Hidden Tear Ransomware

Also Known As: Hidden Tear virus
Distribution: Low
Damage level: Severe

Hidden Tear ransomware removal instructions

What is Hidden Tear?

Hidden Tear is an open-source ransomware project that is free for anyone to download in GitHub. Many cyber criminals use this project to develop their own variants of ransomware and to generate revenue in malicious ways. Some examples of these viruses include Qinynore, Nog4yH4n Project, IT.Books, OPdailyallowance, ScorpionLockerSorry, and Cyber Police. They stealthily infiltrate systems, encrypt stored files, append extensions (e.g., ".anonymous", ".CRYPTR", ".good", ".ScorpionLocker", ".encrypted", ".locked", and many others) to filenames, and make ransom demands.

Hidden Tear uses the AES-256 encryption alghorithm. This cryptography is symmetric, and thus encryption and decryption keys are identical. Each victim receives a unique key. Cyber criminals hide all keys on a remote Command & Control (C&C) server and make ransom demands for their release. I.e., they encourage victims to make specific payments in exchange for decryption of their files. The ransom amounts can vary from tens to thousands of dollars, however, they typically fluctuates between $500 and $1500. Furthermore, cyber criminals typically demand payment in Bitcoins, Dash, Monero, or other cryptocurrencies. These people cannot be trusted - cyber criminals are likely to ignore victims once payments are submitted. Therefore, by paying, victims receive nothing in return and simply support cyber criminals' malicious businesses. Ignore all requests to contact these people and certainly do not pay any ransoms. Previously, most ransomware based on Hidden Tear was undecryptable, however, malware security researcher Michael Gillespie has recently released a 'brute-force' tool that can retrieve the decryption key (download link). He has also released another tool that allows data decryption using the retrieve key (download link). Therefore, there is absolutely no need to pay any ransom. You can find detailed decryption instructions in this article written by another malware security researcher, Lawrence Abrams.

Hidden Tear decrypt instructions

There are dozens of ransomware-type viruses and, although not all are based on Hidden Tear, they are very similar. Most encrypt data and make ransom demands. The type of encryption algorithm used and size of ransom are generally the only major differences. Unfortunately, most of these viruses employ cryptographies (e.g., RSA, AES, etc.) that generate unique decryption keys. Therefore, it is virtually impossible to decrypt data without involvement of the developers (contacting these people is not recommended). The only possible scenarios are the ransomware not being fully developed or having certain bugs/flaws. Ransomware-type viruses present a strong case for maintaining regular data backups, however, store them on remote servers (e.g., Cloud) or unplugged storage devices (e.g., external hard drives).

How did ransomware infect my computer?

Ransomware-type viruses are proliferated in various ways, however, the most popular tools/methods are spam email campaigns, trojans, third party software download sources, and fake software updaters. Spam campaigns deliver malicious attachments. Cyber criminals send deceptive emails to trick users into opening attached files/links - this results in infiltration of ransomware. Trojans cause chain infections (one virus proliferates another). Unofficial download sources (peer-to-peer [P2P] networks, free file hosting sites, freeware download websites, etc.) present malicious software as legitimate/legitimate, thereby tricking users into downloading and installing malware. Fake updaters infect computers by exploiting outdated software bugs/flaws or simply downloading and installing malware rather than updates.

Threat Summary:
NameHidden Tear 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.
Malware Removal (Windows)

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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 attention when browsing the internet and downloading/installing/updating software. Think twice before opening email attachments. If the file/link seems irrelevant or the email has been received from a suspicious/unrecognizable email address, do not open anything. Download your apps from official sources only (via direct download links) and avoid using third party downloaders/installers. The same applies to software updates - update installed apps through implemented functions or tools provided by the official developer. Having a reputable anti-virus/anti-spyware suite installed and running is also paramount, since these tools can intercept malware before any damage is done. If your computer is already infected with ransomware based on Hidden Tear, we recommend running a scan with Malwarebytes for Windows to automatically eliminate this ransomware.

Screenshot of Hidden Tear brute-force tool developed by Michael Gillespie (download link):

Hidden Tear brute forcer by Michael Gillespie

Screenshot of Hidden Tear decrypter developed by Michael Gillespie (download link):

Hidden Tear decrypter by Michael Gillespie

Screenshot of files encrypted by Qinynore ransomware, which is based on Hidden Tear (".anonymous" extension):

Files encrypted by Qinynore

Hidden Tear ransomware removal:

Instant automatic malware removal: Manual threat removal might be a lengthy and complicated process that requires advanced computer skills. Malwarebytes is a professional automatic malware removal tool that is recommended to get rid of malware. Download it by clicking the button below:
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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 Hidden Tear 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 Hidden Tear 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 Hidden Tear 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 Hidden Tear 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 Hidden Tear, 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 Hidden Tear 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 Hidden Tear 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 malware activity level today:

Medium threat activity

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

QR Code
Hidden Tear virus QR code
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