Spyhunter Ransomware

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

Spyhunter ransomware removal instructions

What is Spyhunter?

Spyhunter is a name of a legitimate anti-malware program, however recently Cyber criminals started exploiting this name in their ransomware campaign. Its developers (cyber criminals) use it to encrypt victim's data/block access to it unless a ransom is paid. Spyhunter ransomware adds the ".spyhunter" extension to every encrypted file, for example, if some file is named "1.jpg", then this ransomware renames it to "1.jpg.spyhunter" and so on. It also creates the "$HOWDECRYPT$.txt" file which is a ransom note. It is possible that Spyhunter is one of the GarrantyDecrypt (another ransomware) versions. The person who discovered this version is Karsten Hahn.

Spyhunter's ransom note says that all victim's files are encrypted and can be decrypted using with the help of cyber criminals who developed this ransomware. According to them, they are specializing in creating and removing viruses. They encourage their victims to contact them in 72 hours via the spyhunter5s@aol.com email address, the email should contain a unique ID (that is appointed to each victim) too. As mentioned above, SpyHunter is the name of a legitimate anti-spyware computer program, this ransomware's developers disguise their malicious program as this legitimate software. However, SpyHunter anti-virus suite and Enigma company (developers) have nothing to do with this ransomware. Cyber criminals use SpyHunter's name to affect its reputation in a bad way, it is a case of defamation. Most ransomware-type programs encrypt data using cryptography algorithms (symmetric or asymmetric) that make decryptions without using a particular decryption tool or key impossible. However, it is known that Spyhunter encrypts only file headers. It means that it could be possible to recover files using some file recovery software. Another way to recover files for free is to use data backup and restore everything from there. We do not recommend to contact these cyber criminals because in return for a decryption tool they will ask to pay them a ransom. Besides, very often ransomware developers do not provide their victims with decryption tools even if their demands are met.

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

Spyhunter decrypt instructions

There are many various ransomware-type programs created and the number is growing by the days, some other examples are Raldug, Carcn and George Carlin. Most of the times these malicious programs have to main things in common: they encrypt data and allow their developers to demand to pay them a ransom. Usually it is the cryptography algorithm that was used for encryption and price of the tool required for a successful decryption what makes these programs different. In most cases victims cannot decrypt their files without interference of cyber criminals, unless ransomware-type program is not fully developed, has some bugs, flaws, or like Spyhunter - encrypts only file headers (in this case you should try using various file recovery applications like EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard, Recuva, or similar). One way or another, we recommend to create data backups regularly, and to store them in some remote servers or unplugged storage devices.

How did ransomware infect my computer?

It is unknown how exactly Spyhunter's developers proliferate it. However, most cyber criminals spread these viruses either through spam campaigns, Trojans, untrustworthy software download sources, software 'cracking' tools or unofficial/fake software updaters. To spread malicious programs using spam campaigns they send emails that contain malicious attachments. These attachments usually are Microsoft Office documents, PDFs, archives (like ZIP, RAR), executables (.exe files) JavaScript and other files. If opened, these infected files download and install viruses. Trojans are malicious programs that, once installed, cause chain infections. The main purpose of these programs of other kind. If installed, they spread various other viruses/cause chain infections. Peer-to-peer (P2P) networks (torrent clients, eMule and so on), freeware or free file hosting websites, third party downloaders, unofficial websites and other questionable software download sources can be used to cause computer infections too. Cyber criminals use them to trick people into downloading and opening their infected files that they present as harmless. When people open them, they install viruses by themselves. Software 'cracking' tools are known as tools that allow their users to bypass paid activations of various software or operating systems. However, quite often they are designed to install malicious programs as well. Fake software updaters cause computer infections either by exploiting outdated software's flaws, bugs, or by downloading and installing malware instead of the updates, fixes and so on.

Threat Summary:
Name Spyhunter virus
Threat Type Ransomware, Crypto Virus, Files locker
Encrypted Files Extension .spyhunter
Ransom Demanding Message  $HOWDECRYPT$.txt text file
Cyber Criminal Contact spyhunter5s@aol.com
Rogue Process Name SpyHunter product
Antivirus detections Avast (Win32:Malware-gen), BitDefender (Gen:Variant.Ulise.32528), ESET-NOD32 (A Variant Of Win32/Injector.DSVO), Kaspersky (Trojan-Ransom.Win32.Crypmod.acal), Full list of detections on VirusTotal
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.
Additional Information This ransomware goes by the name of a legitimate anti-spyware suite called SpyHunter with an intention of affecting its reputation in a bad way.
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.

To eliminate Spyhunter 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?

Do not open attachments that are presented in emails received from unknown, suspicious email addresses and/or these emails are irrelevant. Keep in mind that they often are presented as official and important, however, they cannot be trusted. Update software using implemented functions or tools provided by official developers only, do not use any other (third party) tools for that. Do not download software from untrustworthy and unofficial websites, using third party downloaders or any other channels that we mentioned above. Activate software properly, do not use third party ('cracking') tools for that. It is illegal and often results in having computers infected with high-risk viruses. And finally, have reputable anti-spyware or anti-virus software installed and keep it enabled at all times. If your computer is already infected with Spyhunter, we recommend running a scan with Spyhunter for Windows to automatically eliminate this ransomware.

Text presented in Spyhunter ransomware's text file "$HOWDECRYPT$.txt":

All your files are encrypted by Enigma SpyHunter5s!
Our company SpyHunter is guaranteed to decrypt your files.
Creating and removing viruses is our vocation.
We will provide you with professional support.
You have 72 hours to contact us.
Email us at :
Your unique ID

Spyhunter running in Task Manager as "SpyHunter product." process disguising itself as a legitimate anti-spyware software called "SpyHunter".

spyhunter ransomware running in task manager as spyhnter product process

Screenshot of files encrypted by Spyhunter (".spyhunter" extension):

Files encrypted by Spyhunter

Spyhunter ransomware removal:

Instant automatic removal of Spyhunter 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 Spyhunter 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 Spyhunter 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 Spyhunter 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 Spyhunter 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 Spyhunter 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 Spyhunter, 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 Spyhunter ransomware.

Note that Windows 10 Fall Creators Update includes "Controlled Folder Access" feature that blocks ransomware attempts to encrypt your files. By default this feature automatically protects files stored in 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's more information on how to get this update and add 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 Spyhunter ransomware: