Tfude Ransomware

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

Tfude ransomware removal instructions

What is Tfude?

Discovered by Michael Gillespie, Tfude is classified as a ransomware-type computer infection. This malicious program is a new variant of Djvu ransomware. Like most viruses of this type, it affects systems by encrypting stored data (blocking access to it) and keeping it in this state until victims purchase a decryption tool (in effect, pay a ransom). The virus renames all encrypted files by adding the ".tfude" extension (updated versions use ".tfudet"). For example, "1.jpg" becomes "1.jpg.tfude". It also generates a ransom message within a text file called "_openme.txt" and disables Task Manager. During encryption, Tfude displays a fake Windows Update pop-up window.

In the "_openme.txt" ransom-demand message, cyber criminals state that all files (photos, documents, databases, and so on) are encrypted with the strongest encryption algorithm. The only way to retrieve files is to purchase a decryption tool, a unique decryption key. As 'proof' that Tfude ransomware developers have the tool required, they offer free decryption of one file (that does not contain any valuable information). Furthermore, they even offer a 50% discount for victims who contact them within 72 hours following encryption. Therefore, the size of the ransom depends on how quickly cyber criminals are contacted. To receive further details, victims are encouraged to contact them via the pdfhelp@india.com or pdfhelp@firemail.cc email addresses. The email must contain the assigned personal ID. Tfude's victims are also warned not to use any other (third party) decryption tools, since this might result in permanent data loss. Typically, cyber criminals use cryptography algorithms (symmetric or asymmetric) that generate unique decryption keys. They store these keys on remote servers and only they have access to them. In summary, decryption without the involvement of cyber criminals is impossible, since they have the tools required for successful decryption. There are currently no tools capable of decrypting Tfude's encryption free of charge. Therefore, use an existing data backup if you have one, and restore files from there.

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

Tfude decrypt instructions

Pdff, XARCryptor, and Ahihi are ransomware-type infections that are very similar to Tfude. There are many others. Cyber criminals often use these programs to encrypt data and make ransom demands. Typically, the main differences are encryption algorithm used and cost of decryption tool/key. Unfortunately, ransomware developers use cryptographies that cannot be 'cracked'. People with computers infected by these viruses are encouraged to contact cyber criminals. In some cases, malicious programs of this type are not fully developed, have some bugs/flaws, etc. and, therefore, files can sometimes be retrieved. In any case, to prevent data loss, we recommend that you maintain regular backups and store them on remote servers or unplugged storage devices, otherwise backups will be encrypted with other data.

How did ransomware infect my computer?

There are several ways that cyber criminals use to infect computers with ransomware-type viruses including spam email campaigns, fake software updaters, dubious software download sources, and trojans. Email campaigns proliferate ransomware (or other infections) through malicious attachments. Once opened, these attachments download and install malware. They are usually Microsoft Office documents, archive or executable files, PDF documents, and so on. Fake software updaters tools usually infect systems by exploiting flaws/bugs of outdated software or download (and install) viruses rather than the promised updates or fixes. Dubious software download channels such as P2P networks (torrents, eMule, etc.), freeware download websites, free file hosting websites, and other similar sources present malicious executables as legitimate files. Using these tools, cyber criminals trick users into downloading and installing viruses rather than the expected software. Trojans (malicious programs) proliferate other viruses, thus causing chain-infections. If a trojan installed, it is possible that it also caused a ransomware-type virus.

Threat Summary:
Name Tfude virus
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.
Malware Removal (Windows)

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How to protect yourself from ransomware infections?

To avoid computer infections, be very cautious when browsing the web, installing/downloading and updating software. Avoid opening attachments presented in irrelevant emails. If the attachment is presented in an email sent from an unknown, suspicious email address, ignore it and do not open it. The same applies to web links. Keep software updated, however, use implemented functions or tools provided by official developers only. Do not download software from untrustworthy and unofficial websites, or using third party downloaders. Third party download/installation set-ups often contain rogue software that might cause infections (or other problems). Finally, have reputable anti-spyware/anti-virus software installed and keep it enabled. If your computer is already infected with Tfude, we recommend running a scan with Malwarebytes for Windows to automatically eliminate this ransomware.

Text presented in Tfude ransomware text file ("_openme.txt"):

------------------------ ALL YOUR FILES ARE ENCRYPTED ------------------------

Don't worry, you can return all your files!
All your files documents, photos, databases and other important are encrypted with strongest encryption and unique key.
The only method of recovering files is to purchase decrypt tool and unique key for you.
This software will decrypt all your encrypted files.
What guarantees do we give to you?
You can send one of your encrypted file from your PC and we decrypt it for free.
But we can decrypt only 1 file for free. File must not contain valuable information
Don't try to use third-party decrypt tools because it will destroy your files.
Discount 50% available if you contact us first 72 hours.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

To get this software you need write on our e-mail:
pdfhelp@india.com

Reserve e-mail address to contact us:
pdfhelp@firemail.cc

Your personal ID:
gn28J8jlD4HsFmWsC7ICtz5tvA4TWciOClMyzXacp9s1gW0

Screenshot of a fake Windows Update pop-up window that appears during the encryption process:

fake windows update pop-up window appearing during Tfude encryption

Screenshot of files encrypted by Tfude (".tfudeextension):

Files encrypted by Tfude

Update January 17, 2019 - Michael Gillespie has updated STOPDecrypter, which is now capable of restoring data with the following extensions: ".djvu", ".djvuq", ".djvur", ".djvut", ".djvuu", ".pdff", ".tfude", ".tfudeq", ".tro", ".udjvu", and ".tfudet". You can download the decrypter by clicking this link.

Screenshot of the STOPDecrypter:

STOPDecrypter by Michael Gillespie

Michael states that users should take the following notes:

This decrypter currently only works for personal ID 6se9RaIxXF9m70zWmx7nL3bVRp691w4SNY8UCir0 (the offline key used if the malware failed to get a key from its server), or if you have the key.


If you were provided a key by kNN or myself, you may enter it via the Settings -> Set Djvu Key option; note that entering anything incorrect to this will destroy data, so don't try to be "clever". For "Personal ID", it will accept either the 40 character string at the end of files (not the one in braces, the string just before that), or the 43 character string in the ransom note. The bruteforcer will also explicitly reject this variant, as there is no way of bruteforcing the key at the present time; so don't even waste your time trying to fool it (the feature is for the .puma* variants, and isn't really a "bruteforce" anyways).


The decrypter will only attempt to decrypt a file with a known ID (either the hardcoded one or one you provide with a key); any others will be reported and logged, with instructions to archive it in hopes of future decryption.

If the decrypter detects IDs it could not decrypt, it will display them, along with your MAC addresses for easy archiving (assuming it is ran from the infected PC). It is also logged for you.

Tfude ransomware removal:

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Quick menu:

Isolating the infected device:

Some ransomware-type infections are designed to encrypt files within external storage devices, infect them, and even spread throughout the entire local network. For this reason, it is very important to isolate the infected device (computer) as soon as possible.

Step 1: Disconnect from the internet.

The easiest way to disconnect a computer from the internet is to unplug the Ethernet cable from the motherboard, however, some devices are connected via a wireless network and for some users (especially those who are not particularly tech-savvy), disconnecting cables may seem troublesome. Therefore, you can also disconnect the system manually via Control Panel:

  • Navigate to the "Control Panel", click the search bar in the upper-right corner of the screen, enter "Network and Sharing Center" and select search result:

Disconnecting computer from the Internet (step 1)

  • Click the "Change adapter settings" option in the upper-left corner of the window:

Disconnecting computer from the Internet (step 2)

  • Right-click on each connection point and select "Disable". Once disabled, the system will no longer be connected to the internet. To re-enable the connection points, simply right-click again and select "Enable".

Disconnecting computer from the Internet (step 3)

Step 2: Unplug all storage devices.

As mentioned above, ransomware might encrypt data and infiltrate all storage devices that are connected to the computer. For this reason, all external storage devices (flash drives, portable hard drives, etc.) should be disconnected immediately, however, we strongly advise you to eject each device before disconnecting to prevent data corruption:

  • Navigate to "My Computer", right-click on each connected device and select "Eject":

Ejecting external storage devices

Step 3: Log-out of cloud storage accounts.

Some ransomware-type might be able to hijack software that handles data stored within "the Cloud". Therefore, the data could be corrupted/encrypted. For this reason, you should log-out of all cloud storage accounts within browsers and other related software. You should also consider temporarily uninstalling the cloud-management software until the infection is completely removed.

Identify the ransomware infection:

To properly handle an infection, one must first identify it. Some ransomware infections use ransom-demand messages as an introduction (see the WALDO ransomware text file below).

Identify ransomware-type infection (step 1)

This, however, is rare. In most cases, ransomware infections deliver more direct messages simply stating that data is encrypted and that victims must pay some sort of ransom. Note that ransomware-type infections typically generate messages with different file names (for example, "_readme.txt", "READ-ME.txt", "DECRYPTION_INSTRUCTIONS.txt", "DECRYPT_FILES.html", etc.). Therefore, using the name of a ransom message may seem like a good way to identify the infection. The problem is that most of these names are generic and some infections use the same names, even though the delivered messages are different and the infections themselves are unrelated. Therefore, using the message filename alone can be ineffective and even lead to permanent data loss (for example, by attempting to decrypt data using tools designed for different ransomware infections, users are likely to end up permanently damaging files and decryption will no longer be possible even with the correct tool).

Another way to identify a ransomware infection is to check the file extension, which is appended to each encrypted file. Ransomware infections are often named by the extensions they append (see files encrypted by Qewe ransomware below).

Identify ransomware-type infection (step 2)

This method is only effective, however, when the appended extension is unique - many ransomware infections append a generic extension (for example, ".encrypted", ".enc", ".crypted", ".locked", etc.). In these cases, identifying ransomware by its appended extension becomes impossible.

One of the easiest and quickest ways to identify a ransomware infection is to use the ID Ransomware website. This service supports most existing ransomware infections. Victims simply upload a ransom message and/or one encrypted file (we advise you to upload both if possible).

Identify ransomware-type infection (step 3)

The ransomware will be identified within seconds and you will be provided with various details, such as the name of the malware family to which the infection belongs, whether it is decryptable, and so on.

Example 1 (Qewe [Stop/Djvu] ransomware):

Identify ransomware-type infection (step 4)

Example 2 (.iso [Phobos] ransomware):

Identify ransomware-type infection (step 5)

If your data happens to be encrypted by a ransomware that is not supported by ID Ransomware, you can always try searching the internet by using certain keywords (for example, ransom message title, file extension, provided contact emails, cryptowallet addresses, etc.).

Search for ransomware decryption tools:

Encryption algorithms used by most ransomware-type infections are extremely sophisticated and, if the encryption is performed properly, only the developer is capable of restoring data. This is because decryption requires a specific key, which is generated during the encryption. Restoring data without the key is impossible. In most cases, cyber criminals store keys on a remote server, rather than using the infected machine as a host. Dharma (CrySis), Phobos, and other families of high-end ransomware infections are virtually flawless, and thus restoring data encrypted without the developers' involvement is simply impossible. Despite this, there are dozens of ransomware-type infections that are poorly developed and contain a number of flaws (for example, the use of identical encryption/decryption keys for each victim, keys stored locally, etc.). Therefore, always check for available decryption tools for any ransomware that infiltrates your computer.

Finding the correct decryption tool on the internet can be very frustrating. For this reason, we recommend that you use the No More Ransom Project and this is where identifying the ransomware infection is useful. The No More Ransom Project website contains a "Decryption Tools" section with a search bar. Enter the name of the identified ransomware, and all available decryptors (if there are any) will be listed.

Searching for ransomware decryption tools in nomoreransom.org website

Restore files with data recovery tools:

Depending on the situation (quality of ransomware infection, type of encryption algorithm used, etc.), restoring data with certain third-party tools might be possible. Therefore, we advise you to use EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard Pro. This tool supports over a thousand data types (graphics, video, audio, documents, etc.) and it is very intuitive (little knowledge is necessary to recover data).

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EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard Pro

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Step 1: Perform a scan.

  • Hover your mouse over the partition you wish to scan and select "Scan". You can also select a specific folder, or click shortcut icons to scan the Desktop or Recycle Bin:

Scanning the storage drive with EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard PRO (step 1)

  • Wait for EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard Pro to complete the scan. The scanning duration depends on the volume of files (both in quantity and size) that you are scanning (for example, several hundreds gigabytes could take over an hour to scan). Therefore, be patient during the scanning process. We also advise against modifying or deleting existing files, since this might interfere with the scan. If you add additional data (for example, downloading files/content) while scanning, this will prolong the process:

Scanning the storage drive with EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard PRO (step 2)

Step 2: Recover data.

  • Once the process is complete, select the folders/files you wish to restore and simply click "Recover". Note that some free space on your storage drive is necessary to restore data. Note also that the trial version of EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard Pro is only capable of scanning drives and listing recoverable files - to restore them, you must purchase a license:

Recovering data with EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard Pro

Step 3: Save the scan session (optional).

  • We recommend that you save the scanning session once you have completed recovery, in case you decide to recover additional files later. Simply click the "Save Scan Session" icon in the upper-right corner of the screen and choose the location for the file to be saved. This will save a lot of time, since you will not need to re-scan the storage drive the next time you wish to restore something. Bear in mind, however, that data removed after the scanning session has finished will not be listed:

Saving scan session in EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard Pro

Create data backups:

Proper file management and creating backups is essential for data security. Therefore, always be very careful and think ahead.

Partition management: We recommend that you store your data in multiple partitions and avoid storing important files within the partition that contains the entire operating system. If you fall into a situation whereby you cannot boot the system and are forced to format the disk on which the operating system is installed (in most cases, this is where malware infections hide), you will lose all data stored within that drive. This is the advantage of having multiple partitions: if you have the entire storage device assigned to a single partition, you will be forced to delete everything, however, creating multiple partitions and allocating the data properly allows you to prevent such problems. You can easily format a single partition without affecting the others - therefore, one will be cleaned and the others will remain untouched, and your data will be saved. Managing partitions is quite simple and you can find all necessary information on Microsoft's documentation web page.

Data backups: The most reliable backup method is to use an external storage device and keep it unplugged. Copy your data to an external hard drive, flash (thumb) drive, SSD, HDD, or any other storage device, unplug it and store it in a dry place away from sun and extreme temperatures. This method is, however, quite inefficient, since data backups and updates need to be made regularly. You can also use a cloud service or remote server. Here, an internet connection is required and there is always the chance of a security breach. Therefore, you should consider using an application to create data backups locally.

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EaseUS Todo Backup

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We recommend using the EaseUS Todo Backup application. The "Home" edition of EaseUS Todo Backup is usually more than adequate for regular users, however, the "Business" edition is more suitable for companies and large computer networks. The EaseUS Todo Backup application provides extensive data protection features. You can easily create backups, and encrypt and compress them for enhanced protection and storage saving purposes. It also allows you to set backup schedules, create bootable devices, and restore the system if a crash occurs. You can easily choose where to store the created backup: locally; uploaded to an external drive; FTP; cloud storage, or elsewhere. In summary, EaseUS Todo Backup is an all-in-one tool, which provides all features required to properly backup your data.

Creating a data backup:

The backup process is virtually identical regardless of the item (file, partition, entire system) you wish to backup. Taking the File Backup feature as an example:

Step 1: Choose which item to backup.

  • Click on the "Menu" icon in the upper-left corner of the screen to reveal the menu and select "File Backup":

Creating data backups with EaseUS Todo Backup tool (step 1)

  • Select the files you want to backup. You can also enter a name and description of the backup that will be created:

Creating data backups with EaseUS Todo Backup tool (step 2)

Step 2: Change the default settings.

The EaseUS Todo Backup application provides a variety of additional options that can be added/modified while creating the backup. For example, you can encrypt data (add a password), select the compression rate (how much the backup should be compressed), performance (how many system resources should be allocated), add an email notification (you receive an email once the process is complete) and so on.

  • To open the options window, click the "Backup options" button in the lower-left corner of the screen:

Creating data backups with EaseUS Todo Backup tool (step 3)

  • Select the settings you want to change and click "Save". You can also reset your changes by clicking "Reset to initial settings":

Creating data backups with EaseUS Todo Backup tool (step 4)

Step 3: Select the backup destination.

As mentioned above, EaseUS Todo Backup allows you to choose where backups are saved - locally or externally.

  • Click the "Browse..." button and select the location you want the backup to be saved:

Creating data backups with EaseUS Todo Backup tool (step 5)

Step 4: Safety measures and process completion.

Depending on the location you have chosen, there are a number of measures you should or should not take. If you are uploading to an internet-connected location (for example, Cloud storage, FTP, etc.), be sure to maintain your internet connection, otherwise you will have to start again. The same applies to external storage devices - do not unplug them until the process is complete.

  • The progress bar displays estimated time remaining until completion. Large backups (hundreds of gigabytes) can take hours to create (depending on storage device speed, internet connection, etc.). Therefore, the application also allows you to optionally choose what the system should do (shut down, sleep or hibernate) once the process has finished:

Creating data backups with EaseUS Todo Backup tool (step 6)

The best way to avoid damage from ransomware infections is to maintain regular up-to-date backups.

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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Global malware activity level today:

Medium threat activity

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

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