How to remove ProLock ransomware

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

ProLock ransomware removal instructions

What is ProLock?

Discovered by PeterM, ProLock is a rebranded version of PwndLocker ransomware. This ransomware encrypts files with the RSA-2048 algorithm, modifies filenames and creates a ransom message. ProLock appends the ".proLock" extension to the filenames of all encrypted files. Research shows that it appends this extension several times, which might also indicate that it encrypts files several times. It creates ransom messages in the "[HOW TO RECOVER FILES].txt" files, which victims can find in folders that contain encrypted data.

The ransom messages that ProLock creates state that victims can retrieve their files by paying a ransom. Instructions about how to pay this are provided on a Tor website - a link to the relevant page can be found in each "[HOW TO RECOVER FILES].txt" text file. This Tor page contains a Bitcoin wallet address to transfer cryptocurrency to ProLock's developers. At the time of research, cost of decryption was 60 BTCs, however, each victim may be asked to pay a different sum of Bitcoins. In any case, it is made clear that decryption without a payment is impossible. Victims are warned not to try to modify files or decrypt them with third party software, since this might cause permanent data loss. ProLock's developers encourage people to pay the ransom immediately, as decryption keys are stored on a remote server for one month only. They claim that they have gathered some sensitive information, and threaten to share it unless victims pay the ransom. Only the cyber criminals who designed the ransomware have the correct decryption tools. Note that most criminals do not send these tools, even if they are paid. By paying the ransom, victims lose their data and money. Therefore, never pay any cyber criminals. Unfortunately, there is no way to decrypt files free of charge without tools held only by ProLock's developers. In such cases, files can only be recovered by restoring them from a backup. Note that uninstalling ransomware prevents further data loss (encryption), however, it does not regain access to encrypted files (they 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)

Generally, programs such as ProLock encrypt files and keep them inaccessible unless victims decrypt them with specific tools that can only be purchased from the developers. Main variables are ransom size and cryptographic algorithm (symmetric or asymmetric) that ransomware uses to encrypt data. Some examples of other ransomware-type programs include Gate, LX and Tongda2000. Unfortunately, it is impossible to decrypt files without paying the ransom for tools/keys (not advised), unless ransomware contains bugs/flaws and is not fully developed. Data loss caused by ransomware can be avoided by restoring files from a backup, which should be maintained on a remote server or unplugged storage device.

How did ransomware infect my computer?

Cyber criminals spread malware through Trojans, spam campaigns (emails), fake software updaters, software 'cracking' tools and dubious file and/or software download channels. Trojans are programs that can cause chain infections: if installed, they can install more malicious programs. When cyber criminals use spam campaigns to spread malware, they send emails that contain a malicious attachment (or website link that downloads the malicious file). Malicious software is installed when recipients open a malicious attachment/file (or a file downloaded through a link). Cyber criminals commonly send emails that contain a malicious Microsoft Office document, archive file (ZIP, RAR), executable file (.exe), PDF document or JavaScript file. Fake software updating tools usually infect systems by exploiting bugs/flaws of outdated software installed on the operating system, or by installing malware rather than updates and fixes. Unofficial activation tools infect systems in a similar way: rather than activating licensed software free of charge, they install 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 host malicious files - downloading and opening them causes installation of malware.

Threat Summary:
Name ProLock virus
Threat Type Ransomware, Crypto Virus, Files locker.
Encrypted Files Extension .proLock
Ransom Demand Message [HOW TO RECOVER FILES].txt
Ransom Amount At the time of research, the ransom was 60 Bitcoins, however, this might 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 must supposedly 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.
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

Installed programs must be updated and activated through implemented functions and/or tools that are provided by official developers. Third party, unofficial tools can distribute malicious software. Furthermore, it is illegal to activate licensed programs with unofficial activation ('cracking') tools. Attachments and web links in irrelevant emails received from suspicious, unknown addresses should not be opened. There is a high probability that they might be sent by cyber criminals. Therefore, email contents should be opened only when you are certain they will not cause damage. All files should be downloaded from official ant trustworthy websites, and via direct links. Other tools are often used to proliferate malicious software (examples of untrusted channels are provided above). Regularly scan the operating system for threats with reputable antivirus or anti-spyware software and remove detected threats immediately. Keep this software up to date. If your computer is already infected with ProLock, we recommend running a scan with Malwarebytes for Windows to automatically eliminate this ransomware.

Text presented in ProLock ransomware 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 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)

Update 15 May 15 2020 - The developers of ProLock ransomware have started cooperating with QakBot (QBot) Trojan to increase the number of infections. QakBot is a banking Trojan injected via malicious documents that are distributed via spam email campaigns. Once infiltrated, QakBot connects to a remote server (at the time of research, this was cloud storage) and downloads and executes a batch of scripts, rather than simply injecting ProLock by itself. In this way, QakBot operates as a 'gateway'.

ProLock 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 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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Removal Instructions in other languages
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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