Removal instructions for 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 a high-risk ransomware designed to lock (encrypt) most of stored files, thereby making them unusable. While encrypting, CAGO appends filenames with ".CAGO" extension (therefore its name). For instance, "sample.jpg" is renamed to "sample.jpg.CAGO" and so on so forth. The files are being encrypted with an intention of blackmailing victims - after compromising data CAGO creates a text file ("DECRYPT_INFO.txt") and drops a copy in every existing folder.

The created text file contains a message informing victims about the encryption and stating that decryption requires a unique key. Unfortunately, this is true. Although it is currently unknown whether CAGO uses symmetric or asymmetric cryptography, it is sure that each victim gets a unique decryption key which is necessary to restore data. What's more important is that victims cannot access their keys, as all of them are stored in a remote server controlled by cyber criminals. Hence, after contacting these persons victims will be asked to pay a ransom. The price typically fluctuates between $500 and $1500, and crooks usually demand to pay in Bitcoins, Monero, DASH, Ethereum, or another cryptocurrency. One way or another, you should never agree to pay. Cyber criminals are notorious for ignoring victims after they submit payments, which means that paying often gives no positive result and users merely get scammed. Unfortunately, there are no tools capable of cracking CAGO's encryption and restoring data for free. The only possible solution is to restore everything from a backup, if there is one 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 and CAGO is no exception - it shares many similarities with DcomJSWRMLitar and dozens of other infections. Almost every single ransomware is designed to encrypt data so that developers could blackmail victims by offering paid recovery. Unfortunately, encryptions are usually performed using AES, RSA, and other similar cryptographies that generate unique decryption keys. Therefore, if ransomware is developed flawlessly, decrypting data without the help of developers is impossible. Ransomware presents a strong case for maintaining regular data backups. However, note that locally stored backups will be compromised alongside with regular data, which is why you should store them in a remote server or either an unplugged storage device. Moreover, there's always a chance that used server/hardware device will be damaged. For this reason, we recommend to 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 email spam campaigns. Most of fake updaters infect computers by exploiting outdated software's bugs/flaws or merely downloading and installing malware rather than actual updates. Same goes for fake cracks which infect computers instead of activating paid software for free. Next goes trojans which stealthily infiltrate computers with an intention of injecting them with additional malware. Unofficial software download sources like Peer-to-Peer (P2P) networks, free file hosting websites, freeware download sites, and similar are used to spread malware by presenting it as legitimate software. Users simply end up installing malware manually. Cyber criminals also use email spam campaigns in a similar manner. Crooks send hundreds of thousands of deceptive emails that contain malicious attachments (links and/or files) alongside with messages that encourage recipients to open these attachments. It is also very likely for these attachments to be presented as some important documents, such as bills, invoices, receipts or similar. Crooks do this to create the impression of legitimacy and crease the chance of tricking recipients into opening.

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 popstop@foxmail.com
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.
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 CAGO virus our malware researchers recommend scanning your computer with Spyhunter.
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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?

To begin with, users should know that the main reasons for computer infections are poor knowledge and reckless behavior. The key to its safety is caution and, therefore, paying attention when browsing the Internet, as well as downloading/installing/updating software is a must. It is highly recommended to download/install desired programs only from official sources, preferably using direct download links. Third party downloaders/installers usually include rogue applications, which is why such tools shouldn't be used. Similar rules apply to software updates. It is extremely important to keep installed applications and operating system up-to-date. However, this should be achieved only through implemented features or tools provided by the official developers. Bear in mind that software piracy is considered a cyber crime, as you literally steal from software developers. Moreover, the risk of infections is extremely high, which is why you should never attempt to crack any installed programs. Lastly, we highly recommend to have a reputable anti-virus/anti-spyware suite installed and running at all times. It will help you 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's 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: popstop@foxmail.com
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 "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 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 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
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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