Skull Ransomware Virus - How To Remove?

 

Skull ransomware virus is not the same as SkullLocker screen locker that we have investigated before. Skull crypto-infection encodes files with AES method of cryptography and these damaged digital files become appended with a random extension, consisting of six letters. LockedByte ransomware was another variant that did not have a unique extension and simply marked files with different labels. However, Skull crypto-virus does insert a “How_To_Decrypt_Your_Files.html” files which is actually an iframe to a different website.

Important facts about Skull file encoder

Adartmark.com/blog_howto.html website launches the ransom note with hackers’ demands. As it has become accustomed, people are introduced with situations, inflicted on their operating systems. $400 dollars are expected to be paid by victims if they wish to have their damaged digital files restored. According to the newest exchange rates, this amount of money equals 0.09032 BTC. Similar fees were indicated by hackers of FCP, Reyptson and OXAR infections.

Skull ransomware virus

Bitcoin payment system is indicated as the proper way to send ransoms. Surprisingly, the controllers of Skull ransomware (WatchGuard) include 3 separate bitcoin wallets: victims can make transactions to a wallet of their choosing. These random-demands are not surprising as most of the released crypto-viruses require payments to be made via bitcoin system. Ransomnix, Arena and Defray infections all make the same requirement.

After ransoms are sent, victims are supposed to contact hackers via Skull.and.bones2017@protonmail.com email address. In the email letter, Skull crypto-virus requires people to include their transaction number, their wallet address of the account that bitcoins were sent and the full computer hostname to the email above.

At the end of the website, you can see “Help with buying Bitcoins” which will lead to a short educational demonstration which actually only shows how a question should be type in Google’s search box. You wonder why is the bitcoin system selected by many ransomware creators? The answer is easy: transactions via this payment network are done anonymously and crooks can conceal their true identities (Metro).

How to protect digital files from being encoded? How to remove crypto-viruses?

If you are interested in keeping your valuable information safe from ransomware infections, we have to remind our readers that the best decision would be to preserve files in backup storages. There is a variety of different services that will help you reach this goal and become fully immune to crypto-viruses. Additionally, you should never respond to email letters from unknown senders as they might be originating from vicious sources, aiming to infect you with ransomware.

Reimage anti-malware tool will help you stay safe from similar infections. If you are infected with Skull ransomware virus, this tool will also be of an extreme convenience. It will help you find all of the sources of malicious activity. It can detect adware parasites, browser hijacker and other malware samples. It is important to find a malicious file that has affected your digital files. Before any type of file-restoration could take place, you have no other choice but to remove the crypto-virus beforehand. If not, files can be re-encrypted and your recovery will go to waste.

The methods for possible file-recovery can be found below. Additionally, we should also enlighten you about the tricks that could help you avoid ransomware infections from ever bothering you. One of the most important things its to never respond to online advertisements or explore bizarre websites. Malicious scripts could be ran without your knowledge and even the most innocently-looking pop-up can be the reason why your operating system became bothered by crypto-viruses.

Additionally, let’s not forget that remote desktop protocols should be properly protected since ransomware viruses have been noticed to enter due to wrong security measures. Furthermore, we hope you won’t feel eager to download attachments from email letters or follow URLs that are found inside them.

How to recover Skull ransomware virus encrypted files and remove the virus

Step 1. Restore system into last known good state using system restore

1. Reboot your computer to Safe Mode with Command Prompt:


for Windows 7 / Vista/ XP
  • Start Shutdown RestartOK.
  • Press F8 key repeatedly until Advanced Boot Options window appears.
  • Choose Safe Mode with Command Prompt. Windows 7 enter safe mode

for Windows 8 / 10
  • Press Power at Windows login screen. Then press and hold Shift key and click Restart. Windows 8-10 restart to safe mode
  • Choose TroubleshootAdvanced OptionsStartup Settings and click Restart.
  • When it loads, select Enable Safe Mode with Command Prompt from the list of Startup Settings. Windows 8-10 enter safe mode

2.Restore System files and settings.

  • When Command Prompt mode loads, enter cd restore and press Enter.
  • Then enter rstrui.exe and press Enter again. CMD commands
  • Click “Next” in the windows that appeared. Restore point img1
  • Select one of the Restore Points that are available before Skull ransomware virus has infiltrated to your system and then click “Next”. Restore point img2
  • To start System restore click “Yes”. Restore point img3

Step 2. Complete removal of Skull ransomware virus

After restoring your system, it is recommended to scan your computer with an anti-malware program, like Reimage and remove all malicious files related to Skull ransomware virus. You can check other tools here.


Step 3. Restore Skull ransomware virus affected files using Shadow Volume Copies

If you do not use System Restore option on your operating system, there is a chance to use shadow copy snapshots. They store copies of your files that point of time when the system restore snapshot was created. Usually Skull ransomware virus tries to delete all possible Shadow Volume Copies, so this methods may not work on all computers. However, it may fail to do so.

Shadow Volume Copies are only available with Windows XP Service Pack 2, Windows Vista, Windows 7, and Windows 8. There are two ways to retrieve your files via Shadow Volume Copy. You can do it using native Windows Previous Versions or via Shadow Explorer.

a) Native Windows Previous Versions

Right-click on an encrypted file and select PropertiesPrevious versions tab. Now you will see all available copies of that particular file and the time when it was stored in a Shadow Volume Copy. Choose the version of the file you want to retrieve and click Copy if you want to save it to some directory of your own, or Restore if you want to replace existing, encrypted file. If you want to see the content of file first, just click Open.


Previous version
b) Shadow Explorer

It is a program that can be found online for free. You can download either a full or a portable version of Shadow Explorer. Open the program. On the left top corner select the drive where the file you are looking for is a stored. You will see all folders on that drive. To retrieve a whole folder, right-click on it and select “Export”. Then choose where you want it to be stored.
Shadow explorer

Step 4. Use Data Recovery programs to recover Skull ransomware virus encrypted files

There are several data recovery programs that might recover encrypted files as well. This does not work in all cases but you can try this:

  • We suggest using another PC and connect the infected hard drive as slave. It is still possible to do this on infected PC though.
  • Download Data Recovery Pro (commercial)
  • Install and scan for recently deleted files. Data Recovery Pro

Note: In many cases it is impossible to restore data files affected by modern ransomware. Thus I recommend using decent cloud backup software as precaution. We recommend checking out Carbonite, BackBlaze, CrashPlan or Mozy Home.

     
 

About the author

 - Virus researcher
I’m a virus researcher and my field of specialization involves but is not limited to the newly-developed ransomware variants. In my opinion, crypto-viruses are highly-underestimated and some Internet users have very few opportunities to learn about their symptoms before it is too late. Our goal here in 2-viruses.com is to make sure that crucial information about the most relevant malware samples would be available for everyone.
 
September 5, 2017 08:21, September 5, 2017 08:21
 
   
 

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