Combo ransomware removal instructions
What is Combo?
Combo is a new variant from the Dharma ransomware family. This is malicious software designed to block access to all data by file encryption. Combo adds the ".combo" extension, email address, and ID to each infected (encrypted) file. For example, "1.jpg" becomes "1.jpg.combo". Updated variants of this ransomware use .[firstname.lastname@example.org].combo extension for encrypted files. This ransomware displays a ransom message in a pop-up window and the "FILES ENCRYPTED.txt" text file.
"FILES ENCRYPTED.txt" contains just two email addresses (email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org) and a short note stating that cyber criminals must be contacted using one of these addresses if victims wish to retrieve their files. A ransom message in a pop-up window provides similar details, however, it also contains a unique ID that must be used when contacting Combo's developers. According to cyber criminals, to decrypt locked data, victims must purchase a decryption tool using Bitcoins. The cost of this tool depends on how quickly Combo's developers are contacted. As 'proof' that they can be trusted (and have a tool capable of decryption), they offer free decryption of one file. A pop-up window also urges Combo's victims not to rename encrypted files or try to decrypt them using other tools, since this might cause permanent data loss. Typically, cyber criminals use cryptographies that generate unique decryption keys, which they store on remote servers under their control. Currently, there are no other tools capable of decrypting Combo encryption free of charge. Therefore, retrieving files without the involvement of Combo's developers is impossible. Note that cyber criminals cannot be trusted, since they usually ignore victims even if their demands are met and ransoms are paid. Generally, the only free solution in these cases is to use a data backup created earlier, and restore everything from there.
Screenshot of a message encouraging users to pay a ransom to decrypt their compromised data:
Combo is very similar to many other ransomware-type programs, such as UnlockAndRecover, Djvu, and .SYS. These infections encrypt files and block access to them until the ransom is paid (i.e. the decryption key or tool is purchased). Common differences between these viruses are cryptography used for encryption and cost of decryption. Unfortunately, it is usually impossible to crack these encryptions, unless the virus is not fully developed or contains bugs/flaws. To keep data safe and avoid loss, we recommend that you maintain regular backups and store them on a remote server or unplugged storage device.
How did ransomware infect my computer?
The exact method cyber criminals use to proliferate Combo ransomware is unknown, however, developers often employ spam email campaigns, trojans, fake software update tools, or untrustworthy software download sources. Spam campaigns spread infections via attached malicious files. Typically, these are Microsoft Office documents, archive files, PDFs, executables, or other files. Once opened (.exe files are executed), these attachments download and install computer infections. Trojans are malicious programs that must already be installed - then they cause chain infections, proliferating other malicious programs. Fake software updaters infect computers by downloading and installing malicious programs, rather than the updates, or by exploiting bugs/flaws of outdated software. Free file hosting, freeware download websites, peer-to-peer networks (such as torrent clients, eMule, and so on) and other third party software download sources, are used by cyber criminals who present infected files (or rogue apps) as legitimate. In this way, they trick people into downloading and installing computer infections.
|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.|
To eliminate Combo virus our malware researchers recommend scanning your computer with Spyhunter.
How to protect yourself from ransomware infections?
Think twice before opening attachments or web links in emails received from unknown/suspicious addresses. If the email is irrelevant or does not concern you, do not open any attachment (or click the presented link). Download software using direct links, trustworthy and official sources/websites only. Do not use third party downloaders or installers. These sources are often used to distribute rogue applications that might infect computers or cause other problems. Update installed software using implemented functions or those tools that are provided by official software developers. Avoid using third party updaters. Have reputable anti-virus/anti-spyware software installed and enabled at all times. If your computer is already infected with Combo, we recommend running a scan with Spyhunter for Windows to automatically eliminate this ransomware.
Text presented in Combo ransomware pop-up window:
All your files have been encrypted!
All your files have been encrypted due to a security problem with your PC. If you want to restore them, write us to the e-mail email@example.com
Write this ID in the title of your message 1E857D00
In case of no answer in 24 hours write us to theese e-mails:firstname.lastname@example.org
You have to pay for decryption in Bitcoins. The price depends on how fast you write to us. After payment we will send you the decryption tool that will decrypt all your files.
Free decryption as guarantee
Before paying you can send us up to 1 file for free decryption. The total size of files must be less than 1Mb (non archived), and files should not contain valuable information. (databases,backups, large excel sheets, etc.)
How to obtain Bitcoins
The easiest way to buy bitcoins is LocalBitcoins site. You have to register, click 'Buy bitcoins', and select the seller by payment method and price.
Also you can find other places to buy Bitcoins and beginners guide here:
Do not rename encrypted files.
Do not try to decrypt your data using third party software, it may cause permanent data loss.
Decryption of your files with the help of third parties may cause increased price (they add their fee to our) or you can become a victim of a scam.
Screenshot of Combo text file ("FILES ENCRYPTED.txt"):
Text presented in Combo text file:
all your data has been locked us
You want to return?
write email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org\
Screenshot of files encrypted by Combo (".combo" extension):
Combo ransomware removal:
Instant automatic removal of Combo 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 Combo virus. Download it by clicking the button below:
- What is Combo?
- STEP 1. Combo virus removal using safe mode with networking.
- STEP 2. Combo ransomware removal using System Restore.
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.
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.
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.
Video showing how to start Windows 10 in "Safe Mode with Networking":
Log in to the account infected with the Combo 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.
2. When Command Prompt mode loads, enter the following line: cd restore and press ENTER.
3. Next, type this line: rstrui.exe and press ENTER.
4. In the opened window, click "Next".
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 Combo ransomware virus infiltrating your PC).
6. In the opened window, click "Yes".
7. After restoring your computer to a previous date, download and scan your PC with recommended malware removal software to eliminate any remaining Combo 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 Combo 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.
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 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 Combo 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.
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:
Malwarebytes Anti-Ransomware Beta uses advanced proactive technology that monitors ransomware activity and terminates it immediately - before reaching users' files:
- 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 Combo ransomware: