Skymap ransomware removal instructions
What is Skymap?
Belonging to the Djvu ransomware family, Skymap is a high-risk infection discovered by Michael Gillespie. After successful infiltration, Skymap encrypts most stored data, thereby making it unusable. Additionally, Skymap appends filenames with the ".skymap" extension (e.g., "sample.jpg" is renamed to "sample.jpg.skymap"). Once data is encrypted, Skymap generates a text file ("_readme.txt") and stores a copy in every existing folder.
All recent variants of Djvu ransomware use an identical text file to deliver the same message. Skymap is no exception. The message states that data is encrypted and that recovery requires a unique decryption key. Victims cannot access their keys, since all are stored on a remote server controlled by cyber criminals. To receive the key and restore data, each victim must pay a ransom of $980. To receive payment instructions and other detailed information, victims must contact criminals via an email address provided or telegram. It is also stated that victims will receive a 50% discount (the cost will drop to $490) if they contact cyber criminals within 72 hours after encryption. Victims are also permitted to attach one selected file, which cannot contain any "valuable" information. The file is then decrypted and returned as a 'guarantee' that decryption is possible and that these people can be trusted. In fact, this is merely an attempt to gain the victim's trust. Cyber criminals often ignore victims after payments are made. Therefore, users are often scammed and paying gives no positive result. As mentioned above, Skymap generates a unique decryption key for each victim and sends it to a remote server, however, there are cases when an infected machine has no Internet connection or the server is not responding. If this is the case, Skymap will use a previously-generated key which is hard-coded. Therefore, you can try to restore data using a decryption tool developed by Michael Gillespie (more information below). Another solution is to restore everything from a backup, if one has been created.
Screenshot of a message encouraging users to pay a ransom to decrypt their compromised data:
There are dozens of ransomware infections that share similarities with Skymap. The list of examples includes (but is not limited to) Actin, Virus-encoder, and TOR13. Most ransomware infections are designed to encrypt data so that developers can generate revenue by blackmailing victims (offering paid recovery of files). These infections typically employ RSA, AES, and other similar cryptographies that generate unique decryption keys. Therefore, unless the virus is still in development or has certain bugs/flaws (e.g., the key is hard-coded, stored locally, etc.), manual data recovery is impossible. Ransomware infections are one of the main reasons why you should maintain regular data backups, however, store them on a remote server (e.g., Cloud) or unplugged storage device (Flash drive, external hard drive or similar), since locally stored backups are compromised together with regular data. Additionally, have multiple 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 trojans, fake software cracks/updaters, third party software download sources, and spam email campaigns. Trojans are malicious applications that stealthily infiltrate computers and cause "chain infections" by downloading and installing additional malware. Fake cracking tools infect systems rather than allowing users access paid software features. Fake updaters inject malware by exploiting outdated software bugs/flaws or simply downloading and installing malware rather than updates. Cyber criminals employ Peer-to-Peer (P2P) networks, freeware download websites, free file hosting sites, and similar unofficial download sources to proliferate malware by presenting it as legitimate software. In this way, users are tricked into manually downloading and installing rogue software. Spam email campaigns are also used in a similar manner. Criminals send hundreds of thousands of deceptive emails consisting of malicious emails and messages encouraging users to open them. These emails contain messages encouraging users to open attached files/links, which are often presented as legitimate/important documents (e.g., invoices, bills, receipts, etc.). This is done to give the impression of legitimacy. In summary, the main reasons for computer infections are poor knowledge and careless behavior.
|Threat Type||Ransomware, Crypto Virus, Files locker|
|Detection Names||Avast (Win32:Trojan-gen), BitDefender (Gen:Variant.Strictor.194934), ESET-NOD32 (A Variant Of Win32/Kryptik.GTJH), Kaspersky (HEUR:Trojan.Win32.Generic), Full List Of Detections (VirusTotal)|
|Encrypted Files Extension||.skymap|
|Ransom Demanding Message||_readme.txt text file|
|Cyber Criminal Contactfirstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, @datarestore (telegram)|
|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.|
|Additional Information||This malware is designed to show fake Windows Update window, modify Windows "hosts" file (to prevent users from accessing cyber security websites) and inject AZORult trojan into the system.|
|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 Skymap virus our malware researchers recommend scanning your computer with Spyhunter.
How to protect yourself from ransomware infections?
The key to computer safety is caution. Therefore, to prevent this situation, be very cautious when browsing the Internet and downloading/installing/updating software. Carefully analyze each email attachment received. Files/links that are irrelevant should not be opened. The same applies to attachments that are received from suspicious/unrecognizable email addresses. Software should be downloaded from official sources only, preferable using direct download links. Third party downloaders/installers often include rogue apps, and thus these tools should never be used. Keep installed applications and operating systems up-to-date, however, software should be updated using implemented functions or tools provided by the official developer only. Software piracy should never be considered, since cracking installed apps is a cyber crime and the risk of infections is extremely high. Have a reputable anti-virus/anti-spyware suite installed and running. These tools detect and eliminate malware before the system is harmed. If your computer is already infected with Skymap, we recommend running a scan with Spyhunter for Windows to automatically eliminate this ransomware.
Text presented in Skymap ransomware text file ("_readme.txt"):
Don't worry my friend, you can return all your files!
All your files like photos, databases, documents and other important are encrypted with strongest encryption and unique key.
The only method of recovering files is to purchase decrypt tool and unique key for you.
This software will decrypt all your encrypted files.
What guarantees you have?
You can send one of your encrypted file from your PC and we decrypt it for free.
But we can decrypt only 1 file for free. File must not contain valuable information.
You can get and look video overview decrypt tool:
Price of private key and decrypt software is $980.
Discount 50% available if you contact us first 72 hours, that's price for you is $490.
Please note that you'll never restore your data without payment.
Check your e-mail "Spam" or "Junk" folder if you don't get answer more than 6 hours.
To get this software you need write on our e-mail:
Reserve e-mail address to contact us:
Our Telegram account:
Your personal ID:
Screenshot of files encrypted by Skymap (".skymap" extension):
Malware researcher Michael Gillespie has developed a decryption tool that might restore your data if it was encrypted using an "offline key". As mentioned, each victim receives a unique decryption key, all of which are stored on remote servers controlled by cyber criminals. These are categorized as "online keys", however, there are cases when the infected machine has no Internet connection or the server is timing out/not responding. If this is the case, Skymap will use an "offline encryption key", which is hard-coded. Cyber criminals change offline keys periodically to prevent multiple encryptions with the same key. Michael Gillespie continually gathers offline keys and updates the decrypter, however, the chances of successful decryption are still very low, since only a very small proportion of "offline keys" have so far been gathered. You can download the decrypter by clicking this link (note that the download link remains identical, even though the decrypter is being continually updated). Your files will be restored only if the list of gathered keys includes the one that was used to encrypt your data.
Screenshot of STOP/Djvu decrypter by Michael Gillespie:
As with most of ransomware from Djvu family, Skymap also displays a fake Windows update pop-up during the encryption:
IMPORTANT NOTE! - As well as encrypting data, ransomware-type infections from the Djvu malware family also install a trojan-type virus called AZORult, which is designed to steal various account credentials. Moreover, this malware family is designed to add a number of entries to the Windows hosts file. The entries contain URLs of various websites, most of which are related to malware removal. This is done to prevent users from accessing malware security websites and seeking help. Our website (PCrisk.com) is also on the list. Removing these entries, however, is simple - you can find detailed instructions in this article (note that, although the steps are shown in the Windows 10 environment, the process is virtually identical on all versions of the Microsoft Windows operating system).
Screenshot of websites added to Windows hosts file:
Skymap ransomware removal:
Instant automatic removal of Skymap 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 Skymap virus. Download it by clicking the button below:
- What is Skymap?
- STEP 1. Skymap virus removal using safe mode with networking.
- STEP 2. Skymap 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 Skymap 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 Skymap 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 Skymap 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 Skymap 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 Skymap 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.
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 Skymap ransomware: