How to remove Rickwrecked ransomware from the operating system

Also Known As: Rickwrecked screenlocker
Damage level: Severe

What is Rickwrecked?

Rickwrecked is a malicious program classified as ransomware with screenlocker traits. Typically, malicious software within this classification encrypts files and/or locks the device screen to make ransom demands. In fact, the purpose of Rickwrecked is not monetary gain, as victims are not presented with ransom message containing relevant information that would enable them to pay for data/device access recovery.

This malware damages the Master Boot Record (MBR), displays messages, and then prevents victims from booting/ turning on their computers.

Window displayed by Rickwrecked ransomware during system reboot

When Rickwrecked successfully infiltrates the system, it damages the Master Boot Record (MBR) and then displays an error message (pop-up window). The text presented contains the lyrics of "Never Gonna Give You Up", a song by Rick Astley.

Additionally, the malicious program force-opens the default internet browser and uses it to play the "Never Gonna Give You Up" music video on YouTube. Subsequently, Rickwrecked reboots the operating system.

As the device boots, the malware displays a window with a message stating that the victim's device has been compromised by Rickwrecked. To recover access to the data, it instructs users to open the provided URL. This may imply that this malicious program does encrypt files, which is typical of ransomware but not universal.

Instead of containing any pertinent information, however, the link leads to the same song video. This is a common Internet phenomenon called "Rickrolling", whereby victims click a link, and rather than accessing the stated content, they are presented with Rick Astley's "Never Gonna Give You Up".

Due to Rickwrecked damaging the MBR, victims are prevented from turning on their devices. In many cases of data-encrypting ransomware infections, decryption is impossible without the cyber criminals' interference, unless in rare cases the malware is still in development and/or has significant flaws.

Whatever the case, you are expressly advised against communicating with and/or paying criminals. Despite meeting the ransom demands, victims often do not receive the promised decryption tools. Therefore, they experience financial loss and their files remain encrypted - essentially inaccessible and worthless.

Removing ransomware from the operating system will prevent it from further encryptions, however, removal will not restore already encrypted data. The only solution is recovering files from a backup, if one was created before the infection and stored in a separate location.

Threat Summary:
Name Rickwrecked screenlocker
Threat Type Ransomware, Crypto Virus, Files locker
Ransom Demand Message Text presented in window displayed during system boot
Detection Names Avast (Win32:Trojan-gen), BitDefender (Gen:Variant.Zusy.309904), ESET-NOD32 (A Variant Of Win32/BadJoke.HX), Kaspersky (HEUR:Trojan.Win32.DelShad.vho), Microsoft (Trojan:Win32/BadJoke.PA!MTB), Full List Of Detections (VirusTotal)
Symptoms Can't open files stored on your computer, previously functional files now have a different extension, for example my.docx.locked. A ransom demanding message is displayed on your desktop. Cyber criminals are asking to pay 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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CoViperRublyCoronaVi2022 are some examples of other screen-locking malicious programs, and HENRI IV, HANTA, and Lizscudata, of data-encrypting ransomware.

There are two main differences between ransomware-type programs: the cryptographic algorithms they use (symmetric or asymmetric) and ransom size.

Digital currencies (e.g., cryptocurrencies, pre-paid vouchers, gift cards, etc.) are often used because these transactions are difficult/impossible to trace.

To avoid permanent data loss, keep backups on remote servers and/or unplugged storage devices. It is best to store backup copies in multiple different locations.

How did ransomware install on my computer?

Ransomware and other malware are spread using a wide variety of tactics and methods. For example, through malspam campaigns, untrusted file/software download sources, fake (third party) software updating tools, Trojans and unofficial software activation tools.

Using malspam, criminals send emails that have a malicious file attached, or include a website link designed to download a malicious file. Their main goal is to trick recipients into executing the file, which then infects the computer with malware. Cyber criminals usually attach a Microsoft Office document, archive file (ZIP, RAR), PDF document, executable file (.exe) or JavaScript file, and wait until recipients open it.

Note that malicious MS Office documents can install malware only when users enable editing/content (macros commands). If the documents are opened with MS Office versions prior to 2010, however, the documents install malicious software automatically, since these older versions do not include "Protected View" mode.

Examples of untrusted file and software download sources are Peer-to-Peer networks (torrent clients), free file hosting websites, freeware download sites, and unofficial web pages. These are used to distribute malicious files by disguising them as legitimate and regular. When users download and open (execute) the files, however, they inadvertently install malware.

Fake software updating tools cause damage by installing malware rather than updates/fixes for installed software, or by exploiting bugs/flaws of outdated software. Trojans are malicious programs that can cause chain infections by installing other software of this kind. Note that malware can only be distributed in this way if Trojans are already installed on computers.

Unofficial activation ('cracking') tools are illegal programs that supposedly activate licensed software free of charge and bypass activation, however, they often install other malicious programs instead.

How to protect yourself from ransomware infections

Download software and files from official websites and via direct links. It is not safe to use torrent clients, eMule (or other Peer-to-Peer networks), third party downloaders, unofficial websites or other sources of this kind.

Avoid third party installers. Check "Advanced", "Custom" and other settings, and decline offers to download or install unwanted software. Do not click ads that are displayed on dubious websites, since they can open other untrusted websites or even cause unwanted downloads and installations.

Remove any unwanted, suspicious applications (extensions, add-ons, and plug-ins) that are installed on the browser. The same should be applied to programs of this kind that are installed on the operating system.

Regularly scan your computer with reputable antivirus or anti-spyware software and keep this software up to date.

If your computer is already infected with PUAs, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows to automatically eliminate them.

Text presented in the window displayed by Rickwrecked ransomware during system reboot:

Hello. ur pc is trashed by the rickwrecked trojan. You want ur data back? go to this link for instructions: youtu.be/oHg5SJYRHA0

Screenshot of the error message (pop-up) displayed by Rickwrecked before the system is forcefully rebooted:

Rickwrecked ransomware pop-up

Text presented in the error message (pop-up):

Critical Error!


Never gonna give you up never gonna let you down never gonna run around and desert you



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Quick menu:

"Rickwrecked" virus removal:

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 starting process press the F8 key on your keyboard multiple times until you see the Windows Advanced Option menu, 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: Go to the Windows 8 Start Screen, type Advanced, in the search results select Settings. Click on Advanced Startup options, in the opened "General PC Settings" window select Advanced Startup. Click on the "Restart now" button.

Your computer will now restart into "Advanced Startup options menu". Click on the "Troubleshoot" button, then click on "Advanced options" button. In the advanced option screen click on "Startup settings". Click on the "Restart" button.

Your PC will restart into the Startup Settings screen. Press "5" to boot in Safe Mode with Networking Prompt.

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 "Rickwrecked" 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 viruses using "Safe Mode with Command Prompt" and "System Restore":

1. During your computer starting 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 "Rickwrecked" 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 remnants of the "Rickwrecked" virus.

If you cannot start your computer in Safe Mode with Networking (or with Command Prompt), boot your computer using a rescue disk. Some viruses disable Safe Mode making it's removal complicated. For this step, you require access to another computer.

After removing "Rickwrecked" virus from your PC, restart your computer and scan it with legitimate anti-spyware software to remove any possible remnants of this security infection.

Other tools known to remove this scam:

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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.

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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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