How to avoid installation of Lazarus ransomware

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

Lazarus ransomware removal instructions

What is Lazarus?

Discovered by Alex Svirid, Lazarus ransomware is derived from King Ouroboros, another ransomware-type program. Ransomware encrypts data (blocking access to it). Cyber criminals create these programs to extort money from victims by demanding ransom payments in return for a decryption tool and/or key. Lazarus changes the names of encrypted files by adding a string that contains an email address, the victim's ID, and the ".Lazarus" extension. For example, "1.jpg" might become "1.jpg.[ID=LNDxrzJ2Aw][].Lazarus". Updated variants use ".Lazarus+" extension. It also creates a text file named "Read-Me-Now.txt" and displays a pop-up window.

The Read-Me-Now.txt file contains a ransom message that Lazarus developers use to instruct victims about how to decrypt their files. The message and a pop-up window state that this ransomware encrypts files with a high level cryptography algorithm and victims who wish to access their files must pay for decryption (in effect, pay cyber criminals a ransom). They are permitted to first send one file (up to 1 MB) to The cost of decryption is unknown, however, it is stated that this will double unless Lazarus developers are contacted within 48 hours of encryption, or if victims try to decrypt files using third party software. It is stated that attempts to decrypt files with other tools might also damage encrypted files. Typically, encryptions caused by ransomware-type programs can be decrypted only using tools held by cyber criminals (ransomware developers). Therefore, people are often tempted to contact these people to purchase decryption tools and/or keys (since there are no other tools capable of decrypting locked data). Despite this, do not trust cyber criminals or pay any ransoms - they usually send no decryption tools, even after a payment. In such cases, the best way to avoid data and financial loss is to restore files from a backup, if one was created prior to encryption.

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

Lazarus decrypt instructions

Most ransomware-type programs encrypt data stored on computers (and connected storage devices) and create (or display) ransom messages. Common differences are cost of decryption and cryptographic algorithm (symmetric or asymmetric) that ransomware uses to encrypt files. Unfortunately, most programs of this type perform encryptions that are impossible to decrypt without the involvement of the cyber criminals who developed them. It is only possible to decrypt files without payment or contacting cyber criminals in rare cases when the ransomware is not finished (contains bugs/flaws). To avoid problems caused through these malicious programs, have data backed up and store it on a remote server or unplugged storage device (or both). Some examples of other programs similar to Lazarus are Carote, Gero, and Hese.

How did ransomware infect my computer?

There is no information about how Lazarus developers attempt to infect computers with this ransomware, however, most cyber criminals proliferate malware through spam campaigns (emails), trojans, unofficial software download sources, software 'cracking' tools and fake software updating tools. They send emails that contain malicious attachments and present them as 'important documents'. The main goal of these campaigns is to trick recipients into opening the attached file. If opened, it downloads and installs ransomware or other malware. Examples of files attached to their emails are Microsoft Office or PDF documents, archives such as RAR, ZIP, executable files (.exe), JavaScript files, and so on. Trojans are malicious programs that often cause chain infections: once the computer is infected with a trojan, this program downloads and installs other malicious software. Dubious file and software download sources such as freeware download websites, free file hosting pages, Peer-to-Peer networks (torrent clients, eMule), third party downloaders and other such tools can be used to proliferate malicious software. Typically, cyber criminals use them to disguise malicious files as legitimate. If people download and open the files, they install high-risk programs such as ransomware. Software 'cracking' tools are programs that supposedly activate installed software or operating systems free of charge, however, many cyber criminals design these tools to infect computers with viruses. Fake software update tools cause damage by downloading and installing malware rather than updating outdated programs, or by exploiting bugs/flaws of outdated, vulnerable software.

Threat Summary:
Name Lazarus virus
Threat Type Ransomware, Crypto Virus, Files locker
Encrypted Files Extension .Lazarus (ransomware also appends filenames with the victim's unique ID and developer's email address)
Ransom Demanding Message Read-Me-Now.txt and a pop-up window
Cyber Criminal Contact
Detection Names Avast (Win32:Malware-gen), BitDefender (DeepScan:Generic.Ransom.Ouroboros.9588D3CF), ESET-NOD32 (A Variant Of Win32/Filecoder.NXE), Kaspersky (HEUR:Trojan.Win32.Generic), 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 Lazarus developers use a publicly-accessible email service (Gmail). It is easy to track people who use services of this kind, which suggests that the cyber criminals who created and spread Lazarus are amateurs in this field.
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.
Malware Removal (Windows)

To eliminate possible malware infections, scan your computer with legitimate antivirus software. Our security researchers recommend using Malwarebytes.
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How to protect yourself from ransomware infections?

Download, install, update software, and browse the web responsibly. Do not use third party downloaders, installers, unofficial websites, Peer-to-Peer networks, or other tools of this kind. All software should be downloaded software from official, trustworthy websites. Installed software should be updated using implemented functions or tools designed by official software developers. Irrelevant emails that are sent from unknown, suspicious addresses and contain attachments (or web links) should not be trusted. Do not open open files attached to emails of this type, especially if there is reason to believe that they are unsafe. Software cracking tools are illegal and often cause computer infections - these tools should never be used. Operating systems should be scanned with reputable anti-spyware or anti-virus software and all detected threats eliminated immediately. If your computer is already infected with Lazarus, we recommend running a scan with Malwarebytes for Windows to automatically eliminate this ransomware.

Text in the pop-up window:

Your Files Has Been Encrypted
How To Recover :
Your Data Has Been Encrypted Due The Security Problem
If You Want To Restore Your Files Send Email to Us
Before Paying You Can Send 1MB file For Decryption Test to guarantee that your Files Can Be Restored
Test File Should Not Contain Valuable Data ( Databases Large Excels , Backups )
Do Not Rename Files or Do Not Try Decrypt Files With 3rd Party Softwares , It May Damage Your Files
And Increase Decryption Price

Your ID : -
Our Email :

How To Buy Bitcoin :
Payment Should Be With Bitcoin
You Can learn how To Buy Bitcoin From This Links :

Screenshot of Lazarus text file ("Read-Me-Now.txt"):

Lazarus text file

Text presented in this file:

Your All Files Encrypted With High level Cryptography Algorithm
If You Need Your Files You Should Pay For Decryption
You Can Send 1MB File For Decryption Test To Make Sure Your Files Can Be Decrypted
After 48 hour If You Dont contact us or use 3rd party applications or recovery tools   Decryption fee will Be Double
After Test You Will Get Decryption Tool
Your ID For Decryption:LNDxrzJ2Aw
Contact Us:

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

Files encrypted by Lazarus

Update October 14, 2019 - Malware researcher BloodDolly has recently released a tool capable of decrypting data compromised by multiple variants of Ouroboros (King Ouroboros) ransomware. The tool is capable of decrypting data with the following extensions:

  • ".Email(*)(ID=.*"
  • ".Email=(*)ID=.*"
  • ".Email=[*]ID=[*].*"
  • ".Email=[*]ID=[*].Angus"
  • ".Email=[*]ID=[*].KRONOS"
  • ".[ID=*][Mail=*].Lazarus"
  • ".[ID=*][Mail=*].Lazarus+"

You can download this tool by clicking this link (you'll find the instructions for decryption within the archive).

Screenshot of Ouroboros decrypter by BloodDolly:

Ouroboros decrypter by BloodDolly

Update October 30, 2019 - BitDefender has recently released a decryption tool capable of restoring data encrypted by Lazarus ransomware (with ".Lazarus" and ".Lazarus+" extension). You can find more information and download the tool in this page.

Lazarus ransomware removal:

Instant automatic malware removal: Manual threat removal might be a lengthy and complicated process that requires advanced computer skills. Malwarebytes is a professional automatic malware removal tool that is recommended to get rid of malware. Download it by clicking the button below:
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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 Lazarus 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 Lazarus 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 Lazarus 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 Lazarus 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 Lazarus, 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 Lazarus 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 Lazarus 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 since 2010. Follow me on Twitter and LinkedIn to stay informed about the latest online security threats. Contact Tomas Meskauskas.

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Malware activity

Global malware activity level today:

Medium threat activity

Increased attack rate of infections detected within the last 24 hours.

QR Code
Lazarus 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 Lazarus virus on your mobile device.
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