How to uninstall Mpaj ransomware from a computer?

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

Mpaj ransomware removal instructions

What is Mpaj?

Mpaj is malicious software which belongs to a family of ransomware called Djvu. It is designed to encrypt victim's files, rename them by appending its extension and create a ransom note. This ransomware renames all encrypted files by appending the ".mpaj" extension, for example, it changes a file named "1.jpg" to "1.jpg.mpaj", "2.jpg" to "2.jpg.mpaj", etc., and creates a ransom note, a text file named "_readme.txt".

As explained in the created ransom note, victims cannot decrypt their files without the right decryption tool and key. These decryption tools can be purchased from Mpaj's developers for $980 or $490, their price depends on how fast victims will write an email to helpmanager@mail.ch (or helpdatarestore@firemail.cc). In order to get 50% discount victims have to contact Mpaj's in 72 hours after encryptions. It is very common that cyber criminals who designed ransomware are the only ones who have a tool (or tools) that can decrypt files encrypted by it. Unfortunately, by paying a ransom victims risk to get scammed. Quite often cyber criminals do not send a decryption tool and/or key even after transaction. Therefore, neither Mpaj's developers or cyber criminals behind other programs of this type can be trusted. Also, it is worthwhile to mention that files remain encrypted even if victims uninstall ransomware from a computer. Although, by uninstalling it they prevent if from causing further encryptions (data) loss. Typically, the only risk-free way to recover files is to restore them from a backup.

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

Mpaj decrypt instructions (_readme.txt)

In most cases programs like Mpaj encrypt data and create and/or display a ransom note with instructions on how to contact cyber criminals. Here are examples of other ransomware: Revon, BlackOrchid and encS. Two main (and most common) variables are price of a decryption/size of a ransom and cryptographic algorithm (symmetric or asymmetric) that ransomware uses to encrypt files. As mentioned in the previous paragraph, most of the times cyber criminals are the only ones who have tools that can decrypt files encrypted by their ransomware. It is possible to decrypt files without their interference only when ransomware has some bugs, flaws, etc. Unfortunately, it does not happen often and victims can recover their files only by restoring them from a backup that was created before ransomware attack. Therefore, it is recommend to always have data backed up and keep it on some remote server and/or unplugged storage device.

How did ransomware infect my computer?

Usually cyber criminals attempt to proliferate ransomware and other malicious software through spam campaigns, other programs of this kind called Trojans, questionable software download channels, software 'cracking' tools and unofficial, fake software updating tools. It is common that they send emails that contain malicious attachments or website links designed to download such files. Quite often they attach some Microsoft Office document, Java Script file, PDF document, executable (like .exe) or archive file (like ZIP, RAR). Their main goal is to trick recipients into opening the attachment, which, if opened, installs malicious software. Furthermore, malware can be proliferated via third party downloaders, free file hosting of freeware download pages, Peer-to-Peer networks like torrent clients, eMule and other similar channels. Simply said, people who use channels of this kind to download files risk to download some malicious file that, if executed, would infect a computer with some high-risk malware. Trojans can be (and often are) designed to cause chain infections. However, they can do that only when they are installed. Unofficial software activation ('cracking') tools supposed to help users to activate software for free. However, such tools often install malicious programs instead. Operating systems can be infected through fake software updating tools too. Such tools can be designed to install malware instead of updates, fixes, or exploit bugs, flaws of the outdated software that is installed on a computer.

Threat Summary:
Name Mpaj virus
Threat Type Ransomware, Crypto Virus, Files locker
Encrypted Files Extension .mpaj
Ransom Demanding Message _readme.txt
Ransom Amount $980/$490
Cyber Criminal Contact helpmanager@mail.ch, helpdatarestore@firemail.cc
Detection Names AVG (FileRepMalware), BitDefender (Trojan.GenericKD.33626843), ESET-NOD32 (A Variant Of Win32/Kryptik.HCPF), Kaspersky (UDS:DangerousObject.Multi.Generic), 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.
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.
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?

It is recommended to download files and programs by using only official websites and direct download links for that. None of the aforementioned channels (Peer-to-Peer networks, third party downloaders, unofficial websites, etc.) should be trusted. The same applies to installations through various third party installers. Furthermore, if an email is received from suspicious, unknown address, it contains web link or attachment, then its contents should not be opened. Especially if a received email is irrelevant. Links and files in emails should be opened only if there is not reason to think that it may install malware or cause other damage. Installed software must be updated and activated through tools and/or implemented functions that are designed by official developers. Third party tools can be malicious, besides, it is illegal to activate licensed software with various unofficial activation ('cracking') tools. One more important thing is to scan operating system for threats regularly. It should be done by using reputable antivirus or anti-spyware software. If your computer is already infected with Mpaj, we recommend running a scan with Malwarebytes for Windows to automatically eliminate this ransomware.

Text presented in Mpaj 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-9o703iSIHn
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:
helpmanager@mail.ch

Reserve e-mail address to contact us:
helpdatarestore@firemail.cc

Your personal ID:

Screenshot of files encrypted by Mpaj (".mpaj" extension):

Files encrypted by Mpaj ransomware (.mpaj extension)

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

Fake Windows pop-up displayed by Mpaj 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

Mpaj 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 Mpaj 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 Mpaj 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 Mpaj 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 Mpaj 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 Mpaj, 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 Mpaj 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 Mpaj 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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Mpaj virus QR code
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