Esmeralda Ransomware - How to remove

Esmeralda Ransomware

Esmeralda ransomware is one of the most recent ransomware viruses, which was discovered on the 28th of October, 2016. It is recognized as the new version of Apocalypse ransomware by cyber security researchers, including the investigators of Emsisoft. Esmeralda crypto-ransomware is detected under the following names by antivirus utilities: FileCryptor.NAT, Gen:Win32.Malware.aqW@aKCOPKj, Mal/FakeAV-CS, Ransom_ESMERALDA.A, TR/Samca.olqkw, Trj/GdSda.A, Troj.W32.Fsysna!c, Trojan.Win32.Fsysna.eabk, W32/Fsysna.CS!tr, W32/Trojan.BYDE-4649, Win32.Trojan.WisdomEyes.16070401.9500.996. Read the article to the end. You will now later, why this is needed.

A Brief Analysis of Esmeralda Ransomware

Esmeralda crypto locker is developed to make use of the standard asymmetric encryption to compromise the victim’s data files. The encrypted files, such as DOC, DOCX, XLS, XLSX, JPG, PPT, etc. files, are appended .encrypted extension. For example, My_photo.jpeg is renamed My_photo.jpeg, after it has been encrypted. When the files have been encrypted, they are locked and, thus, made unavailable to be opened by the user. In fact, these data containers are made completely useless.

After the encryption routine by Esmeralda crypto malware has successfully been carried out. The file of the ransom note, called How_to_Decrypt.txt, emerges in each and every compromised folder of damaged files. The same text of the ransom message, enclosed in the Notepad file, appears on the victim’s desktop, replacing the previous wallpaper:

Windows has encountered a critical problem and needs your immediate action to recover your data. The system access is locked and all the data have been encrypted to avoid the information be published or misused. You will not be able to access to your files and ignoring this message may cause the total loss of the data. We are sorry for the inconvenience.

You need to contact the email below to restore the data of your system.

Email: [email protected]

You will have to order the Unlock-Password and the Esmeralda Decryption Software. All the instructions will be sent to you by email.

As it is observable from the first words of the note, the message introduces itself as a system security notification, but as you continue to read, it gives you no doubt that you are dealing with the ransomware and the crypto hackers behind it. They want to be contacted by the [email protected] e-mail, which points to the Russian e-mail service provider and can give grounds for the speculations that the coders of Esmeralda file-encrypting virus are of Russian origin.

On the other hand, the details regarding the size of the ransom and the payment procedure are only disclosed, unless the victim has contacted the cyber criminals. Since the developers of this malicious program are criminals to the full meaning of this word, we adhere to the general opinion to recommend you not to get in touch with them.

In What Way Esmeralda Ransomware is Injected onto the Computer’s System?

Esmeralda ransomware, like all of the ransom viruses, is not only a crypto-malware, but also a trojan virus, which means that it infiltrates into the system to be compromised in the fraudulent fashion. This involves the spam e-mail attacks, disguised downloads, hacked websites, etc. Consequently, in order the user did not download the payload of the ransomware on his PC, he needs to adhere to the general cyber safety rules such as having a licensed anti-malware utility running on the computer’s system (e.g. Malwarebytes), which should be updated as a matter of usual practice. In addition to this, the spam folder of one’s e-mail box should be the forbidden area not to be bypassed. Besides, users must be more careful with free downloads and inspect their installers more thoroughly, neglecting the default installation.

How to Unlock the Files and Remove the Infection?

The decrypter by security analysts is still a future venture. Thus, you are not able to unlock your files at the present moment. You can only use the backed up copies or try to restore them. For the first option, employ USB flash drives or other removable drives, only if they were used before the infection has taken place. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to use the Shadow Volume Copies, since they have been deleted. For the second option, use such professional tools as Recuva, restoration tools by Kaspersky Lab, etc.

This paragraph, in fact, must be read before the above one. Because the Esmeralda malware must be removed before the data restoration works are being implemented. The reason for that is quite obvious – the virus can encrypt further, if it remains on the system active. Imaging of the infected drive can even be done before the removal of the ransomware. To remove Esmeralda trojan, run a full system scan with Spyhunter. The effectiveness of these anti-spyware tools correspond to the order they are listed. The manual removal instructions come next. Note. They can be difficult to implement successfully, since you are dealing with ransomware attack.

How to recover Esmeralda 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 Esmeralda 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 Esmeralda 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 Esmeralda Ransomware. You can check other tools here.  

Step 3. Restore Esmeralda 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 Esmeralda 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 Esmeralda 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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