Heroset Ransomware

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

Heroset ransomware removal instructions

What is Heroset?

Heroset is a program that belongs to the Djvu ransomware family. It was discovered by Michael Gillespie. The main purpose of Heroset is to encrypt files (make them unusable) and to force victims to pay a ransom/buy a decryption tool. It places the "_readme.txt" file (a ransom note) in every folder that contains encrypted files, it also renames all those files. Heroset adds the ".heroset" extension to every encrypted file, for example, it renames a file named "1.jpg" to "1.jpg.heroset" and so on.

As stated in the "_readme.txt" file, Heroset encrypts all files (including photos, databases, documents and so on) with a strong encryption that can be decrypted only with the right decryption key and tool. In order to purchase them, victims must to pay a ransom of $980. However, cyber criminals who developed Heroset offer a 50% discount for victims who will contact them in no more than 72 hours after encryption. To contact them, victims have to write an email to gorentos@bitmessage.ch or stoneland@firemail.cc address. Another way to contact Heroset's developers is via Telegram by writing to @datarestore. One way or another, it is required send them the appointed personal ID too. In order to avoid having to contact and/or pay them, we recommend to try using an offline decryption tool. However, it may 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 for free. Ransomware-type programs cause strong encryptions that can be decrypted only with the right tools that cyber criminals have. If there was a data backup created before encryption, then we recommend to 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 by the days, Poret, Buran and Luboversova148 are just a couple of other programs of this type. Typically, these are designed to encrypt data and force victims to pay a ransom. The main and most common differences between these malicious programs are the price of a decryption (ransom size) and cryptography algorithm (symmetric or asymmetric) that is used to lock files. Another common thing is that most of these programs are impossible to 'crack', in other words, successful decryptions can be performed only with the right tools. That is why it is important to have a data backup and to keep it stored on some remote server or unplugged storage device.

How did ransomware infect my computer?

There are some popular ways to spread ransomware-type programs/to trick people into installing them. Typically, cyber criminals proliferate malware through spam campaigns, trojans, unofficial software updating or software 'cracking' tools and untrustworthy software download sources. They use email spam campaigns by sending emails that contain attachments. For example, they send some Microsoft Office document or PDF documents, archive files like 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 attachment which causes download and installation of some high-risk malware. Trojans are malicious programs that usually are designed to spread other programs of this kind. In other words, if a computer is infected with a trojan, then it is very likely that it will download and install more malware. Fake software updaters usually infect systems by downloading and installing computer infections instead of updates, fixes, or by exploiting outdated software's bugs, flaws. Various activation tools that supposed to allow their users to activate licensed for free often are designed to infect computers with malware. Peer-to-peer (P2P) networks, free file hosting pages, freeware download websites, third party downloaders and other similar tools can be and are used as tools to proliferate malicious programs too. Cyber criminals upload malicious files that are disguised as normal, harmless and hope that someone 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 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.
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 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 the ones that are sent from unknown/suspicious email addresses and contain attachments (or web links). Typically, these emails are presented as important but are irrelevant. We recommend not to open included attachments if there is a reason to think that it is not safe. Furthermore, it is important to keep installed software up to date. However, it should be done using implemented functions or tools that are 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 and unofficial websites, or using third party downloaders and other sources that we mentioned above. The best way to do download software is to use official websites for that. Another important thing is to have a reputable anti-spyware or anti-virus program installed and to regularly run virus scans with it. 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's 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 we've already mentioned, each victim gets a unique decryption key and all of them are stored in 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 that is the case, Heroset will use an "offline encryption key", which is hard-coded. Now it is worth mentioning that cyber criminals change offline keys every now and again. This is being done to prevent multiple encryptions with the same key. Meanwhile, 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 portion of "offline keys" has been gathered. You can download the decrypter by clicking this link (note that the download link remains the same, despite the fact that decrypter is being continually updated). Your files will be restored only if the list of gathered keys will include 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 Djvu family, Heroset also displays a fake Windows update pop-up during the encryption:

Djvu ransomware family fake update

IMPORTANT NOTE! - Aside from encrypting data, ransomware-type infections from Djvu malware family also installs 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 carried out with the intention of making users unable to access malware security websites and seek 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 "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 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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