MegaCortex ransomware removal instructions
What is MegaCortex?
Ransomware is software that encrypts files stored on a computer and keeps them inaccessible unless a ransom is paid. MegaCortex is one of these programs and was discovered by Michael Gillespie. It also renames all encrypted files by adding the ".aes128ctr" extension. For example, "1.jpg" becomes "1.jpg.aes128ctr". Additionally, MegaCortex creates a ransom message within the "!!!_READ_ME_!!!.txt" file and places it in folders that contain encrypted files.
"!!!_READ_ME_!!!.txt" informs victims about how to decrypt their files. It states that the only way to do this is using their decryption tool. The cost is unknown, however, this information should be provided after contacting MegaCortex's developers via the email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org email address. Victims are urged not to restart or shut down computers, since this might cause permanent data loss. As 'proof' that they have a decryption tool, they offer free decryption of two files that should be send with the "fracxidg.tsv" file (according to them, this file is placed on the "C:" disk). Even if they decrypt a number of files free of charge, they should not be trusted. Ransomware developers often send no decryption tools even if their ransom demands are met. People who develop these programs use cryptography algorithms that ensure strong encryptions that are impossible to decrypt without using the correct tools held by specific cyber criminals. Typically, the only free way to re-access decrypted files is to restore them from a backup.
Screenshot of a message encouraging users to pay a ransom to decrypt their compromised data:
Some examples of other ransomware-type programs that are similar to MegaCortex are Prodecryptor, Todarius, and Sodinokibi. Most of these programs are designed to encrypt data and keep it locked unless a ransom is paid. Main differences are usually cost of a decryption (tool/key) and the type of cryptography algorithm (symmetric or asymmetric) used. The biggest problem is that most ransomware-type programs are impossible to 'crack' without using the correct tool. Only the developers have these tools. Decryption without their involvement is possible only if their programs are not finished and have bugs/flaws. Therefore, maintain regular backups and store them on remote servers or unplugged storage devices.
How did ransomware infect my computer?
|Threat Type||Ransomware, Crypto Virus, Files locker.|
|Detection Names (winnit.exe)||Avast (Win32:Malware-gen), BitDefender (Trojan.Ransom.CBH), ESET-NOD32 (a variant of Win32/Agent.AAPF), Kaspersky (UDS:DangerousObject.Multi.Generic), Full List Of Detections (VirusTotal)|
|Encrypted Files Extension||.aes128ctr|
|Ransom Demanding Message||!!!_READ_ME_!!!.txt text file.|
|Cyber Criminal Contactemail@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org|
|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.|
|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?
Analyze each email before opening attachments/links presented in them, especially if they are received from suspicious, unknown addresses and are irrelevant. Ignore these emails and leave attachments unopened. Download software from official websites and using direct download links. The aforementioned tools should not be trusted. Operating systems or installed programs should be updated using implemented functions or tools that are provided by the official software developers. The same applies to software activation. Third party 'cracking' tools are illegal and they often infect systems with malicious programs. Additionally, have a reputable anti-virus or anti-spyware suite installed and enabled. If your computer is already infected with MegaCortex, we recommend running a scan with Malwarebytes for Windows to automatically eliminate this ransomware.
Text presented in MegaCortex ransomware text file ("!!!_READ_ME_!!!.txt") :
Your companies cyber defense systems have been weighed, measured and have been found wanting.
The breach is a result of grave neglect of security protocols.
All of your computers have been corrupted with MegaCortex malware that has encrypted your files.
We ensure that the only way to retrieve your data swiftly and securely is with our software.
Restoration of your data requires a private key which only we possess.
Don't waste your time and money purchasing third party software, without the private key they are useless.
It is critical that you don't restart or shutdown your computer.
This may lead to irreversible damage to your data and you may not be able to turn your computer back on.
To confirm that our software works email to us 2 files from random computers and C:\fracxidg.tsv file('s)
and you will get them decrypted.
C:\fracxidg.tsv contain encrypted session keys we need in order to be able to decrypt your files.
The softwares price will include a guarantee that your company will never be inconvenienced by us.
You will also receive a consultation on how to improve your companies cyber security .
If you want to purchase our software to restore your data contact us at:
We can only show you the door. You're the one who has to walk through it.
Screenshot of files encrypted by MegaCortex (".aes128ctr" extension):
Update September 12, 2019 - Cyber criminals are promoting MegaCortex as Ransomware as a Service (RaaS), meaning that anyone can purchase the entire ransomware kit and start generating revenue by spreading malware and blackmailing victims.
Screenshot of the website used to promote MegaCortex as RaaS:
MegaCortex 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 MegaCortex?
- STEP 1. MegaCortex virus removal using safe mode with networking.
- STEP 2. MegaCortex 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 MegaCortex 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 MegaCortex 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 MegaCortex 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 MegaCortex 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 MegaCortex 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 MegaCortex ransomware: