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 Dharma malware family. After successful infiltration, Php encrypts most of stored files, thereby making them unusable. While encrypting, Php appends filenames with victim's unique ID, developers' email address, and ".php" extension (e.g., "sample.jpg" would be renamed to something like "[].php"). Once the encryption is over, Php generates a text file ("RETURN FILES.txt") and drops it on victim's desktop. In addition, Php opens a pop-up window.

The "RETURN FILES.txt" text file contains a rather short message which merely states that files are encrypted and encourages victims to contact Php's developers. Pop-up window, on the other hand, provides way more details. It is said that files are encrypted using RSA-1024 encryption algorithm and that victims have to purchase a decryption key/tool in order to restore it. Unfortunately, the fact that cyber criminals are the only ones that can restore data is true. RSA is an asymmetric encryption algorithm which uses two keys - public (encryption) and private (decryption). Restoring files without the private key is impossible. For this reason, cyber criminals hide all keys in a remote server and offer victims to ransom their keys. The price isn't specified - all details are provided via email. However, research results show that cyber criminals typically ask for $500-$1500. The message only notes that ransom must be paid using Bitcoin cryptocurrency. Additionally, victims are allowed to attach one file (up to 1Mb, non-archived). The file will then be decrypted and sent back as a proof that decryption is actually possible and that these persons can be trusted. However, you should never trust these persons. Cyber criminals are notorious for ignoring victims, once payments are submitted. For this reason, paying usually gives no positive result and users merely scammed. Unluckily, Php is an undecryptable ransomware - there are no tools capable of cracking its RSA algorithm and restoring data for free. Hence, the only thing victims can do is 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:

Php decrypt instructions

There are dozens of ransomware infections that share many similarities in-between. The list of examples includes (but it is not limited to) Cezor, Isolated, Guesswho, and Basilisque Locker. Just like Php, listed examples also encrypt data so that developers could blackmail victims by offering a paid recovery. The problem is that most of these infections are performed using encryptions like RSA, AES, and other that generate unique decryption tools. Hence, if the virus is fully developed and has no bugs/flaws, restoring data manually (without developers interference) is impossible. We highly recommend to maintain regular data backups and store them in remote servers or unplugged storage devices (locally stored backups will be compromised together with regular data). Moreover, there's always a chance that used server/storage device will be damaged. Hence, it is advised to have multiple backup copies stored in different locations.

How did ransomware infect my computer?

Infections like Php are usually distributed using fake software cracks/updaters, trojans, unofficial software download sources, and email spam campaigns. Cracking tools are meant to activate paid software for free. Yet most of them are fake and they simply infect computers rather than providing access to paid features. Same goes for fake updaters which infect computers by exploiting outdated software's bugs/flaws or simply downloading and installing malware rather than actual updates. Trojans are designed to cause so-called "chain infections". They stealthily infiltrate computers with the intention to inject additional malware. Third party download sources like peer-to-peer (P2P) networks, freeware download websites, free file hosting sites, and similar are used to present malicious executables as legitimate software. By doing so, crooks merely trick users into downloading and installing malware rather than actual updates. Last but not least are email spam campaigns. Cyber criminals use them to send hundreds of thousands of deceptive emails that contain malicious attachments (links and/or files), as well as messages encouraging recipients to open these attachments. In many cases attachments are presented as invoices, bills, receipts, or other similar documents just to trick recipients into opening.

Threat Summary:
Name Php virus
Threat Type Ransomware, Crypto Virus, Files locker
Encrypted Files Extension .php ransomware (this ransomware also appends filenames with developers' 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 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.

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?

It is extremely important to pay close attention when browsing the Internet, as well as downloading/installing/updating software. Every single email attachment should be analyzed with care. Files/links received from suspicious/unrecognizable email addresses and those that are irrelevant/do not concern you should never be opened. Moreover, it is advised to download software only from official sources, preferably using direct download links. Keeping installed applications/operating system up-to-date is also extremely important. Yet this should be achieved by using implemented functions or tools provided by the official developer only. Every user should know that cracking installed applications is illegal (software piracy is a cyber crime). Moreover, the risk of infections is extremely high. For this reason, you should never attempt to do so. Moreover, having a reputable anti-virus/anti-spyware suite installed and running is also extremely important, because such tools usually detect and eliminate infections before they mange to harm the system. The main reasons for computer infections are poor knowledge and reckless behavior - the key to its 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's 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's 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's 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 "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 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.

Our malware removal guides are free. However, if you want to support us you can send us a donation.

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.
We Recommend:

Get rid of Php virus today:

▼ REMOVE IT NOW with Spyhunter

Platform: Windows

Editors' Rating for Spyhunter:
Editors ratingOutstanding!

[Back to Top]

Free scanner checks if your computer is infected. To remove malware, you have to purchase the full version of Spyhunter.