Etols Ransomware

Also Known As: Etols virus
Distribution: Moderate
Damage level: Severe

Etols ransomware removal instructions

What is Etols?

Etols is a malicious program, a ransomware-type virus that encrypts files stored on the computer and allows developers to demand ransom payments. The program belongs to the Djvu ransomware family. Etols renames each encrypted by adding the ".etols" extension. For example, "1.jpg" becomes "1.jpg.etols". It also creates a ransom message in the "_readme.txt", which can be found in all folders that contain encrypted files.

The ransom message states that all files were encrypted and can only be decrypted using a tool that must be purchased from the developers of Etols (these people are cyber criminals). They offer free decryption of one file that can be sent to them via merosa@india.com. To decrypt other files, however, victims must pay $980. According to Etols's developers, victims who contact them within 72 hours after decryption will receive a 50% discount. Therefore, the decryption tool will cost $490. They also make it clear that this is the only way to decrypt files. To purchase a decryption tool, victims must contact cyber criminals via the aforementioned email address, however, we do not recommend that you contact or pay these people. They are unlikely to send a decryption tool (or key) even if the ransom is paid. Unfortunately, only cyber criminals have the tools capable of decrypting the locked files. Frequently, they use cryptography algorithms (symmetric or asymmetric) that generate unique decryption keys. Therefore, only specific tools/keys can decrypt the encryptions. In most cases, the only free way to restore files is to use data backup.

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

Etols decrypt instructions

Some examples of other ransomware-type infections are Spyhunter, Raldug, and Carcn. These viruses are often quite similar. They are used to encrypt data and demand ransom payments. Main differences are cost of the decryption key/tool and cryptography algorithm used to encrypt victims' data. Unfortunately, encryptions caused by ransomware are usually impossible to decrypt without the involvement of cyber criminals. This is possible only if the ransomware is not fully developed or contains bugs/flaws. Therefore, we recommend that you maintain regular backups and keep them stored on unplugged storage devices or remote servers such as Cloud, and so on.

How did ransomware infect my computer?

There are various ways to proliferate ransomware-type and other infections. Cyber criminals use spam campaigns, Trojans, fake software updating tools, software 'cracking' programs and untrustworthy software download sources. Spam campaigns are used to proliferate computer infections through email attachments. Attached files could be Microsoft Office documents, archives such as ZIP, RAR, PDF documents, executables, JavaScript files or other files. Once opened, these attachments download and install malicious programs. Trojans must be already installed to cause infections. They can then start to proliferate other malicious programs. Fake (unofficial) software updaters infect systems by downloading and installing malware rather than the updates/fixes, or by exploiting bugs/flaws of outdated software. Programs that supposedly activate software free of charge ('cracks') often download and install malicious programs rather than allowing users to bypass paid activation. Free file hosting and freeware download websites, Peer-to-Peer networks, third party software downloaders, unofficial pages and other similar software download sources can be used to proliferate viruses. Cyber criminals use them to present infected files as legitimate, harmless files. When people download and open them, however, they install high-risk viruses.

Threat Summary:
Name Etols virus
Threat Type Ransomware, Crypto Virus, Files locker.
Encrypted Files Extension .etols
Ransom Demanding Message _readme.txt text file
Ransom Amount $980/$490
Cyber Criminal Contact merosa@india.com, merosa@firemail.cc
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.
Additional Information Displays a fake Windows update pop-up, modifies Windows Host file, injects AZORult trojan into the system.
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.
Removal

To eliminate Etols 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?

Avoid opening attachments or web links added to emails that are received from unknown/suspicious addresses. These are usually irrelevant but presented as important and official. They should not be trusted and the attachments should not be opened. Furthermore, download software using direct links and official websites only. Update installed software using tools or implemented functions that are provided by official software developers - third party tools should not be used. Software should be activated properly. Using various 'cracking' tools is a cyber crime and often leads to computer infections. Finally, have reputable anti-virus or anti-spyware software installed and keep it enabled at all times. If your computer is already infected with Etols, we recommend running a scan with Spyhunter for Windows to automatically eliminate this ransomware.

Text presented in Etols ransomware text file :

ATTENTION!

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:
hxxps://we.tl/t-1LFQOfI0Se
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:
merosa@india.com

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

Your personal ID:

-

Screenshot of files encrypted by Etols (".etols" extension):

Files encrypted by Etols

As with most of ransomware from the Djvu family, Etols displays a fake Windows update pop-up during the encryption:

Djvu ransomware family fake update

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 from 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:

Tro Ransomware adding websites to Windows Hosts file

Etols ransomware removal:

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

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