How to remove Dharma (.WHY) ransomware from the operating system

Also Known As: Dharma (.WHY) virus
Distribution: Low
Damage level: Severe

Dharma (.WHY) ransomware removal instructions

What is Dharma (.WHY)?

Discovered by Raby, Dharma (.WHY) is a malicious program, which is part of the Crysis/Dharma ransomware family. Systems infected with this program have data encrypted and users receive ransom demands for decryption. When Dharma (.WHY) encrypts, compromised files are renamed following this pattern: original filename, victim's unique ID, cyber criminals' email address and the ".WHY" extension. For example, a file such as "1.jpg" would appear as "1.jpg.id-1E857D00.[mr.crypteur@protonmail.com].WHY" after encryption. Once this process is complete, a text file ("FILES ENCRYPTED.txt") is created on the desktop and a pop-up window is displayed.

The text file states that data has been locked and, if victims wish to recover it, they must send a message using the email addresses listed. The pop-up contains a more detailed ransom message, which informs users that their files have been encrypted and their email messages must include the IDs assigned to them. Should the criminals behind the infection fail to respond within 12 hours, victims can use the secondary email address. The message ends with warnings to users that renaming encrypted files and/or attempting decryption with third party tools/software might cause permanent data loss. Unfortunately, in many cases of ransomware infections, file recovery without the involvement of cyber criminals responsible is impossible, unless the malware is still in development and/or has bugs/flaws. Regardless of the circumstances, you are strongly advised against communicating with and/or meeting the demands of cyber criminals. Despite paying the ransom, victims do not receive the promised decryption tools. Therefore, their data remains encrypted and they experience significant financial loss. To prevent further encryption, Dharma (.WHY) ransomware must be eliminated from the operating system, however, removal will not restore already affected files. The only viable solution is to recover them from a backup, if one was made 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:

Dharma (.WHY) decrypt instructions (pop-up)

Ransomware is designed to encrypt data and request ransoms to be paid for decryption tools/software. BhacksDRVHellomynameisransom, and Bboo are some examples of malware within this classification. Note that they are not identical and there are two main differences: the cryptographic algorithm they use (symmetric or asymmetric) and ransom size. The ransoms tend to range from three-digits to four-digits (in USD). Digital currencies (usually, cryptocurrencies) are stipulated for these payments, as these transactions are difficult/impossible to trace. To ensure data safety, backups should be stored on remote servers and/or unplugged storage devices. Ideally, multiple backup copies should be kept in several different locations.

How did ransomware infect my computer?

The main ways that ransomware and other malware proliferate is via trojans, spam campaigns, software "cracking" (activation) tools and fake updaters, and through untrusted download channels. Trojans are malicious programs designed to cause chain infections (i.e., download/install additional malware). The term "spam campaign" defines deceptive/scam emails sent on a mass scale. This mail is typically disguised as "official", "urgent", "important", "priority" and similar. The emails have infectious files attached or contain links leading to them. These attachments can appear in various formats (e.g. Microsoft Office and PDF documents, archive and executable files, JavaScript, etc.). When a dangerous file is opened, the infection process starts. Illegal activation tools ("cracks") can download/install malicious software, rather than activating your chosen product. Rogue updaters infect systems by exploiting flaws of outdated programs and/or simply installing malware rather than the promised updates. Untrustworthy download sources such as unofficial and free file-hosting sites, Peer-to-Peer sharing networks (BitTorrent, eMule, Gnutella, etc.) and other third party downloaders can offer malware by presenting it as normal content and/or pre-packing it with other software.

Threat Summary:
Name Dharma (.WHY) virus
Threat Type Ransomware, Crypto Virus, Files locker.
Encrypted Files Extension .WHY (files are also appended with a unique ID and cyber criminals' email address).
Ransom Demand Message FILES ENCRYPTED.txt and text presented in the pop-up window.
Cyber Criminal Contact mr.crypteur@protonmail.com and mr.crypteur@tutanota.com
Detection Names Avast (Win32:RansomX-gen [Ransom]), BitDefender (Trojan.Ransom.Crysis.E), ESET-NOD32 (A Variant Of Win32/Filecoder.Crysis.P), Kaspersky (Trojan-Ransom.Win32.Crusis.to), 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)

To eliminate possible malware infections, scan your computer with legitimate antivirus software. Our security researchers recommend using Malwarebytes.
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How to protect yourself from ransomware infections

Do not open suspicious and/or irrelevant emails, especially those received from unknown addresses. Any attachments or links present in dubious messages must never be opened, as these files are the potential source of an infection. Use only official and verified downloads. Programs should be activated and updated with tools/functions provided by legitimate developers. Illegal activation ("cracking") tools and third party updaters should be avoided, as they can download/install malware. Have reputable anti-virus/anti-spyware installed and kept up-to-date - used it to perform regular system scans and for the removal of detected threats/issues. If your computer is already infected with Dharma (.WHY), we recommend running a scan with Malwarebytes for Windows to automatically eliminate this ransomware.

Text presented in Dharma (.WHY) ransomware pop-up window:

YOUR FILES ARE ENCRYPTED
Don't worry,you can return all your files!
If you want to restore them, follow this link:email mr.crypteur@protonmail.com YOUR ID 1E857D00
If you have not been answered via the link within 12 hours, write to us by e-mail:mr.crypteur@tutanota.com
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.

Screenshot of Dharma (.WHY) text file ("FILES ENCRYPTED.txt"):

Dharma (.WHY) ransomware text file (FILES ENCRYPTED.txt)

Text presented in this file:

all your data has been locked us
You want to return?
write email mr.crypteur@protonmail.com or mr.crypteur@tutanota.com 

Screenshot of files encrypted by Dharma (.WHY) (".WHY" extension):

Files encrypted by Dharma (.WHY) ransomware (.WHY extension)

Dharma (.WHY) ransomware removal:

Instant automatic malware removal: Manual threat removal might be a lengthy and complicated process that requires advanced computer skills. Malwarebytes 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 Dharma (.WHY) 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 Dharma (.WHY) 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 Dharma (.WHY) 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 Dharma (.WHY) 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 Dharma (.WHY), 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 Dharma (.WHY) 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 Dharma (.WHY) 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
Dharma (.WHY) virus QR code
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