Pluto Ransomware

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

Pluto ransomware removal instructions

What is Pluto?

Pluto is one of many ransomware-type viruses discovered by malware security researcher, Michael Gillespie. Following successful infiltration, Pluto encrypts most stored files and appends filenames with the ".pluto" extension (e.g., "sample.jpg" is renamed to "sample.jpg.pluto"). Once encryption is complete, Pluto generates a text file ("!!!READ_IT!!!.txt") that contains a ransom-demand message. Another variants of this ransomware use ".Neptune" and ".mecury" extensions for encrypted files.

The ransom-demand message is short and simply states that data is encrypted and can only be restored using a unique decryption tool. To receive the tool, victims must contact developers (cyber criminals) via one of the email addresses provided and attach their unique IDs. As a 'guarantee' that files can be decrypted, victims can attach a file (which does not contain any important information). This will then be restored and returned to the victim together with the payment instructions. Unfortunately, only cyber criminals can restore encrypted data. It is currently not known whether Pluto uses symmetric or asymmetric cryptography. In all cases, however, decryption requires a unique key generated individually for each victim. All keys are stored on a remote server controlled by cyber criminals. Therefore, to receive their keys (or a decryption tool with the key embedded within), each victim is encouraged to pay a ransom. The cost is not specified within the text file (all details are provided via email), however, in most cases, the size of ransom fluctuates between $500 and $1500 in Bitcoins or other cryptocurrency. Regardless of the cost, do not pay. Research shows that these people often ignore victims, once payments are submitted. Therefore, paying often gives no positive result and users are scammed. We strongly recommend that you ignore all requests to submit payments or pay any ransoms. Unfortunately, there are no tools capable of cracking Pluto encryption and restoring data free of charge. Therefore, the only solution is to restore everything from a backup.

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

Pluto decrypt instructions

Pluto is regular ransomware and thus shares many similarities with dozens of other viruses of this type including Frend, Cryptotes, Maoloa, and CryptoID - these are just some examples from many. As with Pluto, these malware infections also encrypt data and make ransom demands. The only major differences are size of ransom and type of encryption algorithm used. Unfortunately, most are developed to encrypt data using algorithms such as RSA, AES, and others that generate unique decryption keys. Therefore, unless the virus is not fully developed or has certain bugs/flaws (e.g., the key is hard-coded, stored locally or similar), manual decryption without involvement of developers (contacting these people is not recommended) is impossible. To prevent permanent data loss, we strongly advise you to maintain regular data backups and store them on remote servers or unplugged storage devices. Locally stored backups are encrypted together with regular data.

How did ransomware infect my computer?

To proliferate ransomware-type viruses, cyber criminals typically use trojans, fake software update tools, cracks, third party software download sources, and spam email campaigns. Trojans are malicious applications that, once infiltrated, cause so-called "chain infections". Therefore, these apps infiltrate computers and continually inject them with other malware. Fake software updaters infect systems by misusing outdated software bugs/flaws or simply downloading and installing malware rather than the promised updates. Software cracks allow users to bypass software activation, however, this is a common way for cyber criminals to proliferate malware. Rather than activating paid software free of charge, users end up infecting their computers. Spam campaigns are used to proliferate malware via malicious attachments. Cyber criminals send deceptive emails that contain messages encouraging users to open attached links/files, however, this typically leads to high-risk computer infections. Unofficial download sources are often used to distribute malicious apps. Cyber criminals present them as legitimate software, thereby tricking users into downloading and installing malware manually. In most cases, lack of knowledge and careless behavior are the main reasons for computer infections.

Threat Summary:
NamePluto 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 Pluto 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?

The key to computer safety is caution. Therefore, pay close attention during the download/update/installation processes and when browsing the internet. Download your programs from official sources only, using direct download links. Keep installed applications up-to-date. To achieve this, however, use only implemented functions or tools provided by the official developer. Furthermore, never use software cracking tools, since software piracy is considered a cyber crime and there is also high-risk of computer infection. Carefully analyze each email attachment received. Files that are irrelevant and those received from suspicious/unrecognizable email addresses should never be opened. Reputable anti-virus/anti-spyware suites can detect and remove malware before it harms the system - therefore, have this software installed and running. If your computer is already infected with Pluto, we recommend running a scan with Spyhunter for Windows to automatically eliminate this ransomware.

Text presented in Pluto ransomware text file :

!!! ATTENTION, YOUR FILES WERE ENCRYPTED !!!

Please follow few steps below:

1.Send us your ID.
2.We can decrypt 1 not important file what would you make sure that we have decription tool! Do not try to cheat us, only not important file.
3.Then you'll get payment instruction and after payment you will get your decryption tool!


 Do not try to rename files!!! Only we can decrypt all your data!
 
 Contact us:

getmydata@india.com
mydataback@aol.com

                   Your ID:
                   
-

Screenshot of files encrypted by Pluto (".pluto" extension):

Files encrypted by Pluto

Pluto ransomware removal:

Instant automatic removal of Pluto 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 Pluto 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 Pluto 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 Pluto 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 Pluto 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 Pluto 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 Pluto, 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 Pluto 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 Pluto 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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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
Pluto 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 Pluto virus on your mobile device.
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Platform: Windows

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