How to uninstall Picocode ransomware?

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

Picocode ransomware removal instructions

What is Picocode?

Picocode was discovered by GrujaRS, this ransomware is an updated version of Pico. Like many other programs of this type, Picocode changes filenames of all encrypted files and creates a ransom note. It renames files by appending the ".picocode#" extension with a certain number added to it. For example, it renames a file named "1.jpg" to "1.jpg.picocode#8523", and so on. Also, it creates a text file named "README.txt", this text file contains instructions on how to pay a ransom (pay for a decryption tool).

As stated in the ransom note ("README.txt"), Picocode encrypts files using 256-bit AES encryption. In order to be able to decrypt files victims have to use a decryption tool that can be purchased from Picocode developers for 0.02 of Bitcoin. They have to transfer this amount of cryptocurrency to the provided BTC wallet address. Also, victims are asked to send the appointed "MactineID" to Discord account named picocode#8523. These cyber criminals promise to send a decryption tool as soon as they will be paid. Unfortunately, ransomware is a type of software that usually encrypts files with a strong encryption algorithm and it is impossible to decrypt them without a tool and/or key that only cyber criminals (developers of a particular ransomware) have. This is the case with Picocode as well. Another problem is that most cyber criminals cannot be trusted, they do not send decryption tools, keys even if they get paid. In other words, victims who pay them tend to get scammed. Typically, the only way to recover files without payment (and risk of getting scammed) is to restore them from a backup. It is worth mentioning that files remain encrypted even after removal of ransomware. However, its removal prevents it from causing possible further encryptions.

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

Picocode decrypt instructions (README.txt)

As we mentioned in the introduction, most ransomware-type software is designed to encrypt victim's files and provide instructions on how to contact its developers/pay a ransom. Two main variables usually are price of a decryption key and/or tool and the cryptographic algorithm (symmetric or asymmetric) that ransomware uses to encrypt files. Here are a couple examples of other programs of this type that are similar to Picocode: njkwe RaaS corporation, Adhubllka and Sivo. Typically, it is impossible to decrypt files without the right tools that can be provided only by cyber criminals who designed ransomware, unless a program is not fully developed, has bugs, flaws, etc. Unluckily, it does not happen often and that is why it is important to keep regular backups and store backed up data on remote server and/or unplugged storage device.

How did ransomware infect my computer?

In most cases ransomware and other malicious software is proliferated through spam campaigns, other malicious software such as Trojans, questionable software download channels/sources, software 'cracking' tools and unofficial, fake software updating tools. When cyber criminals use spam campaigns, they send emails that contain attachments like Microsoft Office documents, Java Script files, PDF documents, executable files (like .exe) and archive files (like ZIP, RAR). Their main goal is to trick recipients into opening the attachment. If opened, it downloads and installs malicious software like ransomware.  Quite often they send emails that contain website links designed to download malicious files as well. Furthermore, cyber criminals spread malware through third party software downloaders, free file hosting of freeware download pages, Peer-to-Peer networks like torrent clients, eMule and other similar sources as well. They upload malicious files that are disguised as legitimate and harmless and hope that someone will download and open them. By opening them users install various malicious software. Trojans are programs that often are designed to cause chain infections. When installed, they install other malicious programs. Unofficial software activation ('cracking') tools supposed to activate software for free. However, those tools often install malicious programs instead. One more common way to spread malware is through fake software updating tools that download and install malware instead of updating software, fixing bugs, and so on. Also, those tools can infect systems by exploiting bugs, flaws of outdated software that is installed on the operating system.

Threat Summary:
Name Picocode virus
Threat Type Ransomware, Crypto Virus, Files locker
Encrypted Files Extension .picocode# followed by a random number
Ransom Demanding Message README.txt
Ransom Amount 0.02 of Bitcoin
Bitcoin Wallet Address 17RaYJ7ULTZARS5nsroGUVRc7g2kF18azM
Cyber Criminal Contact picocode#8523 on Discord
Detection Names Avast (Win32:Trojan-gen), BitDefender (Generic.Ransom.Thanatos.74D3C0EC), ESET-NOD32 (A Variant Of Win32/Filecoder.NSA), Kaspersky (Trojan-Ransom.Win32.Encoder.gvc), 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

To eliminate Picocode 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?

Attachments and/or website links that are presented in irrelevant emails, especially the ones that are sent from unknown addresses should not be opened. Files and programs should be downloaded only from official websites an via direct download links. It is not safe to use any of the sources that we mentioned in the previous paragraph. Furthermore, installed software (and operating system) should be updated with tools or implemented functions that are provided by software developers. Various 'cracking' (unofficial activation) tools should not be used as well. Besides, it is not legal to bypass any activation with tools of this type. On more important thing is to regularly scan the operating system with a reputable antivirus or anti-spyware suite. Tools of this type usually detect and remove threats before they can do any damage to the system. If your computer is already infected with Picocode, we recommend running a scan with Spyhunter for Windows to automatically eliminate this ransomware.

Text presented in Picocode ransomware's text file ("README.txt"):

---------------------------------------------------
  ____    _                __     __  _                      
 |  _ \  (_)   ___    ___  \ \     / /  (_) _ __ _   _  ___
 | |_) |  | |  / __|   / _  \  \ \   / /    | | | '__| | | | | / __|
 |  __/  | | | (__   | (_) |   \  V /     | | | |    | |_| | \__ \
 |_|     |_|  \___|  \___/    \_ /       |_| |_|    \__,_| |___/
                                                              
---------------------------------------------------
                 Pico v1.1

Your files are encrypted.

This means you cannot access your files if they are encrypted you can't watch, edit, use them.
Try something funny and we will delete all your files.

All your files are encrypted with.
256-bit encryption is refers to the length of the encryption key used to encrypt a data stream or file. A hacker or cracker will require 2256 different combinations to break a 256-bit encrypted message, which is virtually impossible to be broken by even the fastest computers.

After 2 minutes of receiving the payment, the decryption tool will be send to you.

To decrypt your files,
follow next steps:

1. Send 100 (0.02 BTC) to the Bitcoin Wallet or other paying method if requested.
Bitcoin wallet: 17RaYJ7ULTZARS5nsroGUVRc7g2kF18azM

2. Send your MachineID to Discord picocode#8523
MactineID:
7b4e8aa0-c141-43b5-8c67-4143269a32e0
---------------------------------------------------
Do not waste your time, files can only be
decrypted by our decode tool.

If you paid the tool will get send by discord to you.

Screenshot of files encrypted by Picocode (".picocode#8523" extension):

Files encrypted by Picocode ransomware (.picocode#8523 extension)

Picocode ransomware removal:

Instant automatic removal of Picocode 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 Picocode 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 Picocode 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 Picocode 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 Picocode 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 Picocode 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 Picocode, 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 Picocode 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 Picocode 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
Picocode 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 Picocode virus on your mobile device.
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