Masok ransomware removal instructions
What is Masok?
Discovered by Michael Gillespie, Masok is a ransomware-type program that belongs to the Djvu family. The cyber criminals who designed Masok spread it to make money from unsuspecting people who cannot access their files due to encryption by this ransomware. To decrypt their files, victims are encouraged to purchase a decryption tool and key. Masok modifies the extension of each encrypted file by changing it to ".masok". For example, "1.jpg" becomes "1.jpg.masok". Instructions about how to pay the ransom (and contact Masok developers) are provided in the "_readme.txt" text file.
To contact the cyber criminals who designed Masok, victims are encouraged to send an email to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact them via the @datarestore account on Telegram. The ransom message (within "_readme.txt") states that they should do this within the first 72 hours of encryption to benefit from a 50% discount rather than having to pay the full cost ($980). Additionally, they are permitted to decode one encrypted file free of charge, which can be done by sending the file to cyber criminals via email or Telegram. To encrypt the remaining data, victims must purchase a decryption tool/key. Files locked by ransomware can only be decrypted with tools held by cyber criminal. Despite this, do not pay ransomware developers, since they often do not provide any tools/keys. Try to unlock files with an offline decryption tool, however, this will only work if, during encryption, the computer was not connected to the Internet or the remote server controlled by cyber criminals was not responding. The only other solution is to restore files from an existing backup.
Screenshot of a message encouraging users to pay a ransom to decrypt their compromised data:
Typically, ransomware-type programs lock files using strong encryption algorithms and create/display ransom messages. Common differences between these programs are cost of decryption tool/key and algorithm (symmetric or asymmetric) used to encrypt files. Unfortunately, people with computers infected with ransomware do not have many options - they can either pay cyber criminals (which is not recommended) or restore files using a backup. Therefore, maintain backups and store them on a remote server or unplugged storage device. Examples of other ransomware-type programs are Prandel, Zatrov, and Q1G.
How did ransomware infect my computer?
|Threat Type||Ransomware, Crypto Virus, Files locker|
|Detection Names||Avast (Win32:PWSX-gen [Trj]), BitDefender (Gen:Variant.Ser.Jaik.565), ESET-NOD32 (A Variant Of Win32/Kryptik.GVGH), Kaspersky (Trojan-Ransom.Win32.Stop.cn), Full List Of Detections (VirusTotal)|
|Encrypted Files Extension||.masok|
|Ransom Demanding Message||_readme.txt|
|Cyber Criminal Contactemail@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org or @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, unofficial activation and updating tools.|
|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.|
To eliminate Masok virus our malware researchers recommend scanning your computer with Spyhunter.
How to protect yourself from ransomware infections?
Do not use software cracking tools, since this is illegal and cyber criminals use them to proliferate malware. Do not open attachments or web links that are included in irrelevant emails. Typically, these emails are sent from unknown, suspicious addresses. Update installed programs with tools or functions that are provided by official developers. Do not download programs or files from dubious (unofficial) pages or through third party tools. The safest way to achieve this is to use official pages and direct download links. Regularly scan the operating system with a reputable anti-virus or anti-spyware suite. If there is no such software installed on your computer, acquire it immediately. If your computer is already infected with Masok, we recommend running a scan with Spyhunter for Windows to automatically eliminate this ransomware.
Text presented in Masok ransomware text file ("_readme.txt"):
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:
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:
Reserve e-mail address to contact us:
Our Telegram account:
Mark Data Restore
Your personal ID:
Screenshot of files encrypted by Masok (".masok" extension):
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, Masok will use an "offline encryption key", which is hard-coded. Cyber criminals change offline keys periodically to prevent multiple encryptions with the same key. Meanwhile, 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:
As with most ransomware from the Djvu family, Masok also displays a fake Windows update pop-up during the encryption:
IMPORTANT NOTE! - As well as encrypting data, ransomware-type infections from the Djvu malware family also install 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:
Masok ransomware removal:
Instant automatic removal of Masok 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 Masok virus. Download it by clicking the button below:
- What is Masok?
- STEP 1. Masok virus removal using safe mode with networking.
- STEP 2. Masok ransomware removal using System Restore.
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.
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.
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.
Video showing how to start Windows 10 in "Safe Mode with Networking":
Log in to the account infected with the Masok 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.
2. When Command Prompt mode loads, enter the following line: cd restore and press ENTER.
3. Next, type this line: rstrui.exe and press ENTER.
4. In the opened window, click "Next".
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 Masok ransomware virus infiltrating your PC).
6. In the opened window, click "Yes".
7. After restoring your computer to a previous date, download and scan your PC with recommended malware removal software to eliminate any remaining Masok 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 Masok 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.
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 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 Masok 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.
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:
Malwarebytes Anti-Ransomware Beta uses advanced proactive technology that monitors ransomware activity and terminates it immediately - before reaching users' files:
- 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 Masok ransomware: