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How to uninstall the CAVALLOZIPULYA ransomware?

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

CAVALLOZIPULYA ransomware removal instructions

What is CAVALLOZIPULYA?

The main purpose of ransomware is to prevent victims from accessing their files by encrypting them or by blocking access to the operating system. Typically, victims cannot decrypt their files/restore access to the system without a tool or tools that can be provided only by the attackers. CAVALLOZIPULYA is a part of the Phobos ransomware family. It encrypts files and adds the victim's ID, ICQ username, and appends the ".CAVALLOZIPULYA" extension to their filenames. For instance, it renames "1.jpg" to "1.jpg.id[C279F237-3178].[ICQ_Cavalloeb].CAVALLOZIPULYA", "2.jpg" to "2.jpg.id[C279F237-3178].[ICQ_Cavalloeb].CAVALLOZIPULYA", and so on. It also displays a pop-up window (via "info.hta" file) and creates the "info.txt" file. Both of them are ransom notes.

As a rule, ransomware is designed to provide victims with instructions on how to contact its developers, pay them a ransom, and some other details. CAVALLOZIPULYA's ransom notes are created to inform victims that there is no free tool that could decrypt their files/the only people who have the right decryption tool are the attackers. They also contain a ICQ username (@Cavalloeb) and the ID that victims have to send to cybercriminals. Moreover, ransom notes mention that before paying a ransom, victims can send up to five encrypted files. To prove that the attackers have the right decryption tools, they offer to decrypt those files for free. Although, they should not contain any valuable information and be larger than four megabytes. Additionally, both ransom notes warn victims not to rename any of the encrypted files or try to decrypt them using some third-party software because by doing so they may permanently damage their files.

It is never recommended to pay the attackers a ransom because paying it does not guarantee that they will provide a decryption tool even if they have it. By paying a ransom victims risk getting scammed. Unfortunately, there is no free tool that could decrypt files encrypted by CAVALLOZIPULYA, cybercriminals behind this ransomware are the only ones who can help victims to decrypt files. In cases like this, victims can recover their files for free only if they have a backup of their data that they have created before installing ransomware on their computers. It is important to mention that that installed ransomware can encrypt new files or spread itself over the network (infect other computers). For this reason, it is strongly recommended to uninstall ransomware from the operating system before it caused more damage. It is noteworthy that encrypted files remain inaccessible even after the uninstallation of ransomware that has encrypted them.

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

CAVALLOZIPULYA decrypt instructions (info.hta)

To summarize, most ransomware variants pretty much similar: they encrypt files and generate a ransom note (or more than one ransom note) that informs victims how to contact cybercriminals, purchase a decryption key or tool, etc. Typically, there are two major variables: the size of a ransom and the cryptographic algorithm (symmetric or asymmetric) that ransomware uses to encrypt files. The biggest issue with having a computer infected with ransomware is that usually, it is almost possible to decrypt files without tools that only the attackers have. It can be done without their tools/for free only when ransomware has some vulnerabilities. Therefore, it is strongly advisable to create data backups on a regular basis and keep them on an unplugged storage device or remote server like Cloud. More ransomware examples are Jessy, ROG, and Perfection.

How did ransomware infect my computer?

It is common that users infect their computers with ransomware through Trojans, malspam/phishing emails, unreliable channels for downloading files or programs, fake software updaters, and unofficial software activation tools ('cracking' tools). Trojans are malicious programs that can be capable of installing additional malware. Once a certain Trojan is installed on a computer, it can open backdoors for other software of this kind (cause chain infections). Email can be and often is used to deliver malware via attachments or website links. The main purpose of malspam is trick recipients into opening a malicious file that is designed to install ransomware (or other malware). Usually, files that are uses to deliver malicious software via email are Microsoft Office, PDF documents, JavaScript files, RAR, ZIP or other archive files, executable files (like .exe).

Furthermore, cybercriminals often use unreliable sources for downloading programs, files as tools to distribute malware via malicious files. In such cases, they use Peer-to-Peer networks (e.g., torrent clients, eMule), unofficial web pages, free file hosting, freeware download pages, third party downloaders, etc. They disguise malicious files as regular, legitimate and wait until some uses will download and open them. Once opened, those files infect computers with malware. Fake software updaters tools infect computers in one of these two ways: by installing malware instead of updating, fixing some software that is installed on the operating system, or by exploiting bugs, flaws of installed software that is out of date. Unofficial software activation ('cracking') tools are illegal tools that are supposed to activate licensed software (bypass its activation). Although, it is very common that such tools are used to distribute malware - these tools often come bundled with malware.

Threat Summary:
Name CAVALLOZIPULYA virus
Threat Type Ransomware, Crypto Virus, Files locker
Encrypted Files Extension .CAVALLOZIPULYA
Ransom Demanding Message info.hta and info.txr
Cyber Criminal Contact @Cavalloeb on ICQ
Detection Names Avast (Win32:Trojan-gen), BitDefender (Gen:Variant.Ransom.Phobos.62), ESET-NOD32 (A Variant Of Win32/Filecoder.Phobos.C), Kaspersky (HEUR:Trojan.Win32.Generic), Microsoft (Ransom:Win32/Phobos.PC!MTB), 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.
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)

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How to protect yourself from ransomware infections?

Installed software should never be updated or activated with unofficial third-party tools. It should be done properly: by using implemented functions or tools that are designed by the official developers of the installed software. It is not legal to activate licensed software with various third-party tools or use pirated software. Also, both third-party activation tools and updaters can be bundled with malware. Emails that are received from suspicious, unknown senders, are not relevant, and contain some attachment (or a website link) should be ignored. It is common that such emails are used as channels to spread malware. Furthermore, any software (or files) should be downloaded from official pages and via direct download links. It is not advisable to use Peer-to-Peer networks, third-party downloaders (or installers), unofficial pages, etc. It is possible for them to be used to distribute malicious programs. Additionally, it is important to run virus scans regularly and do it using a reputable antivirus or anti-spyware suite. If your computer is already infected with CAVALLOZIPULYA, we recommend running a scan with Malwarebytes for Windows to automatically eliminate this ransomware.

Text presented in CAVALLOZIPULYA ransomware's pop-up window ("info.hta"):

ATTENTION!!!!
Unfortunately for you, a major IT security weakness left you open to attack, your files have been encrypted with ciphers more advanced than those used for diplomatic communications, you can spend days and months searching for a magical way to decrypt your files, but rest assured we are the only people who can help you recover your files, there is no free tool
If you want to restore them, install ICQ software on your PC hxxps://icq.com/windows/ or on your mobile phone search in Appstore / Google market "ICQ"
Write to our ICQ @Cavalloeb hxxps://icq.im/Cavalloeb
Write this ID in the title of your message -
Free decryption as guarantee
Before paying you can send us up to 5 files for free decryption. The total size of files must be less than 4Mb (non archived), and files should not contain valuable information. (databases,backups, large excel sheets, etc.)
Attention!
Do not rename encrypted files.
Do not try to decrypt your data using third party software, it may cause permanent data loss.
Decryption of your files with the help of third parties may cause increased price (they add their fee to our) or you can become a victim of a scam.

Screenshot of CAVALLOZIPULYA's text file ("info.txt"):

CAVALLOZIPULYA ransomware text file (info.txt)

Screenshot of files encrypted by CAVALLOZIPULYA (".CAVALLOZIPULYA" extension):

Files encrypted by CAVALLOZIPULYA ransomware (.CAVALLOZIPULYA extension)

CAVALLOZIPULYA ransomware removal:

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Reporting ransomware to authorities:

If you are a victim of a ransomware attack we recommend reporting this incident to authorities. By providing information to law enforcement agencies you will help track cybercrime and potentially assist in the prosecution of the attackers. Here's a list of authorities where you should report a ransomware attack. For the complete list of local cybersecurity centers and information on why you should report ransomware attacks, read this article.

List of local authorities where ransomware attacks should be reported (choose one depending on your residence address):

Isolating the infected device:

Some ransomware-type infections are designed to encrypt files within external storage devices, infect them, and even spread throughout the entire local network. For this reason, it is very important to isolate the infected device (computer) as soon as possible.

Step 1: Disconnect from the internet.

The easiest way to disconnect a computer from the internet is to unplug the Ethernet cable from the motherboard, however, some devices are connected via a wireless network and for some users (especially those who are not particularly tech-savvy), disconnecting cables may seem troublesome. Therefore, you can also disconnect the system manually via Control Panel:

Navigate to the "Control Panel", click the search bar in the upper-right corner of the screen, enter "Network and Sharing Center" and select search result: Disconnecting computer from the Internet (step 1)

Click the "Change adapter settings" option in the upper-left corner of the window: Disconnecting computer from the Internet (step 2)

Right-click on each connection point and select "Disable". Once disabled, the system will no longer be connected to the internet. To re-enable the connection points, simply right-click again and select "Enable". Disconnecting computer from the Internet (step 3)

Step 2: Unplug all storage devices.

As mentioned above, ransomware might encrypt data and infiltrate all storage devices that are connected to the computer. For this reason, all external storage devices (flash drives, portable hard drives, etc.) should be disconnected immediately, however, we strongly advise you to eject each device before disconnecting to prevent data corruption:

Navigate to "My Computer", right-click on each connected device, and select "Eject": Ejecting external storage devices

Step 3: Log-out of cloud storage accounts.

Some ransomware-type might be able to hijack software that handles data stored within "the Cloud". Therefore, the data could be corrupted/encrypted. For this reason, you should log-out of all cloud storage accounts within browsers and other related software. You should also consider temporarily uninstalling the cloud-management software until the infection is completely removed.

Identify the ransomware infection:

To properly handle an infection, one must first identify it. Some ransomware infections use ransom-demand messages as an introduction (see the WALDO ransomware text file below).

Identify ransomware-type infection (step 1)

This, however, is rare. In most cases, ransomware infections deliver more direct messages simply stating that data is encrypted and that victims must pay some sort of ransom. Note that ransomware-type infections typically generate messages with different file names (for example, "_readme.txt", "READ-ME.txt", "DECRYPTION_INSTRUCTIONS.txt", "DECRYPT_FILES.html", etc.). Therefore, using the name of a ransom message may seem like a good way to identify the infection. The problem is that most of these names are generic and some infections use the same names, even though the delivered messages are different and the infections themselves are unrelated. Therefore, using the message filename alone can be ineffective and even lead to permanent data loss (for example, by attempting to decrypt data using tools designed for different ransomware infections, users are likely to end up permanently damaging files and decryption will no longer be possible even with the correct tool).

Another way to identify a ransomware infection is to check the file extension, which is appended to each encrypted file. Ransomware infections are often named by the extensions they append (see files encrypted by Qewe ransomware below).

Identify ransomware-type infection (step 2)

This method is only effective, however, when the appended extension is unique - many ransomware infections append a generic extension (for example, ".encrypted", ".enc", ".crypted", ".locked", etc.). In these cases, identifying ransomware by its appended extension becomes impossible.

One of the easiest and quickest ways to identify a ransomware infection is to use the ID Ransomware website. This service supports most existing ransomware infections. Victims simply upload a ransom message and/or one encrypted file (we advise you to upload both if possible).

Identify ransomware-type infection (step 3)

The ransomware will be identified within seconds and you will be provided with various details, such as the name of the malware family to which the infection belongs, whether it is decryptable, and so on.

Example 1 (Qewe [Stop/Djvu] ransomware):

Identify ransomware-type infection (step 4)

Example 2 (.iso [Phobos] ransomware):

Identify ransomware-type infection (step 5)

If your data happens to be encrypted by ransomware that is not supported by ID Ransomware, you can always try searching the internet by using certain keywords (for example, a ransom message title, file extension, provided contact emails, crypto wallet addresses, etc.).

Search for ransomware decryption tools:

Encryption algorithms used by most ransomware-type infections are extremely sophisticated and, if the encryption is performed properly, only the developer is capable of restoring data. This is because decryption requires a specific key, which is generated during the encryption. Restoring data without the key is impossible. In most cases, cybercriminals store keys on a remote server, rather than using the infected machine as a host. Dharma (CrySis), Phobos, and other families of high-end ransomware infections are virtually flawless, and thus restoring data encrypted without the developers' involvement is simply impossible. Despite this, there are dozens of ransomware-type infections that are poorly developed and contain a number of flaws (for example, the use of identical encryption/decryption keys for each victim, keys stored locally, etc.). Therefore, always check for available decryption tools for any ransomware that infiltrates your computer.

Finding the correct decryption tool on the internet can be very frustrating. For this reason, we recommend that you use the No More Ransom Project and this is where identifying the ransomware infection is useful. The No More Ransom Project website contains a "Decryption Tools" section with a search bar. Enter the name of the identified ransomware, and all available decryptors (if there are any) will be listed.

Searching for ransomware decryption tools in nomoreransom.org website

Restore files with data recovery tools:

Depending on the situation (quality of ransomware infection, type of encryption algorithm used, etc.), restoring data with certain third-party tools might be possible. Therefore, we advise you to use the Recuva tool developed by CCleaner. This tool supports over a thousand data types (graphics, video, audio, documents, etc.) and it is very intuitive (little knowledge is necessary to recover data). In addition, the recovery feature is completely free.

Step 1: Perform a scan.

Run the Recuva application and follow the wizard. You will be prompted with several windows allowing you to choose what file types to look for, which locations should be scanned, etc. All you need to do is select the options you're looking for and start the scan. We advise you to enable the "Deep Scan" before starting, otherwise, the application's scanning capabilities will be restricted.

Recuva data recovery tool wizard

Wait for Recuva to complete the scan. The scanning duration depends on the volume of files (both in quantity and size) that you are scanning (for example, several hundred gigabytes could take over an hour to scan). Therefore, be patient during the scanning process. We also advise against modifying or deleting existing files, since this might interfere with the scan. If you add additional data (for example, downloading files/content) while scanning, this will prolong the process:

Recuva data recovery tool scan time

Step 2: Recover data.

Once the process is complete, select the folders/files you wish to restore and simply click "Recover". Note that some free space on your storage drive is necessary to restore data:

Recuva data recovery tool recovering data

Create data backups:

Proper file management and creating backups is essential for data security. Therefore, always be very careful and think ahead.

Partition management: We recommend that you store your data in multiple partitions and avoid storing important files within the partition that contains the entire operating system. If you fall into a situation whereby you cannot boot the system and are forced to format the disk on which the operating system is installed (in most cases, this is where malware infections hide), you will lose all data stored within that drive. This is the advantage of having multiple partitions: if you have the entire storage device assigned to a single partition, you will be forced to delete everything, however, creating multiple partitions and allocating the data properly allows you to prevent such problems. You can easily format a single partition without affecting the others - therefore, one will be cleaned and the others will remain untouched, and your data will be saved. Managing partitions is quite simple and you can find all the necessary information on Microsoft's documentation web page.

Data backups: One of the most reliable backup methods is to use an external storage device and keep it unplugged. Copy your data to an external hard drive, flash (thumb) drive, SSD, HDD, or any other storage device, unplug it and store it in a dry place away from the sun and extreme temperatures. This method is, however, quite inefficient, since data backups and updates need to be made regularly. You can also use a cloud service or remote server. Here, an internet connection is required and there is always the chance of a security breach, although it's a really rare occasion.

We recommend using Microsoft OneDrive for backing up your files. OneDrive lets you store your personal files and data in the cloud, sync files across computers and mobile devices, allowing you to access and edit your files from all of your Windows devices. OneDrive lets you save, share and preview files, access download history, move, delete, and rename files, as well as create new folders, and much more.

You can back up your most important folders and files on your PC (your Desktop, Documents, and Pictures folders). Some of OneDrive’s more notable features include file versioning, which keeps older versions of files for up to 30 days. OneDrive features a recycling bin in which all of your deleted files are stored for a limited time. Deleted files are not counted as part of the user’s allocation.

The service is built using HTML5 technologies and allows you to upload files up to 300 MB via drag and drop into the web browser or up to 10 GB via the OneDrive desktop application. With OneDrive, you can download entire folders as a single ZIP file with up to 10,000 files, although it can’t exceed 15 GB per single download.

OneDrive comes with 5 GB of free storage out of the box, with an additional 100 GB, 1 TB, and 6 TB storage options available for a subscription-based fee. You can get one of these storage plans by either purchasing additional storage separately or with Office 365 subscription.

Creating a data backup:

The backup process is the same for all file types and folders. Here’s how you can back up your files using Microsoft OneDrive

Step 1: Choose the files/folders you want to backup.

Click the OneDrive icon in the taskbar

Click the OneDrive cloud icon to open the OneDrive menu. While in this menu, you can customize your file backup settings.

Select Help & Settings and click Settings

Click Help & Settings and then select Settings from the drop-down menu.

Select the Backup tab and click Manage backup

Go to the Backup tab and click Manage backup.

Select folders to backup and click Start backup

In this menu, you can choose to backup the Desktop and all of the files on it, and Documents and Pictures folders, again, with all of the files in them. Click Start backup.

Now, when you add a file or folder in the Desktop and Documents and Pictures folders, they will be automatically backed up on OneDrive.

To add folders and files, not in the locations shown above, you have to add them manually.

Select a file manually and copy it

Open File Explorer and navigate to the location of the folder/file you want to backup. Select the item, right-click it, and click Copy.

Paste the copied file in the OneDrive folder to create a backup

Then, navigate to OneDrive, right-click anywhere in the window and click Paste. Alternatively, you can just drag and drop a file into OneDrive. OneDrive will automatically create a backup of the folder/file.

File statuses in OneDrive folder

All of the files added to the OneDrive folder are backed up in the cloud automatically. The green circle with the checkmark in it indicates that the file is available both locally and on OneDrive and that the file version is the same on both. The blue cloud icon indicates that the file has not been synced and is available only on OneDrive. The sync icon indicates that the file is currently syncing.

Click Help & Settings and click View Online

To access files only located on OneDrive online, go to the Help & Settings drop-down menu and select View online.

Click the Settings cog and click Options

Step 2: Restore corrupted files.

OneDrive makes sure that the files stay in sync, so the version of the file on the computer is the same version on the cloud. However, if ransomware has encrypted your files, you can take advantage of OneDrive’s Version history feature that will allow you to restore the file versions prior to encryption.

Microsoft 365 has a ransomware detection feature that notifies you when your OneDrive files have been attacked and guide you through the process of restoring your files. It must be noted, however, that if you don’t have a paid Microsoft 365 subscription, you only get one detection and file recovery for free.

If your OneDrive files get deleted, corrupted, or infected by malware, you can restore your entire OneDrive to a previous state. Here’s how you can restore your entire OneDrive:

restore-your-onedrive

1. If you're signed in with a personal account, click the Settings cog at the top of the page. Then, click Options and select Restore your OneDrive.

If you're signed in with a work or school account,  click the Settings cog at the top of the page. Then, click Restore your OneDrive.

2. On the Restore your OneDrive page, select a date from the drop-down list. Note that if you're restoring your files after automatic ransomware detection, a restore date will be selected for you.

3. After configuring all of the file restoration options, click Restore to undo all the activities you selected.

The best way to avoid damage from ransomware infections is to maintain regular up-to-date backups.

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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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Global malware activity level today:

Medium threat activity

Increased attack rate of infections detected within the last 24 hours.

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