How to avoid ransomware attacks?

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

Syrk ransomware removal instructions

What is Syrk?

Syrk is another ransomware that was discovered by Leo. It encrypts user's data, creates a text file named "Readme_now.txt" and displays a pop-up window with a ransom note in it. This ransomware renames encrypted files by adding ".Syrk" extension to their filenames. For instance, it renames a file named "1.jpg" to "1.jpg.Syrk" and so on. It also disables Task Manager, in other words, it prevents user's from stopping its malicious process.

As stated in the ransom note (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 and send them the appointed 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 on how to make a payment (purchase a decryption key). Victims are encouraged to buy it as soon as possible because Syrk will start deleting various files (files in the Photos folder, files placed on a Desktop, files in the Documents folder and so on). According to the ransom note, files will be deleted each time the displayed timer runs out. Research shows that these cyber criminals are not bluffing, Syrk really starts to deleting files that are placed in the aforementioned folders. The price of a decryption key is unknown, however, we do not recommend to trust Syrk developers and pay them for it. There are many cases where people who paid cyber criminals got scammed (did not get the promised 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 tools (in this case decryption keys) that only cyber criminals who designed the ransomware have.

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 (for example, Mogranos, Nqix and .infected), however, most of them are designed to prevent people from accessing their files (encrypt their data) and create or display ransom notes. As a rule, most common (and main) differences are two: price of a decryption and encryption algorithm (symmetric or asymmetric) that is used to block the access to files. That is the biggest problem with most programs of this type is that it is impossible (or almost impossible) to decrypt files without interference of their developers. In other words, cyber criminals usually are the only ones who can help their victims with that. In some cases it 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. For this reason we recommend to create backups regularly and store them on remote server or unplugged storage device.

How did ransomware infect my computer?

Typically, cyber criminals spread malware by using one of 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 to people are Microsoft Office documents, executable files (like .exe), archive files (RAR, ZIP and other), 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 too. Malware developers disguise malicious files as legitimate (regular), and hope that people will download and execute (open) them. When people do so, they cause installations of malware by themselves. Trojans are malicious programs that, if installed, cause chain infections. In other words, they download and install one or another malicious program. Fake software updaters infect systems by exploiting outdated software's bugs, flaws, or by downloading and then installing malicious software instead of updates, fixes, etc. Software cracking tools cause damage in a very similar way. Instead of activating some paid software or operating system, they download and install various 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 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.
Additional Information This ransomware deletes some files every time the timer runs out. 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 various attachments or website links that are presented in emails sent from unknown, suspicious email addresses. If you suspect that a received email is irrelevant, then do not open the included attachment or click the presented link. Download software using only direct links and trustworthy, official sources. It means avoid using various third party downloaders, installers, unofficial websites or other untrustworthy, questionable tools for that. It is known that these sources can be (and often are) used to promote/distribute rogue applications that are capable of causing computer infections or some other problems. Update installed software (or operating system) using tools or implemented functions that are provided by official software developers only. Software cracking tools should not be used. To use them is a cyber crime, besides, these tools often install malicious programs instead of the expected software updates. To have a reputable anti-virus or anti-spyware suite installed and keep it enabled at all times is also important. Tools of this type usually detect computer infections before they can do any damage to 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's 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's 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 a number of analysis performed by various malware researchers there's a number of notes that must be made:

  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 allows to see where the enemies are. Now the Fortnite PC game is a very popular and has over 250 million active players. Therefore, disguising malware as a hacking tool is very effective, as a lot of players aren't honest 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 change disable User Account Control (UAC) and Windows Defender by modifying Windows Registry.
  3. Syrk is based on another high-risk ransomware called Hidden-Cry.
  4. Syrk is an open-source ransomware.
  5. This malware is designed to inject itself into existing USB drives (to achieve this, Syrk employs 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. This means that 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 "Show My ID" button in the pop-up window and they are hidden, therefore, you have to enable 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 developers' email address)
  9. This ransomware is designed to perform a "cleanup" operation once a decryption key is entered. After infiltrating the system Syrk generates "Delete.exe" file and executes it once 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

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 "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 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
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 Syrk virus on your mobile device.
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