How to remove ProLock ransomware?

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

ProLock ransomware removal instructions

What is ProLock?

ProLock is a rebranded version of PwndLocker ransomware, it was discovered by PeterM. This ransomware encrypts files with RSA-2048 algorithm, modifies their filenames and creates a ransom note. ProLock appends the ".proLock" extension to filenames of all encrypted files. Research shows that it appends this extension several times, which might mean that it encrypts files several times as well. It creates ransom notes named "[HOW TO RECOVER FILES].txt", victims can find them in folders that contain encrypted data.

As stated in a ransom notes that ProLock creates, victims can get their files back by paying a ransom. Instructions on how to pay it are provided in a Tor website, link to that page can be found in every "[HOW TO RECOVER FILES].txt" text file. This Tor page contains a Bitcoin wallet address that should be used to transfer ProLock's developers cryptocurrency. At the time of the research price of a decryption was 60 BTCs. However, every victim may be asked to pay a different amount of Bitcoins. Either way, it is made clear that decryption without a payment is impossible. Also, victims are warned not to try to modify files or decrypt them with third party software because it may cause permanent data loss. ProLock's developers encourage to pay a ransom as soon as possible because decryption keys will be stored on some remote server only for one month. They claim that they gathered some sensitive information as well and threaten to share it if victims will not pay a ransom. It is common that cyber criminals who designed a particular ransomware are the only ones who have the right decryption tools. The problem is that most of them do not send those tools even if they get paid. In other words, by paying a ransom victims lose not only data but also money. Therefore, neither these or other cyber criminals should be paid. Unfortunately, there is no way to decrypt files for free/without tools that only ProLock's developers have, at least not at the moment. In such cases files can be recovered by restoring them from a backup. It is worthwhile to mention that by uninstalling ransomware victims prevent it from causing further data loss (encryptions). However, it does not make encrypted files accessible (files remain encrypted).

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

ProLock decrypt instructions ([HOW TO RECOVER FILES].txt)

As a rule, programs like ProLock are designed to encrypt files and keep them inaccessible unless victims decrypt them with tools that can be purchased from their developers. In most cases there are two main variables: size of a ransom and cryptographic algorithm (symmetric or asymmetric) that ransomware is using to encrypt data. Here are examples of couple of other ransomware-type programs: Gate, LX and Tongda2000. Unfortunately, it is possible to decrypt files without having to pay a ransom only in cases when ransomware contains some bugs, flaws (it is not finished). Since data loss caused by ransomware can be avoided by restoring files from a backup, it is recommended to always have one (or more) created and keep it on some remote server or unplugged storage device.

How did ransomware infect my computer?

Usually cyber criminals malware through Trojans, spam campaigns (emails), fake software updaters, software 'cracking' tools and questionable file and/or software download channels. Trojans are programs that can be designed to cause chain infections: if installed, then they can install more malicious programs. When cyber criminals use spam campaigns to spread malware, they send emails that contain some malicious attachment (or website link that is designed to download malicious file). Malicious software gets installed when recipients open a malicious attachment/file (or a file downloaded through a link). It is common that cyber criminals send emails that contain  some malicious Microsoft Office document, archive file (like ZIP, RAR), executable file (like .exe), PDF document or JavaScript file. Fake software updating tools usually are designed to infect systems by exploiting bugs, flaws of outdated software that is installed on the operating system or by installing malware instead of updates, fixes. Unofficial activation tools infect systems in a similar way: instead of activating licensed software for free they install some malicious software. Unofficial websites, free file hosting, freeware download websites, third party downloaders, Peer-to-Peer networks (e.g., torrent clients, eMule) and other similar download channels can be used to host malicious files. Users who download and open them cause installation of some malware.

Threat Summary:
Name ProLock virus
Threat Type Ransomware, Crypto Virus, Files locker
Encrypted Files Extension .proLock
Ransom Demanding Message [HOW TO RECOVER FILES].txt
Ransom Amount At the time of the research it was 60 Bitcoins. However, size or a ransom may vary
BTC Wallet Address 1LVLHAs4Vq9Yt9nHvvrgw9djtA7BiR8sKM
Cyber Criminal Contact support981723721@protonmail.com
Detection Names Avast (Win32:Evo-gen [Susp]), BitDefender (Trojan.Peed.Gen), ESET-NOD32 (A Variant Of Win32/Filecoder.PwndLocker.A), Microsoft (Trojan:Win32/Wacatac.D!ml), Full List Of Detections (VirusTotal)
Rogue Process Name NAS_0.EXE (its name may vary)
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.
Additional Information A ransom supposed to be paid through a Tor website
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 malware infections our security researchers recommend scanning your computer with Spyhunter.
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How to protect yourself from ransomware infections?

Installed programs must be updated and activated through implemented functions and/or tools that are provided by official developers. Third party, unofficial tools can be designed to distribute malicious software. Also, it is not legal to activate licensed programs with unofficial activation ('cracking') tools. Attachments (and web links) in irrelevant emails that are received from suspicious, unknown addresses should not be opened. There is a high possibility that they may be send by cyber criminals. Therefore, email contents should be opened only when there is no reason to think that it may cause damage. All files should be downloaded from official ant trustworthy websites, and via direct links. Other tools can be and often are used to proliferate malicious software (examples of untrustworthy channels are provided in the previous paragraph). One more important thing is to regularly scan the operating system for threats with a reputable antivirus or anti-spyware software and remove detected threats as soon as possible. Also, it is recommended to keep software of this type up-do-date. If your computer is already infected with ProLock, we recommend running a scan with Spyhunter for Windows to automatically eliminate this ransomware.

Text presented in ProLock ransomware's text file ("[HOW TO RECOVER FILES].txt"):

Your files have been encrypted by ProLock Ransomware using RSA-2048 algorithm.

   [.:Nothing personal just business:.]

No one can help you to restore files without our special decryption tool.

To get your files back you have to pay the decryption fee in BTC.
The final price depends on how fast you write to us.

   1. Download TOR browser: hxxps://www.torproject.org/
   2. Install the TOR Browser.
   3. Open the TOR Browser.
   4. Open our website in the TOR browser: msaoyrayohnp32tcgwcanhjouetb5k54aekgnwg7dcvtgtecpumrxpqd.onion
   5. Login using your ID -

   ***If you have any problems connecting or using TOR network:
   contact our support by email support981723721@protonmail.com

   [You'll receive instructions and price inside]

The decryption keys will be stored for 1 month.

We also have gathered your sensitive data.
We would share it in case you refuse to pay.

Decryption using third party software is impossible.
Attempts to self-decrypting files will result in the loss of your data.

ProLock's Tor website (GIF):

prolock tor website appearance in gif image

Text in this page:

Hello, you are a victim of ProLock ransomware.

Your files have been encrypted using RSA2048 algorithm.

This algorithm is one of the strongest, it is impossible to decrypt files without known key.

As you understand, situation is very important.

You can decrypt 1-2 files for free as a proof of work.

We know that this computer is very valuable for you.

So we will give you appropriate price for recovering.

DON'T try to change files by yourself, DON'T use any third party software for restoring your data or antivirus solutions - these actions may entail damage of the private key and, as result, the loss of all your data.

All your sensitive data was downloaded on remote servers. If you do not pay in several days all these sensitive files will be published in social networks and public media.

To get your files unlocked, pay.

If you want to make test unlock, contact support.
Payment information
60 BTC

UNPAID

Send 60 BTC (in ONE payment) to:
don't include transaction fee in this amount
1LVLHAs4Vq9Yt9nHvvrgw9djtA7BiR8sKM
Available once every 12 hours

Screenshot of files encrypted by ProLock (".proLock" extension):

Files encrypted by ProLock ransomware (.proLock extension)

ProLock 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:
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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 ProLock 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 ProLock 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 ProLock 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 ProLock 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 ProLock, 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 ProLock 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 ProLock 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
ProLock 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 ProLock virus on your mobile device.
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