StuardRitchi ransomware removal instructions
What is StuardRitchi?
StuardRitchi is a ransomware, belonging to the GlobeImposter ransomware family. It is designed to encrypt files and keep them on lock-down, until a ransom is paid (decryption software/tool is bought). StuardRitchi changes afflicted file extensions into ".crypt", which would make "1.jpg" appear as "1.jpg.crypt" and so on. It drops an html file, titled "how_to_back_files.html" on victim's desktop, which contains the ransom demanding message. This malicious piece of software was discovered by dnwls0719.
The ransom note states, that to recover their encrypted files, users need to purchase a decryptor. To buy the decryption software/tool victims are told to contact the cyber criminal via email addresses provided. The message further tells the price of (ransom demanded for) the offered decryptor to be 2,500 US dollars in Bitcoin cryptocurrency. Cryptocurrency, pre-paid vouchers and other digital currencies are demanded as ransom by cyber criminals, due to the fact that they are difficult and/or impossible to trace. To prove the ability of restoring the affected data, the StuardRitchi developers offer to decrypt one file. They will recover the file, provided if it is of no value - most likely hinting that it must not contain important information (e.g. databases, backups, large excel sheets and etc.). The note also contains a warning, that any user attempts at "cheating" (i.e. restoring their files on their own and etc.) will double the ransom. This threat is followed by listed details concerning the encryption and the impossibility of the data being manually deciphered, as well as actions victims are prohibited from taking. It must be stressed, that is is against recommendations to meet any demands issued. Such received threats should be ignored and no payments made. These recommendations are given, due to the fact that despite receiving payments, cyber criminals almost never hold their end of the bargain (i.e. they do not decrypt the encrypted data, therefore damaging it irreparably and making it worthless). The only viable solution is restoring the files from stored backups, if such were made before the attack.
Screenshot of a message encouraging users to pay a ransom to decrypt their compromised data:
Most ransom demanding software share certain traits, some are practically analogous. Ransomwares similar to StuardRitchi are: Money, RSA, TFlower and WannaCry, and many others. All of these malicious programs demand ransoms (payments) and most encrypt files (some bluff about encrypting data). Crucial differences include ransom size (usually ranging between tree-digit and four-digit sums) and encryption method. Ransomwares use symmetric or asymmetric cryptographic algorithms, that generate unique decryption keys (e.g. AES, RSA and other). Unfortunately, in most cases manual file recovery is impossible. In the unlikely instances, where a piece of ransomware is still in development and/or has some bugs/flaws - restoring encrypted files may be possible. The only reliable way of protecting data from unauthorized encryption or other data damaging attacks - is by producing backups and keeping them on remote servers or unconnected storage devices. Since both of these are liable to be affected by various forces (e.g. servers taken down, physical devices damaged and etc.) - it is best to keep multiple backups in several locations.
How did ransomware infect my computer?
|Threat Type||Ransomware, Crypto Virus, Files locker|
|Encrypted Files Extension||.crypt|
|Ransom Demanding Message||how_to_back_files.html file|
|Ransom Amount||$2500 in Bitcoins|
|Cyber Criminal Contact||StuardRitchi@tutanota.com, SwaqLtd@protonmail.com|
|Detection Names||Avast (Win32:Trojan-gen), BitDefender (Generic.Ransom.GlobeImposter.817E85C2), ESET-NOD32 (A Variant Of Win32/Filecoder.FV), Kaspersky (HEUR:Trojan.Win32.Generic), Full List Of Detections (VirusTotal)|
|Symptoms||Can't open files stored on your computer, previously functional files now have a different extension, for example my.docx.locked. A ransom demanding message is displayed on your desktop. Cyber criminals are asking to pay 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.
How to protect yourself from ransomware infections?
It is advised to never open emails received from suspicious and unknown senders (addresses). Any attachments found therein must not be opened/run/executed under any circumstances, web-links - also disregarded. Users should be very cautious, as deceptive emails usually pretend to be important, official, urgent or otherwise highlighted as priority mail. For all software downloads only official and verified sources should be used. Using peer-to-peer sharing networks and other third party downloaders is against advisement, as they are more likely to offer malignant content and/or content bundled with such. Programs present on users' devices should be properly maintained and kept up-to-date with features/tools provided by said software developers. "Cracking" tools are considered to be high-risk, as they are often fake and contain malicious abilities, instead of ones designed to allow access to paid software features. Owning a reputable and reliable anti-virus/anti-spyware suite is highly recommended. Additionally, such programs should be implemented to perform regular system scans and for elimination of possible threats. To ensure device and user safety, it is advised to exercise caution when browsing the Internet and when downloading, installing or updating software. If your computer is already infected with StuardRitchi, we recommend running a scan with Malwarebytes for Windows to automatically eliminate this ransomware.
Text presented in StuardRitchi ransomware's html file ("how_to_back_files.html"):
YOUR PERSONAL ID
YOUR FILES ARE ENCRYPTED!
ALL YOUR IMPORTANT DATA HAS BEEN ENCRYPTED.
To recover data you need decryptor.
The cost of the decryptor is 2500 usd. Payment is accepted only in bitcoin (BTC). You can buy bitcoin at your bank or from private currency exchangers.
If you are interested in buying a decryptor, contact me: StuardRitchi@tutanota.com
As a proof of my capabilities, I will decrypt 1 file. The test file should not have value.
Do not try to cheat, otherwise the price will double.
Only StuardRitchi@tutanota.com can decrypt your files
No one in the world can decrypt your data except me. Please do not forget to make a copy before trying to decrypt yourself, otherwise I can not help you
Do not attempt to remove the program or run the anti-virus tools
Decoders other users are not compatible with your data, because each user's unique encryption key
If you have not received a response within 24 hours, please contact us: SwaqLtd@protonmail.com
Screenshot of files encrypted by StuardRitchi (".crypt" extension):
StuardRitchi 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:
- What is StuardRitchi virus?
- STEP 1. Isolating the infected device.
- STEP 2. Identifying the ransomware infection.
- STEP 3. Searching for ransomware decryption tools.
- STEP 4. Restoring files with data recovery tools.
- STEP 5. Creating data backups.
Isolating the infected device:
Some ransomware-type infections are designed to encrypt files within external storage devices, infect them, and even spread throughout the entire local network. For this reason, it is very important to isolate the infected device (computer) as soon as possible.
Step 1: Disconnect from the internet.
The easiest way to disconnect a computer from the internet is to unplug the Ethernet cable from the motherboard, however, some devices are connected via a wireless network and for some users (especially those who are not particularly tech-savvy), disconnecting cables may seem troublesome. Therefore, you can also disconnect the system manually via Control Panel:
Navigate to the "Control Panel", click the search bar in the upper-right corner of the screen, enter "Network and Sharing Center" and select search result:
Click the "Change adapter settings" option in the upper-left corner of the window:
Right-click on each connection point and select "Disable". Once disabled, the system will no longer be connected to the internet. To re-enable the connection points, simply right-click again and select "Enable".
Step 2: Unplug all storage devices.
As mentioned above, ransomware might encrypt data and infiltrate all storage devices that are connected to the computer. For this reason, all external storage devices (flash drives, portable hard drives, etc.) should be disconnected immediately, however, we strongly advise you to eject each device before disconnecting to prevent data corruption:
Navigate to "My Computer", right-click on each connected device and select "Eject":
Step 3: Log-out of cloud storage accounts.
Some ransomware-type might be able to hijack software that handles data stored within "the Cloud". Therefore, the data could be corrupted/encrypted. For this reason, you should log-out of all cloud storage accounts within browsers and other related software. You should also consider temporarily uninstalling the cloud-management software until the infection is completely removed.
Identify the ransomware infection:
To properly handle an infection, one must first identify it. Some ransomware infections use ransom-demand messages as an introduction (see the WALDO ransomware text file below).
This, however, is rare. In most cases, ransomware infections deliver more direct messages simply stating that data is encrypted and that victims must pay some sort of ransom. Note that ransomware-type infections typically generate messages with different file names (for example, "_readme.txt", "READ-ME.txt", "DECRYPTION_INSTRUCTIONS.txt", "DECRYPT_FILES.html", etc.). Therefore, using the name of a ransom message may seem like a good way to identify the infection. The problem is that most of these names are generic and some infections use the same names, even though the delivered messages are different and the infections themselves are unrelated. Therefore, using the message filename alone can be ineffective and even lead to permanent data loss (for example, by attempting to decrypt data using tools designed for different ransomware infections, users are likely to end up permanently damaging files and decryption will no longer be possible even with the correct tool).
Another way to identify a ransomware infection is to check the file extension, which is appended to each encrypted file. Ransomware infections are often named by the extensions they append (see files encrypted by Qewe ransomware below).
This method is only effective, however, when the appended extension is unique - many ransomware infections append a generic extension (for example, ".encrypted", ".enc", ".crypted", ".locked", etc.). In these cases, identifying ransomware by its appended extension becomes impossible.
One of the easiest and quickest ways to identify a ransomware infection is to use the ID Ransomware website. This service supports most existing ransomware infections. Victims simply upload a ransom message and/or one encrypted file (we advise you to upload both if possible).
The ransomware will be identified within seconds and you will be provided with various details, such as the name of the malware family to which the infection belongs, whether it is decryptable, and so on.
Example 1 (Qewe [Stop/Djvu] ransomware):
Example 2 (.iso [Phobos] ransomware):
If your data happens to be encrypted by a ransomware that is not supported by ID Ransomware, you can always try searching the internet by using certain keywords (for example, ransom message title, file extension, provided contact emails, cryptowallet addresses, etc.).
Search for ransomware decryption tools:
Encryption algorithms used by most ransomware-type infections are extremely sophisticated and, if the encryption is performed properly, only the developer is capable of restoring data. This is because decryption requires a specific key, which is generated during the encryption. Restoring data without the key is impossible. In most cases, cyber criminals store keys on a remote server, rather than using the infected machine as a host. Dharma (CrySis), Phobos, and other families of high-end ransomware infections are virtually flawless, and thus restoring data encrypted without the developers' involvement is simply impossible. Despite this, there are dozens of ransomware-type infections that are poorly developed and contain a number of flaws (for example, the use of identical encryption/decryption keys for each victim, keys stored locally, etc.). Therefore, always check for available decryption tools for any ransomware that infiltrates your computer.
Finding the correct decryption tool on the internet can be very frustrating. For this reason, we recommend that you use the No More Ransom Project and this is where identifying the ransomware infection is useful. The No More Ransom Project website contains a "Decryption Tools" section with a search bar. Enter the name of the identified ransomware, and all available decryptors (if there are any) will be listed.
Restore files with data recovery tools:
Depending on the situation (quality of ransomware infection, type of encryption algorithm used, etc.), restoring data with certain third-party tools might be possible. Therefore, we advise you to use EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard Pro. This tool supports over a thousand data types (graphics, video, audio, documents, etc.) and it is very intuitive (little knowledge is necessary to recover data).
Step 1: Perform a scan.
Hover your mouse over the partition you wish to scan and select "Scan". You can also select a specific folder, or click shortcut icons to scan the Desktop or Recycle Bin:
Wait for EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard Pro to complete the scan. The scanning duration depends on the volume of files (both in quantity and size) that you are scanning (for example, several hundreds gigabytes could take over an hour to scan). Therefore, be patient during the scanning process. We also advise against modifying or deleting existing files, since this might interfere with the scan. If you add additional data (for example, downloading files/content) while scanning, this will prolong the process:
Step 2: Recover data.
Once the process is complete, select the folders/files you wish to restore and simply click "Recover". Note that some free space on your storage drive is necessary to restore data. Note also that the trial version of EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard Pro is only capable of scanning drives and listing recoverable files - to restore them, you must purchase a license:
Step 3: Save the scan session (optional).
We recommend that you save the scanning session once you have completed recovery, in case you decide to recover additional files later. Simply click the "Save Scan Session" icon in the upper-right corner of the screen and choose the location for the file to be saved. This will save a lot of time, since you will not need to re-scan the storage drive the next time you wish to restore something. Bear in mind, however, that data removed after the scanning session has finished will not be listed:
Create data backups:
Proper file management and creating backups is essential for data security. Therefore, always be very careful and think ahead.
Partition management: We recommend that you store your data in multiple partitions and avoid storing important files within the partition that contains the entire operating system. If you fall into a situation whereby you cannot boot the system and are forced to format the disk on which the operating system is installed (in most cases, this is where malware infections hide), you will lose all data stored within that drive. This is the advantage of having multiple partitions: if you have the entire storage device assigned to a single partition, you will be forced to delete everything, however, creating multiple partitions and allocating the data properly allows you to prevent such problems. You can easily format a single partition without affecting the others - therefore, one will be cleaned and the others will remain untouched, and your data will be saved. Managing partitions is quite simple and you can find all necessary information on Microsoft's documentation web page.
Data backups: The most reliable backup method is to use an external storage device and keep it unplugged. Copy your data to an external hard drive, flash (thumb) drive, SSD, HDD, or any other storage device, unplug it and store it in a dry place away from sun and extreme temperatures. This method is, however, quite inefficient, since data backups and updates need to be made regularly. You can also use a cloud service or remote server. Here, an internet connection is required and there is always the chance of a security breach. Therefore, you should consider using an application to create data backups locally.
We recommend using the EaseUS Todo Backup application. The "Home" edition of EaseUS Todo Backup is usually more than adequate for regular users, however, the "Business" edition is more suitable for companies and large computer networks. The EaseUS Todo Backup application provides extensive data protection features. You can easily create backups, and encrypt and compress them for enhanced protection and storage saving purposes. It also allows you to set backup schedules, create bootable devices, and restore the system if a crash occurs. You can easily choose where to store the created backup: locally; uploaded to an external drive; FTP; cloud storage, or elsewhere. In summary, EaseUS Todo Backup is an all-in-one tool, which provides all features required to properly backup your data.
Creating a data backup:
The backup process is virtually identical regardless of the item (file, partition, entire system) you wish to backup. Taking the File Backup feature as an example:
Step 1: Choose which item to backup.
Click on the "Menu" icon in the upper-left corner of the screen to reveal the menu and select "File Backup":
Select the files you want to backup. You can also enter a name and description of the backup that will be created:
Step 2: Change the default settings.
The EaseUS Todo Backup application provides a variety of additional options that can be added/modified while creating the backup. For example, you can encrypt data (add a password), select the compression rate (how much the backup should be compressed), performance (how many system resources should be allocated), add an email notification (you receive an email once the process is complete) and so on.
To open the options window, click the "Backup options" button in the lower-left corner of the screen:
Select the settings you want to change and click "Save". You can also reset your changes by clicking "Reset to initial settings":
Step 3: Select the backup destination.
As mentioned above, EaseUS Todo Backup allows you to choose where backups are saved - locally or externally.
Click the "Browse..." button and select the location you want the backup to be saved:
Step 4: Safety measures and process completion.
Depending on the location you have chosen, there are a number of measures you should or should not take. If you are uploading to an internet-connected location (for example, Cloud storage, FTP, etc.), be sure to maintain your internet connection, otherwise you will have to start again. The same applies to external storage devices - do not unplug them until the process is complete.
The progress bar displays estimated time remaining until completion. Large backups (hundreds of gigabytes) can take hours to create (depending on storage device speed, internet connection, etc.). Therefore, the application also allows you to optionally choose what the system should do (shut down, sleep or hibernate) once the process has finished:
The best way to avoid damage from ransomware infections is to maintain regular up-to-date backups.