Remove M3g4c0rtx ransomware from the operating system

Also Known As: M3g4c0rtx virus
Distribution: Low
Damage level: Severe

M3g4c0rtx ransomware removal instructions

What is M3g4c0rtx?

M3g4c0rtx is a new, significantly updated variant of MegaCortex ransomware. This variation was discovered by MalwareHunterTeam. It operates by encrypting victims' data, changing their Windows log-in passwords, and demanding ransom payments. During the encryption process, all affected files are appended with the ".m3g4c0rtx" extension. For example, "1.jpg" appears as "1.jpg.m3g4c0rtx". After this process is complete, a Rich Text Format file ("!-!_README_!-!.rtf") is stored on the desktop. M3g4c0rtx also changes the user's Windows account password and, therefore, access is denied when the system is rebooted.

The "!-!_README_!-!.rtf" file contains the ransom message. Victims are informed that their network has been infected with MegaCortex malware. It states that users' credentials (account passwords) have been changed and their data has been encrypted. The cyber criminals behind M3g4c0rtx assert that only they are capable of recovering the compromised data. The message contains two email addresses, which victims are to use to contact the criminals. As 'proof' that file restoration is possible, two encrypted files from any device on the infected network can be sent free of charge for decryption. After this is done, users are promised that they will receive further instructions. Once the ransom is paid, the developers of M3g4c0rtx promise to send decryption software/tools and the modified credentials (log-in information). Furthermore, it is stated that the affected data has been downloaded to a secure location. Victims are warned that should the transaction not be made (i.e., the ransom not paid), the private information will be publicized. Should an agreement be reached and executed, the data will be deleted. It is unclear, whether the criminals actually copy the information - such claims are often false. Most malicious programs of this type use strong encryption, which typically cannot be broken with free tools. Only the software that originally encrypted the files can decrypt them. Regardless, you are strongly advised against meeting the ransom demands or communicating with cyber criminals. Despite paying, users often receive none of the necessary tools to recover their data. Removing M3g4c0rtx will not restore the affected files, however, it will prevent further encryption. The only viable solution is to recover data from a backup, if one was made prior to the infection and stored separately. As for the changed account passwords, there are tools available, which are capable of restoring access to devices.

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

M3g4c0rtx decrypt instructions

M3gac0rtx, HakbitDecrypme, and FuxSocy are just some examples of malware similar to M3g4c0rtx. The common traits of all ransomware include ransom demands and data encryption, however, the cryptographic algorithm they use (symmetric or asymmetric) and ransom sizes often differ. These ransom sums commonly vary between three-digit and four-digit sums. Cyber criminals tend to prefer digital currencies (e.g. cryptocurrencies, pre-paid vouchers, etc.), as 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 generally impossible. To ensure data safety, store 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?

Ransomware and other malware is commonly spread via trojans, spam campaigns, untrustworthy download sources, illegal software activation ("cracking") tools and fake updaters. Trojans are malicious programs, designed to cause chain infections (i.e., they download/install additional malware). Previous variants of MegaCortex were proliferated through network access provided by trojans. Spam campaigns are used to send out thousands of deceptive emails containing infectious attachments (or links leading to them). These emails are usually disguised as "official", "important", "urgent" or as similar priority mail. The dangerous attachments come in various formats (e.g. archive and executable files, Microsoft Office and PDF documents, JavaScript, etc.). Once opened, they begin downloading/installing malicious software. Unofficial and free file-hosting websites, Peer-to-Peer sharing networks (BitTorrent, Gnutella, eMule, etc.) and other third party downloaders are untrustworthy and more likely to offer deceptive and/or bundled content. Software "cracking" tools can download/install malware, rather than activating licensed products. Fake updaters exploit the weaknesses of outdated programs and/or simply install malware, rather than the promised updates.

Threat Summary:
Name M3g4c0rtx virus
Threat Type Ransomware, Crypto Virus, Files locker.
Encrypted Files Extension .m3g4c0rtx
Ransom Demanding Message !-!_README_!-!.rtf
Cyber Criminal Contact Victoriareimann@mail.com and Casiuslerman@mail.com
Detection Names Avast (FileRepMalware), BitDefender (Trojan.GenericKD.32683279), ESET-NOD32 (A Variant Of Win32/Filecoder.NYM), Kaspersky (Trojan.Win32.DelShad.bnp), Full List Of Detections (VirusTotal)
Rogue Process Name Defender
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.
▼ Download Malwarebytes
To use full-featured product, you have to purchase a license for Malwarebytes. 14 days free trial available.

How to protect yourself from ransomware infections?

Do not open suspicious and/or irrelevant emails, especially suspect mail received from unknown senders. Any attachments (or links) found in these emails must never be opened, as they are the source of a potential infection. Programs should be researched and downloaded only from official and verified channels. Software should be activated with tools/functions provided by legitimate developers. Illegal activation tools ("cracks") are high-risk and should not be used. The same extends to software updating. Third party updaters are often bogus and install malware rather than updates. Have a reputable anti-virus/anti-spyware suite installed and kept up-to-date. This software should be used to perform regular system scans and for the removal of detected threats/issues. If your computer is already infected with M3g4c0rtx, we recommend running a scan with Malwarebytes for Windows to automatically eliminate this ransomware.

Text presented in M3g4c0rtx ransomware Rich Text Format file ("!-!_README_!-!.rtf"):

Your company's network has been breached and infected with MegaCortex Malware.

All of your user credentials have been changed and your files have been encrypted.
We ensure that the only way to retrieve your data swiftly and securely is with our software.
Restoration of your data requires a private key which only we possess.

To confirm that our decryption software works email to us 2 files from random computers.
You will receive further instructions after you send us the test files.

After receiving payment we will provide you with the decryptor including its full source code and credentials to your computers.
We have also downloaded your data to a secure location. In the unfortunate event of us not coming to an agreement we will have no choice but to make this data public.
Once the transaction is finalized all of copies of data we have downloaded will be erased.
We will provide any assistance if needed.


Contact emails:
Victoriareimann@mail.com
or
Casiuslerman@mail.com 

Screenshot of files encrypted by M3g4c0rtx (".m3g4c0rtx" extension):

Files encrypted by M3g4c0rtx

Screenshot of M3g4c0rtx process ("Defender") in Task Manager:

m3g4c0rtx ransomware process

Message displayed by M3g4c0rtx ransomware on Windows start-up:

m3g4c0rtx ransomware startup message

M3g4c0rtx ransomware changing Windows user password:

m3g4c0rtx ransomware changes windows password

M3g4c0rtx 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:
▼ DOWNLOAD Malwarebytes By downloading any software listed on this website you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. To use full-featured product, you have to purchase a license for Malwarebytes. 14 days free trial available.

Quick menu:

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: Disconnecting computer from the Internet (step 1)

Click the "Change adapter settings" option in the upper-left corner of the window: Disconnecting computer from the Internet (step 2)

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". Disconnecting computer from the Internet (step 3)

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": Ejecting external storage devices

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).

Identify ransomware-type infection (step 1)

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).

Identify ransomware-type infection (step 2)

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).

Identify ransomware-type infection (step 3)

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):

Identify ransomware-type infection (step 4)

Example 2 (.iso [Phobos] ransomware):

Identify ransomware-type infection (step 5)

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.

Searching for ransomware decryption tools in nomoreransom.org website

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).

▼ Download
EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard Pro

By downloading any software listed on this website you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. Trial version of EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard Pro is capable of scanning drives and listing recoverable files - to restore them, you must purchase a license.

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: Scanning the storage drive with EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard PRO (step 1)

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: Scanning the storage drive with EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard PRO (step 2)

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: Recovering data with EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard Pro

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: Saving scan session in EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard Pro

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.

▼ Download
EaseUS Todo Backup

By downloading any software listed on this website you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. To use full-featured product, you have to purchase a license for EaseUS Todo Backup. 30 days free trial available.

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": Creating data backups with EaseUS Todo Backup tool (step 1)

Select the files you want to backup. You can also enter a name and description of the backup that will be created: Creating data backups with EaseUS Todo Backup tool (step 2)

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: Creating data backups with EaseUS Todo Backup tool (step 3)

Select the settings you want to change and click "Save". You can also reset your changes by clicking "Reset to initial settings": Creating data backups with EaseUS Todo Backup tool (step 4)

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: Creating data backups with EaseUS Todo Backup tool (step 5)

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: Creating data backups with EaseUS Todo Backup tool (step 6)

The best way to avoid damage from ransomware infections is to maintain regular up-to-date backups.

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.

Our malware removal guides are free. However, if you want to support us you can send us a donation.

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
M3g4c0rtx 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 M3g4c0rtx virus on your mobile device.
We Recommend:

Get rid of Windows malware infections today:

▼ REMOVE IT NOW
Download Malwarebytes

Platform: Windows

Editors' Rating for Malwarebytes:
Editors ratingOutstanding!

[Back to Top]

To use full-featured product, you have to purchase a license for Malwarebytes. 14 days free trial available.