Helper Ransomware

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

Helper ransomware removal instructions

What is Helper?

Helper is yet another ransomware-type infection discovered by Jakub Kroustek. As with most ransomware infections, Helper stealthily infiltrates computers and encrypts stored files, thereby rendering them unusable. During encryption, Helper renames each file by appending a random string as the extension. For example, Helper might rename "sample.jpg" to a filename such as "sample.jpg.OOOKJYHCTVDF". After successful encryption, Helper generates a text file ("YOUR FILES ARE ENCRYPTED.TXT") and stores it on the desktop. This file contains a ransom-demand message.

The message within "YOUR FILES ARE ENCRYPTED.TXT" states that data is encrypted and that a unique decryption key is necessary to restore it. Unfortunately, this is accurate. It is currently unconfirmed whether Helper uses symmetric or asymmetric cryptography, however, a unique decryption key is generated for each victim. Victims cannot access their keys, since cyber criminals hide them on a remote server. To receive their key and restore data, each victim must pay a ransom. The cost is not specified. All payment details (instructions, cost, etc.) are provided via email, however, cyber criminals usually demand $500-$1500 in Bitcoins, Monero, Ethereum, or another cryptocurrency. Helper's developers also offer free decryption of one file (which cannot contain "valuable information"). This is done to 'prove' that decryption is possible and that these people can be trusted, however, cyber criminals often scam victims. They attempt to gain people's trust in various ways, however, after submitting payments, victims are often ignored, Therefore, paying gives no positive result and files remain encrypted. You should never attempt to contact these people or pay any ransoms. Helper is undecryptable ransomware, and thus there are currently no tools capable of cracking Helper's encryption and restoring data free of charge. Restoring everything from a backup is the only solution.

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

Helper decrypt instructions

There are hundreds of ransomware infections that share similarities with Helper including PLUT, SYSTEM FAILURE, and Codnat - these are just some examples from many. Most of these infections compromise files (typically by encryption) and make ransom demands. Decryption cost and type of cryptography used are typically the only major differences. Infections of this type usually employ RSA, AES, and other similar encryption algorithms 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. We strongly recommend that you maintain regular backups stored on remote servers or unplugged storage devices (locally stored backups are encrypted with regular files). You are also advised to have several backup copies stored in different locations, since storage devices and servers can be damaged.

How did ransomware infect my computer?

Ransomware infections are often proliferated using spam email campaigns, unofficial software download sources, fake software cracks/updaters, and trojans. Spam campaigns are used to send hundreds of emails consisting of malicious attachments (links/files) and messages encouraging users to open them. The messages are likely to present these attachments as important documents (bills, invoices, receipts, or similar) in attempts to give the impression of legitimacy and trick users into opening them. Third party software download sources (free file hosting websites, freeware download websites, peer-to-peer [P2P] networks, and similar) are also used in a similar manner. Cyber criminals present malicious executables as legitimate software, thereby tricking users into downloading and installing malware. The idea behind software 'cracks' is to bypass paid software activation, however, most of these tools are fake and cyber criminals use them to proliferate malware. Thus, users often install viruses, rather than gaining access to paid features. Fake updaters also have similar behavior. Rather than updating applications, they infect computers by exploiting old software bugs/flaws or simply downloading and installing malware rather than updates. Finally, trojans are malicious applications that cause so-called "chain infections". They stealthily infiltrate computers and start downloading/installing additional malware.

Threat Summary:
Name Helper virus
Threat Type Ransomware, Crypto Virus, Files locker
Encrypted Files Extension Random string.
Ransom Demanding Message YOUR FILES ARE ENCRYPTED.TXT text file
Cyber Criminal Contact helper@tfwno.gf, helperx@tuta.io
Detection Names (CTFMON.EXE) Avast (Win32:Trojan-gen), BitDefender (Gen:Variant.Ser.Barys.12), ESET-NOD32 (a variant of Win32/Filecoder.Buhtrap.D), Kaspersky (HEUR:Trojan-Ransom.Win32.Encoder.gen), Full List Of Detections (VirusTotal)
Rogue Process Name ctfmon.exe
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 Helper 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 safety is caution. Therefore, pay attention when browsing the Internet and downloading, installing, and updating software. Carefully analyze each email attachment received. Files and links received from suspicious/unrecognizable emails should never be opened. Attachments that are irrelevant (do not concern you) should be ignored. Download your apps from official sources only, using direct download links. Third party downloaders/installers are very likely to include rogue apps, and thus these tools should never be used. The same applies to software updates. Keeping installed software and operating systems up-to-date is paramount, however, use implemented functions or tools provided by the official developer only. Software cracking should never be considered, since software piracy is a cyber crime and the risk of infections is extremely high. Have a reputable anti-virus/anti-spyware suite installed and running at all times. This software can detect and eliminate most infections before the system is harmed. If your computer is already infected with Helper, we recommend running a scan with Spyhunter for Windows to automatically eliminate this ransomware.

Text presented in Helper ransomware text file ("YOUR FILES ARE ENCRYPTED.TXT"):

====== Attention! ======

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

You are not able to decrypt it by yourself!
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.

To be sure we have the decryptor and it works you can send an email helper@tfwno.gf (reserve helperx@tuta.io) and decrypt one file for free.
But this file should be of not valuable!

Do you really want to restore your files?
Write your rersonal ID to email helper@tfwno.gf

Your personal ID: 2076C885FA

Attention!   
 * 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.

The appearance of Helper ransomware process ("ctfmon.exe") in Windows Task Manager:

Helper ransomware in Windows Task Manager

Screenshot of files encrypted by Helper (random string extension):

Files encrypted by Helper

Helper ransomware removal:

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

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