Removal instructions for Actor ransomware

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

Actor ransomware removal instructions

What is Actor?

Belonging to the Phobos ransomware family, Actor is high-risk malware discovered by GrujaRS. After successful infiltration, Actor encrypts most stored files and appends filenames with the ".actor" extension, the developer's email address, and the victim's unique ID. For example, "1.jpg" might be renamed to a filename such as "1.jpg.id[1E857D00-2224].[zoye1596@msgden.net].actor". Once data is encrypted, Actor generates two files ("info.txt" and "info.hta"), storing them on the desktop.

The new text file delivers a short message simply stating that files are encrypted and that victims must contact Actor's developers to restore them. The "info.hta" file (which is an HTML application that opens a pop-up window) provides much more information. It is stated that files are encrypted and that a unique decryption tool must be purchased to restore them. The cost is not specified (all payment/decryption instructions are provided via email) and it is only stated that payments must be submitted using the Bitcoin cryptocurrency. Additionally, victims are permitted to send cyber criminals up to five selected files (not more than 10 MB in total, non-archived). These can then be recovered and returned as 'proof' that these people are capable of restoring data and that they can be trusted. Regardless of the cost, do not pay. Cyber criminals generally ignore victims, once payments are submitted. Therefore, paying usually gives no positive results and users are scammed. Unfortunately, there are no tools capable of cracking Actor encryption and restoring data free of charge. Therefore, you can only restore everything from a backup.

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

Actor decrypt instructions

There are dozens of ransomware-type infections that share many similarities with Actor. The list of examples includes (but is not limited to) Herad, foSTE, Ims00ry, and HYDRA. Most ransomware encrypts data so that developers can blackmail victims. There are typically just two major differences: 1) size of ransom, and; 2) type of encryption algorithm used. Unfortunately, the encryptions are usually performed using RSA, AES, and other similar cryptographies that generate unique decryption keys. Therefore, unless the virus is not fully developed or has bugs/flaws, restoring data manually (without developers' involvement) is impossible. Infections such as Actor are one of the main reasons why you should maintain regular backups. Bear in mind, however, that ransomware encrypts backups together with regular data. Therefore, your backups should be stored on an unplugged storage device or a remote server. Additionally, have multiple backup copies stored in different locations, since there is always the chance that servers/storage devices are damaged.

How did ransomware infect my computer?

The way developers proliferate Actor is currently unknown, however, these ransomware infections are often distributed using spam email campaigns, unofficial software download sources, fake software updaters and 'cracks', and trojans. Developers employ spam campaigns to send hundreds of thousands of deceptive emails which contain malicious attachments, and messages, encouraging recipients to open them. These attachments are typically described as 'important documents' (e.g., invoices, bills, receipts or similar). In this way, criminals attempt to give the impression of legitimacy and significantly increase the chance of tricking recipients. Third party download sources such as freeware download websites, free file hosting sites, Peer-to-Peer (P2P) networks, and similar are used to proliferate infections by presenting malicious executables as legitimate software. In this way, criminals can trick recipients into manually downloading and installing malware. Fake software updaters typically infect computers by exploiting outdated software bugs/flaws or merely downloading and installing malware rather than updates. The same applies to fake cracks, which infect computers rather than providing access to paid features. Finally, trojans stealthily infiltrate computers and inject them with additional malware.

Threat Summary:
Name Actor virus
Threat Type Ransomware, Crypto Virus, Files locker
Encrypted Files Extension .actor (this ransomware also appends filenames with the victim's unique ID and developer's email address).
Ransom Demanding Message info.txt, info.hta files
Cyber Criminal Contact zoye1596@msgden.net, zoye596@protonmail.com
Detection Names Avast (Win32:Trojan-gen), BitDefender (Trojan.GenericKD.41474685), ESET-NOD32 (A Variant Of Win32/Kryptik.GUME), Kaspersky (Trojan-Ransom.Win32.Foreign.ogxw), 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 Actor 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, installing, and updating software. Handle all email attachments with care. Files/links that are irrelevant and those received from suspicious/unrecognizable email addresses should never be opened. Software should be downloaded from official sources only, preferably using direct download links. Keep installed software and operating systems updated, however, use only implemented functions or tools provided by the official developer. Third party downloaders/installers/updaters often include rogue apps and, thus, such tools should never be used. Software piracy is a cyber crime and cracking installed applications is illegal. In addition, the risk of infections is extremely high, since fake cracking tools are usually fake. Therefore, activating paid software with third party/illegal tools should never be considered. Have a reputable anti-virus/anti-spyware suite installed and running. These tools significantly reduce the chance of system infections, since they detect and eliminate malware before it damages the system. If your computer is already infected with Actor, we recommend running a scan with Spyhunter for Windows to automatically eliminate this ransomware.

Text presented in Actor ransomware pop-up window ("info.hta"):

All your files have been encrypted!
All your files have been encrypted due to a security problem with your PC. If you want to restore them, write us to the e-mail zoye1596@msgden.net
Write this ID in the title of your message 1E857D00-2224
In case of no answer in 24 hours write us to this e-mail:zoye596@protonmail.com
You have to pay for decryption in Bitcoins. The price depends on how fast you write to us. After payment we will send you the decryption tool that will decrypt all your files.
Free decryption as guarantee
Before paying you can send us up to 5 files for free decryption. The total size of files must be less than 10Mb (non archived), and files should not contain valuable information. (databases,backups, large excel sheets, etc.)
How to obtain Bitcoins
The easiest way to buy bitcoins is LocalBitcoins site. You have to register, click 'Buy bitcoins', and select the seller by payment method and price.
hxxps://localbitcoins.com/buy_bitcoins
Also you can find other places to buy Bitcoins and beginners guide here:
hxxp://www.coindesk.com/information/how-can-i-buy-bitcoins/
Attention!
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 Actor text file ("info.txt"):

Actor text file

Text presented within this file:

!!! All of your files are encrypted !!!
To decrypt them send e-mail to this address: zoye1596@msgden.net.
If we don't answer in 48h., send e-mail to this address: zoye596@protonmail.com

Screenshot of files encrypted by Actor (".actor" extension):

Files encrypted by Actor

Actor ransomware removal:

Instant automatic removal of Actor 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 Actor 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 Actor 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 Actor 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 Actor 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 Actor 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 Actor, 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 Actor 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 Actor 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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Removal Instructions in other languages
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
Actor 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 Actor virus on your mobile device.
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Platform: Windows

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