IronHead Ransomware

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

IronHead ransomware removal instructions

What is IronHead?

Discovered by Michael Gillespie, IronHead is a computer infection that is likely to be a part of the Scarab ransomware family of viruses. Like most ransomware-type viruses, it is designed to prevent users from accessing their data by encryption. To recover their files, IronHead victims are encouraged to pay developers a ransom (purchase a decryption key). Once encrypted, all affected files are renamed by adding the ".ironhead" extension. For example, "1.jpg" becomes "1.jpg.ironhead". IronHead also generates a ransom-demand message within "How to restore encrypted files.txt", and places the file in folders containing encrypted files.

IronHead developers state within the "How to restore encrypted files.txt" ransom-demand message that the victim's files (data) were encrypted due to 'security problems' with the computer. Users of infected computers are urged to contact cyber criminals via the fileisafe@tuta.io (or fileisafe@protonmail.com) email address and to send the personal identifier provided. They state that sending the email will indicate that the user is ready to pay a ransom (buy a decryption key). The exact cost (size of ransom) is unknown, however, cyber criminals claim in their ransom note that this depends on how quickly they are contacted. It states that the ransom must be paid in Bitcoins. According to IronHead developers, they will provide victims with a decryption tool as soon as payment is made. As 'proof' that they can be trusted and are capable of decryption, they offer free decryption of up to three files prior to receiving payments. They also warn affected parties not to rename encrypted files or to use any other decryption tools, since this might cause permanent data loss or increase the cost of decryption. Most cyber criminals (ransomware developers) use cryptography algorithms (symmetric or asymmetric) that generate unique decryption keys. They store these keys on remote servers under their control. Therefore, decryption without the involvement of ransomware developers is impossible. Furthermore, no tools are currently capable of cracking IronHead cryptography. Despite this situation, do not contact any ransomware developers. Typically, they ignore victims once they receive payment. We recommend that you use a backup and retrieve files from there.

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

IronHead decrypt instructions

IronHead is just one of many ransomware-type infections. Example of other similar viruses include UnblockAndRecover, Djvu, and .SYS. They might be developed by different cyber criminals, but most serve the same purpose: to encrypt data and make ransom demands. The most common variables are cost of decryption and cryptography algorithm used for encryption. Unfortunately, most ransomware viruses are 'uncrackable'. Cracking them might only be possible if the virus is still in development or contains bugs/flaws. To prevent data loss in the future and avoid becoming a victim of ransomware, maintain regular data backups and store them on remote servers or unplugged storage devices.

How did ransomware infect my computer?

It is difficult to determine exactly how IronHead developers proliferate this high-risk infection, however, most cyber criminals use similar methods. They often use spam email campaigns, trojans, fake software updaters, and third party download sources. Regarding spam campaigns, cyber criminals send emails that contain malicious attachments and attempt to trick people into opening them. These attachments are usually Microsoft Office documents, PDF files, archive files (such as RAR, ZIP), executables, and so on. Once downloaded and opened, they infect computers with viruses. Trojans are malicious programs designed to proliferate other infections. When a trojan is installed, it causes chain infections. Fake/unofficial software updaters download and install malware rather than updates or fixes, or they exploit bugs/flaws of outdated software. Third party download sources such as P2P (peer-to-peer) networks, free file hosting websites, freeware download websites, or other similar channels, also proliferate viruses. Cyber criminals use them to present malicious files (executables) as legitimate and often trick people into downloading and installing high-risk infections.

Threat Summary:
NameIronHead 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 IronHead 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?

Be careful when downloading, installing/updating software, and opening emails. Avoid opening email attachments (or web links) that are received from unknown/suspicious addresses, or if the email subject and context is irrelevant. Use official and trustworthy sources when downloading software, and not third party downloaders, installers, and so on. Update installed software using implemented functions or tools provided by the official software developers. Having a reputable anti-virus or/and anti-spyware software installed is also important: these tools can detect and remove threats before they proliferate or do any damage. If your computer is already infected with IronHead, we recommend running a scan with Spyhunter for Windows to automatically eliminate this ransomware.

Text presented in IronHead ransomware text file ("How to restore encrypted files.txt"):

Your files are now encrypted!

Your personal identifier:
-

All your files have been encrypted due to a security problem with your PC.

Now you should send us email with your personal identifier.
This email will be as confirmation you are ready to pay for decryption key.
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.

Contact us using this email address: fileisafe@tuta.io or fileisafe@protonmail.com


Free decryption as guarantee!
Before paying you can send us up to 3 files for free decryption.
The total size of files must be less than 5Mb (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:
https://localbitcoins.com/buy_bitcoins
* Also you can find other places to buy Bitcoins and beginners guide here:
http://www.coindesk.com/information/how-can-i-buy-bitcoins

Attention!
* 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 files encrypted by IronHead (".ironhead" extension):

Files encrypted by IronHead

IronHead ransomware removal:

Instant automatic removal of IronHead 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 IronHead 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 IronHead 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 IronHead 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 IronHead 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 IronHead 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 IronHead, 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 IronHead 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 IronHead 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.

Our malware removal guides are free. However, if you want to support us you can send us a donation.

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
IronHead 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 IronHead virus on your mobile device.
We Recommend:

Get rid of IronHead virus today:

▼ REMOVE IT NOW with Spyhunter

Platform: Windows

Editors' Rating for Spyhunter:
Editors ratingOutstanding!

[Back to Top]

Free scanner checks if your computer is infected. To remove malware, you have to purchase the full version of Spyhunter.