Heroset Ransomware

Also Known As: Heroset virus
Distribution: Moderate
Damage level: Severe

Heroset ransomware removal instructions

What is Heroset?

The Heroset program belongs to the Djvu ransomware family and was discovered by Michael Gillespie. The main purpose of Heroset is to encrypt files (rendering them unusable) and force victims to pay a ransom (in effect, purchase a decryption tool). Heroset places the "_readme.txt" file (containing a ransom message) in every folder that contains encrypted files. It also renames all encrypted files by adding the ".heroset" extension. For example, "1.jpg" becomes "1.jpg.heroset".

As stated in the "_readme.txt" file, Heroset encrypts all files (including photos, databases, documents, and so on) with strong encryption that can be decrypted only with the correct decryption key and tool. To purchase these, victims must pay a ransom of $980. The cyber criminals who developed Heroset offer a 50% discount for victims who make contact within 72 hours of encryption. To contact them, victims must send an email to the gorentos@bitmessage.ch or stoneland@firemail.cc address. Another way to contact Heroset's developers is by sending a Telegram to @datarestore. The appointed personal ID must also be sent. To avoid having to contact or pay these criminals, we recommend that you try using an offline decryption tool. This, however, will help only if there was no Internet connection or remote server that cyber criminals use was not responding during the encryption process. There is no other way to decrypt files encrypted by Heroset free of charge. Ransomware-type programs cause strong encryptions that can be decrypted only with the correct tools held by cyber criminals. If a data backup was created before encryption, restore all files from there.

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

Heroset decrypt instructions

The number of ransowmare-type programs is growing daily. Poret, Buran, and Luboversova148 are just some examples of other programs of this type. Typically, they are designed to encrypt data and force victims to pay a ransom. Common differences between these malicious programs are cost of decryption (ransom size) and cryptography algorithm (symmetric or asymmetric) used to lock files. Most of these programs are impossible to 'crack' and successful decryption can be performed only with the correct tools. Therefore, maintain regular backups and store them on remote servers or unplugged storage devices.

How did ransomware infect my computer?

There are a number of ways to proliferate ransomware-type programs and trick people into installing them. Typically, cyber criminals spread malware through spam campaigns, trojans, unofficial software updating or software 'cracking' tools, and untrustworthy software download sources. They use spam email campaigns by sending many emails that contain attachments. For example, Microsoft Office documents or PDF documents, archive files such as ZIP, RAR, executables (.exe and other executable files), JavaScript files, and so on. The main goal of these emails/spam campaigns is to trick people into opening the attachments, which then cause download and installation of high-risk malware. Trojans are malicious programs that usually proliferate other, similar programs. Therefore, if a computer is infected with a trojan, it is likely that it will download and install further malware. Fake software updaters usually infect systems by downloading and installing computer infections rather than updates, fixes, or by exploiting outdated software bugs, flaws. Various activation tools (that supposedly allow users to activate licensed software free of charge) often infect computers with malware. Peer-to-peer (P2P) networks, free file hosting pages, freeware download websites, third party downloaders and other such tools are used to proliferate malicious programs. Cyber criminals upload malicious files that are disguised as normal and harmless, and they hope that unsuspecting users will download and open them. If opened, these files infect computers.

Threat Summary:
Name Heroset virus
Threat Type Ransomware, Crypto Virus, Files locker
Encrypted Files Extension .heroset
Ransom Demanding Message _readme.txt text file
Ransom Amount $980/$490
Cyber Criminal Contact stoneland@firemail.cc, gorentos@bitmessage.ch, @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.
Detection Names Avast (Win32:CrypterX-gen [Trj]), BitDefender (Trojan.GenericKD.32040873), ESET-NOD32 (A Variant Of Win32/Kryptik.GTTK), Kaspersky (HEUR:Trojan.Win32.Generic), Full List Of Detections (VirusTotal)
Additional Information This malware is designed to show fake Windows Update window, modify the 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.
Removal

To eliminate Heroset 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?

Not all received emails can be trusted, especially those that are sent from unknown/suspicious email addresses and contain attachments (or web links). Typically, these emails are presented as 'important' but are, in fact, irrelevant. Do not open attachments if there is any reason to believe they are unsafe. Furthermore, keep installed software up-to-date, however, use implemented functions or tools provided by official developers. If installed software is not free, it should not be activated with third party tools. Various 'cracking' programs are illegal and often cause computer infections. It is not safe to download software from untrustworthy, unofficial websites or using third party downloaders and other sources mentioned above. The best way to download software is using official websites. Have a reputable anti-spyware or anti-virus program installed and regularly run virus scans. If your computer is already infected with Heroset, we recommend running a scan with Spyhunter for Windows to automatically eliminate this ransomware.

Text presented in Heroset ransomware text file ("_readme.txt") :

ATTENTION!

Don't worry, 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:
https://we.tl/t-7AKxZTQTdy
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:
gorentos@bitmessage.ch

Reserve e-mail address to contact us:
stoneland@firemail.cc

Our Telegram account:
@datarestore

Your personal ID:
-

Screenshot of files encrypted by Heroset (".heroset" extension):

Files encrypted by Heroset

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 gets 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 whereby the infected machine has no Internet connection or the server is timing out/not responding. If this is the case, Heroset 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:

STOP/Djvu ransomware decrypter by Michael Gillespie

As with most of ransomware from the Djvu family, Heroset also displays a fake Windows update pop-up during the encryption:

Djvu ransomware family fake update

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:

Tro Ransomware adding websites to Windows Hosts file

Heroset ransomware removal:

Instant automatic removal of Heroset 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 Heroset 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 Heroset 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 Heroset 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 Heroset 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 Heroset 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 Heroset, 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 Heroset 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 Heroset 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
Heroset virus QR code
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