GANDCRAB 5.3 Ransomware

Also Known As: GANDCRAB 5.3 virus
Distribution: Low
Damage level: Severe

GANDCRAB 5.3 ransomware removal instructions

What is GANDCRAB 5.3?

Discovered by Jakub Kroustek, GANDCRAB 5.3 (also known as GANDCRAB V5.3) is high-risk ransomware that belongs to the GANDCRAB malware family. After successful infiltration, GANDCRAB 5.3 encrypts most stored data and appends filenames with a random-string extension. For example, "sample.jpg" might be renamed to a filename such as "sample.jpg.awqrsj". Additionally, GANDCRAB 5.3 changes the desktop wallpaper and places a text file ("AWQRSJ-MANUAL.txt") in every existing folder.

GANDCRAB 5.3's desktop wallpaper displays a short message stating that data is encrypted and can only be restored with a unique decryption tool (created by developers of GANDCRAB 5.3) that victims must purchase. The wallpaper also encourages victims to read the new text file for detailed instructions. The file also states that data is encrypted and can only be restored using a unique decryption key that, again, victims must purchase. Cyber criminals encourage victims to purchase a decryption tool with the key embedded within. The cost is not specified - all details are provided via email, however, cyber criminals typically demand $500-$1500 and ransoms must be paid in Bitcoins, Monero, Ethereum, or another cryptocurrency, 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. Therefore, ignore all requests to submit payments or even contact these people. Unfortunately, there are currently no tools capable of cracking GANDCRAB 5.3 encryption and restoring data free of charge, however, Bitdefender has developed a decryption tool for previous versions of GANDCRAB ransomware. This situation might change, but for now, the only solution is to restore everything from a backup if one has been created prior to infection.

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

GANDCRAB 5.3 decrypt instructions

There are dozens of ransomware-type infections that share similarities including CubeGotcha, and Guvara. These are just some examples from many. Although the developers are different, the behavior is identical - these infections compromise data (typically, by encryption) and make ransom demands in exchange for file recovery. Most of these infections employ cryptographies that generate unique decryption keys. Therefore, unless the virus is still in development or has certain bugs/flaws, restoring data manually without involvement of developers (contacting these people is not recommended) is impossible. Ransomware presents a strong case for maintaining regular backups, however, store them on unplugged storage devices or remote servers, since locally stored backups are compromised together with regular data.

How did ransomware infect my computer?

Ransomware is usually proliferated using spam email campaigns, third party software download sources, fake software updaters/cracks and trojans. Spam campaigns are used to send hundreds of thousands of emails containing deceptive messages and malicious attachments. The messages present the attachments as "important documents" (e.g., bills, invoices, receipts, etc.) and encourage users to open them, however, this results in various system infections. Unofficial download sources present malicious executables as legitimate software, thereby tricking users into manually downloading and installing malware. Fake updaters infect systems by exploiting outdated software bugs/flaws or simply downloading and installing malware rather than updates. The same applies to software cracks. The idea behind cracking tools is to activate paid software free of charge, however, most are fake and criminals use them to proliferate malware. Therefore, users are much more likely to infect their computers than gain access to paid features. Finally, trojans are malicious applications that stealthily infiltrate computers and continue to inject additional malware - "chain infections".

Threat Summary:
Name GANDCRAB 5.3 virus
Threat Type Ransomware, Crypto Virus, Files locker.
Encrypted Files Extension random string.
Ransom Demanding Message desktop wallpaper, text file.
Cyber Criminal Contact jokeroo@protonmail.com
Detection Names Avast (Win32:Trojan-gen), BitDefender (Generic.Ransom.GandCrab5.5B2B9420), ESET-NOD32 (a variant of Win32/Filecoder.GandCrab.F), Kaspersky (HEUR:Trojan.Win32.Generic), Full List Of Detections (VirusTotal).
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 payment of 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.
Removal

To eliminate GANDCRAB 5.3 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 main reasons for computer infections are poor knowledge and careless behavior. The key to computer safety is caution. Therefore, pay close attention when browsing the internet and downloading, installing, and updating software. Never open email attachments if they are irrelevant or the sender seems suspicious/unrecognizable. Download apps from official sources only, using direct download links. Third party downloaders/installers often include rogue apps, and thus these tools should not be used. Keeping install applications and operating systems up-to-date is, however, use only implemented functions or tools provided by the official developer. Bear in mind that software piracy is considered a cyber crime. Furthermore, the risk of infections is extremely high. Therefore, never attempt to crack installed apps. Lastly, use a reputable anti-virus/anti-spyware suite - these tools detect and eliminate malware before the system is harmed. If your computer is already infected with GANDCRAB 5.3, we recommend running a scan with Spyhunter for Windows to automatically eliminate this ransomware.

Text presented in GANDCRAB 5.3 ransomware text file :

---=    GANDCRAB V5.3    =---

***********************UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES DO NOT DELETE THIS FILE, UNTIL ALL YOUR DATA IS RECOVERED***********************

    *****FAILING TO DO SO, WILL RESULT IN YOUR SYSTEM CORRUPTION, IF THERE ARE DECRYPTION ERRORS*****

Attention!

All your files, documents, photos, databases and other important files are encrypted and have the extension: .AWQRSJ       

The only method of recovering files is to purchase an unique private key. Only we can give you this key and only we can recover your files.
 
Only us can recover your files
                   
You need follow the next instructions:  

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

  1. Send a mail to us at the next address with this note:113737081e857d00 ADDRESS: jokeroo@protonmail.com                                                                                                                                                        

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

We will send you the instructions to pay.
---BEGIN GANDCRAB KEY---
-
---END GANDCRAB KEY---

---BEGIN PC DATA---
-
---END PC DATA---

Screenshot of GANDCRAB 5.3 desktop wallpaper:

GANDCRAB 5.3 wallpaper

Screenshot of files encrypted by GANDCRAB 5.3 (random extension):

Files encrypted by GANDCRAB 5.3

GANDCRAB 5.3 ransomware removal:

Instant automatic removal of GANDCRAB 5.3 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 GANDCRAB 5.3 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 GANDCRAB 5.3 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 GANDCRAB 5.3 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 GANDCRAB 5.3 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 GANDCRAB 5.3 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 GANDCRAB 5.3, 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 GANDCRAB 5.3 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 GANDCRAB 5.3 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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Removal Instructions in other languages
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
GANDCRAB 5.3 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 GANDCRAB 5.3 virus on your mobile device.
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Platform: Windows

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