How to eliminate Octopus ransomware from the system

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

Octopus ransomware removal instructions

What is Octopus?

Octopus is malicious software and part of the Phobos ransomware family. It is designed to prevent victims from accessing their files by encrypting them with a cryptographic algorithm. To decrypt their files (obtain a decryption tool), victims are encouraged to pay a ransom to the cyber criminals who developed Octopus. Furthermore, Octopus renames all encrypted files by adding the victim's ID, email address, and ".octopus" extension to filenames. For example, "1.jpg" might be renamed to something like "1.jpg.id[1E857D00-2275].[octopusdoc@mail.ee].octopus", and so on for all encrypted files. It also stores the "info.txt" and "info.hta" files on the victim's desktop. The first contains instructions about how to contact cyber criminals, whilst the second enables a pop-up window containing a ransom message.

The pop-up window states that Octopus encrypts all files. Victims who wish to restore them are urged to contact the developers via the octopusdoc@airmail.cc or octopusdoc@mail.ee email address. They can also send up to five files, which are decrypted free of charge. In any case, the email must contain the appointed ID. It is stated that the cost of a decryption tool depends on how quickly victims make contact with these cyber criminals. One victim has already contacted them and was asked to pay a ransom of 0.31 in Bitcoins (cryptocurrency), however, other victims might be asked to pay a different amount. Developers of Octopus promise to send a decryption tool after payment, however, it is very likely that they will not keep this promise. Typically, people who pay cyber criminals are scammed and receive no decryption tools or keys. Furthermore, most ransomware-type programs (including Octopus) encrypt files using strong encryption algorithms, and thus files cannot be recovered without tools/keys that can only be provided by the cyber criminals who developed specific ransomware. Therefore, victims with files encrypted by Octopus can only recover their files using a data backup, if one was created before the ransomware attack. Note that files remain encrypted even if ransomware is uninstalled from the system - removing ransomware simply prevents further encryption.

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

Octopus decrypt instructions

Some more examples of malicious software that is classified as ransomware include M3g4c0rtx, Forv, and .James. In most cases, these programs block access to data by encryption and display or create ransom messages. They usually differ only with cost of decryption tool and/or key and encryption algorithm used to lock files. It is generally impossible to decrypt files without tools held by cyber criminals, unless ransomware is not finished (contains bugs, flaws, etc.). In most cases, victims are often tempted to pay ransoms, or they must recover files from a backup. Therefore, have your data backed up and store it on a remote server or unplugged storage device.

How did ransomware infect my computer?

Malware is commonly spread via spam email campaigns, Trojans, unofficial software updaters, 'cracking' tools and untrustworthy software download sources. Cyber criminals use spam campaigns to proliferate malicious programs by sending emails that contain malicious attachments. Typically, these attachments are Microsoft Office documents, archive files (ZIP, RAR and other files) PDF documents, executable files (.exe and others), JavaScript files, and so on. If opened, the attachments infect computers with malicious software (ransomware). Trojans are malicious programs that, if installed, cause chain infections by installing additional malware. Fake software updaters infect computers by downloading and installing malware rather than fixing or updating installed software. They are often designed to exploit bugs/flaws of outdated programs installed on the system. Third party tools that supposedly activate licensed software free of charge often cause installation of malware. Free file hosting, freeware download websites, Peer-to-Peer networks (torrent clients, eMule etc.), third party downloaders and other similar, dubious software download sources/channels can be used to proliferate malicious programs. Cyber criminals disguise infected files as legitimate and hope that regular users will download and open them. If opened, the files cause installation of high-risk malware.

Threat Summary:
Name Octopus virus
Threat Type Ransomware, Crypto Virus, Files locker.
Encrypted Files Extension .octopus
Ransom Demanding Message info.hta (pop-up window) and info.txt.
Ransom Amount One of the victims was asked to pay 0.31 of Bitcoin.
Cyber Criminal Contact octopusdoc@mail.ee, octopusdoc@airmail.cc.
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.
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How to protect yourself from ransomware infections

Attachments in irrelevant emails that are received from unknown, suspicious addresses should not be trusted or opened. The same applies to web links within them. Software should be downloaded from official websites and via direct links. All other tools and sources mentioned above could be used to distribute malicious files and programs. Software should be updated using tools or implemented functions provided by official software developers, and not third party (fake, unofficial) updaters. Various 'cracking' tools that supposedly bypass activation of licensed software are illegal. Furthermore, they can be used to proliferate malware and should never be used. Have reputable antivirus or anti-spyware software installed and scan the operating system with it regularly. If your computer is already infected with Octopus, we recommend running a scan with Malwarebytes for Windows to automatically eliminate this ransomware.

Text presented in Octopus ransomware pop-up ("info.hta"):

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 octopusdoc@mail.ee
Write this ID in the title of your message 1E857D00-2275
In case of no answer in 24 hours write us to this e-mail:octopusdoc@airmail.cc
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 tool that will decrypt all your files.
Free decryption as guarantee
Before paying you can send us up to 5 files for free decryption. The total size of files must be less than 4Mb (non archived), and files should not contain valuable information. (databases,backups, large excel sheets, etc.)
How to obtain Bitcoins
The easiest way to buy bitcoins is LocalBitcoins site. You have to register, click 'Buy bitcoins', and select the seller by payment method and price.
hxxps://localbitcoins.com/buy_bitcoins
Also you can find other places to buy Bitcoins and beginners guide here:
hxxp://www.coindesk.com/information/how-can-i-buy-bitcoins/
Attention!
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 Octopus text file ("info.txt"):

Octopus text file

Text in this file:

!!!All of your files are encrypted!!!
To decrypt them send e-mail to this address: octopusdoc@mail.ee.
If we don't answer in 24h., send e-mail to this address: octopusdoc@airmail.cc

Screenshot of files encrypted by Octopus (".octopus" extension):

Files encrypted by Octopus

Octopus 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:
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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 Octopus 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 Octopus 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 Octopus 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 Octopus 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 Octopus, 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 Octopus 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.

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 Octopus 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 malware activity level today:

Medium threat activity

Increased attack rate of infections detected within the last 24 hours.

QR Code
Octopus 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 Octopus virus on your mobile device.
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