive nothing in return. Unfortunately, there are no tools capable of cracking RSA-2048 encryption algorithm and restoring data encrypted by ARGUS free of charge. The only solution is to restore everything using a backup.

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

ARGUS decrypt instructions

There are hundreds of ransomware-type viruses that share similarities with ARGUS. The list of examples includes (but is not limited to) Fire, Crypted034, BlackHat, Epoblockl, and Adobe. These viruses are developed by different cyber criminals, and yet their behavior is identical - all encrypt data and make ransom demands. Ransomware-type viruses typically have just two major differences: 1) size of ransom, and; 2) type of encryption algorithm used. Virtually all use RSA, AES, or other similar algorithms that generates unique decryption keys. Therefore, unless the virus is still in development or has certain bugs/flaws (e.g., the key is hard-coded, stored locally, or similar) file decryption without developers' involvement (not recommended) is impossible. Ransomware is one of the main reasons why you should maintain regular data backups, however, store these files on a remote server (e.g., Cloud) or unplugged storage device. If not, malware encrypts backups with regular data.

How did ransomware infect my computer?

It is currently not known exactly how cyber criminals proliferate ARGUS. In most cases, however, these viruses are spread using trojans, spam email campaigns, unofficial software download sources, and fake software updaters. Trojans are viruses that cause 'chain infections' - one virus proliferates other malware. P2P networks (torrents, eMule, etc.) and other third party download sources (free file hosting websites, freeware download websites, and others) present malicious executables as legitimate software, thereby tricking users into downloading and running malware. Fake updaters infect systems by exploiting outdated software bugs/flaws or downloading and installing malware rather than promised updates.

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. Think twice before opening email attachments. Files/links that are irrelevant and those received from suspicious/unrecognizable email addresses should never be opened. Download software from official sources only, using direct download links. Third party downloaders/installers often include rogue applications and, therefore, these tools should never be used. The same rule applies to software updates. Keep installed applications up-to-date, but use implemented functions or tools provided by the official developer only. We also strongly recommend that you have a reputable anti-virus/anti-spyware suite installed and running. This software can detect and eliminate malware before any damage is done. If your computer is already infected with ARGUS, we recommend running a scan with Spyhunter for Windows to automatically eliminate this ransomware.

Text presented in ARGUS ransomware HTML file ("ARGUS-DECRYPT.html"):

.-=| ARGUS CRYPTOR V1.0 |=-.

Attention!
All your files, documents, photos, databases and other important files are encrypted!
The only method of recovering files is to purchase an unique private key. Only WE can recover your files!
You can get the private key by email as well as through a closed TOR network. You can get there by the following ways


Main email : argusdecrypt@cock.li
Reserved email : argusdecrypt@mailfence.com
Follow the instructions
If the answer for a long time no
Download Tor browser - hxxps://www.torproject.org/download/download-easy
Install Tor browser
Open Tor Browser
Open link in TOR browser: hxxp://argusqug6aw25gye.onion/
Follow the instructions on this page


You can get the opportunity to decrypt 1 file for free.


ATTENTION!
IN ORDER TO PREVENT DATA DAMAGE:

* DO NOT MODIFY ENCRYPTED FILES
* DO NOT DELETE ENCRYPTED FILES
* DO NOT RENAME ENCRYPTED FILES

Screenshot of ARGUS desktop wallpaper:

ARGUS wallpaper

Text presented in ARGUS ransomware desktop wallpaper:

ARGUS RANSOMWARE v1.0

 

Dear admin!
All your files has been encrypted!
For encrypting used cryptographic algorithm RSA2048.
Only we can provide you decryptor.
Read the Instructions.html for more information.
You can find this file everywhere on your PC.
Only we can provide you decryptor.
Do not attempt to decrypt the data yourself.
You might corrupt your files.

 

Don't Delete Encrypted Files
Don't Modify Encrypted Files
Don't Rename Encrypted Files

Screenshot of files encrypted by ARGUS (".ARGUS" extension):

Files encrypted by ARGUS

ARGUS ransomware removal:

Instant automatic removal of ARGUS 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 ARGUS 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 ARGUS 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 ARGUS 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 ARGUS 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 ARGUS 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 ARGUS, 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 ARGUS 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 ARGUS ransomware: