How to avoid installation of Guarded ransomware

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

Guarded ransomware removal instructions

What is Guarded?

Guarded is a ransomware-type program, which is similar to Sguard. Typically, programs of this type encrypt files so that victims cannot access them without specific tools that can be purchased only from the cyber criminals who developed the ransomware. Guarded renames encrypted files by adding a new extension: ".Guarded". For example, "1.jpg" becomes "1.jpg.Guarded". It also creates a ransom message in the "GUARDED-README.txt" text file, which contains instructions about how to purchase the decryption tool.

To restore files, Guarded victims must contact cyber criminals by sending an email to support-eus@pm.me, which should include the appointed ID key. Once contacted, criminals should provide the cost of a decryption tool that can unlock encrypted files. The ransom must be paid in a cryptocurrency (Bitcoin) by transferring funds to a wallet address provided at the bottom of the ransom message. As 'proof' that Guarded developers have a valid decryption tool, they offer to decrypt one file free of charge. This can be sent via the aforementioned email address. Generally, only cyber criminals have valid decryption tools/keys, since ransomware-type programs perform strong encryptions that are impossible to 'crack'. Despite this, do not trust cyber criminals or pay any ransoms. They often provide no decryption tools even after ransoms are paid. In most cases, the only way to avoid data and/or financial loss is to restore files from a backup.

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

Guarded decrypt instructions

There are many other ransomware-type programs on the internet. Some examples include Meds, PyLock, and Erenahen. Generally, ransomware encrypts data and prevents access unless victims pay ransoms. Main differences are usually cost of decryption tool/key and encryption algorithm (symmetric or asymmetric) used to lock files. Unfortunately, most encryptions are impossible to decrypt without tools held only by the cyber criminals who designed the ransomware. This is possible only when ransomware is not fully developed (contains bugs, flaws, etc.). To restore files free of charge, have data backed up and keep it on a remote server or unplugged storage device.

How did ransomware infect my computer?

There is no information about how cyber criminals proliferate Guarded, however, criminals often use spam campaigns (emails), software 'cracking' (activation) tools, untrustworthy software download channels, fake software updating tools, and Trojans. To infect computers through spam campaigns, they send emails that contain malicious attachments. They attach files such as Microsoft Office of PDF documents, executable files such as .exe, JavaScript files, archives such as ZIP, RAR, and so on. The main goal is to trick people into opening the attached file, which then installs malicious software. Tools that supposedly activate licensed software free of charge often download and install malicious programs rather than bypassing any software activation. Peer-to-Peer networks (torrent clients, eMule etc.), unofficial pages, freeware download and file hosting websites and other similar channels can also proliferate malware. People who use these tools to download files or programs risk downloading malicious files that are disguised as harmless. When opened, they infect computers with malicious software. Unofficial update tools cause damage (installation of malware) by exploiting bugs/flaws of outdated software, or by downloading and installing malware rather than updating installed software. Trojans cause damage only when they are already installed on the system - they then proliferate (install) other malicious programs.

Threat Summary:
Name Guarded virus
Threat Type Ransomware, Crypto Virus, Files locker.
Encrypted Files Extension .Guarded
Ransom Demanding Message GUARDED-README.txt
Cyber Criminal Contact support-eus@pm.me
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.
Removal

To eliminate Guarded 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

Software should be downloaded from official websites. Other sources such as third party downloaders, Peer-to-Peer networks, etc., cannot be trusted. Ignore irrelevant emails that are received from unknown, suspicious addresses and contain attachments. Do not open the attached files. All installed programs should be updated through tools that are designed by official developers. If installed software requires activation, do not use unofficial ('cracking') tools. These are illegal and cyber criminals often use them to proliferate malware. Scan the system for viruses regularly and remove detected threats. Use reputable anti-virus or anti-spyware software. If your computer is already infected with Guarded, we recommend running a scan with Spyhunter for Windows to automatically eliminate this ransomware.

Text presented in Guarded ransomware text file ("GUARDED-README.txt"):

! STRICTLY FORBIDDEN TO USE NON-ORIGIN DECRYPTION TOOLS OR MODIFYING ENCRYPTED FILES - DATA WILL BE LOST !

------------

Your server have been attacked by an Unathorized user.

All your files have been encrypted with RSA Private Key to safe them from unathorized 3rd party access.

To RESTORE all your files back, please follow this few steps:

1. PP-EUS service charges a payment for file decryption;

2. After payment being processed, provide us your server id-key;

3. Receive your unique decryption tool;

4. Run the decryption tool and successfully restore all your files back to normal state.

We guarantee:

100% Successful restoring of all files

100% Satisfaction guarantee

100% Safe and secure service

As a proof of our trusted decryption service, you can send us 1 file and get it decrypted for free.

------------

! STRICTLY FORBIDDEN TO USE NON-ORIGIN DECRYPTION TOOLS OR MODIFYING ENCRYPTED FILES - DATA WILL BE LOST !

! ONLY OUR DECRYPTION TOOL CAN RESTORE YOUR FILES !

------------

Contact us: support-eus@pm.me

Payment type: Bitcoin

Our wallet: 19k8MNYRjVvkcozePZLnBhftrvGPfeugmN

Your server ID-KEY:

For any questions: support-eus@pm.me

ProtonProject EUS © 2019

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

Files encrypted by Guarded

Guarded ransomware removal:

Instant automatic removal of Guarded 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 Guarded 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 Guarded 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 Guarded 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 Guarded 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 Guarded 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 Guarded, 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 Guarded 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 Guarded 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
Guarded 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 Guarded virus on your mobile device.
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