Skeleton Ransomware - How to remove

Skeleton Ransomware is dangerous ransomware infection that can cause detrimental damage to your computer. If you are not familiar with ransomware viruses yet, here’s a quick and accurate description about ransomware from Trendmicro: “Ransomware is a type of malware that prevents or limits users from accessing their system, either by locking the system’s screen or by locking the users’ files unless a ransom is paid”. In case you are dealing with Skeleton Ransomware, your screen won’t be locked. Instead of that, personal files stored on a hard drive will be encrypted with a strong encryption and you won’t be able to use any of them.

As usual, ransomware infections are traveling as an attachment to some email letter. Usually those letters end up in a Spam category of your inbox, but some users still get infected, Cyber criminals behind ransomware infections send a lot of those emails (millions of them) and small percentage of them get through. That’s enough to infect a decent number of computers.

Once malicious files of Skeleton ransomware are inside of the system, they will be executed automatically without you even being aware of that. During that process files stored on your hard drive will be locked. This infection can affect almost all personal files, i.e. photos, video and audio files, text documents and so on. After the encryption new extension will be added to the end of every one of them. For instance, if you had a file named “file.doc”, now it will look like this – “file.doc.[[email protected]. This ransomware features double extension “[[email protected]]. Files with this extension can not be opened or used in any other way.

After the encryption you should notice a file called “How_Decrypt_Files.txt” on every folder with encrypted files. It is a ransom note, with a brief instructions what should you do in order to decrypt you files. Original text of the message:

Hello !
All your files have been encrypted !
If you want restore your files write on email – [email protected]
In the subject write – ID-

Every infected computer gets assigned with unique ID code which is used to identify infected user, because decryption keys differs and the same one can’t be used to unlock all computers. However, we don’t recommend to pay the ransom or even try to contact cyber criminals. It would make much more sense if you tried to solve this problem the other way and we will show you how to do that.

How to remove Skeleton Ransomware and decrypt your files

First of all, you have to remove malicious files of the ransomware itself, before it has caused more damage. To do it manually you have to have a strong knowledge in cyber security field. Since you are reading this article, we assume that it’s not one of your strengths. For that purpose you should get yourself a decent anti-malware tool, such as Spyhunter. Use either one of them to scan your computer and all malicious files related to this virus should be detected and removed in no time. Why we are recommending these tools? Because they performed really good while detecting and removing infections like Napoleon virus. In fact, it’s believed that Skeleton ransomware is just a newer/updated version of Napoleon virus, thus removal shouldn’t be much different.

However, there is some bad news too. There is no decryptor for Skeleton ransomware at the moment, so you will be not able to restore your files. On the other hand, everything is possible if you have a valid copy of your hard drive that was made before the date of infection. If you have the backup, you should just restore your computer to the previous date and your files will be good to use once again. You can take a look at the sample of virus files from VirusTotal.

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

Step 3. Restore Skeleton 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 Skeleton 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 Skeleton 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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