How to remove NEFILIM ransomware from the operating system

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

NEFILIM ransomware removal instructions

What is NEFILIM?

NEFILIM is a malicious program categorized as ransomware. It operates by encrypting the files of infected systems in order to demand payment for decryption tools/software. During the encryption process, all compromised files are appended with the ".NEFILIM" extension. For example, a file originally named something like "1.jpg" would appear as "1.jpg.NEFILIM" following encryption. Once this process is complete, a ransom message within "NEFILIM-DECRYPT.txt" is created on the victims' desktops.

The ransom demand message ("NEFILIM-DECRYPT.txt") informs victims that their data has been encrypted. According to this message, the developers of NEFILIM ransomware have designed it to encrypt data  with cryptographic algorithms that cannot be broken with third party software. Decryption is impossible without the unique decryption key, which is held by the cyber criminals behind the infection. These criminals promise to quickly and safely recover the affected data, if their demands are met. Additionally, they claim to have exfiltrated a large amount of users' data, and if they do not establish contact within seven working days, these files will be leaked (publicized) online. After contact is made via email, victims are informed that they will be provided with 'proof' that this threat is not a hoax and some files have indeed been stolen. To ensure that decryption is possible, users can send two encrypted files to test it. Unfortunately, in many cases of ransomware infections, decryption is impossible without the involvement of the cyber criminals responsible, unless the malware is still in development or has bugs/flaws. Whatever the case, you are strongly advised against communicating with or meeting the demands of any criminals. Despite paying, victims do not receive the necessary tools/software to recover their data. Therefore, it remains encrypted and useless, and people can experience significant financial loss. To prevent NEFILIM from further encryption, it must be eliminated from the operating system, however, removal will not restore already compromised data. The only viable solution is to recover files from a backup, if one was created before the infection and was stored in a separate location (so as not to have been affected by NEFILIM).

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

NEFILIM decrypt instructions (NEFILIM-DECRYPT.txt)

EightCoronaVi2022MDEN, and Horseleader are some examples of other ransomware infections. Malicious programs within this classification encrypt data and demand payment for decryption. There are two main differences: the cryptographic algorithm they use (symmetric or asymmetric) and ransom size. The latter tends to very between three and four digit sums, but in some cases they can be in the five digit range (in USD). Cyber criminals usually prefer digital currencies (e.g. cryptocurrencies, pre-paid vouchers, etc.), as these transactions are difficult/impossible to trace. To avoid permanent data loss, you are advised to keep backups on remote servers and/or unplugged storage devices (ideally, in multiple different locations).

How did ransomware infect my computer?

Malware (including ransomware) typically proliferates via trojans, spam campaigns, illegal activation tools ("cracks"), fake updaters and untrusted download sources. Trojans are malicious programs that have many dangerous capabilities, which can include download/installation of additional malware (i.e., causing chain infections). The term "spam campaign" describes large scale operations, during which thousands of deceptive/scam emails are sent. These messages can have infectious files attached to (or linked inside) them. Infectious files can be in various formats (e.g. Microsoft Office and PDF documents, archive and executable files, JavaScript, etc.). When they are opened, the infection process is triggered. Rather than activating licensed products, illegal activation ("cracking") tools can cause infections. Fake updaters infect systems by exploiting outdated products and/or simply installing malware rather than the promised updates. Malicious software can be unintentionally downloaded from untrusted sources such as unofficial and free file-hosting sites, P2P sharing networks (BitTorrent, eMule, Gnutella, etc.) and other third party downloaders.

Threat Summary:
Name NEFILIM virus
Threat Type Ransomware, Crypto Virus, Files locker.
Encrypted Files Extension .NEFILIM
Ransom Demand Message NEFILIM-DECRYPT.txt
Cyber Criminal Contact, and
Detection Names Avast (FileRepMetagen [Malware]), McAfee (Artemis!5FF20E2B723E), Sophos AV (Mal/Generic-S), Kaspersky (Trojan.Win32.Zudochka.edt), 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

You are advised against opening suspicious or irrelevant emails, especially those received from unknown senders (addresses). Any attachments (or links) present in dubious messages must not be opened, as doing so can result in high-risk infection. Use only official and verified download channels. It is also important to activate and update products with tools/functions provided by legitimate developers. Do not use illegal activation tools ("cracks") or third party updaters, as they are often employed to proliferate malware. To ensure device integrity and user safety, it is crucial to have a reputable anti-virus/anti-spyware suite installed and kept updated. This software must be used to run regular system scans and for the removal of detected/potential threats. If your computer is already infected with NEFILIM, we recommend running a scan with Malwarebytes for Windows to automatically eliminate this ransomware.

Text presented in NEFILIM ransomware text file ("NEFILIM-DECRYPT.txt"):

All of your files have been encrypted with military grade algorithms.

We ensure that the only way to retrieve your data is with our software.
We will make sure you retrieve your data swiftly and securely when our demands are met.
Restoration of your data requires a private key which only we possess.
A large amount of your private files have been extracted and is kept in a secure location.
If you do not contact us in seven working days of the breach we will start leaking the data.
After you contact us we will provide you proof that your files have been extracted.


To confirm that our decryption software works email to us 2 files from random computers.
You will receive further instructions after you send us the test files. 

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

Files encrypted by NEFILIM ransomware (.NEFILIM extension)

Update 16 March 2020 - Research discovered that NEFILIM is a new variant of NEMTY - high-risk ransomware on a massive scale. In fact, developers of NEMTY are re-branding this ransomware - from now on, it will use the name NEFILIM.

Update 24 March 2020 - The developers of NEFILIM ransomware have recently released a website that will host data of victims who declined to pay the ransom. Therefore, threats to leak stolen data are real.

NEFILIM 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 NEFILIM 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 NEFILIM 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 NEFILIM 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 NEFILIM 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 NEFILIM, 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 NEFILIM 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 NEFILIM 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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Malware activity

Global malware activity level today:

Medium threat activity

Increased attack rate of infections detected within the last 24 hours.

QR Code
NEFILIM 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 NEFILIM virus on your mobile device.
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