Eliminate Banta ransomware from the system

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

Banta ransomware removal instructions

What is Banta?

Discovered by dnwls0719, Banta is yet another high-risk ransomware infection from the CrySis/Dharma malware family. After successful infiltration, Banta encrypts most stored files, thereby rendering them unusable. During encryption, Banta also appends each filename with the victim's unique ID, developer's email address, and ".Banta" extension. For example, "1.jpg" is renamed to a filename such as "1.jpg.id[1E857D00-2321].[veritablebee@protonmail.ch].Banta". Once encryption is complete, Banta stores two files ("info.hta" and "info.txt") on the desktop. Updated variants of this ransomware use the ".[recoverdata@cock.li].Banta", ".[zax4444@qq.com].Banta", and ".[washapen@cock.li].Banta" extensions for encrypted files.

The new text file contains a short message essentially stating that data is corrupted and that victims must contact Banta's developers if they wish to restore them. The info.hta file (an HTML application, which Banta automatically runs) displays a pop-up window providing much more detail. It is stated that, to restore data, victims must purchase a decryption tool held only by Banta's developers. Unfortunately, this information is accurate. Banta compromises data using cryptography that generates a unique decryption key for each victim. All keys are stored on a server owned by Banta's developers, thus allowing them to blackmail victims. To receive a decryption key (or rather, a decryption tool with the key embedded within), each victim must pay a ransom. The cost is not specified - these details are provided via email, however, ransomware developers usually demand $500-$1500 and the ransoms typically must be paid using various cryptocurrencies. Banta's developers also offer free decryption of five files (up to 4 MB total size, non-archived) as 'proof' that they are capable of restoring and can be trusted. Even if you can afford to pay, never do so - it will deliver no positive result. Research shows that ransomware developers often ignore victims after payments are submitted. Therefore, many victims are scammed and their data remains encrypted despite payments made. Unfortunately, there are no tools capable of cracking Banta encryption and restoring data free of charge. The only solution is to restore everything from a backup, if one has been created.

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

Banta decrypt instructions

Banta is virtually identical to dozens of other ransomware-type infections including Carote, Gero, and Sguard - the list goes on. Note that, although the developers are different, all of these infections have virtually identical behavior - they encrypt data so that developers can blackmail victims. Many infections encrypt data using RSA, AES, and other high-end cryptographies that generate unique keys. Therefore, restoring data manually (without developers' involvement) is virtually impossible. The only possible scenarios are ransomware not being fully developed and/or having certain bugs/flaws (e.g., the key is hard-coded, stored locally or similar). Ransomware infections present a strong case for maintaining regular backups, however, store them on a remote server or an unplugged storage device, since locally stored backups are compromised together with regular data. In fact, have multiple backup copies stored in different locations, since there is always a chance that servers/storage devices can be damaged.

How did ransomware infect my computer?

It is currently unknown exactly how developers proliferate Banta, however, these infections are often distributed using spam emails, unofficial software download sources, trojans, and fake software updaters, and 'cracks'. Cyber criminals use spam campaigns to send deceptive emails to hundreds of thousands of users. These emails contain malicious attachments (links/files) and messages presenting them as various important documents (e.g., invoices, bills, receipts, etc.) and encouraging recipients to open them. Trojans are malicious lightweight applications that stealthily infiltrate computers by injecting them with additional malware. Fake updaters and trojans infect computers rather than serving their purpose (updating/activating software). In summary, the main reasons for computer infections are poor knowledge of these threats and careless behavior.

Threat Summary:
Name Banta virus
Threat Type Ransomware, Crypto Virus, Files locker
Encrypted Files Extension .Banta (this ransomware also appends each filename with the victim's unique ID and developer's email address)
Ransom Demanding Message info.hta (HTML application), info.txt (text file)
Cyber Criminal Contact viadolorosa@tuta.io, veritablebee@protonmail.ch, zax4444@qq.com
Detection Names Avast (Win32:Malware-gen), BitDefender (Gen:Variant.Ulise.39944), ESET-NOD32 (A Variant Of Win32/Filecoder.Phobos.C), 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.
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?

The key to computer safety is caution. Pay close attention when browsing the internet and downloading/installing/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. You are strongly advised to download software from official sources only, preferably using direct download links. The same applies to software updates - this procedure should be performed only using implemented functions or tools provided by the official developer. Third parry downloaders/installers/updaters often include rogue apps, and thus such tools should not be used. Cracking installed applications is illegal (software piracy is a cyber crime) and the risk of infection is extremely high, since many cracks are fake. Therefore, never attempt to activate software using third party/illegal tools. Have a reputable anti-virus/anti-spyware suite installed and running, since this will detect and eliminate most infections before the system is harmed. If your computer is already infected with Banta, we recommend running a scan with Malwarebytes for Windows to automatically eliminate this ransomware.

Text presented in Banta ransomware HTML application ("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 veritablebee@protonmail.ch
Write this ID in the title of your message 1E857D00-2321
In case of no answer in 24 hours write us to this e-mail:viadolorosa@tuta.io
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 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 4Mb (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 Banta text file ("info.txt"):

Banta text file

Text presented within this file:

!!!All of your files are encrypted!!!
To decrypt them send e-mail to this address: veritablebee@protonmail.ch.
If we don't answer in 24h., send e-mail to this address: viadolorosa@tuta.io

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

Files encrypted by Banta

Banta 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 Banta 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 Banta 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 Banta 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 Banta 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 Banta, 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 Banta 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 Banta 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 malware activity level today:

Medium threat activity

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

QR Code
Banta 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 Banta virus on your mobile device.
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