Elimination of the CROWN ransomware infection

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

CROWN ransomware removal instructions

What is CROWN?

CROWN is yet another high-risk ransomware discovered by Petrovic. As with most of these infections, CROWN stealthily infiltrates computers and encrypts stored files. In doing so, CROWN adds the ".CROWN" extension (hence its name) to each filename. Encrypted data immediately becomes unusable. Furthermore, CROWN changes the desktop wallpaper and stores two files on the desktop: "Decrypter.exe" (which displays a pop-up window) and "HOW TO DECRYPT FILES.txt".

The pop-up window and text file contain similar ransom-demand messages. They simply state that files are encrypted and that victims must pay a ransom to restore them. The type of encryption algorithm used by CROWN is currently unconfirmed, however, each victim gets a unique decryption key, without which, restoring data is impossible. All keys are stored on a remote server controlled by cyber criminals. Each victim must pay a ransom of $100 to receive the key. Note, however, that ransomware developers often ignore victims once payments are submitted. Thus, paying usually gives no positive result. Some criminals do not store any keys. Therefore, we strongly advise you to ignore all requests to submit payments or even contact these people. Unfortunately, there are no tools capable of cracking CROWN encryption and restoring data free of charge. Therefore, the only solution is to restore everything from a backup.

Screenshot of a message encouraging users to pay a ransom to decrypt their compromised data:

CROWN decrypt instructions

CROWN is virtually identical to dozens of other ransomware infections, such as Lokas, Basilisque Locker, and Guesswho. Most compromise data (typically, by encryption) so that developers can make ransom demands by offering paid recovery of files. Unfortunately, encryptions are usually performed using RSA, AES, and other high-end cryptographies that generate unique decryption keys. Restoring data manually, without developers' involvement is thus impossible, unless the virus is not fully developed or has bugs/flaws. Ransomware presents a strong case for maintaining regular backups, however, store them on a remote server or unplugged storage device, since locally stored backups are compromised together with regular data. Bear in mind that there is always the chance that servers and hardware can damaged. Therefore, we strongly advise you to have multiple backup copies stored in different locations.

How did ransomware infect my computer?

The way developers proliferate this ransomware is currently unknown, however, cyber criminals typically proliferate these infections using spam email campaigns, third party software download sources, fake software 'cracks' and update tools, and trojans. Spam campaigns are used to send hundreds of thousands of deceptive emails. These contain malicious attachments (which are usually presented as legitimate/important documents) and messages encouraging recipients to open them. Third party download sources such as Peer-to-Peer (P2P) networks, (torrents, eMule, etc.) free file hosting/freeware download websites and similar are also used in an identical manner. Criminals present malicious executables as legitimate software. Using these methods, regular users are often tricked and end up infecting their systems. Software cracks activate paid software free of charge, however, most of these tools are fake and infect computers rather than activating software. The same applies to fake updaters, which infect computers rather than updating software. Finally, trojans stealthily infiltrate computers and inject them with additional malware.

Threat Summary:
Name CROWN virus
Threat Type Ransomware, Crypto Virus, Files locker
Encrypted Files Extension .CROWN
Ransom Demanding Message Pop-up window (Decrypter.exe), HOW TO DECRYPT FILES.txt text file
Ransom Amount $100 in Bitcoins
Developers' Cryptowallet Address 12bUHLYUuiDc33HLiFe2GXc64xBQHecdg9 (Bitcoin)
Cyber Criminal Contact hghtllfh77137@gmail.com
Detection Names Avast (Win32:RansomX-gen [Ransom]), BitDefender (Generic.Ransom.Hiddentear.A.260E4B11), ESET-NOD32 (A Variant Of MSIL/Filecoder.Z), Kaspersky (HEUR:Trojan.Win32.Generic), Full List Of Detections (VirusTotal)
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.
Removal

To eliminate CROWN 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 of these threats and careless behavior. The key to safety is caution. Therefore, pay attention when browsing the Internet and downloading and installing software. Carefully analyze each email attachment. If the file/link is irrelevant or the sender seems suspicious, do not open anything. Software should be downloaded from official sources only, using direct download links. Third party downloaders/installers often include rogue applications, and thus these tools should never be used. The same applies to software updates. Keep installed applications/operating systems up-to-date, however, use only implemented functions or tools provided by the official developer. Be aware that software piracy is a cyber crime and the risk of infections is extremely high. Therefore, do not activate paid software via third party/illegal tools. Anti-virus/anti-spyware suites are capable of detecting and eliminating most computer infections before the system is harmed. Therefore, having this software installed and running at all times is very important. If your computer is already infected with CROWN, we recommend running a scan with Spyhunter for Windows to automatically eliminate this ransomware.

The appearance of CROWN ransomware pop-up (GIF):

CROWN pop-up gif

Screenshot of CROWN text file ("HOW TO DECRYPT FILES.txt"):

CROWN text file

Text presented within this file:

All your information (documents, databases, backups and other files) on this computer has beenencrypted using the most cryptographic algorithms.
All encrypted files are formatted .CROWN.
This form files .CROWN is a joint development American Hackers.
You can only recover files using a decryptor and password, which, in turn, only we know.
It is impossible to pick it up.
Reinstalling the OS will not change anything.
No system administrator in the world can solve this problem without knowing the password
In no case should you modify the files! But if you want, then make a backup.
Drop us an email at the address hghtllfh77137@gmail.com with your PC name
You have 48 hours left. If they are not decrypted then after 48 hours they will be removed!!!
Make payment to: 12bUHLYUuiDc33HLiFe2GXc64xBQHecdg9

Screenshot of CROWN desktop wallpaper:

CROWN wallpaper

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

Files encrypted by CROWN

CROWN ransomware removal:

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

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