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How to remove MT88 ransomware from the operating system

Also Known As: MT88 virus
Distribution: Low
Damage level: Severe

MT88 ransomware removal instructions

What is MT88?

MT88 is a malicious program belonging to the Matrix ransomware family. It is designed to encrypt data and demand ransom payments for decryption. During the encryption process, affected files are renamed using the following pattern: "[MarkTrue88@protonmail.com].[random_string].MT88". For example, following encryption, "1.jpg" might appear as something similar to "[MarkTrue88@protonmail.com].4j03ZPDY-IOlEpJJV.MT88", and so on. After this process is finished, MT88 stores a ransom message ("!MT88_README!.rtf") in each existing folder and five additional files on the victim's desktop. The five desktop files are: "log.txt", "LFIN_[random_string].txt", "bad_[random_string].txt", "[random_string].exe", and "ALL_dmpfl.fldp".

The text presented in the ransom message ("!MT88_README!.rtf") informs victims that their data has been encrypted with the AES-128+RSA-2048 cryptographic algorithms. It also states that files can only be decrypted with a unique decryption key (generated individually for each victim) and software designed specifically for this purpose. Users are warned that manual decryption with third party software will result in permanent data loss. There are several email addresses listed for the purpose of contacting the developers of MT88. Victims are instructed to send to the main address and only if no response arrives within 24 hours (and is not present in the "Junk/Spam" folders) should the secondary emails should be used. The victims' messages must be in English. If this is not possible, they are urged to use a professional translator. The title/subject field of the message must contain their personal ID (listed in the ransom message). To 'prove' that decryption is viable, free decryption of up to three files is offered. The total size of these files cannot exceed 5 MB. The test files also cannot contain valuable information (likely implying that it cannot be a database, backup, large excel sheet or similar). The ransom size for decryption tools/software is not stated, but the preferred currency is the Bitcoin cryptocurrency. After the transaction is made, users are promised that they will receive the necessary automatic tools and keys, which will supposedly quickly and safely restore all affected files. In most cases of ransomware infections, manual decryption is impossible. Regardless, you are strongly advised against meeting the ransom demands of cyber criminals. Despite paying, users often receive none of the promised software/keys, and their data remains encrypted and useless. To prevent further encryption by this malware, it must be removed form the system. Note, however, that removing MT88 will not restored already compromised files. The only solution is to restore data from a backup, if one was made prior to the infection and stored in a separate location.

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

MT88 decrypt instructions

MapoDeathRansomCalum, and ROGER are a few examples of other ransomware programs. This malicious software is created to encrypt files and demand payment for decryption. These infections are not identical, and differ by cryptographic algorithm they use (symmetric or asymmetric) and the ransom size. The latter ranges between three-digit and four-digit sums (in USD) - lesser/larger ransoms are rare. Digital currencies (primarily, cryptocurrencies) are preferred by cyber criminals, as these transactions are difficult/impossible to trace. Unless ransomware is still in development and/or has crucial flaws (bugs), decryption without the involvement of the developers is impossible. To ensure data safety, backups should be kept on unplugged storage devices and/or remote servers. It is best to store multiple backups in different locations.

How did ransomware infect my computer?

Ransomware and other malware mainly proliferates via trojans, spam campaigns, illegal activation ("cracking") tools, fake updaters and untrustworthy/dubious download sources. Trojans are a type of malware, designed to cause chain infections (i.e., they download/install additional malicious programs). Spam campaigns are used to send thousands of deceptive emails, containing dangerous files (or links leading to them). The messages are typically disguised as "official", "urgent", "important" and so on. The attached files come in various formats (e.g. archive and executable files, Microsoft Office and PDF documents, JavaScript, etc.). When executed, run or otherwise opened, they initiate the infection. Rather than activating licensed products, illegal activation ("cracking") tools can download/install malware. Fake updaters infect system by exploiting flaws in outdated software and/or install malware rather than the updates. Untrustworthy download channels, such as unofficial and free file-hosting websites, P2P sharing networks (BitTorrent, eMule, Gnutella, etc.) and other third party downloaders are far more likely to offer malicious content (disguised as normal software and/or bundled with it).

Threat Summary:
Name MT88 virus
Threat Type Ransomware, Crypto Virus, Files locker.
Encrypted Files Extension .MT88 extension (files are also appended with the developer's email address and a random string of characters).
Ransom Demanding Message !MT88_README!.rtf
Cyber Criminal Contact MarkTrue88@protonmail.com, MarkTrue88@tutanota.com and MarkTrue88@airmail.cc
Detection Names Avast (Win32:Malware-gen), BitDefender (Generic.Ransom.Matrix.D05DCFE5), ESET-NOD32 (A Variant Of Win32/Filecoder.LockedFile.I), Kaspersky (HEUR:Trojan-Ransom.Win32.Agent.gen), 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)

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How to protect yourself from ransomware infections

Suspicious/Irrelevant emails should not be opened. This extends to any attachments (or links) found in suspect mail. They must never be opened, as these files are the source of a potential infection. You are strongly advised to use only official and verified download channels, as opposed to sharing networks and other third party downloaders. Software activation and updating should be performed with tools/functions provided by genuine developers. Illegal activation tools ("cracks") and third party updaters carry a risk of malware installation. Have a reputable anti-virus/anti-spyware suite installed and kept up-to-date. Use these programs to perform regular system scans and remove detected threats/issues. If your computer is already infected with MT88, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows to automatically eliminate this ransomware.

Appearance of the MT88 ransomware ransom message (GIF):

MT88 ransom note (GIF)

Text presented in this file ("!MT88_README!.rtf"):

HOW TO RECOVER YOUR FILES?
WE HAVE TO INFORM YOU THAT ALL YOUR FILES WERE ENCRYPTED!

PLEASE BE SURE THAT YOUR FILES ARE NOT BROKEN!
Your files were encrypted with AES-128+RSA-2048 crypto algorithms.
* Please note that there is no way to decrypt your files without unique decryption key and special software. Your unique decryption key is securely stored on our server.
* Please note that all the attempts to recover your files by yourself or using third party tools will result only in irrevocable loss of your data!
* Please note that you can recover files only with your unique decryption key, which stored on our server.

HOW TO RECOVER FILES?
Please write us to the e-mail, we will send you instruction how to recover your data.
Our main e-mail:                MarkTrue88@protonmail.com

Our secondary e-mail:    MarkTrue88@tutanota.com
Our secondary e-mail:    MarkTrue88@airmail.cc

Please write to our main e-mail. If you will not receive answer in 24 hours, please write to our secondary e-mails! Please always check SPAM folder!
* Write on English or use professional translator

In subject line write your personal ID: -

For your assurance you can attach up to 3 small encrypted files to your message. We will decrypt and send you decrypted files for free.
*   Please note that files must not contain any valuable information and their total size must be less than 5Mb.

Please don't worry, we can help you to RESTORE your server to original
state and decrypt all your files quickly and safely!

OUR HELP!
You have to pay for our help in Bitcoin Cryptocurrency.
Immidiately after payment we will send you (by e-mail) automatic decryption tool and your unique decryption key. You just have to start decryption tool on your server and all files will be automatically decrypted. All original file names will be restored too.

Screenshot of files encrypted by MT88 (".MT88" extension):

Files encrypted by MT88

Screenshot of files stored on the desktop by MT88 ransomware ("bad_[random_string].txt", "log.txt", "LFIN_[random_string].txt", "[random_string].exe", "ALL_dmpfl.fldp"):

MT88 ransomware files dropped onto the desktop

Screenshots of these files:

MT88 ransomware file 1 MT88 ransomware file 2 MT88 ransomware file 3 MT88 ransomware file 4

MT88 ransomware removal:

Instant automatic malware removal: Manual threat removal might be a lengthy and complicated process that requires advanced computer skills. Combo Cleaner 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:

Reporting ransomware to authorities:

If you are a victim of a ransomware attack we recommend reporting this incident to authorities. By providing information to law enforcement agencies you will help track cybercrime and potentially assist in the prosecution of the attackers. Here's a list of authorities where you should report a ransomware attack. For the complete list of local cybersecurity centers and information on why you should report ransomware attacks, read this article.

List of local authorities where ransomware attacks should be reported (choose one depending on your residence address):

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 ransomware that is not supported by ID Ransomware, you can always try searching the internet by using certain keywords (for example, a ransom message title, file extension, provided contact emails, crypto wallet 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, cybercriminals 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 the Recuva tool developed by CCleaner. 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). In addition, the recovery feature is completely free.

Step 1: Perform a scan.

Run the Recuva application and follow the wizard. You will be prompted with several windows allowing you to choose what file types to look for, which locations should be scanned, etc. All you need to do is select the options you're looking for and start the scan. We advise you to enable the "Deep Scan" before starting, otherwise, the application's scanning capabilities will be restricted.

Recuva data recovery tool wizard

Wait for Recuva 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 hundred 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:

Recuva data recovery tool scan time

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:

Recuva data recovery tool recovering data

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 the necessary information on Microsoft's documentation web page.

Data backups: One of the most reliable backup methods 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 the 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, although it's a really rare occasion.

We recommend using Microsoft OneDrive for backing up your files. OneDrive lets you store your personal files and data in the cloud, sync files across computers and mobile devices, allowing you to access and edit your files from all of your Windows devices. OneDrive lets you save, share and preview files, access download history, move, delete, and rename files, as well as create new folders, and much more.

You can back up your most important folders and files on your PC (your Desktop, Documents, and Pictures folders). Some of OneDrive’s more notable features include file versioning, which keeps older versions of files for up to 30 days. OneDrive features a recycling bin in which all of your deleted files are stored for a limited time. Deleted files are not counted as part of the user’s allocation.

The service is built using HTML5 technologies and allows you to upload files up to 300 MB via drag and drop into the web browser or up to 10 GB via the OneDrive desktop application. With OneDrive, you can download entire folders as a single ZIP file with up to 10,000 files, although it can’t exceed 15 GB per single download.

OneDrive comes with 5 GB of free storage out of the box, with an additional 100 GB, 1 TB, and 6 TB storage options available for a subscription-based fee. You can get one of these storage plans by either purchasing additional storage separately or with Office 365 subscription.

Creating a data backup:

The backup process is the same for all file types and folders. Here’s how you can back up your files using Microsoft OneDrive

Step 1: Choose the files/folders you want to backup.

Click the OneDrive icon in the taskbar

Click the OneDrive cloud icon to open the OneDrive menu. While in this menu, you can customize your file backup settings.

Select Help & Settings and click Settings

Click Help & Settings and then select Settings from the drop-down menu.

Select the Backup tab and click Manage backup

Go to the Backup tab and click Manage backup.

Select folders to backup and click Start backup

In this menu, you can choose to backup the Desktop and all of the files on it, and Documents and Pictures folders, again, with all of the files in them. Click Start backup.

Now, when you add a file or folder in the Desktop and Documents and Pictures folders, they will be automatically backed up on OneDrive.

To add folders and files, not in the locations shown above, you have to add them manually.

Select a file manually and copy it

Open File Explorer and navigate to the location of the folder/file you want to backup. Select the item, right-click it, and click Copy.

Paste the copied file in the OneDrive folder to create a backup

Then, navigate to OneDrive, right-click anywhere in the window and click Paste. Alternatively, you can just drag and drop a file into OneDrive. OneDrive will automatically create a backup of the folder/file.

File statuses in OneDrive folder

All of the files added to the OneDrive folder are backed up in the cloud automatically. The green circle with the checkmark in it indicates that the file is available both locally and on OneDrive and that the file version is the same on both. The blue cloud icon indicates that the file has not been synced and is available only on OneDrive. The sync icon indicates that the file is currently syncing.

Click Help & Settings and click View Online

To access files only located on OneDrive online, go to the Help & Settings drop-down menu and select View online.

Click the Settings cog and click Options

Step 2: Restore corrupted files.

OneDrive makes sure that the files stay in sync, so the version of the file on the computer is the same version on the cloud. However, if ransomware has encrypted your files, you can take advantage of OneDrive’s Version history feature that will allow you to restore the file versions prior to encryption.

Microsoft 365 has a ransomware detection feature that notifies you when your OneDrive files have been attacked and guide you through the process of restoring your files. It must be noted, however, that if you don’t have a paid Microsoft 365 subscription, you only get one detection and file recovery for free.

If your OneDrive files get deleted, corrupted, or infected by malware, you can restore your entire OneDrive to a previous state. Here’s how you can restore your entire OneDrive:

restore-your-onedrive

1. If you're signed in with a personal account, click the Settings cog at the top of the page. Then, click Options and select Restore your OneDrive.

If you're signed in with a work or school account,  click the Settings cog at the top of the page. Then, click Restore your OneDrive.

2. On the Restore your OneDrive page, select a date from the drop-down list. Note that if you're restoring your files after automatic ransomware detection, a restore date will be selected for you.

3. After configuring all of the file restoration options, click Restore to undo all the activities you selected.

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

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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.

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