Luces ransomware removal instructions
What is Luces?
Discovered by Michael Gillespie, Luces is yet another variant of high-risk ransomware called Djvu. After successful infiltration, Luces encrypts most stored data and appends filenames with the ".luces" extension. For instance, "sample.jpg" is renamed to "sample.jpg.luces". As well as encrypting data, Luces creates a text file ("_readme.txt") and places a copy in every existing folder.
As with all of Djvu variants, the new text file delivers a message informing victims of the encryption and makes ransom demands. It essentially states that to recover data, each victim must purchase a decryption key. Unfortunately, this information is accurate. During encryption, Luces generates a unique decryption key for each victim. All keys are stored on a remote server controlled by cyber criminals, and thus each victim is encouraged to pay a ransom for their release. The cost of each decryption key is $980, however, victims who contact cyber criminals within 72 hours after encryption will receive a 50% discount. Thus, the cost will drop to $490. Regardless of the cost, do not pay. Research shows that cyber criminals often ignore victims, once payments are submitted. Therefore, paying usually gives no positive result and users are scammed. Ignore all requests to contact these people or submit payments. Unfortunately, there are no tools capable of cracking this ransomware encryption and restoring data free of charge. Therefore, you can only restore everything from a backup.
Screenshot of a message encouraging users to pay a ransom to decrypt their compromised data:
There are hundreds of ransomware-type infections, all of which are very similar. For example, P3rf0rm4, Rabbit, and CMG. Although the developers are different, these infections have very similar behavior. They encrypt data and make ransom demands. Size of ransom and type of encryption algorithm used are typically the only major differences. Most of these infections employ cryptographies that generate decryption keys. Therefore, file decryption manually without involvement of developers (contacting these people is not recommended) is impossible. The only possible scenarios are ransomware not being fully developed or having certain bugs/flaws. These infections present a strong case for maintaining regular backups, however, store them on remote servers or unplugged storage devices, since locally stored backups are encrypted with regular data.
Luces ransomware technical analysis:
- Detection names: BitDefender (Trojan.GenericKD.31809991), Kaspersky (Trojan-PSW.Win32.Coins.qvc), ESET-NOD32 (a variant of Win32/Kryptik.GRBK)
- Full list of antivirus detections: VirusTotal
- Executable file name: load1903.exe
- Sample first submitted: 2019-03-19 (created 2017-12-24)
How did ransomware infect my computer?
It is currently unconfirmed exactly how developers proliferate Luces, however, ransomware-type infections are usually spread via third party software download sources, spam email campaigns, trojans and fake software updaters/cracks. Unofficial download sources are used to proliferate malware by presenting it as legitimate software. Users then end up downloading and installing malware. Cyber criminals use spam campaigns to send hundreds of thousands of emails containing deceptive messages encouraging users to open attached malicious files. Doing so results in various system infections. Trojans are are malicious applications that stealthily infiltrate computers and continually inject additional malware. Fake updaters infect computers by exploiting outdated software bugs/flaws or simply downloading and installing malware rather than the promised updates. Cracking tools activate paid software free of charge, however, criminals also use them to proliferate malware, and thus users often end up infecting their computers rather than activating any software. In summary, the main reasons for computer infections are poor knowledge of these threats and careless behavior.
|Threat Type||Ransomware, Crypto Virus, Files locker.|
|Symptoms||Cannot open files stored on your computer, previously functional files now have a different extension (for example, my.docx.locked). A ransom demand message is displayed on your desktop. Cyber criminals demand a ransom payment (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)||
To eliminate possible malware infections, scan your computer with legitimate antivirus software. Our security researchers recommend using Malwarebytes.
How to protect yourself from ransomware infections?
To prevent this situation, be very cautious when browsing the internet and downloading, installing, and updating software. You are strongly advised to think twice before opening email attachments. Files/links that are irrelevant and those received from suspicious/unrecognizable email addresses should never be opened. Furthermore, avoid using third party downloaders/installers, since they often include rogue apps. Software should be downloaded from official sources only, using direct download links. Similar rules apply to software updates. Keep installed programs updated, however, this should be achieved through implemented functions or tools provided by the official developer. Never use 'cracks', since software piracy is a cyber crime and the risk of infections is extremely high. Lastly, have a reputable anti-virus/anti-spyware suite installed and running, since these tools detect and eliminate malware before the system is harmed. The key to computer safety is caution. If your computer is already infected with Luces, we recommend running a scan with Malwarebytes for Windows to automatically eliminate this ransomware.
Text presented in Luces ransomware text file ("_readme.txt"):
Don't worry my friend, you can return all your files!
All your files like photos, databases, documents 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 you have?
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.
You can get and look video overview decrypt tool:
Price of private key and decrypt software is $980.
Discount 50% available if you contact us first 72 hours, that's price for you is $490.
Please note that you'll never restore your data without payment.
Check your e-mail "Spam" folder if you don't get answer more than 6 hours.
To get this software you need write on our e-mail:
Reserve e-mail address to contact us:
Your personal ID:
Screenshot of files encrypted by Luces (".luces" extension):
As with most of ransomware from Djvu family, Luces also displays a fake Windows update pop-up during the encryption:
IMPORTANT NOTE! - As well as encrypting data, ransomware-type infections from the Djvu malware family also install a trojan-type virus called AZORult, which is designed to steal various account credentials. Furthermore, this malware family is designed to add a number of entries to the Windows hosts file. The entries contain URLs of various websites, most of which are related to malware removal. This is done to prevent users accessing malware security websites and seeking help. Our website (PCrisk.com) is also on the list. Removing these entries, however, is simple - you can find detailed instructions in this article (note that, although the steps are shown in the Windows 10 environment, the process is virtually identical on all versions of the Microsoft Windows operating system).
Screenshot of websites added to Windows hosts file:
Luces 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:
- What is Luces?
- STEP 1. Luces virus removal using safe mode with networking.
- STEP 2. Luces 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 Luces 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 Luces 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 Luces 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 Luces 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 Luces 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 Luces ransomware: