PLUT Ransomware

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

PLUT ransomware removal instructions

What is PLUT?

The PLUT program was discovered by Jakub Kroustek and belongs to the Dharma ransomware family. This software is used to encrypt data and block access to it until a ransom is paid. Ransomware victims are forced to purchase a decryption tool/key. Furthermore, PLUT adds the ".PLUT" extension to every encrypted file. For example, "1.jpg" might be renamed to a filename such as "[].PLUT" (it adds the developer's email address and victim's ID). A ransom message can be found within a file called "RETURN FILES.txt". PLUT also displays a message in a pop-up window.

The text file contains a number of email addresses ( and supposedly used to contact the cyber criminals who developed PLUT. The message in the pop-up window states that PLUT ransomware encrypts data using the RSA-1024 algorithm and that victims have seven days to pay. After that, the decryption keys might be overwritten and encrypted data lost permanently. The ransom message informs victims that they should contact cyber criminals via one of the email addresses and to provide the ID that is appointed to them (each victims receives a unique ID). Once contacted, they will send instructions on how to make payment via a Bitcoin wallet address provided. PLUTs developers promise to send decryption tool and key as soon as they receive the money. It is stated that any attempts to decrypt files using some other tool might increase the cost of a decryption. Unfortunately, most ransomware developers use cryptography algorithms (symmetric or asymmetric) that cause strong encryptions that can be decrypted using tools/keys only they have. Another problem is that most cyber criminals cannot be trusted, even if they have the correct decryption tools. Typically, they urge victims to pay, and then they become unresponsive without sending any decryption tools/keys. To avoid becoming a victim of a scam, we recommend that you restore all files from a data backup.

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

PLUT decrypt instructions

There are plenty of malicious programs of this type on the Internet including SYSTEM FAILURE, DrWeb, and Bufas. Most are very similar and are used to encrypt data and keep it locked until cyber criminals are paid. The main differences are usually ransom size (cost of decryption tool/key) and the cryptography algorithm, which ransomware uses to encrypt data. Unfortunately, most encryptions without the involvement of the ransomware developers are impossible, unless ransomware is not fully developed, contains bugs/flaws, etc. To prevent data and financial loss, we recommend that you create regular backups and store them on remote server or unplugged/disconnected storage device.

How did ransomware infect my computer?

Ransomware-type programs and other high-risk computer infections are usually distributed though software 'cracking' tools, spam campaigns, trojans, fake software updaters, and various untrustworthy software download sources. People use the aforementioned 'cracking' tools when they want to avoid paying for software activation, however, cyber criminals often employ them to proliferate malware. In summary, these tools often download and install malicious programs rather than bypassing paid software activation. Spam campaigns are used to proliferate malicious programs through files attached to emails that cyber criminals send to many people. They send files such as Microsoft Office or PDF documents, archives such as ZIP, RAR, executables (.exe and other similar files), JavaScript files, and so on. Their main goal is to trick people into opening them, which then results in download and installation of various malicious software. Trojans are infections that, if installed, proliferate infections (or cause other problems). Another way to proliferate viruses is using untrustworthy software download sources. For example, Peer-to-Peer networks (eMule, torrent clients, and so on), freeware download, file hosting websites, or various unofficial pages. Using these sources, many people risk download and installation of malware rather than the expected software. Cyber criminals successfully trick people by disguising malicious files as legitimate. Fake software updaters often infect systems by exploiting bugs and flaws of installed (and outdated) software, or by downloading and installing malicious programs rather than updating or fixing programs.

Threat Summary:
Name PLUT virus
Threat Type Ransomware, Crypto Virus, Files locker
Encrypted Files Extension .PLUT (this ransomware also appends filenames with victim's unique ID and developer's email address).
Ransom Demanding Message Pop-up window, RETURN FILES.txt text files.
Cyber Criminal Contact,
Detection Names Avast (Win32:Malware-gen), BitDefender (Gen:Trojan.Heur.LShot.1), ESET-NOD32 (a variant of Win32/Filecoder.Crysis.P), Kaspersky (, 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.
Malware Removal (Windows)

To eliminate possible malware infections, scan your computer with legitimate antivirus software. Our security researchers recommend using Malwarebytes.
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How to protect yourself from ransomware infections?

If a received email seems irrelevant and contains a web link or attachment, it is best to simply ignore it (leave the contents unopened). Third party downloaders, installers, and other such tools should not be used to download software. The best way is to use official websites and direct download links. Unofficial software update tools cannot be trusted. All installed software must be updated using implemented tools or functions that are provided by official software developers. Software activation should not be carried out using 'cracking' tools, since many cause computer infections. Furthermore, using cracks to bypass software activation is illegal. Ensure that you have reputable anti-virus or anti-spyware software installed and enabled at all times. If your computer is already infected with PLUT, we recommend running a scan with Malwarebytes for Windows to automatically eliminate this ransomware.

Text presented in PLUT ransomware pop-up window:

You can send us up to 1 file for free decryption. The total size of files must be less than 1Mb (non archived), and files should not contain valuable information. (databases,backups, large excel sheets, etc.)
When you make sure of decryption possibility transfer the money to our bitcoin wallet. As soon as we receive the money we will send you:
1. Decryption program.
2. Detailed instruction for decryption.
3. And individual keys for decrypting your files.
Do not rename encrypted files.
Do not try to decrypt your data using third party software, it may cause permanent data loss.
Decryption of your files with the help of third parties may cause increased price (they add their fee to our) or you can become a victim of a scam.

Screenshot of PLUT text file ("RETURN FILES.txt"):

PLUT text file

Text presented in the .txt file:

All your data is encrypted!
for return write to mail: or

Screenshot of files encrypted by PLUT (".PLUT" extension):

Files encrypted by PLUT

PLUT 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:
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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 PLUT 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 PLUT 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 PLUT 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 PLUT 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 PLUT, 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 PLUT 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 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 PLUT 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 since 2010. Follow me on Twitter and LinkedIn to stay informed about the latest online security threats. Contact Tomas Meskauskas.

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Malware activity

Global malware activity level today:

Medium threat activity

Increased attack rate of infections detected within the last 24 hours.

QR Code
PLUT 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 PLUT virus on your mobile device.
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