Dharma-Cry Ransomware

Also Known As: Dharma-Cry virus
Distribution: Moderate
Damage level: Severe

Dharma-Cry ransomware removal instructions

What is Dharma-Cry?

Dharma-Cry is one of the variants of Dharma ransomware. Like most programs of this type, it is distributed with a purpose to encrypt data and force its victims to buy a decryption tool. In other words, to pay Dharma-Cry's developers a ransom. Dharma-Cry adds the ".cry" extension to the name of every encrypted file, it also adds a unique victim's ID and email address. For example, it renames a file named "1.jpg" to "1.jpg.id-1E857D00.[decryptoperator@qq.com].cry" and so on. Instructions on how to purchase a decryption tool are provided in the pop-up window. It also creates another ransom note, the "RETURN FILES.txt" file. The person who discovered this ransomware is Jakub Kroustek.

The displayed pop-up says that this ransomware encrypts files using RSA-1024 encryption algorithm. In order to decrypt them, it is required to contact Dharma-Cry's developers via the decryptoperator@qq.com email address first. Same email can be found in the "RETURN FILES.txt" ransom note. Email has to contain the appointed ID that can be found in the pop-up window. Victims are encouraged to write this email as soon as possible, according to cyber criminals behind this ransomware decryption keys might be overwritten in 7 days after the encryption. An email can contain one attached file that they will decrypt for free. They offer these free decryptions to prove their victims that they can be trusted/have the tool required for a successful decryption. Once contacted, they will provide a Bitcoin wallet address, victims have to use it to make a transaction. Dharma-Cry's developers say that they will send the decryption tool/key and instructions on how to use it after the transaction. However, it is very likely that it is not true. Most cyber criminals receive their ransom and then ignore their victims. In other words, they do not send them the promised decryption tools/keys. Another problem is that they are the only ones who can send them and most decryptions without their tools are impossible. Simply said, ransomware developers design these programs to be 'uncrackable'. Typically, the only way to avoid data and financial loss in such cases is to use data backup and to restore all files from there.

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

Dharma-Cry decrypt instructions

There are hundreds of various ransomware-type programs, however, most of them share the same two main goals: to encrypt victim's data and to keep it encrypted/inaccessible unless a ransom is paid. Here are a couple examples of other malicious programs that are similar to Dharma-Cry: DDOS, PLUT and Jack. Main differences between malware of this type are price of a decryption tool/ransom size and the cryptography algorithm that is used to lock/encrypt files. Typically, it is impossible to decrypt data without a tool/key that only particular ransomware's developers have. It might be possible only if a program is not finished, has some bugs, flaws etc. That is why it is important to have a backup created and store keep it on a remote server or unplugged storage device.

How did ransomware infect my computer?

Ransomware and other malicious programs can be distributed in various ways. Most of the times cyber criminals use spam campaigns, trojans, unofficial software updating or activation tools and unreliable software download sources. If they choose to spread malware through a spam campaign, then they send a lot of emails which contains some attachment to a lot of people. Typically, they attach Microsoft Office or PDF documents, JavaScript files, executables like .exe, ZIP, RAR or other archive files and so on. These files are designed to download and install malicious software. However, they can do it only if people open them. Another way to distribute malware is through trojans, programs that are malicious too. However, to cause any damage they must be installed first. If installed, then they might start downloading/installing other malware. If they decide to use untrustworthy software download channels to proliferate ransomware or other infections, then they disguise malicious files as legitimate and harmless files. When people download and open them, they infect their computers by themselves. Some examples of unreliable software download sources are Peer-to-Peer networks (like torrent clients, eMule), unofficial websites, free file hosting or freeware download websites and so on. Furthermore, software 'cracking' tools can be the reason behind computer infections too. These tools often download and install malware instead of activating software for free. Fake software updating tools, if used, usually either download and install malicious programs instead of updates/fixes or they exploit bugs, flaws of some outdated software.

Threat Summary:
Name Dharma-Cry virus
Threat Type Ransomware, Crypto Virus, Files locker
Encrypted Files Extension .cry (this ransomware also appends filenames with victim's unique ID and developers' email address).
Ransom Demanding Message Pop-up window, RETURN FILES.txt text file.
Cyber Criminal Contact decryptoperator@qq.com
Detection Names (payload2.exe) Avast (Win32:Malware-gen), BitDefender (Trojan.Ransom.Crysis.E), ESET-NOD32 (a variant of Win32/Filecoder.Crysis.P), Kaspersky (Trojan-Ransom.Win32.Crusis.to), Full List Of Detections (VirusTotal)
Symptoms Can't open files stored on your computer, previously functional files now have a different extension, for example my.docx.locked. A ransom demanding message is displayed on your desktop. Cyber criminals are asking to pay 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.

To eliminate Dharma-Cry 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?

Do not open attachments (or web links) that are received from some unknown or suspicious addresses and are presented in irrelevant emails. Update installed software using implemented functions or tools that are provided by official software developers. None of the other tools can be trusted. Download software from official ant trustworthy websites, all the sources that we mentioned above could be used to spread malware. If some software is not free, it should not be activated using 'cracking' tools. It is not legal to use them and they might lead to computer infections. Another significant thing is to have a trustworthy/reputable anti-virus or anti-spyware suite installed. Besides, it should be enables at all times. If your computer is already infected with Dharma-Cry, we recommend running a scan with Spyhunter for Windows to automatically eliminate this ransomware.

Text presented in Dharma-Cry ransomware's text file "RETURN FILES":

IF YOU ARE NOT ANSWERED, WRITE TO EMAIL:decryptoperator@qq.com
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 Dharma-Cry's text file:

Dharma-Cry text file

Text presented in this file:

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

Screenshot of files encrypted by Dharma-Cry (".cry" extension):

Files encrypted by Dharma-Cry

Dharma-Cry ransomware removal:

Instant automatic removal of Dharma-Cry 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 Dharma-Cry 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 Dharma-Cry 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 Dharma-Cry 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 Dharma-Cry 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 Dharma-Cry 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 Dharma-Cry, 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 Dharma-Cry ransomware.

Note that Windows 10 Fall Creators Update includes "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's more information on how to get this update and add 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 Dharma-Cry ransomware: