PyLock ransomware removal instructions
What is PyLock?
Discovered by GrujaRS, PyLock is a high-risk ransomware infection that stealthily infiltrates computers and encrypts most stored data, thereby rendering it unusable. As well as compromising data, PyLock appends each filename with the ".locked" extension (e.g., "sample.jpg" is renamed to "sample.jpg.locked"). Once data is encrypted, users are presented with a pop-up window containing a ransom-demand message.
The opened pop-up window delivers a message informing victims that data is encrypted using AES-256 cryptography. Therefore, victims are encouraged to purchase a decryption key if they wish to restore their files. Unfortunately, decryption does require a unique key. AES is a symmetric encryption algorithm that uses an identical key for encryption and decryption. A unique key is generated for each victim, however, victims cannot access their keys as they are stored on a remote server controlled by PyLock's developers. Therefore, cyber criminals are able to blackmail them by offering paid recovery of their files. According to the pop-up window, the cost of each key is 5 Bitcoins (currently equivalent to approximately $51000). Clearly, no one will pay such an amount to retrieve their photos, music, and other similar files. Therefore, there are two possible reasons why the ransom is so high: 1) cyber criminals are still testing this ransomware and the cost will change, or; 2) they are using old source code, since the Bitcoin value has risen significantly during the last few years (e.g., in early 2016, a single Bitcoin was equivalent to around $400, whilst at time of writing, the value is just above $10000). Regardless of the cost, do not pay. Ransomware developers often ignore victims once payments are submitted. There is a high probability that paying will deliver no positive result - you will simply support cyber criminals' malicious businesses and receive nothing in return. Therefore, ignore all requests to submit payments. Unfortunately, PyLock is undecryptable ransomware, and thus there are no tools capable of cracking its 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:
The internet is full of ransomware-type infections that share many similarities - Erenahen, b00m, and Kokoklock are just some examples from many. Note that, although the developers are different, all of these infections have virtually identical behavior: they encrypt data and make ransom demands. There are typically just two major differences: 1) size of ransom, and; 2) type of encryption algorithm used. Unfortunately, most encryptions are performed using AES, RSA, and other high-end cryptographies that generate unique decryption keys. Therefore, unless data was encrypted by ransomware with bugs/flaws, restoring it without involvement of the developers (not recommended) is impossible. Ransomware presents a strong case for maintaining regular backups, however, store them on a remote server (e.g., Cloud) or unplugged storage device (e.g., Flash drive, external hard drive or similar) - locally stored backups are compromised together with regular data. In fact, you should 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?
The exact way in which developers proliferate PyLock is currently unknown, however, many ransomware infections are proliferated using third party software download sources (freeware download websites, free file hosting sites, Peer-to-Peer [P2P] networks, etc.), spam emails, trojans, and fake software updaters and 'cracks'. Unofficial download sources are used to present malicious executables as legitimate software. In this way, criminals trick users into manual download/installation of malware. Spam campaigns are used to send hundreds of thousands of deceptive emails containing malicious attachments (links/files) and messages encouraging recipients to open them. To give the impression of legitimacy, criminals present attachments as "important" documents, such as invoices, bills, receipts, and so on. Trojans are essentially malicious lightweight applications designed to infiltrate systems and inject them with additional malware. Fake updaters usually infect systems by exploiting outdated software bugs/flaws or merely downloading and installing malware rather than the updates, while fake cracking tools simply inject malware rather than providing access to licensed software (paid) features.
|Threat Type||Ransomware, Crypto Virus, Files locker.|
|Encrypted Files Extension||.locked|
|Ransom Demanding Message||Pop-up window|
|Ransom Amount||5 Bitcoin|
|Cyber Criminal Contactfirstname.lastname@example.org|
|Detection Names||Avast (Win32:Trojan-gen), BitDefender (Generic.Ransom.PyCrypter.93A4C9ED), ESET-NOD32 (Python/Filecoder.AC), McAfee (Artemis!D5023CFBE554), 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.|
To eliminate PyLock virus our malware researchers recommend scanning your computer with Spyhunter.
How to protect yourself from ransomware infections
The main reasons for computer infections are poor knowledge of these threats and careless behavior. The key to safety is caution. Therefore, pay attention when browsing the internet and downloading/installing/updating software. Handle all email attachments with care. Files/links received from suspicious/unrecognizable email addresses should never be opened. The same applies to attachments that are irrelevant or do not concern you. Furthermore, download programs from official sources only and, if possible, use direct download links. Similar rules apply to software updates. Keeping installed applications up-to-date is extremely important, however, this should be achieved only through implemented functions or tools provided by the official developer. Third party downloaders, installers and updaters often include rogue applications, and thus such tools should never be used. Be aware that cracking installed applications is illegal (software piracy is a cyber crime) and the risk of infections is extremely high, since most of these tools are fake. Therefore, using third party/illegal tools to activate installed apps should never be considered. Have a reputable internet security suite installed and running, since this will detect and eliminate most computer infections before any harm is done. If your computer is already infected with PyLock, we recommend running a scan with Spyhunter for Windows to automatically eliminate this ransomware.
The appearance of PyLock ransomware pop-up (GIF):
Text presented in PyLock ransomware pop-up window:
The important files on your computer have been encrypted with military grade AES-256 bit encryption. Cannot be unlocked without the decryption key.
* DON'T MODIFY OR RENAME ENCRYPTED FILES, THIS CAUSE DAMAGE YOUR FILES PERMANENTLY!
* DON'T MODIFY ENCRYPTED UNIQUE KEY, THIS CAUSE DAMAGE YOUR FILES PERMANENTLY!
* DON'T USE THIRD-PARTY OR PUBLIC TOOLS/SOFTWARE TO DECRYPT YOUR FILES, THIS CAUSE DAMAGE YOUR FILES PERMANENTLY!
To acquire this key, transfer the Bitcoin Fee to the specified wallet address before the time runs out, for instructions: email@example.com
If you fail to take action within this time window, the decryption key will be destroyed and access to your files will be permanently lost.
Screenshot of files encrypted by PyLock (".locked" extension):
PyLock ransomware removal:
Instant automatic removal of PyLock 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 PyLock virus. Download it by clicking the button below:
- What is PyLock?
- STEP 1. PyLock virus removal using safe mode with networking.
- STEP 2. PyLock 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 PyLock 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 PyLock 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 PyLock 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 PyLock 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 PyLock 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 PyLock ransomware: