Locky ransomware poses a threat to virtually any data. It is a computer virus that, once installed (usually with the help of MS Word documents containing malicious macros) scans its host machine for the files of specific extensions. The extensions cover nearly any known formats. Hardly a bit of information is not subject to the detection.
Further on, the invader applies a complex decryption. The modification renders the detected items into the unreadable format with .locky file extensions. To read the data, relevant decryption key shall apply. The key could only be derived from the hacker’s server. It cannot be intercepted as the files are being encoded.
Locky virus does not hack the data for fun. The virus is commercial stuff. Its makers expect the victims to pay the ransom. Detailed instructions are listed in _Locky_recover_instructions.txt, which infected users see on their desk. The ransom is a prerequisite of dispatching relevant decryption key.
Crooks will be crooks. If you pay the ransom demanded, the decryption key is to be transferred by the rascals. Some say it’s the same gang that was behind Dridex. Cases of failure to send the key have been reported by the victims encountering similar ransomware attack.
The Locky infection propagates via unrelated gangs. The ransomware developers do not spread the virus directly. On the other hand, the developers enable the distributors to manually adjust the virus behavior. It is easy to predict multiple maladjustments. Some may lead to failure of the decryption key dispatching. Hopefully, the same may lead to the encryption flaws. That contributes to ransom-free decryption.
Hence, each person engaged into the scam can both cheat and get cheated. The developers may refuse to issue the key. The distributors may fail to pay the commission and to transmit the key to the victims. The victims may make use of the encryption flaws to restore access to the data affected.
The ransom is to be paid in Bitcoins. A unique TOR channel serves each payment. The anonymity of the parties is ensured. The payment workflow is subject to further scrutiny. It may happen that several workflows apply. The possibility of the distributor receiving the full amount and transferring its part to the developer cannot be excluded. The risks inherent at the stage of exchanging the developers due to the decryption key, as well as further transferring the key to the victim shall not be underestimated. That is to say, ransom-free decryption is a preferred method, even if the victims are ready to pay as the importance of the affected data is too high.
Good news is that the history of cracking similar ransomware includes a significant record. That is, the victims may reasonably hope for the data decryption tools to be provided by the white hats in the nearest failure. Meanwhile, IT experts suggest applying general recovery routines.
Last but not least, the victims shall remove Locky ransomware; the removal, however, shall only complete after satisfactory data recovery has been achieved.
Automatic removal of Locky ransomware and .locky files restoration
The benefits of using the automatic security suite to get rid of this infection are obvious: it scans the entire system and detects all potential fragments of the virus, so you are a few mouse clicks away from a complete fix.
- Download and install recommended malware security suite
- Select Start Computer Scan feature and wait until the utility comes up with the scan report. Proceed by clicking on the Fix Threats button, which will trigger a thorough removal process to address all the malware issues compromising your computer and your privacy.
Unlock .locky files encrypted by Locky virus
Locky represents a unique category of malicious software whose attack surface reaches beyond the operating system and its components, which is why removing the virus itself is a part of the fix only. As it has been mentioned, it encrypts one’s personal information, so the next phase of the overall remediation presupposes reinstating the files that will otherwise remain inaccessible.
Launch data recovery software
Similarly to the rest of its fellow-infections, Locky most likely follows an operational algorithm where it erases the original versions of the victim’s files and actually encrypts their copies. This peculiarity might make your day, because forensics-focused applications like Data Recovery Pro are capable of restoring the information that has been removed. As the virus further evolves, its modus operandi may be altered – in the meanwhile, go ahead and try this.
Take advantage of Volume Shadow Copy Service
This technique is based on using the native backup functionality that’s shipped with Windows operating system. Also referred to as Volume Snapshot Service (VSS), this feature makes regular backups of the user’s files and keeps their most recent versions as long as System Restore is on. Locky hasn’t been found to affect these copies therefore the restoration vector in question is strongly recommended. The two sub-sections below highlight the automatic and manual workflow.
- a) Use Shadow Explorer
Shadow Explorer is an applet that provides an easy way of retrieving previous versions of files and folders. Its pro’s include an intuitive interface where the computer’s entire file hierarchy is displayed within one window. Just pick the hard disk volume, select the object or directory to be restored, right-click on it and choose Export. Follow the app’s prompts to get the job done.
- b) Use file properties
Essentially, what the above-mentioned Shadow Explorer tool does is it automates the process that can otherwise be performed manually via the Properties dialog for individual files. This particular approach is more cumbrous but just as effective as its software-based counterpart, so you can proceed by right-clicking on a specific file, which has been encrypted by Locky, and selecting Properties in the context menu. The tab named Previous Versions is the next thing to click – it displays available versions of the file by date of the snapshot creation. Pick the latest copy and complete the retrieval by following the prompts.
Data backups work wonders
Ransomware like Locky isn’t nearly as almighty and destructive in case you run regular file backups to the cloud or external data media. The virus itself can be completely removed in a matter of minutes, and the distorted information can then be just as easily recovered from the backup. Luckily, this is a growing trend, so ransom Trojans are hopefully going to become less subversive in the near future.
Verify thoroughness of the removal
Having carried out the instructions above, add a finishing touch to the security procedure by running an additional computer scan to check for residual malware activity