Pirated software has been detected - Virus

Also Known As: VirLocker ransomware
Distribution: Low
Damage level: High

"Pirated software has been detected" ransomware removal instructions

What is the "This computer was automatically blocked. Reason: Pirated software has been detected" message?

The 'Pirated software has been detected' message blocks computer systems demanding payment of a fine for supposedly owning pirated software. This is a scam, a ransomware virus that infiltrates operating systems via drive-by downloads, exploit kits, infected email attachments, and fake downloads (for example, rogue video players, or fake Flash updates). After successful infiltration, this malicious program blocks the computer screen with a message stating that pirated content was detected and that the user must pay a 500 EUR (or 500 CAD) fine using bitcoins within three days to avoid criminal charges and arrest. Cyber criminals responsible for creating this scam aim to trick PC users into believing that they have committed law violations and must pay the fine as a consequence. In fact, no international authorities (including the Department of Justice) use screen blocking messages to collect fines for any law violations.

Although the 'Pirated software has been detected' ransomware states that the victim's files are encrypted, in fact, this malware does not encrypt them. It does, however, change image files (for example .jpg files) to executable files by adding .exe extensions to each file name. At time of research, it is not clear whether cyber criminals are able to revert these changes even if the victim pays the ransom. The good news is that this malware does not start in Safe Mode with Networking or remove the shadow copies of the files. This makes removal and restoration of the files relatively simple.

Screenshot of a 'Pirated software has been detected' ransomware message targeting computer users from the European Union:

pirated software detected ransomware tageting PC users living in EU

Threat Summary:
Name VirLocker ransomware
Threat Type Ransomware, Crypto Virus, Files locker
Ransom Demanding Message Lockscreen
Cybercriminals' Cryptowallet Address 1NdR8tEKRBoQ1oiyAPhpuks9Uct6XftEdW
Ransom Amount €500, $500, $150, $250 - the size varies depending on ransomware's variant.
Detection Names Avast (Win32:VirLock-B [Trj]), BitDefender (Win32.Virlock.Gen.1), ESET-NOD32 (A Variant Of Win32/Virlock.D), Kaspersky (Virus.Win32.PolyRansom.b), 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 ransomware locks the computer screen and prevents users from accessing the system. The lockscreen claims that user is using pirated software and they will receive a fine if they won't submit an immediate payment.
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)

To eliminate possible malware infections, scan your computer with legitimate antivirus software. Our security researchers recommend using Malwarebytes.
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To use full-featured product, you have to purchase a license for Malwarebytes. 14 days free trial available.

Another variant (updated) of this ransomware virus named "Operation Global 3" - encrypts and infects victim's files:

operation global 3 ransomware

If you are dealing with the Operation Global 3 ransomware you can use a file decryption tool created by Nathan Scott (aka DecrypterFixer) to decrypt you compromised files. Download the Operation Global 3 decrypt tool here.

Video showing how to use this tool:

Ransomware infections such as this present a strong argument to maintain regular backups of your stored data. Note that paying the fine as demanded by this ransomware is equivalent to sending your money to cyber criminals - you will support their malicious business model and there is no guarantee that you will ever recover your modified files. To avoid computer infection with ransomware infections such as 'Pirated software has been detected', express caution when opening email messages, since cyber criminals use various catchy titles to trick PC users into opening infected email attachments (for example, 'UPS Exception Notification'). Keep your operating system and all installed programs (Java, Flash, etc.) up-to-date and use reputable antivirus and anti-spyware software. Research shows that cyber criminals also use P2P networks and fake downloads (containing bundled ransomware infections) to proliferate 'Pirated software has been detected' ransomware.

Here's a screenshot of yet another variant of this ransomware (discovered on 2017 January 26 by security researcher Nathan Scott):

pirated software updated variant 2017 btc payment

If your computer is infected with this variant you can type 0000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000 (64 zero's) in the "Transfer ID:" field. Then click "PAY FINE". This will unblock your computer and double clicking on your infected files (with .exe extension) will actually open them instead of opening the ransom demanding message.

Screenshot of a 'Pirated software has been detected' ransomware message targeting computer users living in Canada:

pirated software detected ransomware targeting computer users from Canada

Fake message presented by this ransomware (cyber criminals are exploiting the name of the Department of Justice):

This computer was automatically blocked. Reason: Pirated software has been detected
Wilful copyright infringement is a federal crime that carries penalties of up to five years in federal prison, a $250,000 fine, forfeiture and restitution (17 U.S.C s.506, 18 U.S.C s.2319)
As a first-time offender you are required by law to pay a fine of 500 EUR (or 500 CAD) If the fine is not paid within three days, a warrant will be issued for your arrest, which will be forwarded to your local authorities. You will be charged, fined, convicted for up to 5 years. How to pay a fine? There are two ways to pay a fine: 1. You can pay the fine online through BitCoin. BitCoin is available nationwide. Click the tabs below to find the nearest vendor. You computer will be unblocked after the payment is made. 2. (Offline Option) You can come to your local courthouse and pay the fine at the ‘Cashiers’ window. A special restoration software will be sent to you by mail within a week after payment is made. To regain access now you must make a bitcoin transfer to the Department of Justice address. Note: Files on this computer have been temporarily encrypted. Files will be permanently lost if the fine is not paid or an attempt to remove this message is detected. Operation Stop Online Piracy-Project Global 3 is a coordinated effort by U.S., Canadian, European, Australian, U.K., New Zealand and other law enforcement agencies across the globe targeting computers with pirated content.

Yet another variant of "Pirated software has been detected" ransomware:

Pirated Software Has Been Detected ransomware lock screen

Text presented within this lockscreen:

Unauthorized or pirated software has been detected. System has been blocked under the authority of 17 U.S.C s.506

Willful copyright infringement is a federal crime that carries penalties of up to five years in federal prison, a $250,000 fine, forfeiture and restitution (17 U.S.C s.506, 18 U.S.C s.2319)

As a first-time offender you are required by law to pay a fine of 500 USD
If the fine is not paid within three days, a warrant will be issued for your arrest, which will be forwarded to your local authorities. You will be charged, fined, convicted for up to 5 years.

There are two ways to pay a fine:
1. You can pay the fine online through BitCoin. BitCoin is available nationwide.
Click the tabs below to find the nearest exchange or an ATM. Your computer will be unlocked after you make your payment.
2. (Offline Option) You can come to your local courthouse and pay the fine at the 'Cashiers' window.
You will need your personal identification documents and computer ID. You must appear in person.
Your computer will be unlocked within 4-5 working days.
To regain access now transfer BitCoins to the following address (click to copy):
1NdR8tEKRBoQ1oiyAPhpuks9Uct6XftEdW
After the payment is finalized enter Transfer ID below.
Online fine payments are processed by Chase Paymentech.
Amount Transfer ID:
BTC 1.779
PAY FINE
Note: Hard drive contents, network files on this computer have been encrypted and will be inaccessible until the fine is paid.
Any attempt to remove this message will damage your files, hardware and Windows installation.
View encrypted files
Payment BitCoin Information BitCoin Exchanges BitCoin ATM Internet Browser Notepad
Operation Global III Is a coordinated effort by U.S., Canadian, European, Australian, New Zealand and other law enforcement agencies across the globe targeting computers with pirated content.

Appearance of this lockscreen (GIF):

Pirated Software Has Been Detected ransomware lock screen (GIF)

Yet another variant of "Pirated software has been detected" pop-up scam:

Pirated software has been detected scam (2020-12-18)

Text presented within:

This computer contains pirated software and has been blocked by ICE-Homeland Security Investigations.

Willful copyright infringement is a federal crime that carries penalties of up to five years in federal prison, a $250,000 fine, forfeiture and restition (17 U.S.C s.506, 18 U.S.C s.2319)

As a first-time offender you are required by law to pay a fine of 500 USD
If the fine is not paid within three days, a warrant will be issued for your arrest,
which will be forwarded to your local authorities. You will be charged, fined, convicted for up to 5 years.
How to pay a fine? There are two ways to pay a fine:
1.You can pay the fine online through BitCoin. BitCoin is available nationwide.
Click the tabs below to find the nearest vendor. Your computer will be unlocked after the payment is made.
2.(Offline Option) You can come to your local courthouse and pay the fine at the 'Cashiers' window.
A special restoration software will be sent to you by mail within a week after the payment is made.
To regain access now transfer BitCoins to the following address (click to copy):
1NdR8tEKRBoQ1oiyAPhpuks9Uct6XftEdW
After the payment is finalized enter Transfer ID below.
Amount Transfer ID:
BTC 1.773 [PAY FINE]

Note: All files on this computer have been encrypted with a strong symmetric algorithm and a 4096-bit key. Files will be inaccessible until the fine is paid.
Attempt to remove this message will result in irreversible damage to your files, hardware and Windows installation. View encrypted files
Payment BitCoin Information BitCoin Exchanges BitCoin ATMs Internet Browser Notepad
Project Global 3 is a coordinated effort by U.S., Canadian, European, Australian, New Zealand and other law enforcement agencies across the globe targeting computers with pirated content and their operators.

"Pirated software has been detected" 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, 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":

Video showing how to start Windows XP in "Safe Mode with Networking":

Windows 8 users:

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.

Windows 8 Safe Mode with networking

Video showing how to start Windows 8 in "Safe Mode with Networking":

Step 2

Log in to the account infected with "Pirated software has been detected" ransomware. 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, 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 "Pirated software has been detected" 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 "Pirated software has been detected" files.

To restore individual files modified by this ransomware, try using the Windows Previous Versions feature. This method is only effective if the System Restore function was enabled on an infected operating system.

To restore a file, right-click on 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

To regain control of the files modified by "Pirated software has been detected" ransomware, 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 encrypting/modifying ransomware such as this, use reputable antivirus and anti-spyware programs.

cryptoprevent screenshot

More information on how to use this program is available here.

Other tools known to remove "Pirated software has been detected" ransomware:

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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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Removal Instructions in other languages
Malware activity

Global malware activity level today:

Medium threat activity

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

QR Code
VirLocker ransomware QR code
A QR code (Quick Response Code) is a machine-readable code which stores URLs and other information. This code can be read using a camera on a smartphone or a tablet. Scan this QR code to have an easy access removal guide of VirLocker ransomware on your mobile device.
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