Remove LOCKEDS ransomware from the operating system

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

LOCKEDS ransomware removal instructions

What is LOCKEDS?

Belonging to the DCRTR-WDM malware family, LOCKEDS is malicious software classified as ransomware. LOCKEDS encrypts data and keeps it locked until a ransom is paid. During the encryption process, all affected files are renamed with the ".LOCKEDS" extension. For example, "1.jpg" becomes "1.jpg.LOCKEDS". After this process is complete, the "HOW TO DECRYPT FILES.hta" and "HOW TO DECRYPT FILES.txt" files are stored in each compromised folder.

The HTML application and text file both contain ransom messages. The text file informs victims that all data has been encrypted with a unique key. To retrieve it, they must contact the developers of LOCKEDS via the email address listed. The user's personal ID number (detailed in the message) must be copied into the email subject/title. The text file ends with warnings against any delays in making contact, since this might prevent the possibility of decryption. The message within the HTML application is more detailed and states that the size of ransom will depend on how quickly victims establish contact. Payment must be made in the Bitcoin cryptocurrency (instructions about how to procure Bitcoins are also given). To 'prove' their ability to decrypt data, the criminals offer to decrypt one file free of charge. The test file must not exceed 1 MB (non-archived) and contain no valuable information, such as databases, backups, large excel sheets, etc. Attempts to change filenames and decrypt affected files with third party software will apparently result in permanent data loss. Only the software used for the original encryption can recover the data. Despite this, you are strongly against meeting the ransom demands. Cyber criminals can never be trusted and there are no guarantees that these individuals will honor any deal. Victims often receive none of the promised decryption tools/keys, even if they pay. In such cases, the data remains encrypted and essentially useless. Further encryption can be prevented by removing the ransomware, but removal will not restore already compromised data. Files can be recovered from a backup, if 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:

LOCKEDS decrypt instructions

Hakbit2HamlampampomABAT are just some examples of other ransomware infections. Malicious software of this kind encrypts files and requests payment for decryption. There are some crucial differences, such as cryptographic algorithm used (symmetric or asymmetric) andransom size. The latter varies between three-digit and four-digit sums. Digital currencies are preferred by cyber criminals (with cryptocurrencies being the most popular), since these transactions are difficult/impossible to trace. Manual decryption (without the involvement of the cyber criminals behind the infection) is impossible, unless ransomware has flaws/bugs or is still in development. To protect data against encryption/damaging attacks, backups should be kept on remote servers and/or unplugged storage devices. It is best to store multiple backups in different locations.

How did ransomware infect my computer

Ransomware and other malware is typically proliferated via trojans, spam campaigns, dubious download sources, fake software updaters and "cracking" (activation) tools. Trojans are malicious programs designed to cause chain infections (download/install other malware). Massive scale spam campaigns are used to send out emails containing infectious attachments (or web-links leading to them). These emails are usually deceptively marked as "official", "important", "urgent", or similar. The attachments can be in various formats (e.g. archive and executable files, PDF and Microsoft Office documents, JavaScript, etc.). When the attached files are executed, run or otherwise opened, they are triggered to infect the system. Peer-to-Peer sharing networks (BitTorrent, eMule, Gnutella, etc.), unofficial and free file-hosting sites, and other third party downloaders are classed as dubious and untrustworthy. Therefore, they are more likely to offer malicious content. Fake updaters infect systems by exploiting the weaknesses of outdated software, however, they can also install malware rather than the promised updates. Illegal activation "cracking" tools can download/install malware, rather than activate licensed products.

Threat Summary:
Name LOCKEDS virus
Threat Type Ransomware, Crypto Virus, Files locker.
Encrypted Files Extension .LOCKEDS
Ransom Demanding Message HOW TO DECRYPT FILES.hta and HOW TO DECRYPT FILES.txt
Cyber Criminal Contact popca@qq.com
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

Do not open suspicious, irrelevant emails or any attachments or links found in them, since this is the origin of potential infections. Use only official and verified download channels. Software activation and updating should be performed with tools/functions provided by legitimate developers. Illegal activation tools ("cracks") and third party updaters are high-risk. Have a reputable anti-virus/anti-spyware suite installed and kept up-to-date. These programs should be used for regular system scans and removal of detected threats/issues. If your computer is already infected with LOCKEDS, we recommend running a scan with Malwarebytes for Windows to automatically eliminate this ransomware.

Text presented in LOCKEDS ransomware HTML application ("HOW TO DECRYPT FILES.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: popca@qq.com
Write this ID in the title of your message -
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.)
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 LOCKEDS text file ("HOW TO DECRYPT FILES.txt"):

LOCKEDS text file

Text presented in this file:

Good day.
All your documents, databases, photos, videos and staff were encrypted with a unique key.
If you want to return all your files, so write to us by mail: popca@qq.com
In the message attach your unique ID: -
Do not waste your time! You risk losing all your files!

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

Files encrypted by LOCKEDS

LOCKEDS 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 LOCKEDS 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 LOCKEDS 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 LOCKEDS 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 LOCKEDS 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 LOCKEDS, 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 LOCKEDS 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 LOCKEDS 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
LOCKEDS 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 LOCKEDS virus on your mobile device.
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