Herad virus removal instructions

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

Herad ransomware removal instructions

What is Herad?

Herad is yet another ransomware-type infection that belongs to the Djvu family. As with most Djvu variants, Herad was first discovered by Michael Gillespie. After successful infiltration, Herad encrypts most stored files and appends each filename with the ".herad" extension (hence the ransomware name). Additionally, Herad generates a text file ("_readme.txt") and stores a copy in most existing folders.

Most ransomware infections from the Djvu family use text files to deliver an identical ransom-demand message - Herad is no exception. The message essentially states that files are compromised and that victims must purchase a unique decryption key to restore them. Unfortunately, these statements are accurate. Herad encrypts data using an algorithm that generates a unique decryption key for each victim. All keys are stored on a remote server. Victims cannot access them unless they pay a ransom. The cost of each key is $980, however, victims who contact Herad's developers within 72 hours after encryption will supposedly receive a 50% discount (and the cost will drop to $490). Regardless of the cost, do not pay. Research shows that cyber criminals usually ignore victims, once payments are submitted. Therefore, paying usually gives no positive result and users are scammed. Therefore, ignore all requests to submit payments or contact these people. Herad encrypts data using a so-called "offline key" whenever the system has no Internet connection or the server is not responding. Therefore, we strongly advise you to try restoring data using a decrypter developed by Michael Gillespie. If that does not work, 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:

Herad decrypt instructions

Herad is virtually identical to dozens of other ransomware-type infections, such as JSWRM, Ims00ry, and YOUR_LAST_CHANCE. As with Herad, these examples are also designed to encrypt data and make ransom demands. They usually have just two major differences: 1) size of ransom, and; 2) type of encryption algorithm used. Unfortunately, encryptions are usually performed using high-end cryptographies such as RSA, AES, and others, that generate unique decryption keys. Therefore, unless the virus is not fully developed or has certain bugs/flaws, restoring data manually is impossible. Ransomware presents a strong case for maintaining regular backups, however, store them on a remote server (e.g., Cloud) or unplugged storage device, since locally stored backups are encrypted together with regular data. Note that there is always the chance that servers/storage devices can be damaged. Therefore, have multiple backup copies stored in different locations.

How did ransomware infect my computer?

There are four common tools/methods used to proliferate ransomware-type infections: 1) trojans; 2) fake software updaters; 3) fake 'cracking' tools, and; 4) spam email campaigns. Trojans are essentially malicious applications designed to stealthily infiltrate computers and cause chain infections by injecting them with additional malware. Fake updaters infect computers by exploiting outdated software bugs/flaws or simply downloading and installing malware rather than updates. The same applies to fake cracks, which inject malware rather than giving access to paid software features. Unofficial software download sources such as Peer-to-Peer (P2P) networks, freeware download websites, free file hosting sites, and similar, are used to proliferate malware by presenting it as legitimate software. In this way, users are tricked into manually downloading and installing malware. Finally, spam email campaigns are used to send hundreds of thousands of deceptive emails containing deceptive messages encouraging recipients to open attached links/files (which are malicious). These attachments are often presented as 'important documents' (e.g., invoices, bills, receipts, and similar). In this way, criminals attempt to give the impression of legitimacy and increase the chance of tricking recipients. In summary, the main reasons for computer infections are poor knowledge of these threats and careless behavior.

Threat Summary:
Name Herad virus
Threat Type Ransomware, Crypto Virus, Files locker
Encrypted Files Extension .herad
Ransom Demanding Message _readme.txt
Ransom Amount $980/$490
Cyber Criminal Contact gorentos@bitmessage.ch, verasto@firemail.cc, @datarestore (Telegram)
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.
Additional Information This malware is designed to show fake a Windows Update window, modify the Windows "hosts" file (to prevent users from accessing cyber security websites) and inject AZORult trojan into the system.
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 Herad 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?

To prevent this situation, be very cautious when downloading/installing/updating software and when browsing the Internet in general. Software should be downloaded from official sources only, preferably using direct download links. Installed applications/operating systems should be kept up-to-date, however, this should be achieved only using implemented functions or tools provided by the official developer. Third party downloaders/installers/updaters often include rogue applications and, thus, using these tools is risky. Furthermore, never attempt to crack installed applications, since this is illegal (software piracy is a cyber crime) and the risk of infection is extremely high, since most cracking tools are fake. Handle all email attachments with care. If the attachment is irrelevant or the sender seems suspicious/unrecognizable, do not open anything and delete the email immediately. Ultimately, having a reputable anti-virus/anti-spyware suite installed and running is also extremely important. These tools detect and eliminate malware before the system is harmed. The key to computer safety is caution. If your computer is already infected with Herad, we recommend running a scan with Spyhunter for Windows to automatically eliminate this ransomware.

Text presented in Herad ransomware text file ("_readme.txt"):

ATTENTION!
 
Don't worry, you can return all your files!
All your files like photos, databases, documents and other important are encrypted with strongest encryption and unique key.
The only method of recovering files is to purchase decrypt tool and unique key for you.
This software will decrypt all your encrypted files.
What guarantees you have?
You can send one of your encrypted file from your PC and we decrypt it for free.
But we can decrypt only 1 file for free. File must not contain valuable information.
You can get and look video overview decrypt tool:
hxxps://we.tl/t-g2wRDh3Pih
Price of private key and decrypt software is $980.
Discount 50% available if you contact us first 72 hours, that's price for you is $490.
Please note that you'll never restore your data without payment.
Check your e-mail "Spam" or "Junk" folder if you don't get answer more than 6 hours.
 
 
To get this software you need write on our e-mail:
gorentos@bitmessage.ch
 
Reserve e-mail address to contact us:
varasto@firemail.cc
 
Our Telegram account:
@datarestore
Mark Data Restore
 
Your personal ID:
-

Screenshot of files encrypted by Herad (".herad" extension):

Files encrypted by Herad

Malware researcher Michael Gillespie has developed a decryption tool that might restore your data if it was encrypted using an "offline key". As mentioned, each victim gets a unique decryption key, all of which are stored on remote servers controlled by cyber criminals. These are categorized as "online keys", however, there are cases whereby the infected machine has no Internet connection or the server is timing out/not responding. If this is the case, Herad will use an "offline encryption key", which is hard-coded. Cyber criminals change offline keys periodically to prevent multiple encryptions with the same key. Michael Gillespie continually gathers offline keys and updates the decrypter, however, the chances of successful decryption are still very low, since only a very small proportion of "offline keys" have so far been gathered. You can download the decrypter by clicking this link (note that the download link remains identical, even though the decrypter is being continually updated). Your files will be restored only if the list of gathered keys includes the one that was used to encrypt your data.

Screenshot of STOP/Djvu decrypter by Michael Gillespie:

STOP/Djvu ransomware decrypter by Michael Gillespie

As with most ransomware from the Djvu family, Herad also displays a fake Windows update pop-up during the encryption:

Djvu ransomware family fake update

IMPORTANT NOTE! - As well as encrypting data, ransomware-type infections from the Djvu malware family also installs a trojan-type virus called AZORult, which is designed to steal various account credentials. Moreover, this malware family is designed to add a number of entries to the Windows hosts file. The entries contain URLs of various websites, most of which are related to malware removal. This is done to prevent users from accessing malware security websites and seeking help. Our website (PCrisk.com) is also on the list. Removing these entries, however, is simple - you can find detailed instructions in this article (note that, although the steps are shown in the Windows 10 environment, the process is virtually identical on all versions of the Microsoft Windows operating system).

Screenshot of websites added to Windows hosts file:

Tro Ransomware adding websites to Windows Hosts file

Herad ransomware removal:

Instant automatic removal of Herad 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 Herad 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 Herad 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 Herad 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 Herad 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 Herad 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 Herad, 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 Herad 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 Herad 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
Herad virus QR code
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