How to avoid ransomware attacks from Syrk

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

Syrk ransomware removal instructions

What is Syrk?

Discovered by Leo, Syrk is ransomware that encrypts data, creates a text file named "Readme_now.txt", and displays a pop-up window containing a ransom message. This ransomware renames encrypted files by adding the ".Syrk" extension to the filenames. For example, "1.jpg" becomes "1.jpg.Syrk". It also disables Task Manager, thereby preventing users from stopping its malicious process.

As stated in the ransom message (pop-up window), Syrk encrypts photos, videos, documents, and other files. The only way to recover them is to contact cyber criminals using the panda831@protonmail.com email address and send the assigned ID number. This ID can be viewed by clicking the "Show My ID" button at the bottom of the pop-up window. When contacted, cyber criminals should send further instructions about how to make a payment (purchase a decryption key). Victims are encouraged to purchase the key immediately, since Syrk will start deleting various files (in the Photos folder, placed on the Desktop, in the Documents folder, and so on). According to the ransom message, files are deleted when the displayed timer expires. Research shows that these cyber criminals are serious about these threats - Syrk really does start to delete files that are placed in the aforementioned folders. The cost of a decryption key is unknown, however, we do not recommend that you trust Syrk developers or pay them for any key. In many cases, people pay cyber criminals and are scammed (they receive no decryption tools or keys). In this case, the only free and reliable way to recover files is to restore them from a backup. Most ransomware-type programs perform encryptions that are impossible to 'crack' or decrypt without the correct tools (in this case, decryption keys) held only by the cyber criminals who designed the ransomware.

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

Syrk decrypt instructions

There are many different ransomware-type programs (including, for example, Mogranos, Nqix, and .infected), however, most prevent people from accessing their files (by encryption) and create or display ransom messages. Common differences are cost of decryption/encryption algorithm (symmetric or asymmetric) that is used to block access to files. Note that it is virtually impossible to decrypt files without the involvement of the developers (cyber criminals). In some cases, this can be avoided, but only if the program is not fully developed, has bugs/flaws, etc. Typically, people can avoid data and financial loss if they have their data backed up. Therefore, maintain regular backups and store them on remote servers or unplugged storage devices.

How did ransomware infect my computer?

Typically, cyber criminals spread malware by using the following methods: spam campaigns, untrustworthy software (or file) download channels, trojans, fake software updating or activation tools. They use spam campaigns to spread ransomware or other malware through files that they attach to emails. The main goal is to trick recipients into opening these attachments (or clicking links that lead to them). Some examples of files that they send are Microsoft Office documents, executable files (such as .exe), archive files (RAR, ZIP, and others), PDF documents, JavaScript files, and so on. Untrustworthy software download channels such as Peer-to-Peer networks, freeware download or free file hosting websites, third party downloaders (or installers) and other sources of this type are often used to spread malware. Malware developers disguise malicious files as legitimate, and hope that people will download and execute (open) them. They then cause installation of malware. Trojans are malicious programs that, if installed, cause chain infections. I.e., they download and install other malicious programs. Fake software updaters infect systems by exploiting outdated software bugs/flaws, or by downloading and then installing malicious software rather than updates, fixes, etc. Software cracking tools cause damage in a very similar way. Rather than activating paid software or operating systems, they download and install malware.

Threat Summary:
Name Syrk virus
Threat Type Ransomware, Crypto Virus, Files locker
Encrypted Files Extension .Syrk
Ransom Demanding Message Readme_now.txt
Cyber Criminal Contact panda831@protonmail.com
Detection Names Avast (Win32:Trojan-gen), AVG (Win32:Trojan-gen), ESET-NOD32 (A Variant Of MSIL/Agent.SW), Kaspersky (Trojan-Ransom.Win32.Gen.sdl), 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.
Additional Information This ransomware deletes some files when the timer expires. It also disables Task Manager to prevent victims from stopping its process.
Distribution methods Infected email attachments (macros), torrent websites, malicious ads, unofficial software updating or activation tools, third party downloaders.
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 Syrk 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?

Be careful with attachments or website links that are presented in emails sent from unknown, suspicious email addresses. If you suspect that a received email is irrelevant, do not open the included attachment or click the presented link. Download software using direct links and trustworthy, official sources. Avoid third party downloaders, installers, unofficial websites, or other untrustworthy, dubious tools. These sources are used to promote/distribute rogue applications that are capable of causing computer infections or other problems. Update installed software (or operating systems) using tools or implemented functions that are provided by official software developers. Software cracking tools are illegal and should not be used. They often install malicious programs rather than the expected software updates. Have a reputable anti-virus or anti-spyware suite installed and keep it enabled at all times. These tools detect computer infections before they can damage the system. If your computer is already infected with Syrk, we recommend running a scan with Spyhunter for Windows to automatically eliminate this ransomware.

Text presented in Syrk ransomware pop-up window:

*Your personal files are being encrypted by Syrk Malware. Your photos, videos, documents, etc... the only way to recover it is to contact this email: (panda831@protonmail.com) and submit your id.

After paying, you will be sent a password that will be used to decrypt your files
if you don't do these actions before the timer expires your files will start to be deleted
at the first timer the files in the photo folder will be deleted
at the second timer the files in the desktop folder will be deleted
at the third timer the files in the document folder will be deleted

So hurry up, TIME FLOWS!!!!

To see your Id click on *Show My ID*

Screenshot of the Syrk pop-up window after clicking the "Show My ID" button:

syrk pop-up after clicking Show My ID

Screenshot of Syrk text file ("Readme_now"):

Syrk text file

Text in the txt file:

Your personal files have been encrypted by Syrk Malware, send an email to panda831@protonmail.com to recover them.

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

Files encrypted by Syrk

Update August 22, 2019 - After extensive analysis performed by various malware researchers, there are a number of conclusions:

  1. Cyber criminals are distributing Syrk ransomware by disguising it as a hacking tool for Fortnite PC game. The tool supposedly provides aimbot functionality and reveals enemies' positions. The Fortnite PC game is very popular and has over 250 million active players. Therefore, disguising malware as a hacking tool is very effective, as many players are dishonest and use various illegal/third party tools to ease the gameplay and improve their score. One of the known malicious executables is named "SydneyFortniteHacks.exe".
  2. This ransomware is designed to disable User Account Control (UAC) and Windows Defender by modifying Windows Registry.
  3. Syrk is based on other high-risk ransomware called Hidden-Cry.
  4. Syrk is open-source ransomware.
  5. This malware is designed to inject itself into existing USB drives (to achieve this, Syrk employs the LimeUSB_Csharp.exe tool).
  6. Syrk ransomware targets the following file formats:

    .avi, .bmp, .doc, .docx, .gif, .ico, .jpg, .mov, .mp3, .mp4, .pdf, .php, .png, .ppt, .pptx, .psd, .rar, .sln, .txt, .wav, .xls, .xlsx, .zip

  7. Syrk ransomware deletes files only from the following folders (in the listed order):
    • %userprofile%\Pictures
    • %userprofile%\Desktop
    • %userprofile%\Documents
  8. This ransomware is decryptable! Syrk stores the decryption key locally in the infected machine. Therefore, users can easily access it and restore everything without paying. The necessary files are listed below (note that these files are generated only after clicking the "Show My ID" button in the pop-up window - they are hidden and, therefore, you must enable the hidden file view setting):
    • \Users\Default\AppData\Local\Microsoft\-i+.txt (file containing victim's ID)
    • \Users\Default\AppData\Local\Microsoft\-pw+.txt (file containing the decryption key a.k.a. password)
    • \Users\Default\AppData\Local\Microsoft\+dp-.txt (file containing both ID and password, which is sent to the developer's email address)
  9. This ransomware is designed to perform a "cleanup" operation once a decryption key is entered. After infiltrating the system, Syrk generates the "Delete.exe" file and executes it once the password is entered. This executable deletes the following files:
    • \Users\Public\Documents\dh35s3h8d69s3b1k.exe
    • \Users\Public\Documents\cgo46ea565sdfse7.exe
    • \Users\Public\Documents\startSF.exe
    • \Users\Default\AppData\Local\Microsoft\+dp-.txt
    • \Users\Default\AppData\Local\Microsoft\-i+.txt
    • \Users\Default\AppData\Local\Microsoft\-pw+.txt

Update August 27, 2019 - The Emsisoft cyber security company has recently released a decryption tool capable of restoring Syrk ransomware's files free of charge (download link):

Syrk ransomware decrypter by Emsisoft

Syrk ransomware removal:

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