"This document protected by CloudFlare Scam" virus removal guide
What is the "This document protected by CloudFlare" scam?
"This document protected by CloudFlare" is a deceptive message displayed by various malicious documents. Cloudflare is a legitimate web-infrastructure and website-security company, which is in no way associated with this scam message. "This document protected by CloudFlare" is designed to convince users that the infectious Microsoft Office document is locked and they need to enable macro commands (i.e. to enable editing/content) to access it. These documents are virulent, their purpose is to infect systems with malware. Malicious files are commonly distributed via email spam campaigns.
Aside from stating that the document is allegedly protected by "CloudFlare", this scam may also claim that online preview of the file is unavailable. Typically, users are urged to enable editing and/or content. Additionally, the malicious documents can have the actual logo of CloudFlare emblazoned on them. Such files are used to proliferate a wide variety of malware, e.g. trojans, ransomware, cryptominers, etc. When users enable editing/content on Microsoft Office documents - they enable macro commands. Virulent documents infect systems by executing malicious macros and that initiates the infection process/chain (i.e. download/installation of malware). In Microsoft Office versions released before 2010 - macro commands are executed the moment a document is opened. Versions released later - do not, hence infection processes can only begin after macros (i.e. editing/content) are manually enabled. Various malicious programs can infiltrate systems in this manner and they can have a broad range of heinous functionalities. Malware can be multi-functional and it can have varied abilities in different compositions. Examples of some types are: Remote Access Trojans (RATs), which allow remote access and control over infected machines (e.g. Ratty, VanTom, etc.); loader/backdoor trojans, which cause chain infections - inject systems with additional malware (e.g. sLoad, Legion, etc.); information stealers, which target a variety of data by using different techniques (e.g. Echelon, GraceWire, etc.); banking malware, which targets banking information specifically (e.g. Mekotio, Zeus Sphinx, etc.); keyloggers, which record key strokes (e.g. 404, Hakops, etc.); ransomware, which encrypts data and demands ransoms for the decryption (e.g. Jwjs, VinDizelPux, etc.); screenlockers, which lock device screens for payment (e.g. ComputerDestroyer, Rubly, etc.), cryptominers, which generate cryptocurrency by using the infected machine's resources (e.g. BitCoinMiner, JSMiner-C, etc.), and so on. To summarize, malware infections can damage devices, cause data and/or financial loss, severe privacy issues and result in identity theft. Therefore, it is strongly advised to never opened suspicious documents, claiming that they are protected by "CloudFlare". If it is suspected/known that malware has already infected the system - an anti-virus software must be used to eliminate it immediately.
|Name||"This document protected by CloudFlare" virus|
|Threat Type||Trojan, password-stealing virus, banking malware, spyware.|
|Detection Names||Symantec (Scr.MalMacro!gen2), Dr.Web vxCube (EXPLOIT), Full List (VirusTotal)|
|Symptoms||Trojans are designed to stealthily infiltrate the victim's computer and remain silent, and thus no particular symptoms are clearly visible on an infected machine.|
|Distribution methods||Infected email attachments, malicious online advertisements, social engineering, software 'cracks'.|
|Damage||Stolen passwords and banking information, identity theft, the victim's computer added to a botnet.|
|Malware Removal (Windows)||
To eliminate possible malware infections, scan your computer with legitimate antivirus software. Our security researchers recommend using Malwarebytes.
How did "This document protected by CloudFlare Scam" infiltrate my computer?
Aside from spam campaigns, which were described in the previous paragraph, malware is proliferated through untrustworthy download channels, illegal activation tools ("cracks") and fake updaters. Dubious download sources, like: unofficial and free file-hosting websites, Peer-to-Peer sharing networks (BitTorrent, eMule, Gnutella, etc.) and other third party downloaders - can offer malicious programs for downloading, disguised as or bundled with ordinary content. "Cracking" tools can download/install malware instead of activating licensed product. Illegitimate updaters infect systems by exploiting weaknesses of outdated products and/or by simply installing malicious software, rather than the promised updates.
How to avoid installation of malware?
Suspect and/or irrelevant emails must not be opened, especially any attachments or links present in them - as that can lead to a high-risk infection. Additionally, it is recommended to only use Microsoft Office versions released after 2010. All downloads must be done from official and verified sources. It is just as important to activate and update products with tools/functions provided by legitimate developers. To ensure device and user safety, it is crucial to have a reputable anti-virus/anti-spyware suite installed. This software must be kept up-to-date, used to run regular system scans and to remove detected/potential threats. If you believe that your computer is already infected, we recommend running a scan with Malwarebytes for Windows to automatically eliminate infiltrated malware.
Screenshot of a malicious document with the "This document protected by CloudFlare" deceptive message, distributing the TrickBot trojan:
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:
- What is This document protected by CloudFlare Scam?
- STEP 1. Manual removal of possible malware infections.
- STEP 2. Check if your computer is clean.
How to remove malware manually?
Manual malware removal is a complicated task - usually it is best to allow antivirus or anti-malware programs to do this automatically. To remove this malware we recommend using Malwarebytes for Windows. If you wish to remove malware manually, the first step is to identify the name of the malware that you are trying to remove. Here is an example of a suspicious program running on a user's computer:
If you checked the list of programs running on your computer, for example, using task manager, and identified a program that looks suspicious, you should continue with these steps:
Download a program called Autoruns. This program shows auto-start applications, Registry, and file system locations:
Restart your computer into Safe Mode:
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.
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.
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.
Video showing how to start Windows 10 in "Safe Mode with Networking":
Extract the downloaded archive and run the Autoruns.exe file.
In the Autoruns application, click "Options" at the top and uncheck "Hide Empty Locations" and "Hide Windows Entries" options. After this procedure, click the "Refresh" icon.
Check the list provided by the Autoruns application and locate the malware file that you want to eliminate.
You should write down its full path and name. Note that some malware hides process names under legitimate Windows process names. At this stage, it is very important to avoid removing system files. After you locate the suspicious program you wish to remove, right click your mouse over its name and choose "Delete".
After removing the malware through the Autoruns application (this ensures that the malware will not run automatically on the next system startup), you should search for the malware name on your computer. Be sure to enable hidden files and folders before proceeding. If you find the filename of the malware, be sure to remove it.
Reboot your computer in normal mode. Following these steps should remove any malware from your computer. Note that manual threat removal requires advanced computer skills. If you do not have these skills, leave malware removal to antivirus and anti-malware programs. These steps might not work with advanced malware infections. As always it is best to prevent infection than try to remove malware later. To keep your computer safe, install the latest operating system updates and use antivirus software.
To be sure your computer is free of malware infections, we recommend scanning it with Malwarebytes for Windows.