How to remove Php ransomware

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

Php ransomware removal instructions

What is Php ransomware?

Discovered by Jakub Kroustek, Php is a ransomware-type infection from the Dharma malware family. After successful infiltration, Php encrypts most stored files, thereby rendering them unusable. During encryption, Php appends filenames with the victim's unique ID, developer's email address, and ".php" extension (e.g., "sample.jpg" might be renamed to a filename such as "[].php"). Once encryption is complete, Php generates a text file ("RETURN FILES.txt") and stores it on the desktop. In addition, Php opens a pop-up window.

The "RETURN FILES.txt" text file contains a short message merely stating that files are encrypted and encouraging victims to contact Php's developers. The pop-up window, on the other hand, provides more detail. It states that files are encrypted using the RSA-1024 encryption algorithm and that victims must purchase a decryption key/tool to restore them. They state that only cyber criminals can restore data - unfortunately, this is accurate. RSA is an asymmetric encryption algorithm which uses two keys - public (encryption) and private (decryption). Restoring files without the private key is impossible. Cyber criminals hide all keys on a remote server and demand ransom payments for their release. The cost is not specified - all details are provided via email, however, research shows that cyber criminals typically demand $500-$1500. The message states that ransoms must be paid using the Bitcoin cryptocurrency. Additionally, victims are able to attach one file (up to 1 MB, non-archived), which is then decrypted and returned as 'proof' that decryption is possible and that these people can be trusted. Despite these demands and offers, you should never trust them. Cyber criminals often ignore victims, once payments are submitted. Therefore, paying usually gives no positive result and users are scammed. Unfortunately, Php is undecryptable ransomware and there are no tools capable of cracking the RSA algorithm and restoring data free of charge. Therefore, you can only 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:

Php decrypt instructions

There are dozens of ransomware infections that share many similarities. The list of examples includes (but is not limited to) Cezor, Isolated, Guesswho, and Basilisque Locker. As with Php, these examples also encrypt data so that developers can blackmail victims by offering paid recovery of files. Most of these infections are performed using encryptions such as RSA, AES, and others that generate unique decryption keys/tools. Therefore, unless the virus is not fully developed or has bugs/flaws, restoring data manually (without developers' involvement) is impossible. We strongly recommend that you maintain regular backups and store them on remote servers or unplugged storage devices (locally stored backups are compromised with regular data). Furthermore, there is always the chance that servers and storage devices can be damaged, so have multiple backup copies stored in different locations.

How did ransomware infect my computer?

Infections such as Php are usually distributed using fake software 'cracks' and updaters, trojans, unofficial software download sources, and spam email campaigns. Cracking tools activate paid software free of charge, however, most are fake and simply infect computers rather than providing access to paid features. The same applies to fake updaters, which infect computers by exploiting outdated software bugs/flaws or simply downloading and installing malware rather than updates. Trojans cause so-called "chain infections". They stealthily infiltrate computers to inject additional malware. Third party download sources such as peer-to-peer (P2P) networks, freeware download websites, free file hosting sites, and similar are used to present malicious executables as legitimate software. In doing so, criminals can trick people into downloading and installing malware rather than updates. Finally, cyber criminals use spam campaigns to send hundreds of thousands of deceptive emails that contain malicious attachments (links and/or files), and messages encouraging recipients to open them. In many cases attachments are presented as invoices, bills, receipts, or other similar documents to trick recipients into opening them.

Threat Summary:
Name Php virus
Threat Type Ransomware, Crypto Virus, Files locker
Encrypted Files Extension .php ransomware (this ransomware also appends filenames with the developer's email address and victim's unique ID).
Ransom Demanding Message Pop-up window, RETURN FILES.txt text file
Cyber Criminal Contact
Detection Names Avast (Win32:Malware-gen), BitDefender (Gen:Variant.Graftor.594411), ESET-NOD32 (A Variant Of Win32/Kryptik.GTDB), Kaspersky (Trojan-Ransom.Win32.Crypren.afmt), Full List Of Detections (VirusTotal)
Rogue Process Name MicrosoftSearch.exe (generic process name).
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 Php 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?

Pay close attention when browsing the Internet and downloading/installing/updating software. Study each attachment with care. Files/links received from suspicious/unrecognizable email addresses and those that are irrelevant or do not concern you should never be opened. Download software from official sources only, preferably using direct download links. Keep installed applications and operating systems up-to-date, however, use implemented functions or tools provided by the official developer only. Be aware that cracking installed applications is illegal (software piracy is a cyber crime). Furthermore, the risk of infections is extremely high. Therefore, never attempt to crack software. Have a reputable anti-virus/anti-spyware suite installed and running, since these tools detect and eliminate infections before they can harm the system. The main reasons for computer infections are poor knowledge of these threats and careless behavior. The key to safety is caution. If your computer is already infected with Php, we recommend running a scan with Spyhunter for Windows to automatically eliminate this ransomware.

Text presented in Php ransomware pop-up window:

You can send us up to 1 file for free decryption. The total size of files must be less than 1Mb (non archived), and files should not contain valuable information. (databases,backups, large excel sheets, etc.)
When you make sure of decryption possibility transfer the money to our bitcoin wallet. As soon as we receive the money we will send you:
1. Decryption program.
2. Detailed instruction for decryption.
3. And individual keys for decrypting your files.
Do not rename encrypted files.
Do not try to decrypt your data using third party software, it may cause permanent data loss.
Decryption of your files with the help of third parties may cause increased price (they add their fee to our) or you can become a victim of a scam.

Screenshot of Php text file ("RETURN FILES.txt"):

Php text file

Text presented within this file:

All your data is encrypted!
for return write to mail:

Screenshot of Php process in Windows Task Manager:

Php ransomware in Windows Task Manager

Screenshot of files encrypted by Php (".php" extension):

Files encrypted by Php

Php ransomware removal:

Instant automatic removal of Php 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 Php 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 Php 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 Php 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 Php 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 Php 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 Php, 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 Php 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 Php 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
Php 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 Php virus on your mobile device.
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Platform: Windows

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