Virus-encoder Ransomware

Also Known As: Virus-encoder virus
Distribution: Low
Damage level: Severe

Virus-encoder ransomware removal instructions

What is Virus-encoder?

Virus-encoder (also known as GetCrypt) is the name of ransomware-type program that is designed by cyber criminals. They use programs of this type to encrypt files stored on people's computers and to keep them encrypted (locked) unless a decryption tool is purchased (ransom is paid). Virus-encoder was discovered by GrujaRS, this ransomware mimics another program of this type which is called Cerber. It creates a text file (ransom note) named "# DECRYPT MY FILES #.txt" and renames all encrypted files by adding an extension that contains four random letters. For example, if a file is named "1.jpg", then Virus-encoder will change it to "1.jpg.ELSH" and so on. This ransomware also changes its victim's desktop wallpaper. Once installed, it also runs a malicious process in the Task Manager, it is named "Tky If Dos".

Virus-encoder also has a feature which is rather unusual for regular ransomware infections. It is designed to try to connect to available network shares. If these networks are password-protected, Virus-encoder attempts to brute-force these logins/passwords by using a list of hard-coded login/password entries. To simplify, Virus-encoder attempts to "guess" the login information by entering various commonly used logins/passwords (e.g., admin:admin, root:root and similar). If the brute force is successful, Virus-encoder encrypts shared files as well. "# DECRYPT MY FILES #.txt" explains Virus-encoder's victims that their computers are infected and all files are encrypted using a strong cryptography algorithm. It says that it is impossible to decrypt files without using a particular decryption tool and key. To get it, victims are encouraged to contact cyber criminals via There is another email provided too (, it can be found on a changed wallpaper. One of these emails has to be used to send Virus-encoder's developers the "encrypted_key.bin" file that is placed in "%appdata%" folder. There are no other details provided, it is very likely that these cyber criminals provide them after they are contacted. One way or another, we do not recommend to trust any ransomware developers and pay them a ransom (buy decryption tools/keys from them). Most of them do not send their victims the tools/keys that supposed to be used to decrypt encrypted files. Unluckily, ransomware-type programs encrypt files using strong encryption algorithms. Simply said, encrypted files can be decrypted using tools that only particular ransomware's developers have. Typically, the only way to restore files without having to pay for a decryption tool/key is to restore them from a data backup.

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

Virus-encoder decrypt instructions

There are many other programs that are similar to Virus-encoder out there, here are a few examples: TOR13, india2lock, and ge0l0gic. Typically, these malicious programs are designed to encrypt data and display ransom demanding messages/force victims to buy decryption tools. The main differences between them usually are the price of the decryption and a cryptography algorithm (symmetric or asymmetric) that is used to encrypt data. Unfortunately, most encryptions caused by ransomware are impossible to decrypt without using tools that only cyber criminals can provide, unless these programs have some bugs, flaws, are not fully developed. For this reason, we recommend to always have a data backup created and to store it on a remote server or unplugged storage device.

How did ransomware infect my computer?

It is known that cyber criminals spread this ransomware by using the RIG Exploit Kit. Crooks inject malicious scripts into various websites which, when visited, search for system vulnerabilities and inject malware by exploiting found vulnerabilities. Typically, malicious programs are proliferated through spam campaigns, untrustworthy software download tools/sources, fake software updating tools, trojans and software cracking tools. Spam campaigns can be used to spread computer infections through emails. Cyber criminals send emails that contain malicious attachments or web links that lead to them. They attach Microsoft Office documents, archive files (such as ZIP, RAR), PDF files, executable files and hope that someone will open them. If opened, these files download and install high-risk malware like ransomware. Untrustworthy software download sources can be used to spread malicious programs too. Some examples of sources of this kind are Peer-to-Peer networks (torrent clients, eMule and so on), free file hosting, freeware download websites, various questionable pages and other similar channels. Cyber criminals use them to trick people into downloading and installing malware by themselves. They achieve it by presenting malicious files as legitimate. Unofficial/fake software updaters can be used to proliferate malware too. People who use them often cause downloads and installations of malicious programs instead of updating programs. These tools can be used to exploit outdated software's bugs, flaws as well. Trojans are malicious programs that are designed to cause chain infections. However, they must be already installed. Various 'cracking' tools are used to bypass activation of paid software, however, they often are the main reasons behind computer infections too. Simply said, there are many cyber criminals who design these tools to download and install malware.

Threat Summary:
Name Virus-encoder virus
Threat Type Ransomware, Crypto Virus, Files locker
Encrypted Files Extension Random string (e.g., ".ELSH")
Ransom Demanding Message # DECRYPT MY FILES #.txt text file, desktop wallpaper
Cyber Criminal Contact,
Detection Names Avast (Win32:Trojan-gen), BitDefender (Trojan.GenericKD.41309446), ESET-NOD32 (a variant of Win32/Kryptik.GTGB), Kaspersky (, Full List Of Detections (VirusTotal)
Rogue Process Name Tky If Dos (the process name may vary).
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.
Additional Information Virus-encoder attempts to mimic another high-risk ransomware called Cerber.
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?

To avoid downloads and installations of malware, do not open attachments (or website links) that are presented in irrelevant emails, especially if they are received from unknown, suspicious addresses. Update installed programs/operating system using implemented functions or tools provided by official developers only. Third party/unofficial tools should be trusted for that. Software should be downloaded from official websites and using direct download links. It is not recommended to use any other sources for that. Furthermore, usage of software cracking tools is a cyber crime. Besides, they often are designed to spread various viruses. Have a reputable anti-spyware or anti-virus software installed and make sure that it is always enabled (active). If your computer is already infected with Virus-encoder, we recommend running a scan with Malwarebytes for Windows to automatically eliminate this ransomware.

Screenshot of Virus-encoder's text file ("# DECRYPT MY FILES #.txt"):

Virus-encoder text file

Text presented in the ransom note:

Attention! Your computer has been attacked by virus-encoder!
All your files are now encrypted using cryptographycalli strong aslgorithm.

Without the original key recovery is impossible.



It is in your interest to respond as soon as possible to ensure the restoration of your files.

P.S only in case you do not recive a response from the first email address within 48 hours,

Screenshot of files encrypted by Virus-encoder (ransom four letter ".ELSH" extension):

Files encrypted by Virus-encoder

Virus-encoder ransomware running as "Tky If Dos" in Windows Task Manager:

Virus-encoder ransomware in Windows Task Manager

Update May 23, 2019 - Emsisoft cyber security company has released a decryption tool capable of restoring data compromised by Virus-encoder (GetCrypt) ransomware. Hence, if your files have been encrypted by this ransomware we highly recommend to try using this tool (download link):

Virus-encoder/GetCrypt ransomware decrypter by Emsisoft

Virus-encoder 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 Virus-encoder 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 Virus-encoder 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 Virus-encoder 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 Virus-encoder 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 Virus-encoder, 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 Virus-encoder 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 Virus-encoder 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
Virus-encoder virus QR code
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