How to remove Clown ransomware from your operating system

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

Clown ransomware removal instructions

What is Clown?

Discovery by GrujaRS, Clown is malicious software classified as ransomware. This malware is designed to encrypt the data of infected systems and then demand payment for decryption. When Clown encrypts, affected files are renamed completely using the "[][id=1E857D00]ORIGINAL_FILENAME.clown+" pattern. For example, a file originally named "1.jpg" would appear as something like "[][id=1E857D00]1.jpg.clown+" following encryption. After this process, an HTML application ("!!! READ THIS !!!.hta") and a text file ("HOW TO RECOVER ENCRYPTED FILES.txt") is stored on the victim's desktop.

The files created on the desktop are practically identical ransom messages. They inform users that all of their data has been encrypted. To restore it, they must establish contact with Clown's developers via the email address provided. Victims' messages must include their IDs in the title/subject field (the code can be found in "!!! READ THIS !!!.hta", "HOW TO RECOVER ENCRYPTED FILES.txt" and within the altered filenames). Recovery requires decryption software and keys, which can be purchased from the cyber criminals behind this ransomware. Users are alerted that they should not delay contacting the developers, as their decryption keys will only be stored for a week. Therefore, decryption will no longer be possible following this period. Additionally, the speed with which victims respond dictates the ransom size. Payments must be made in the Bitcoin cryptocurrency, and the messages contain links detailing how to and from where to obtain this digital currency. Before paying, users are permitted to send one encrypted file to test decryption. It is then restored to its original state as 'guarantee' that recovery is possible. The file must be no larger than 1 MB (non-archived) and contain no valuable information (databases, backups, large excel sheets, etc.). Users are warned that renaming the encrypted files and/or attempting to decrypt them with third party software can lead to permanent data loss. In most cases of ransomware infections, decryption is impossible without the involvement of the individuals responsible, unless the malicious program is still in development and/or has key flaws/bugs. Regardless of the circumstances, you are strongly advised against meeting the demands of cyber criminals. Despite paying victims often receive none of the necessary tools/software to decrypt their files. Therefore, they remain encrypted and useless. Removing Clown will prevent it from further encryption, however, removal will not restore already compromised data. The only solution is to recover it from a backup, if one was made prior to the infection and was stored in a different location.

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

Clown decrypt instructions (!!! READ THIS !!!.hta)

Ransomware is designed to encrypt data and extort money from innocent users. WannaScreamm461c14n, and Roll Safe are some examples of such malware. These infections do have certain differences: the cryptographic algorithm (symmetric or asymmetric) used for encryption and ransom size. Cyber criminals prefer digital currencies (mainly cryptocurrencies), as these transactions are difficult/impossible to trace. To ensure data safety - backups should be kept on remote servers and/or unplugged storage devices. Ideally, multiple backups should be stored in several different locations.

How did ransomware infect my computer?

Malicious content (ransomware and other malware) is spread through trojans, spam campaigns, illegal activation tools ("cracks"), bogus updaters and untrustworthy download channels. Trojans are malicious programs capable of causing chain infections (i.e., they download/install additional malware). Mass scale spam campaigns are used to send emails with infectious files attached to them (or linked in the messages). This mail is usually presented as "official", "important", "urgent" and so on. The attachments come in various formats (e.g. archive and executable files, Microsoft Office and PDF documents, JavaScript, etc.). When these files are opened, the infection process begins. Illegal activation ("cracking") tools can download/install malicious programs rather than activating licensed products. Fake updaters cause infections by misusing flaws of outdated software and/or simply installing malware, rather than the promised updates. Untrustworthy download sources such as unofficial and free file-hosting sites, P2P sharing networks (BitTorrent, eMule, Gnutella, etc.) and other third party downloaders can offer malicious content (e.g. presented as regular programs and/or bundled with them).

Threat Summary:
Name Clown virus
Threat Type Ransomware, Crypto Virus, Files locker.
Encrypted Files Extension .clown+ (files are completely renamed with the developer's email address and unique ID).
Ransom Demanding Message !!! READ THIS !!!.hta and HOW TO RECOVER ENCRYPTED FILES.txt
Cyber Criminal Contact
Detection Names Avast (Win32:Malware-gen), BitDefender (DeepScan:Generic.Ransom.DMR.B29526), McAfee (Artemis!4F4135FC5B67), Kaspersky (UDS:DangerousObject.Multi.Generic), 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.

To eliminate malware infections our security researchers recommend scanning your computer with Spyhunter.
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Free scanner checks if your computer is infected. To remove malware, you have to purchase the full version of Spyhunter.

How to protect yourself from ransomware infections

Suspicious/Irrelevant emails should not be opened, especially those received from unknown senders. Any attachments or links found in suspect mail must never be opened, since doing so can lead to an infection. You are advised to use official and verified download channels. Software should be activated and updated using functions/tools provided by genuine developers. Illegal activation ("cracking") tools and third party updaters are high-risk and should be avoided. Have a reputable anti-virus/anti-spyware suite installed and kept up-to-date. Furthermore, this should be used for regular system scans and elimination of detected/potential threats. If your computer is already infected with Clown, we recommend running a scan with Spyhunter for Windows to automatically eliminate this ransomware.

Text presented in Clown ransomware HTML application ("!!! READ THIS !!!.hta"):

All your files have been encrypted!
Your documents, photos, databases and other important files have been encrypted with strongest encryption. you can return all your files if you want to restore files, write us to the e-mail:
Write this ID in the subject e-mail:1E857D00
It is in your interest to respond as soon as possible to ensure the restoration of your files, because we wont keep your decryption keys at our server more than one week. The price depends on how fast you write to us.
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
You can buy bitcoin from here:
Also you can find other places to buy Bitcoins and beginners guide here:
Do not rename encrypted files.
Using another tools could corrupt your files, in case of using third party software we don't give guarantees that full recovery is possible so use it on your own risk.

Screenshot of Clown text file ("HOW TO RECOVER ENCRYPTED FILES.txt"):

Clown ransomware text file (HOW TO RECOVER ENCRYPTED FILES.txt)

Text presented in this file:

Clown ransomware
Your unique ID:"1E857D00"

All personal files on your computer are encrypted!
Don't worry, you can restore all your files.
Without the original key recovery is impossible.
If you want to decrypt your files, you have to pay in Bitcoin.
The price depends on how fast you write to us.
If you want to restore files, write us to the e-mail: ""
It is in your interest to respond as soon as possible to ensure the restoration of your files,
because we won't keep your decryption keys at our server more than one week because of our security.

Free decryption as guarantee:
Before paying to send us up to 1 file for free decryption. The total size of the file must be less
than 1Mb (the file should not be important to you).

You can buy bitcoin from here:
You can find other places to buy Bitcoins and beginners guide here:                       

1-Using other tools could corrupt your files, in case of using third party software we don't give
guarantees that full recovery is possible.
2-Please do not change the name of files or file extension if your files are important to you!

Screenshot of files encrypted by Clown (".clown+" extension):

Files encrypted by Clown ransomware (.clown+ extension)

Clown 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:
▼ DOWNLOAD Spyhunter By downloading any software listed on this website you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. Free scanner checks if your computer is infected. To remove malware, you have to purchase the full version of Spyhunter.

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 Clown 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 Clown 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 Clown 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 Clown 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 Clown, 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 Clown 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 Clown 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 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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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
Clown 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 Clown virus on your mobile device.
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