Crypt0L0cker Ransomware [Updated]

Also Known As: Crypt0L0cker virus
Damage level: Severe

What is Crypt0L0cker?

Crypt0L0cker (or TorrentLocker) is a ransomware infection that infiltrates computers using infected email message attachments (message topics often include: “package tracking”, ”speeding tickets”, “unpaid invoice”, etc.) Note that cyber criminals localise these spam email messages to make them appear legitimate.

For example, computer users located in the United Kingdom receive fake email messages claiming to be package tracking messages from Royal Mail, PC users from Australia receive messages from Australia Post, etc. After successful infiltration, this malware encrypts files on victims' computers and demands ransom payments of 2.2 Bitcoin to decrypt them.

Crypt0l0cker ransomware (some newer variants use the name CryptoLocker) encrypts all files found on victims' computers except the following: .html, .inf, .manifest, .chm, .ini, .tmp, .log, .url, .lnk, .cmd, .bat, .scr, .msi, .sys, .dll, .exe,  .avi, .wav, .mp3, .gif, .ico, .png, .bmp, and .txt (files needed for normal Windows operation).

Crypt0L0cker virus

Successfully encrypted files receive .encrypted or .enc prefix in dedicated folders containing encrypted files. Crypt0l0cker provides DECRYTP_INSTRUCTIONS.html and DECRYPT_INSTRUCTIONS.txt files with instructions on how to pay the ransom. Updated variants of this ransomware use 6 random letters as an extension for encrypted files.

The ransom demanding messages are presented in HOW_TO_RESTORE_FILES.txt and HOW_TO_RESTORE_FILES.html files. This ransomware is targeted at computer users from Australia, Austria, Canada, Czech Republic, Italy, Ireland, France, Germany, Netherlands, Korea, Thailand, New Zealand, Spain, Turkey, and the United Kingdom.

This is an updated variant of malware previously known as TorrentLocker. Cyber criminals responsible for creating Crypt0l0cker ransomware use TOR network to collect ransom payments from victims. TOR network ensures that criminals' identities and locations remain anonymous.

Ransomware infections such as Crypt0L0cker (including CryptoWall, TeslaCrypt, and CTB-Locker) present a strong case to maintain regular backups of your stored data.

Note that paying the ransom 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 your files will ever be decrypted.

To avoid computer infection with ransomware infections such as this, express caution when opening email messages - cyber criminals use various catchy titles to trick PC users into opening infected email attachments. At time of writing, no tools were available to decrypt files affected by Crypt0locker malware without paying the ransom.

Crypt0l0cker ransomware changes victim's desktop wallpaper:

crypt0l0cker ransomware wallpaper

Screenshot of a folder containing files encrypted by Crypt0l0cker ransomware (files receive .encrypted or .enc extensions):

crypt0l0cker ransomware encyrpted folder

Updated variant of Crypt0l0cker ransomware appends 6 random characters to extensions of the encrypted files:

crypt0l0cker ransomware updated - randomg encrypted file extensions

Cyber criminals are using various social engineering campaigns that are designed to trick PC users into downloading the executable file of Crypt0l0cker ransomware. Here's one example - a scam page which claims that user's photos have been stolen - to see them they should download a file. This file is a rogue java script file that eventually infect user's PC with Crypt0l0cker ransomware.

crypt0l0cker ransomware promoting scam page (fake download)

Cyber criminals have translated Crypt0l0cker ransomware into various languages to target different countries. Here is an example of this ransomware targeting PC users from Korea:

Crypt0L0cker virus targeted at PC users from Korea

Screenshots of Crypt0l0cker ransomware targeting PC users from Germany (adds “wie_zum_Wiederherstellen_von_Dateien.html” and “wie_zum_Wiederherstellen_von_Dateien.txt” files):

crypt0l0cker ransomware germany crypt0l0cker wie_zum_Wiederherstellen_von_Dateien.txt

Screenshot of DECRYTP_INSTRUCTIONS.html file:

Crypt0L0cker decrypt_instructions.html file

Text presented in DECRYTP_INSTRUCTIONS.html file:

WARNING we have encrypted your files with Crypt0L0cker virus. Your important files (including those on the network disks, USB, etc): photos, videos, documents, etc. were encrypted with our Crypt0L0cker virus. The only way to get your files back is to pay us. Otherwise, your files will be lost. Caution: Removing of Crypt0L0cker will not restore access to your encrypted files.

Screenshot of DECRYPT_INSTRUCTIONS.txt file:

Crypt0L0cker decrypt_instructions.txt file

Text presented in DECRYTP_INSTRUCTIONS.html file:

What happened to my files? Your important files: photos, videos, document, etc. were encrypted with our Crypt0L0cker virus. This virus uses very strong encryption algorithm - RSA -2048. Breaking of RSA-2048 encryption algorithm is impossible without special decryption key. How can I get my files back? Your files are now unusable and unreadable, you can verify it by trying to open them. The only way to restore them to a normal condition is to use our special decryption software. You can buy this decryption software on our website.

Website (reachable through Tor network) used by Cyber criminals to collect the ransom (2.2 BTC):

Crypt0L0cker buy decryption website

Samples of infected email messages used in Crypt0L0cker ransomware distribution:

infected email message used in Crypt0L0cker distribution sample 1 infected email message used in Crypt0L0cker distribution sample 2 infected email message used in Crypt0L0cker distribution sample 3 infected email message used in Crypt0L0cker distribution sample 4

Samples of rogue websites used in Crypt0L0cker ransomware distribution:

Website used in Crypt0L0cker distribution sample 1 Website used in Crypt0L0cker distribution sample 2 Website used in Crypt0L0cker distribution sample 3 Website used in Crypt0L0cker distribution sample 4

Screenshot of Crypt0l0cker decryption software (received by the victims who pay the ransom):

crypt0l0cker decryption software

Note that at time of writing, there were no known tools capable of decrypting files encrypted by Crypt0l0cker without paying the ransom (try restoring your files from Shadow copies). By following this removal guide, you will be able to remove this ransomware from your computer, however, the affected files will remain encrypted. We will update this article as soon as there is more information available regarding decryption of compromised files.

Update 15 June 2016 - Cyber criminals have updated Crypt0l0cker ransomware with a new ransom demanding message. Other updates includes the names of the files where the ransom demanding messages are present. The text version of the ransom demanding message is now stored in HOW_TO_RESTORE_FILES.txt file. The HTML variant of the ransom demanding message is now presented in HOW_TO_RESTORE_FILES.html file. Files encrypted by this ransomware continue to get the .encrypted extension. Some newer variants add .enc extension to encrypted files.

Screenshot of HOW_TO_RESTORE_FILES.html file:

crypt0l0cker how_to-_estore_files.html
HOW_TO_RESTORE_FILES.html file content:

we have encrypted your files with Crypt0L0cker virus
Your important files (including those on the network disks, USB, etc): photos, videos, documents, etc. were encrypted with our Crypt0L0cker virus. The only way to get your files back is to pay us. Otherwise, your files will be lost.
Caution: Removing of Crypt0L0cker will not restore access to your encrypted files.
To recover your files you have to pay.
In order to restore the files open our website - and follow the instructions.
If the website is not available please follow these steps:
1. Download and install TOR-browser from this link: https://www.torproject.org/download/download-easy.html.en
2. After installation run the browser and enter the address: -
3. Follow the instructions on the website.

Screenshot of HOW_TO_RESTORE_FILES.txt file:

crypt0l0cker how_to_restore_files.txt
HOW_TO_RESTORE_FILES.txt file content:

            !!! WE HAVE ENCRYPTED YOUR FILES WITH Crypt0L0cker !!!

Your important files (including those on the network disks, USB, etc): photos,
videos, documents, etc. were encrypted with our Crypt0L0cker. The only way to
get your files back is to pay us. Otherwise, your files will be lost.
You have to pay us if you want to recover your files.
In order to restore the files open our website
and follow the instructions.
If the website is not available please follow these steps:
1. Download and run TOR-browser from this link: https://www.torproject.org/download/download-easy.html.en
2. After installation run the browser and enter the address: -
3. Follow the instructions on the website.


 Screenshots of a website used by Cyber criminals to give ransom demand instructions and communicate with their victims:

"Buy decryption" section:

crypt0l0cker website

Buy decryption and get all your files back
Buy decryption for 499 USD before 2016-06-20 12:41:31 PM OR buy it later with the price of 998 USD
Time left before price increase: 119:59:24 Your total files encrypted: 8300 Current price: 0.77387415 BTC (around 499 USD) Paid until now: 0 BTC (around 0 USD) Remaining amount: 0.77387415 BTC (around 499 USD) Buy Decryption with
1. Register bitcoin wallet
You should register Bitcoin wallet, see easy instructions or watch video on YouTube.
2. Buy bitcoins
Please see recommended bitcoin sellers in your country:
howtobuybitcoins.info - List of places to buy bitcoins in your country.
localbitcoins.com - Buy bitcoin. Fast, easy and safe. Near you.
www.happycoins.com - European Bitcoin exchange with instant payment methods like Sofort, iDEAL, MisterCash.
dagensia.eu - You can get your first Bitcoin with Sofort Uberweisung, SEPA or Bank wire.
www.coinmama.com - Buy Bitcoins with your credit card, Western Union, MoneyGram, Perfect Money and more!
3. Send Bitcoins for decryption software
Send 0.77387415 BTC (around 499 USD) to our Bitcoin wallet address. It is possible to split total amount into several payments.
Our bitcoin wallet address: 1KqrpapPyyvm38cyT7KZydwFVkj8jrP49w
4. Verify payment and decrypt your files
Press "Verify Payment" button and receive decryption software download link.

"Decrypt single file" section:

crypt0l0cker website

Decrypt Single File free
Make sure that decryption is possible, restore one file for free before you buy the decryption
Please select a file to decrypt, website will decrypt only one file
Note: file should not be more than 1 megabyte

"Frequently Asked Questions" section:

 crypt0l0cker website

How can I decrypt my files after payment ?
Buy and download the decryption software
After your bitcoin transaction is verified (it takes 5-10 minutes after payment is done), you will be given a download link for your unique decryption software. Download and run the software on your encrypted PC, decryption process may take up to 4 hours.
Will the decryption software restore my files on network disk(s) ?
Connect encrypted network drive(s) to PC and then run the software
If you have your files encrypted on any network disk(s), you should run decryption software right after you connect the disk(s) to your PC. Software will decrypt all files on your PC, then will decrypt the files on network disk(s).
My files were encrypted more then a month ago, can I still decrypt them ?
It will be impossible to restore files after 1 month
No, your unique decryption software will be deleted after one month period. When it happens no one, including us, can help you restoring your files. All your data will be lost forever.

Crypt0L0cker ransomware removal:

Instant automatic malware removal: Manual threat removal might be a lengthy and complicated process that requires advanced IT skills. Combo Cleaner 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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Video suggesting what steps should be taken in case of a ransomware infection:

Quick menu:

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:


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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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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