Start ransomware removal instructions
What is Start?
Belonging to the CrySiS/Dharma malware family, Start is malicious software, which is categorized as ransomware. This malicious program was discovered by Jakub Kroustek. Start operates by encrypting data and demanding ransom payments for decryption. During the encryption process, all files are renamed with a unique ID number (generated for each victim), developer's email address, and the ".start" extension. For example, "1.jpg" might be renamed to a filename such as "1.jpg.id-1E857D00.[firstname.lastname@example.org].start", and so on for all affected files. After this process is complete, a text file ("FILES ENCRYPTED.txt") is stored on the desktop and a pop-up window displayed.
The text file informs victims that their data has been locked and, to retrieve it, they must contact the cyber criminals behind Start. The pop-up window provides more detail. The message states that all files have been encrypted, and to decrypt them, users must send a message to the email address listed. Should no reply from the criminals arrive within 24 hours, victims are urged to use an alternative email address. The message must contain the victim's unique ID number in the title/subject. The ransom size is not stated, however, this will depend on how quickly users establish contact. The payment must be made in the Bitcoin cryptocurrency. Once the transaction is made, victims are promised decryption tools/software. To 'prove' their ability to decrypt data, developers of Start offer free decryption of one file. The file must be no larger than 1 MB (non-archived) and contain no valuable information (e.g. databases, backups, large excel sheets and similar). The ransom message also includes warnings. Users are instructed not to rename encrypted files or to try decryption with third party software - this will result in permanent data loss. Most ransomware-type programs use strong encryption and data can only be decoded with the software originally used for encryption. Therefore, only the developers of ransomware can recover the data. Regardless, you are strongly advised against meeting the ransom demands and/or contacting cyber criminals. If victims pay, they receive none of the necessary decryption tools. Therefore, their files remain encrypted and permanently damaged. Removing Start will not restore the compromised data, however, it will prevent this ransomware from further encryption. The only possible way to restore files is to recover them from a backup, provided one was made prior to the infection and stored separately.
Screenshot of a message encouraging users to pay a ransom to decrypt their compromised data:
Nakw, Hdmr, FuxSocy ENCRYPTOR, and Kronos are just some examples of malware similar to Start. Most ransomware shares common traits, mainly data encryption and ransom demands. These malicious programs differ by cryptographic algorithm they use (symmetric or asymmetric) and size of ransom, which typically range between three-digit and four-digit sums (in USD). Digital currencies (e.g. cryptocurrencies, pre-paid vouchers, etc.) are preferred by cyber criminals, since these transactions are difficult/impossible to trace. Unless ransomware is still in development and/or has certain flaws/bugs, manual decryption (without the involvement of the developers) is impossible. To protect files against data encryption and damaging infections, keep backups on remote servers and/or unplugged storage devices. Ideally, multiple backup copies should be stored in different locations.
How did ransomware infect my computer?
|Threat Type||Ransomware, Crypto Virus, Files locker.|
|Encrypted Files Extension||.start (this ransomware also appends filenames with the victim's unique ID and developer's email address).|
|Ransom Demanding Message||FILES ENCRYPTED.txt and pop-up window|
|Cyber Criminal Contactemail@example.com and e-mails:firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Detection Names||Avast (Win32:RansomX-gen [Ransom]), BitDefender (Trojan.Ransom.Crysis.E), ESET-NOD32 (A Variant Of Win32/Filecoder.Crysis.P), Kaspersky (Trojan-Ransom.Win32.Crusis.to), 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.
How to protect yourself from ransomware infections
Do not open suspicious, unknown or irrelevant emails. Also do not open attachments or links found in them, since this can result in an infection. Research content carefully and download only form official and verified sources. Software activation and updating should be done using tools/functions provided by legitimate developers. Do not use illegal activation tools ("cracks") or third party updaters - these are high-risk. Have a reputable anti-virus/anti-spyware suite installed and kept updated. Use this software for regular system scans and removal of detected threats. If your computer is already infected with Start, we recommend running a scan with Malwarebytes for Windows to automatically eliminate this ransomware.
Text presented in Start ransomware pop-up window:
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 email@example.com
Write this ID in the title of your message 1E857D00
In case of no answer in 24 hours write us to theese e-mails:firstname.lastname@example.org
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 decryption tool that will decrypt all your files.
Free decryption as guarantee
Before paying you can send us up to 1 file for free decryption. The total size of files must be less than 1Mb (non archived), and files should not contain valuable information. (databases,backups, large excel sheets, etc.)
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 Start text file ("FILES ENCRYPTED.txt"):
Text presented in this file:
Screenshot of files encrypted by Start (".start" extension):
Start 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 Start?
- STEP 1. Start virus removal using safe mode with networking.
- STEP 2. Start 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 Start 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 Start 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 Start 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 Start 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 Start 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, and 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 Start ransomware: