How to eliminate Horsedeal ransomware from the operating system?

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

Horsedeal ransomware removal instructions

What is Horsedeal?

Discovered by malware researcher S!Ri, Horsedeal is a malicious program, classified as ransomware. Systems infected with it have their data encrypted, followed by ransom demands for the decryption. During the encryption, all affected files are appended with the ".horsedeal" extension. For example, a file originally titled something like "1.jpg" would appear as "1.jpg.horsedeal". After this process is complete, a text file - "#Decryption#.txt" is dropped onto the desktop, the wallpaper of which is also changed by Horsedeal ransomware.

The text file contains the ransom note. It informs victims that their files have been encrypted. To learn how to decrypt their data, the message states that users must establish contact with Horsedeal's developers. This can be done via ICQ or Jabber instant messaging platforms. There are instructions provided how to install and create an account in Jabber (Pidgin instant messaging client). If these directions are unclear, victims are told to search for installation tutorials on YouTube. The note ends with warnings, alerting users that renaming the encrypted files and/or attempting to decrypt them with third party software - may result in permanent data loss, i.e. render it undecryptable. Unfortunately, in most cases of ransomware infections, decryption is impossible without the interference of cyber criminals responsible. It might be viable, if the malware in question has bugs/flaws and/or is still in development. Whatever the case, it is expressly advised against communicating with and/or meeting the ransom demands of criminals. Often, despite paying - victims do not receive the promised decryption tools/software. Therefore, not only does their data remain encrypted but they also experience significant financial losses. To prevent Horsedeal from further encryptions it must be removed from the operating system. However, removal will not restore already affected files. The only possible solution is recovering the data from a backup. Given, if one was created before the infection and was stored in a separate location.

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

Horsedeal decrypt instructions (#Decryption#.txt)

Ransomware is designed to encrypt files and demand payment for decryption tools/software. OledAdairRemoveme2020 and Jenkins are a few examples of such malicious programs. However, they are far from identical; main differences include, the cryptographic algorithm they use (symmetric or asymmetric) and the ransom size. The sums usually vary between three and four digits (in USD). Cyber criminals tend to prefer cryptocurrencies (though other digital currencies may be used), as transactions of them are difficult/impossible to trace. To protect files from data encrypting and damaging attacks, it is recommended to store backups in remote servers and/or unplugged storage devices. Ideally, multiple backup copies should be kept in several different locations.

How did ransomware infect my computer?

Ransomware and other malware primarily proliferates via spam campaigns, trojans, software "cracking" (activation) tools and fake updaters, as well as through untrustworthy download channels. "Spam campaign" is a term used to define the sending of deceptive emails on a mass scale. These letters are typically presented as "official", "urgent", "important" and "priority" mail. They contain infectious files or links leading to them. The formats can be various, e.g. archive (RAR, ZIP) and executable (.exe, .run) files, Microsoft Office and PDF documents, JavaScript and so on. When they are executed, run or otherwise opened - the infection process is initiated (i.e. they begin downloading/installing malware). Trojans are malicious program with many heinous abilities, which can include download/installation of additional malware. Rather than activate licensed product, "cracking" tools can download/install malicious software. Illegitimate updates infect systems by abusing flaws of outdated programs and/or by simply installing malware instead of the promised updates. Untrustworthy download sources like: unofficial and free file-hosting websites, P2P sharing networks (BitTorrent, Gnutella, eMule, etc.) and other third party downloaders - can offer malicious content (disguised as ordinary products and/or bundled with them).

Threat Summary:
Name Horsedeal virus
Threat Type Ransomware, Crypto Virus, Files locker
Encrypted Files Extension .horsedeal
Ransom Demanding Message #Decryption#.txt
Cyber Criminal Contact icq.im/bigbosshorse (ICQ) and bigbosshorse@xmpp.jp (Jabber)
Detection Names Avast (Win32:Malware-gen), BitDefender (Gen:Heur.Ransom.Imps.1), ESET-NOD32 (A Variant Of Win32/Filecoder.Outsider.C), Kaspersky (Trojan.Win32.DelShad.cdm), Full List Of Detections (VirusTotal)
Rogue Process Name AVG Diagnostics
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

To eliminate Horsedeal virus our malware researchers recommend scanning your computer with Spyhunter.
▼ Download Spyhunter
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 and/or irrelevant emails should not be opened/read, especially ones received from unknown senders (addresses). Any attachments (or links) present in dubious letters - must never be opened, as doing can lead to an infection. All downloads should be done from official and verified sources. Programs should be activated and updated only with tools/functions, provided by legitimate developers; as illegal activation tools ("cracks") and third party updaters are considered to be high-risk. It is paramount to have a dependable anti-virus/anti-spyware suite installed and kept up-to-date with latest updates. Furthermore, this software should be used for regular system scans and removal of detected/potential threats. If your computer is already infected with Horsedeal, we recommend running a scan with Spyhunter for Windows to automatically eliminate this ransomware.

Text presented in Horsedeal ransomware's text file ("#Decryption#.txt"):

All your files have been ENCRYPTED!!!
Write to our ICQ hxxps://icq.im/bigbosshorse
Or contact us via jabber - bigbosshorse@xmpp.jp
Jabber client installation instructions:
Download the jabber (Pidgin) client from hxxps://pidgin.im/download/windows/

After installation, the Pidgin client will prompt you to create a new account.
Click - Add
In the -Protocol field, select XMPP
In -Username - come up with any name
In the field -domain - enter any jabber-server, there are a lot of them, for example - exploit.im
Create a password
At the bottom, put a tick -Create account
Click add
If you selected -domain - exploit.im, then a new window should appear in which you will need to re-enter your data:
User
password
You will need to follow the link to the captcha (there you will see the characters that you need to enter in the field below)
If you don't understand our Pidgin client installation instructions, you can find many installation tutorials on youtube - hxxps://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=pidgin+jabber+install
If you have not received a response from us then we may have technical problems and please write to us using Jaber here bigbosshorse@xmpp.jp or on icq
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.
tell your unique ID -

Screenshot of Horsedeal's desktop wallpaper:

Horsedeal ransomware wallpaper

Screenshot of files encrypted by Horsedeal (".horsedeal" extension):

Files encrypted by Horsedeal ransomware (.horsedeal extension)

Screenshot of Horsedeal's process on Windows Task Manager, disguised as "AVG Diagnostics":

Horsedeal ransomware process on task manager (AVG Diagnostics)

Horsedeal ransomware removal:

Instant automatic removal of Horsedeal virus: 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 Horsedeal virus. 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 Horsedeal 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 Horsedeal 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 Horsedeal 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 Horsedeal 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 Horsedeal, 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 Horsedeal 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 Horsedeal 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
Horsedeal virus QR code
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