Locky Ransomware [Updated]

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

Locky ransomware removal instructions

What is Locky?

Locky is ransomware distributed via malicious .doc files attached to spam email messages. Each word document contains scrambled text, which appear to be macros. When users enable macro settings in the Word program, an executable file (the ransomware) is downloaded. Various files are then encrypted. Note that Locky changes all file names to a unique 16-letter and digit combination with .diablo6, .aesir, .shit, .thor, .locky, .zepto or .odin file extension. Thus, it becomes virtually impossible to identify the original files. All are encrypted using the RSA-2048 and AES-1024 algorithms and, therefore, a private key (stored on remote servers controlled by cyber criminals) is required for decryption. To decrypt the files, victims must pay a ransom.

After the files are encrypted, Locky creates an additional .txt and _HELP_instructions.html (or _WHAT_is.html) file in each folder containing the encrypted files. Furthermore, this ransomware changes the desktop wallpaper. Both text files and wallpaper contain the same message that informs users of the encryption. It states that files can only be decrypted using a decrypter developed by cyber criminals and costing .5 BitCoin (at time of research, .5 BTC was equivalent to $207.63). To proceed, the victim must install the Tor browser and follow a link provided in the text files/wallpaper. The website contains step-by-step payment instructions. Locky deletes all file shadow volume copies. Currently, there are no tools capable of decrypting files affected by Locky - the only solution to this problem is to restore your files from a backup.

Locky decrypt instructions

There are hundreds of ransomware-type malware infections similar or identical to Locky including, for instance, Cryptowall, JobCrypter, UmbreCrypt, TeslaCrypt, and DMA-Locker. All have identical behavior - they encrypt files and demand a ransom. The only difference is the size of ransom and type of algorithm used to encrypt the files. Research also shows that there is no guarantee that your files will ever be decrypted even after paying the ransom. By paying, you simply support cyber criminals' malicious businesses. Therefore, you should never pay the ransom or attempt to contact them. Be aware also that malware such as Locky is usually distributed via fake software updates, P2P networks, malicious email attachments, and trojans. Therefore, it is very important to keep your installed software up-to-date and to double check what you are downloading. Be cautious when opening email attachments sent from suspicious addresses and use a legitimate anti-spyware or anti-virus suite.

Threat Summary:
Name Locky virus
Threat Type Ransomware, Crypto Virus, Files locker
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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Below is are screenshots of email messages used in Locky ransomware distribution.

For example - email subject - "ATTN: Invoice J-12345678”, infected attachment - "invoice_J-12345678.doc" (contains macros that download and install Locky ransomware on computers):

Dear someone, Please see the attached invoice (Microsoft Word Document) and remit payment according to the terms listed at the bottom of the invoice. Let us know if you have any questions. We greatly appreciate your business!

Here are some screenshots of spam email messages containing infected attachments that install Locky ransomware on victims' computers:

spam email distributing locky sample 4 spam email distributing locky sample 3 spam email distributing locky sample 2 infected email attachment distributing Locky ransomware

Another way cyber criminals are distributing Locky ransomware are fake flash player update pop-ups "Your Flash Player may be out of date" (to stay safe users should only download Flash player from it's developers website):

fake flash player update distributing locky ransomware

Screenshot of _HELP_instructions.html (or _WHAT_is.html) file created by Locky ransomware:

locky ransomware _HELP_instructions.html file

_Locky_recover_instructions.txt (or _HELP_instructions.txt) text file:

Text file with ransom payment instructions

Text presented in the desktop wallpaper and .txt files created by Locky:

!!! IMPORTANT INFORMATION !!!!


All of your files are encrypted with RSA-2048 and AES-128 ciphers.
More information about the RSA and AES can be found here:
hxxps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RSA_(cryptosystem)
hxxps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Advanced_Encryption_Standard


Decrypting of your files is only possible with the private key and decrypt program, which is on our secret server.
To receive your private key follow one of the links:
1. hxxp://6dtxxxxm4crv6rr6.tor2web.org/07Bxxx75DC646805
2. hxxp://6dtxxxxgqam4crv6rr6.onion.to/07Bxxx75DC646805
3. hxxp://6dtxxxxgqam4crv6rr6.onion.cab/07Bxxx75DC646805
4. hxxp://6dtxxxxgqam4crv6rr6.onion.link/07Bxxx75DC646805


If all of this addresses are not available, follow these steps:
1. Download and install Tor Browser: hxxps://www.torproject.org/download/download-easy.html
2. After a successful installation, run the browser and wait for initialization.
3. Type in the address bar: 6dtxxxxm4crv6rr6.onion/07Bxxx75DC646805
4. Follow the instructions on the site.
!!! Your personal identification ID: 07Bxxx75DC646805 !!!

Screenshot of a desktop infected with Locky ransomware:

locky ransomware attacking victims computer

Locky ransomware website informing victims on how to pay the ransom to receive the "Locky Decrypter" software - supposedly software that will decrypt their compromised files:

Website selling Locky decryptor

File types targeted by Locky ransomware:

.mid, .wma, .flv, .mkv, .mov, .avi, .asf, .mpeg, .vob, .mpg, .wmv, .fla, .swf, .wav, .qcow2, .vdi, .vmdk, .vmx, .gpg, .aes, .ARC, .PAQ, .tar.bz2, .tbk, .bak, .tar, .tgz, .rar, .zip, .djv, .djvu, .svg, .bmp, .png, .gif, .raw, .cgm, .jpeg, .jpg, .tif, .tiff, .NEF, .psd, .cmd, .bat, .class, .jar, .java, .asp, .brd, .sch, .dch, .dip, .vbs, .asm, .pas, .cpp, .php, .ldf, .mdf, .ibd, .MYI, .MYD, .frm, .odb, .dbf, .mdb, .sql, .SQLITEDB, .SQLITE3, .asc, .lay6, .lay, .ms11 (Security copy), .sldm, .sldx, .ppsm, .ppsx, .ppam, .docb, .mml, .sxm, .otg, .odg, .uop, .potx, .potm, .pptx, .pptm, .std, .sxd, .pot, .pps, .sti, .sxi, .otp, .odp, .wks, .xltx, .xltm, .xlsx, .xlsm, .xlsb, .slk, .xlw, .xlt, .xlm, .xlc, .dif, .stc, .sxc, .ots, .ods, .hwp, .dotm, .dotx, .docm, .docx, .DOT, .max, .xml, .txt, .CSV, .uot, .RTF, .pdf, .XLS, .PPT, .stw, .sxw, .ott, .odt, .DOC, .pem, .csr, .crt, .key, wallet.dat

A ransom payment page ('Locky Decryptor'):

locky decryptor payment page

Update 18 April 2016 - A new copycat ransomware has been released that impersonates Locky. AutoLocky is new ransomware created by cyber criminals using the AutoIt programming language. It attempts to impersonate the original Locky ransomware by assigning the .Locky extension to encrypted files. To determine if your computer is infected with AutoLocky ransomware, look at the ransom demand message - it differs from the original Locky ransomware. The good news for the victims of AutoLocky is that Fabian Wosar from Emsisoft has created a free decrypter that will decrypt compromised files free of charge. Download link - Emsisoft Decrypter for AutoLocky. Before using this tool, victims of AutoLocky should scan their computers with legitimate anti-malware software to first terminate its processes and remove associated malware files. You can then use the decrypter to regain control of your compromised data.

Screenshot of AutoLocky decrypter by Fabian Wosar from Emsisoft:

autolocky decrypter

Autolocky ransomware creates a Info.html and Info.txt file on the desktop:

autolocky ransomware

Text presented within these files:

Locky ransomware
All of your files are encrypted with RSA-2048 and AES-128 ciphers. More information about the RSA and AES can be found here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RSA (crypto system) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Advanced_Encryption_standard Decrypting of your files is only possible with the following steps How to buy decryption? 1. You can make a payment with BitCoins, there are many methods to get them. 2. You should register BitCoin wallet (simplest online wallet OR some other methods of creating wallet) 3. Purchasing BitCoins - Although it’s not yet easy to buy bitcoins, it’s getting simpler every day.

Locky 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:

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 a ransomware that is not supported by ID Ransomware, you can always try searching the internet by using certain keywords (for example, ransom message title, file extension, provided contact emails, cryptowallet 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, cyber criminals 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 EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard Pro. 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).

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EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard Pro

By downloading any software listed on this website you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. Trial version of EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard Pro is capable of scanning drives and listing recoverable files - to restore them, you must purchase a license.

Step 1: Perform a scan.

Hover your mouse over the partition you wish to scan and select "Scan". You can also select a specific folder, or click shortcut icons to scan the Desktop or Recycle Bin: Scanning the storage drive with EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard PRO (step 1)

Wait for EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard Pro 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 hundreds 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: Scanning the storage drive with EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard PRO (step 2)

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. Note also that the trial version of EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard Pro is only capable of scanning drives and listing recoverable files - to restore them, you must purchase a license: Recovering data with EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard Pro

Step 3: Save the scan session (optional).

We recommend that you save the scanning session once you have completed recovery, in case you decide to recover additional files later. Simply click the "Save Scan Session" icon in the upper-right corner of the screen and choose the location for the file to be saved. This will save a lot of time, since you will not need to re-scan the storage drive the next time you wish to restore something. Bear in mind, however, that data removed after the scanning session has finished will not be listed: Saving scan session in EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard Pro

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 necessary information on Microsoft's documentation web page.

Data backups: The most reliable backup method 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 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. Therefore, you should consider using an application to create data backups locally.

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EaseUS Todo Backup

By downloading any software listed on this website you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. To use full-featured product, you have to purchase a license for EaseUS Todo Backup. 30 days free trial available.

We recommend using the EaseUS Todo Backup application. The "Home" edition of EaseUS Todo Backup is usually more than adequate for regular users, however, the "Business" edition is more suitable for companies and large computer networks. The EaseUS Todo Backup application provides extensive data protection features. You can easily create backups, and encrypt and compress them for enhanced protection and storage saving purposes. It also allows you to set backup schedules, create bootable devices, and restore the system if a crash occurs. You can easily choose where to store the created backup: locally; uploaded to an external drive; FTP; cloud storage, or elsewhere. In summary, EaseUS Todo Backup is an all-in-one tool, which provides all features required to properly backup your data.

Creating a data backup:

The backup process is virtually identical regardless of the item (file, partition, entire system) you wish to backup. Taking the File Backup feature as an example:

Step 1: Choose which item to backup.

Click on the "Menu" icon in the upper-left corner of the screen to reveal the menu and select "File Backup": Creating data backups with EaseUS Todo Backup tool (step 1)

Select the files you want to backup. You can also enter a name and description of the backup that will be created: Creating data backups with EaseUS Todo Backup tool (step 2)

Step 2: Change the default settings.

The EaseUS Todo Backup application provides a variety of additional options that can be added/modified while creating the backup. For example, you can encrypt data (add a password), select the compression rate (how much the backup should be compressed), performance (how many system resources should be allocated), add an email notification (you receive an email once the process is complete) and so on.

To open the options window, click the "Backup options" button in the lower-left corner of the screen: Creating data backups with EaseUS Todo Backup tool (step 3)

Select the settings you want to change and click "Save". You can also reset your changes by clicking "Reset to initial settings": Creating data backups with EaseUS Todo Backup tool (step 4)

Step 3: Select the backup destination.

As mentioned above, EaseUS Todo Backup allows you to choose where backups are saved - locally or externally.

Click the "Browse..." button and select the location you want the backup to be saved: Creating data backups with EaseUS Todo Backup tool (step 5)

Step 4: Safety measures and process completion.

Depending on the location you have chosen, there are a number of measures you should or should not take. If you are uploading to an internet-connected location (for example, Cloud storage, FTP, etc.), be sure to maintain your internet connection, otherwise you will have to start again. The same applies to external storage devices - do not unplug them until the process is complete.

The progress bar displays estimated time remaining until completion. Large backups (hundreds of gigabytes) can take hours to create (depending on storage device speed, internet connection, etc.). Therefore, the application also allows you to optionally choose what the system should do (shut down, sleep or hibernate) once the process has finished: Creating data backups with EaseUS Todo Backup tool (step 6)

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

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.

QR Code
Locky virus 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 Locky virus on your mobile device.
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