How to uninstall Npsk ransomware from a computer?

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

Npsk ransomware removal instructions

What is Npsk?

Npsk is one of the many malicious programs that are part of the ransomware family named Djvu. This particular ransomware was discovered by Karsten Hahn. It is designed to encrypt victim's files, modify their filenames and create a ransom note. Npsk modifies encrypted files by appending the ".npsk" extension to their filenames. For example, it renames a file named "sample.jpg" to "sample.jpg.npsk", and so forth. It also drops a ransom note, a text file named "_readme.txt" in every folder that contains encrypted data.

As stated in a ransom note created by Npsk, this ransomware encrypts all files (photos, documents, databases, etc.) with a strongest encryption algorithm. Access to files can be restored with a decryption tool and key that can be purchased from Npsk's developers for $980 or $490. Their price depends on whether victims will contact developers in 72 hours or after that. To be more precise, Npsk's developers offer a 50% discount for victims who will contact them in three days after encryption/ransomware attack. It supposed to be done by writing an email to helpdatarestore@firemail.cc (or helpmanager@mail.ch) and providing the assigned personal ID. After that victims supposed to wait for instructions on how to make a payment. Typically, cyber criminals demand to be paid in cryptocurrency. Unfortunately, most cyber criminals cannot be trusted: it is common that they do not send decryption tools even after a payment. In other words, victims who trust them tend to get scammed. Another problem with most ransomware attacks is that cyber criminals behind these programs are the only ones who have tools that can decrypt files encrypted by their ransomware. As a rule, victims can recover files without losing any money only by restoring them from a backup. It is worthwhile to mention that files remain encrypted even after uninstallation of ransomware, however, its removal prevents it from causing further encryptions/data loss.

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

Npsk decrypt instructions (_readme.txt)

More examples of ransomware-type programs are ProLock, Velar and Hack For Life. Two main things that these programs have in common is that they are designed to encrypt victim's data and create (and/or display) ransom note (or notes) that contains instructions on how to contact their developers, pay a ransom and/or other information. Two most common variables are size of a ransom and cryptographic algorithm (symmetric or asymmetric) that ransomware uses to lock files. Typically, the only way to decrypt files is to use tools that only developers or a particular ransomware have. It is possible to decrypt them for free/without interference of cyber criminals only when ransomware contains some bugs, flaws, is not fully developed. Unfortunately, it does not happen often. Therefore, it is important to have data backed up and keep it stored on some remote server and/or unplugged storage device.

How did ransomware infect my computer?

It is common that operating systems get infected with a ransomware and other malicious programs through spam campaigns, Trojans, fake software updaters, unofficial activation ('cracking') tools and untrustworthy file and/or software download channels. Quite often cyber criminals attempt to infect computers with malware by sending emails that contain malicious attachments or website links that are designed to download malicious files. Examples of files that they usually attach to their emails are Microsoft Office, PDF documents, archive files like ZIP, RAR, executable files (like .exe) and JavaScript files. Those files infect computers with high-risk malware when recipients open, execute them. Fake software updaters can be designed to infect systems by installing malicious programs instead of updates, or by exploiting bus, flaws of some outdated software that is installed on a computer. Trojans can cause damage only if they are installed. When installed, they can cause damage in various ways. One of them is by installing malicious program. Furthermore, malicious software can be distributed through Peer-to-peer (P2P) networks (e.g., torrent clients, eMule), free file hosting, freeware download websites, unofficial pages, third party downloaders, and other similar channels. Users install malicious software by opening malicious files that were downloaded through the aforementioned channels. It is common that cyber criminals use them as tools to host, distribute various malware. Unofficial activation tools are programs that supposed to activate paid software for free. However, instead of activating licensed software or operating system those tools often install ransomware, Trojan or other malware.

Threat Summary:
Name Npsk virus
Threat Type Ransomware, Crypto Virus, Files locker
Encrypted Files Extension .npsk
Ransom Demanding Message _readme.txt
Ransom Amount $980/$490
Cyber Criminal Contact helpdatarestore@firemail.cc, helpmanager@mail.ch
Detection Names Avast (Win32:TrojanX-gen [Trj]), BitDefender (Trojan.GenericKD.42870227), ESET-NOD32 (A Variant Of Win32/Kryptik.HCDO), Kaspersky (UDS:DangerousObject.Multi.Generic), Full List Of Detections (VirusTotal)
Rogue Process Name 1A3E.TMP.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 This malware is designed to show a fake Windows Update window and modify the Windows "hosts" file to prevent users from accessing cyber security websites (more information below).
Distribution methods Infected email attachments (macros), torrent websites, malicious ads, unofficial activation and updating tools.
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

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How to protect yourself from ransomware infections?

It is not recommended to open files and/or website links in irrelevant emails that are received from unknown, suspicious addresses. Such emails can be (and often are) sent by cyber criminals. Also, it is common that they disguise such emails as official, important, etc. Software should be updated by using implemented functions or tools that are designed (provided) by official developers. The same applies to its activation. Besides, it is not legal to use various third party, unofficial ('cracking') tools for that. Also, it is not safe to download software from untrustworthy and unofficial websites, through third party downloaders and other channels of this kind.  Third party installers should not be used too. All software and files should be downloaded from official websites (and via direct links). And finally, it is recommended to regularly scan the operating system for threats with a reputable anti-spyware or antivirus suite and always remove detected threats as soon as possible. If your computer is already infected with Npsk, we recommend running a scan with Spyhunter for Windows to automatically eliminate this ransomware.

Text presented in Npsk ransomware's text file ("_readme.txt"):

ATTENTION!

Don't worry, you can return all your files!
All your files like photos, databases, documents and other important are encrypted with strongest encryption and unique key.
The only method of recovering files is to purchase decrypt tool and unique key for you.
This software will decrypt all your encrypted files.
What guarantees you have?
You can send one of your encrypted file from your PC and we decrypt it for free.
But we can decrypt only 1 file for free. File must not contain valuable information.
You can get and look video overview decrypt tool:
hxxps://we.tl/t-WOqGXn9sLJ
Price of private key and decrypt software is $980.
Discount 50% available if you contact us first 72 hours, that's price for you is $490.
Please note that you'll never restore your data without payment.
Check your e-mail "Spam" or "Junk" folder if you don't get answer more than 6 hours.


To get this software you need write on our e-mail:
helpdatarestore@firemail.cc

Reserve e-mail address to contact us:
helpmanager@mail.ch

Your personal ID:
-

Npsk's malicious process in Task Manager running as "1A3E.TMP.EXE" (its name may vary):

npsk 1a3e.tmp.exe malicious process in task manager

Screenshot of files encrypted by Npsk (".npsk" extension):

Files encrypted by Npsk ransomware (.npsk extension)

Screenshot of fake Windows update pop-up displayed during the encryption:

Fake Windows pop-up displayed by Npsk during the encryption

IMPORTANT NOTE! - As well as encrypting data, ransomware-type infections from the Djvu malware family also add a number of entries to the Windows "hosts" file. The entries contain URLs of various websites, most of which are related to malware removal. This is done to prevent users from accessing malware security websites and seeking help. Our website (PCrisk.com) is also on the list. Removing these entries, however, is simple - you can find detailed instructions in this article (note that, although the steps are shown in the Windows 10 environment, the process is virtually identical on all versions of the Microsoft Windows operating system).

Screenshot of websites added to Windows hosts file:

Tro Ransomware adding websites to Windows Hosts file

There are currently two versions of Djvu ransomware infections: old and new. The old versions were designed to encrypt data by using a hard-coded "offline key" whenever the infected machine had no internet connection or the server was timing out/not responding. Therefore, some victims were able to decrypt data using a tool developed by cyber security researcher, Michael Gillespie, however, since the encryption mechanism has been slightly changed (hence the new version, released in August, 2019), the decrypter no longer works and it is not supported anymore. If your data has been encrypted by an older version, you might be able to restore it with the another tool developed by Emsisoft and Michael Gillespie. It supports a total of 148 Djvu's variants and you can find more information, as well as download link and decryption instructions in Emsisoft's official page.

Screenshot of Djvu decryption tool by Emsisoft and Michael Gillespie:

Djvu ransomware decrypter by Michael Gillespie and Emsisoft

Additionally, Emsisoft is now providing a service that allows to decrypt data (again, only if it was encrypted by Djvu variants released before August, 2019) for those victims who have a pair of the same file before and after the encryption. All victims have to do is upload a pair of original and encrypted file to Emsisoft's Djvu decryption page and download the aforementioned decryption tool (the download link will be provided after uploading files). Note that the file processing may take some time so be patient. It is also worth mentioning that the system must have an Internet connection during the entire decryption process, otherwise it will fail.

Screenshot of Emsisoft's Djvu decryption service page:

Djvu ransomware decryption service by Emsisoft

Npsk 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 Npsk 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 Npsk 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 Npsk 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 Npsk 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 Npsk, 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 Npsk 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 Npsk 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.

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