Caley Ransomware - How to remove

Caley is the name of the file-locking infection that belongs to the Phobos family of ransomware. Caley has all the same symptoms: files can’t be opened, have text added to their names, a window demanding money in Bitcoin is opened on your screen.

Caley is very similar to Adage, Help, and other Phobos variants.

This ransomware was discovered recently but has likely been spreading for a few months. It mostly uses remote desktop to infect computers, which means that anyone who has the RDP connection open and not properly secured can quickly be infected.

Caley is a part of an extortion scheme. The files are locked by an encryption algorithm which is too strong to be broken, with a unique decryption key for each victim. The text added to each of the encrypted file’s name is the id of the victim, Caley’s id, an email address of the criminals([email protected]), and “.Caley”.

Though encryption is reversible in principle, there’s no sure way to decrypt the files locked by Caley without contacting the criminals. But doing that is also not advised — the results are unlikely to be favorable to the victim, and besides, it would profit the criminals, which is the whole reason they’re doing any if this in the first place.

Caley details, removal, and file recovery:

Caley ransomware details
  • Can’t open files that were renamed, even after restoring the original name.
  • A window with a message from the criminals is opened
  • Remote Desktop Protocol
Restore the files
  • System Restore
  • Shadow Volume Copies
  • Data recovery

How ransomware spreads

Ransomware infections use a wide variety of attack vectors:

  • Malicious email spam that carries infected files as attachments or download links
  • Malicious ads or infected websites that download ransomware automatically
  • Infected programs (ransomware distributed disguised as cracks, activators, etc.)
  • Pirated software

However, Caley uses something else — it spreads mostly with the help of remote desktop hacking. Exposing your computer to the internet when it’s not properly protected against attackers will almost inevitably result in an infection, whether ransomware, a password-stealing trojan, or something else. The criminals brute-force passwords and then plant the ransomware in each computer, possibly together with some software for deactivating your anti-malware program. Which is why victims of Caley and other Phobos ransomware simply discover it on their machine one day, without having done anything.

Remember to secure your RDP connection: limit who can try to connect to your computer, change which port you use, use strong passwords and Network Level Authentication, etc. It’s the people with the poorest security who will be targeted the most, so even when your security is not perfect, making an effort is already worth a lot.

Caley ransomware

Caley’s behavior

Caley sometimes displays a User Account Control warning — it should not be accepted. Once Caley starts editing your files, it quickly goes through them, even the big ones. That’s because the big files are only partially encrypted — they’re still broken and can’t be used, so the damage is still done, but if you’re a specialist, you might be able to recover some data from some of the files.

Don’t bet on that, though, and be careful of scammers telling people that they can recover the locked files for a fee — they’re either the cryptoextortionists themselves, or, more likely, random people trying to scam you out of some money.

Writing to the criminals responsible for Caley is risky, too. They want money in Bitcoin, which means that the money can’t be recalled and the transaction can’t be reversed. A lot of ransomware victims are desperate enough to pay the ransom, but only two-thirds of them get their data back.

How to remove Caley and restore the files

It’s important to make sure that the virus is gone and doesn’t continue to interfere with your files. This can be done by scanning your computer with an up-to-date strong anti-malware program, such as SpyHunter. Using a malicious process killer or safe mode might be necessary to really catch the malware. Caley is recognized as a threat by most reputable anti-malware programs, so most professional programs should be able to remove this infection.

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As for restoring the files that Caley locked, the guide below has a list of options, though they’re not likely to work completely. Also, you keep copies of the encrypted files in case you want to try decrypting them later.

How to recover Caley Ransomware 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 Caley Ransomware 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 Caley Ransomware

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

Step 3. Restore Caley Ransomware 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 Caley Ransomware 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 Caley Ransomware 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 a data recovery program.
  • 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.

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