Harma is a computer virus that encrypts files and holds them hostage while demanding a ransom payment. If money isn’t paid, the extortionists threaten, the files will never be recovered. And though that’s not certain, Harma really is a dangerous and devastating virus.
Harma Ransomware quicklinks
- How did this happen?
- How to be prepared for ransomware?
- How to remove Harma
- Automatic Malware removal tools
- How to recover Harma 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:
- 2.Restore System files and settings.
- Step 4. Use Data Recovery programs to recover Harma ransomware encrypted files
After it has infected a computer, Harm goes through the files and encrypts them. The locked files get a new extension, “.harma” — that’s how this virus got its name. The e-mail address is also included in the names of the encrypted files, as well as the victim’s personal ID.
Harma also opens a window with a message from Harma’s developers. The ransom text is the same as another virus, TOR13.
All YOUR FILES HAVE BEEN ENCRYPTED!!! IF YOU WANT TO RESTORE THEM, WRITE US TO THE E-MAIL [email protected]
A simple ransom note in RETURN FILES.txt is also created. It says:
All your data is encrypted!
for return write to mail:
[email protected] is the email address that Harma’s developers provide as their contact. It’s prominent everywhere as the extortionists really want their victims to contact them before they do any research about alternative solutions. The given timeframe of 7 days also serves the same goal.
The files that Harma locks really are encrypted. Trying to edit them somehow, like changing the extension, will not help fix them. They’re useless as they are. But there are a few ways that could recover some of the files without requiring you to pay a ridiculous ransom of hundreds or thousands of dollars (yes, cryptoviruses nowadays do demand ransoms that big).
How did this happen?
Encryption is a valuable and important part of our online life. For example, it helps ensure that online banking is secure. Harma, like other ransomware, abuse this method of hiding information to hold files hostage. The encrypted files cannot be decrypted without the decryption keys. The problem is that those keys are managed by Harma’s developers. So, the only way to get the files back seems to be to pay the criminals behind Harma. But that should be avoided when possible, not just because nearly half the time, the people who pay extortionists don’t end up getting their files back, but also because it’s illegal and supports criminal activities.
Harma is distributed the same way as most ransomware viruses:
- Infected malicious e-mails. These e-mails carry either infected attachments or links to infected files. The files need to be opened and ran by the victim before Harma can do anything.
- Malicious ads. Fake installers or updates advertised online sometimes carry a virus, like Harma, instead of the advertised software. Fake security warnings online should always be viewed very suspiciously, because often they are either part of a tech support scam, advertising rogue applications, or even worse viruses, like Harma.
- Pirated software. Sometimes ransomware is distributed in filesharing networks, disguised as a crack for some desired commercial software.
- Remote Desktop Protocol. Sometimes a hacked RDP is used to install viruses on someone’s computer.
Additional viruses can be distributed together with Harma. Additional malware could include spyware and adware, or some more serious Trojans. A lot of viruses have the same methods of distributing.
How to be prepared for ransomware?
Backups are the most important thing when it comes to being prepared for a ransomware infection. Copies of all the important files, images of disks, or whatever other methods of saving backups are used, should be stored separately, and tested and updated as needed. With backups, if a virus like Harma infects and locks all the files, they can be replaced without much worry.
Being aware of how scam e-mails and websites are different from legitimate ones can help avoid a lot of infections.
How to remove Harma
Before restoring the files, it’s important to remove all viruses so that they aren’t allowed to cause any problems in the future. Spyhunter, or another powerful antivirus program could do this. After Harma has been removed, the files can be restored, in whatever way is available to you — check the guide below. No guarantee that these ways will work — for example, it’s likely that Harma deleted Shadow Volume Copies — but it’s worth trying. Maybe Data Recovery will work for you?
There is no free decryption for Harma available at the moment, but if you keep your encrypted files saved somewhere, there is a (small) possibility that a free tool will be developed and released for everyone — check nomoreransom.org.
Automatic Malware removal tools
How to recover Harma 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 → Restart → OK.
- Press F8 key repeatedly until Advanced Boot Options window appears.
- Choose Safe Mode with Command Prompt.
for Windows 8 / 10
- Press Power at Windows login screen. Then press and hold Shift key and click Restart.
- Choose Troubleshoot → Advanced Options → Startup Settings and click Restart.
- When it loads, select Enable Safe Mode with Command Prompt from the list of Startup Settings.
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.
- Click “Next” in the windows that appeared.
- Select one of the Restore Points that are available before Harma ransomware has infiltrated to your system and then click “Next”.
- To start System restore click “Yes”.
Step 2. Complete removal of Harma ransomwareAfter restoring your system, it is recommended to scan your computer with an anti-malware program, like Spyhunter and remove all malicious files related to Harma ransomware. You can check other tools here.
Step 3. Restore Harma ransomware affected files using Shadow Volume CopiesIf 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 Harma 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 Properties → Previous 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.
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.
Step 4. Use Data Recovery programs to recover Harma ransomware encrypted filesThere 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.