How to avoid data loss caused by Mespinoza ransomware

Also Known As: Mespinoza virus
Distribution: Moderate
Damage level: Severe

Mespinoza ransomware removal instructions

What is Mespinoza?

Discovered by GrujaRS, Mespinoza is malicious software that encrypts data and blocks access to it unless a ransom is paid. Programs of this type are classified as ransomware. Mespinoza adds the ".locked" extension to each encrypted file. For example, "1.jpg" becomes "1.jpg.locked", and so on. It also creates a ransom message within the "Readme.README" file.

The "Readme.README" ransom message states that this ransomware encrypts all files and backups. To recover them, victims are encouraged to contact the cyber criminals who designed Mespinoza via the alanson_street8@protonmail.com or lambchristoffer@protonmail.com email address. They can attach up to two encrypted files, which cannot exceed 2 MB - cyber criminals offer to decrypt these free of charge. Victims are warned not to restart their computers or move encrypted files. Further instructions should be provided after sending an email to them. Typically, programs of this type encrypt files with strong encryption algorithms, and thus victims cannot decrypt their files without the correct decryption tools. Unfortunately, only the cyber criminals who designed the ransomware have valid tools/keys. Note, however, that they tend not to send any of the promised tools/keys even if victims meet all demands (contact and pay them). Since there are no free tools capable Mespinoza file decryption, the only way to recover data without having to pay a ransom is to restore files from a backup. Files will remain encrypted even if ransomware is removed from the system - removing ransomware simply prevents it from causing further encryption.

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

Mespinoza decrypt instructions

Generally, ransomware-type programs lock (encrypt) files and create or display ransom messages that contain instructions about how to contact and/or pay ransoms to cyber criminals. Main differences are usually cryptographic algorithm (symmetric or asymmetric) that is used to encrypt files and cost of a decryption tool and/or key. Some examples of other ransomware-type malware includes Corpseworm, Lokf, and LOCKEDS. In most cases, victims cannot recover files without tools held only by cyber criminals who the designed ransomware, unless (in rare cases) ransomware contains bugs/flaws, is not finished, or victims have data backed up. Therefore, maintain backups and store them on a remote server and/or unplugged storage device.

How did ransomware infect my computer?

Computers are infected with malicious programs through spam campaigns, fake software updaters, Trojans, unofficial, untrustworthy software download sources, and unofficial activation tools. Systems become infected via spam campaigns when cyber criminals send emails that contain malicious attachments and recipients open them. They disguise these emails as official, important, and so on, and hope that people will download and open the attached file or website link, which downloads a malicious file. Typically, they attach Microsoft Office, PDF documents, JavaScript, executable (.exe) files, archives such as ZIP, RAR, etc. Fake software updating tools usually infect systems by exploiting bugs/flaws of outdated software installed on the system or by installing malicious software rather than updates. Trojans are malicious programs that, if installed, cause chain infections. Most Trojans infect computers with additional malware. Examples of dubious software download sources are freeware download pages, free file hosting websites, Peer-to-Peer (P2P) networks such as torrent clients, eMule, unofficial sites, and so on. People who use these tools/sources to download files and/or programs risk downloading malicious files disguised as legitimate. If opened, the files install malware. Unofficial software activation ('cracking') tools supposedly activate licensed programs free of charge (bypassing paid activation), however, cyber criminals use them to distribute malware.

Threat Summary:
Name Mespinoza virus
Threat Type Ransomware, Crypto Virus, Files locker.
Encrypted Files Extension .locked
Ransom Demanding Message Readme.README
Cyber Criminal Contact alanson_street8@protonmail.com, lambchristoffer@protonmail.com.
Detection Names ALYac (Trojan.Ransom.Mespinoza), BitDefender (Gen:Heur.Ransom.REntS.Gen.1), ESET-NOD32 (A Variant Of Win32/Filecoder.NYO), Kaspersky (Trojan.Win32.Zudochka.dlu), 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.
Removal

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How to protect yourself from ransomware infections

Do not open attachments or web links attached to irrelevant emails. In many cases, these emails are sent from unknown, suspicious addresses. Cyber criminals usually disguise their emails as important, official, etc. Keep installed software up-to-date, however, use implemented functions and tools provided by official software developers. Files should be downloaded from official and trustworthy websites, and via direct links. Other sources/tools (examples are mentioned above) should not be trusted. It illegal to activate software using unofficial activation ('cracking') tools. Furthermore, they often infect systems by installing malware. Therefore, never use tools of this type. Regularly scan the operating system with a reputable antivirus or anti-spyware suite. Keep this software up-to-date. If your computer is already infected with Mespinoza, we recommend running a scan with Spyhunter for Windows to automatically eliminate this ransomware.

Text presented in Mespinoza ransomware text file ("Readme.README"):

Hi Company,

Every byte on any types of your devices was encrypted.
Don't try to use backups because it were encrypted too.

To get all your data back contact us:
alanson_street8@protonmail.com
lambchristoffer@protonmail.com
--------------

FAQ:

1.
   Q: How can I make sure you don't fooling me?
   A: You can send us 2 files(max 2mb).

2.
   Q: What to do to get all data back?
   A: Don't restart the computer, don't move files and write us.

3.
   Q: What to tell my boss?
   A: Shit happens.

Screenshot of files encrypted by Mespinoza (".locked" extension):

Files encrypted by Mespinoza

Mespinoza ransomware removal:

Instant automatic malware removal: Manual threat removal might be a lengthy and complicated process that requires advanced computer skills. Spyhunter 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 Mespinoza 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 Mespinoza 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 Mespinoza 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 Mespinoza 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 Mespinoza, 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 Mespinoza 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 Mespinoza 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
Mespinoza virus QR code
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