Removal instructions for the CAGO ransomware-type infection

Also Known As: CAGO virus
Distribution: Low
Damage level: Severe

CAGO ransomware removal instructions

What is CAGO?

Discovered by Michael Gillespie, CAGO is high-risk ransomware designed to lock (encrypt) most stored files, thereby rendering them unusable. During encryption, CAGO appends filenames with the ".CAGO" extension (hence its name). For example, "sample.jpg" is renamed to "sample.jpg.CAGO". The files are encrypted so that victims can be blackmailed - after compromising data, CAGO creates a text file ("DECRYPT_INFO.txt") and stores a copy in every existing folder.

The new text file contains a message informing victims of the encryption and stating that decryption requires a unique key. Unfortunately, this information is accurate. Although it is currently unknown whether CAGO uses symmetric or asymmetric cryptography, each victim gets a unique decryption key, which is necessary to restore data. Furthermore, victims cannot access their keys, since they are stored on a remote server controlled by cyber criminals. Therefore, after contacting these people, victims are asked to pay ransoms. The cost typically fluctuates between $500 and $1500, and criminals usually demand payment in Bitcoins, Monero, DASH, Ethereum, or another cryptocurrency. In any case, you should never agree to pay. Cyber criminals usually ignore victims after payments are made. Thus, paying often gives no positive results and users are scammed. Unfortunately, there are no tools capable of cracking CAGO encryption and restoring data free of charge. The only 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:

CAGO decrypt instructions

All ransomware-type infections are very similar. For example, CAGO it shares many similarities with DcomJSWRMLitar, and dozens of other infections. Most ransomware encrypts data so that developers are able to blackmail victims by offering paid recovery of files. Unfortunately, encryptions are usually performed using AES, RSA, and other similar cryptographies that generate unique decryption keys. Therefore, unless the ransomware has bugs or flaws, decrypting data without the help of developers is impossible. Ransomware presents a strong case for maintaining regular backups, however, note that locally stored backups are compromised together with regular data, and thus you should store your backups on a remote server or an unplugged storage device. Furthermore, there is always a chance that servers and hardware devices can be damaged. Therefore, we recommend that you have multiple backup copies stored in different locations.

How did ransomware infect my computer?

Ransomware-type infections are typically distributed using the following tools/methods: fake software updaters and 'cracks', trojans, third party software download sources, and spam email campaigns. Most fake updaters infect computers by exploiting outdated software bugs/flaws or merely downloading and installing malware rather than updates. The same applies to fake cracks, which infect computers rather than activating paid software free of charge. Trojans stealthily infiltrate computers to inject them with additional malware. Unofficial software download sources such as Peer-to-Peer (P2P) networks, free file hosting websites, freeware download sites, and similar, are used to proliferate malware by presenting it as legitimate software. In this way, users can end up manually installing malware. Cyber criminals also use spam email campaigns in a similar manner. They send hundreds of thousands of deceptive emails that contain malicious attachments (links and/or files) together with messages that encourage recipients to open the attachments. These attachments are often presented as important documents, such as bills, invoices, receipts, or similar. Criminals do this to give the impression of legitimacy and crease the chance of tricking recipients into opening the files.

Threat Summary:
Name CAGO virus
Threat Type Ransomware, Crypto Virus, Files locker
Encrypted Files Extension .CAGO
Ransom Demanding Message DECRYPT_INFO.txt
Cyber Criminal Contact
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.
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 CAGO 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?

The main reasons for computer infections are poor knowledge and careless behavior. The key to safety is caution. Therefore, pay attention when browsing the Internet and downloading/installing/updating software. You are strongly advised to download/install your programs from official sources only, preferably using direct download links. Third party downloaders/installers usually include rogue applications, and thus these tools should not be used. Similar rules apply to software updates. Keep installed applications and operating systems up-to-date, however, this should be achieved through implemented features or tools provided by the official developers only. Bear in mind that software piracy is a cyber crime (it is stealing from software developers) and the risk of infections is extremely high. Therefore, never attempt to crack installed programs. Finally, have a reputable anti-virus/anti-spyware suite installed and running at all times. This will detect and eliminate malware before it harms the system. If your computer is already infected with CAGO, we recommend running a scan with Spyhunter for Windows to automatically eliminate this ransomware.

Text presented in CAGO ransomware text file ("DECRYPT_INFO.txt"):

Hello, dear friend.
All your files are encrypted with a unique key.
Are you sure you want to recover all your files ?
Write us an email:
Enter your unique ID in the message: -

Screenshot of files encrypted by CAGO (".CAGO" extension):

Files encrypted by CAGO

CAGO ransomware removal:

Instant automatic removal of CAGO 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 CAGO 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 CAGO 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 CAGO 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 CAGO 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 CAGO 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 CAGO, 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 CAGO 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 the 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 CAGO 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.

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

Increased attack rate of infections detected within the last 24 hours.

QR Code
CAGO virus QR code
A QR code (Quick Response Code) is a machine-readable code which stores URLs and other information. This code can be read using a camera on a smartphone or a tablet. Scan this QR code to have an easy access removal guide of CAGO virus on your mobile device.
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Platform: Windows

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