Individuals and organizations face multiple threats online. Of these, the threat posed by ransomware is perhaps the most unsettling. This is because this kind of malware doesn’t target your system itself. Rather, it seeks to make the precious data stored on your machine inaccessible.
When a computer is taken over by ransomware, the files on it are rendered useless to their owner as they can no longer be opened despite still being visible as files. Their extensions are changed, and all the information stored in them can no longer be used.
Ransomware continues to cause panic among everybody from the casual user to multi-billion dollar networks. For the latter, the damage can be especially difficult to swallow. However, the impact can also be very big for the individual user. Imagine being deprived of a school document such as a dissertation or test because some unscrupulous criminals wish to blackmail you for money.
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Online thieves claim they can send you software or a key that will re-enable access to your files after you have made a payment, so there is still some measure of hope, although shaky. Moreover, cybersecurity experts work round the clock to create free tools that can decrypt files locked by ransomware.
In general, ransomware attacks have blackmail as their major motive, if not the only one. Which is why it would be pretty surprising if there was an entity created purely to destroy user files without the option to recover them. Actually, such an entity exists. It is called DesuCrypt, and it is the focus of this guide.
This article is created for those who have had an encounter with this strange file-locker malware. It will give you the lowdown on the entity, how it operates, preventive measures you can apply, and how to eliminate it from your machine.
What Is the Insane Ransomware?
DesuCrypt is also known as the Insane ransomware. Once you learn more about it, you will probably regard the nickname as an apt one. Most malware entities – experts and victims alike agree – are insane by definition; however, the DesuCrypt ransomware is even more so.
We previously called DesuCrypt ransomware, and it indeed exhibits some of the behavior patterns typical of that malware group. However, it differs from typical ransomware in two very significant ways.
First, the creators of DesuCrypt don’t seem to have financial gain in mind. Instead, it seems their motive is pure destruction of all the user files found on infected computers. That’s right, not only are the victim’s files rendered unusable, but also no option of recovery is provided. Once the data has been encrypted, there is no hope it can be regained unless the user previously created backups of the affected files on the cloud or a removable storage device.
Secondly, there is no ransom note through which the user can glean some idea of what the hackers want. Typically, when files are encrypted remotely by criminals, they include an elaborately written Readme file that is placed on the user’s desktop. This file tells the victim what has happened to their files and what they can do about it. Sometimes, they are told to contact a certain email address for recovery instructions. Other times, they are instructed to open a certain website using a Tor browser. Once on the website, the user is expected to follow onscreen instructions to make a payment, after which they will supposedly be sent the decryption software.
In the case of DesuCrypt, however, no information of this sort is forthcoming. The only visible signs that it has infiltrated a computer are a change of the victim’s desktop background and a small note that they shouldn’t stop the encryption process if they want to get a decryption key.
Even though the short message mentions encryption and decryption, what DesuCrypt actually does is destroy all or most of the data so the user can’t use it anymore. It does this by adding the .desucrypt extension to the files. And the decryption key mentioned is a ruse. The criminals don’t actually have any such key. Or if they do, they haven’t publicized it. Once a file is encrypted by DesuCrypt and the user hasn’t created a backup, it is, for all intents and purposes, gone forever.
DesuCrypt may seem pretty unusual for these two reasons, but when it comes to encryption strength, it shares the same quality as most of the recent ransomware entities like Ako, BTOS, and KODC. In terms of strength, they are pretty similar. They use either asymmetrical RSA or RTE encryption, which is basically impossible to crack without a loophole or tool provided by the malware creator.
In the case of DesuCrypt, given that the criminals haven’t produced decryption software (or publicized the existence of it), the outlook for files damaged by this malware is pretty bleak. Perhaps with time, industry experts will come up with a method to unlock affected files. In the meantime, the vigilant user or organization should create frequent and multiple backups of their important data.
Are .desucrypt Files Safe?
It should be pretty clear from the explanation above that DesuCrypt is anything but safe. And nor is its file extension. Someone called the extension a file destroyer, and we are inclined to agree. Without the prospect of a key or software to unlock data, what this ransomware essentially does is destroy the infected files so they cannot be used anymore.
So, if you find the .desucrypt extension on your computer or the PC of someone you know, the situation can still be salvaged if there is a backup somewhere. Otherwise, there is only a slim chance that any third-party decryption software will work. It is more likely you will have to write off the encrypted file(s) and start afresh.
Of course, you should immediately commence a malware scan on your computer so you can remove the DesuCrypt malware. Irrespective of whether your data is recoverable or not, instant removal of DesuCrypt is recommended. If it is left on the system while the user focuses on possible methods of file recovery, there is a high likelihood it will simply carry on doing damage. Files that haven’t been infected may become locked as well. Moreover, it can lead to deeper system issues since the malware is programmed to change system settings and modify the registry. This way, it prevents the inbuilt security mechanisms of Windows and any installed security software from impeding it during the encryption process.
When DesuCrypt has successfully finished encrypting the files targeted on the machine, it changes the desktop wallpaper to something that will immediately grab the user’s attention. Moreover, the short message below is also displayed so the victim is aware of exactly what has just taken place:
WE ARE ENCRYPTING U T~
DONT TRY TO STOP THE PROCESS, OTHERWISE YOU WONT GET THE DEC KEY
How DesuCrypt Malware Targets Windows 10 PCs
As a wise man once said, wherever you found something too good to be true on the internet, something too bad to be true is not far away. This saying is much more than mere humor when applied to the scourge of ransomware like DesuCrypt. Online criminals know that many people are attracted to the so-called freebies on the internet. They also know where and when these free products are being offered. Actually, some of these freebies were created by them for malicious reasons.
There are myriad methods used to propagate DesuCrypt online. We present the major ones below so everyone can know what to avoid online:
- Unofficial activation tools. Many people wish to use paid products but do not want to pay or cannot do so. For this category of folks, cracking software is a tempting proposition. However, what is unknown or ignored is that these tools are often programmed with malicious code. Such software entities may execute a malware payload the moment they land on a local hard drive.
- Attachments in unsolicited emails. A pretty good rule of thumb is to ignore unsolicited emails, especially if they contain attachments. Otherwise, the results might not be… pretty. Hackers add files to enticing emails and con people into clicking the attachments. The files could be executable files, archives like ZIP or RAR, book files like ePub and PDF, and even Microsoft Office files like Docx, Xls or Ppt.
- Torrent and software download clients. On some websites that host or promote pirated software, visitors are encouraged to use the sites’ content downloaders. While some third-party downloaders like IDM are both popular and safe, a majority of these actually have security question marks. It is not unheard of that the user who clicks the install button for a software downloader ends up installing a malware downloader instead!
- Pirated software. The use of fake cracking software is one thing; bundling malicious programs with legitimate products is quite another. Many people have mistakenly installed the ransomware along with the programs they got from file-hosting sites. When software installation begins, most users simply rush through the process instead of taking their time to review the exact programs to be installed. Sometimes, just choosing Custom installation reveals hidden PUPs or ransomware.
Peer-to-peer sites, infected networks, and file-hosting pages are other sources of the DesuCrypt ransomware. Trojans on infected computers also play a part in spreading the malware since they cause a chain reaction to transmit the ransomware to all connected computers.
What you are facing
DesuCrypt, which is classed as a wiper, ransomware, and cryptolocker malware
How it infects your computer
Trough infected email attachments, malicious websites, fake software downloaders, bogus torrent downloaders, malicious cracking software, PUPs
How it damages the machine
Destroys your data; changes your wallpaper; tweaks security settings; changes values in the registry; opens backdoors for adware, Trojans, rootkits, and the likes
How you tell that something is wrong
You can’t open your files anymore, your files now have the .desucrypt extension, your wallpaper has been changed, and you see a small note on the screen telling you not to stop the encryption
How to Protect Your PC from DesuCrypt Ransomware
Knowing how DesuCrypt operates and is disseminated, the user who hasn’t experienced the damaging effects of the ransomware can better protect themselves from infection in the future. Below are some tips that should help you keep your computer secure from infiltration by DesuCrypt or any other ransomware.
- Use official sites and links for downloads. This one is pretty much self-explanatory. It is better to visit the official webpage for the product you are trying to download. This way, you will protect your computer from bogus links that redirect you to dangerous websites.
Moreover, the fact that a product isn’t free should not be a reason to risk your computer’s security by patronizing unofficial sites. You can always make do with the free version of the software, find another tool that offers similar services for free, or wait until you can afford the cost of the program.
- Use official update channels. Most products have an in-app feature that notifies the user whenever there is an update. Both apps and operating systems have this feature. Wait for these notifications before you install anything, or go to the official website of the developer to check for updates. Don’t click on any strange notification in your browser asking you to update something. Unless, of course, it is the browser developer asking you to update to a newer version.
- Avoid unknown email attachments like the plague. This is one area where you must hold back curiosity and let reason prevail. No matter what persuasive rhetoric an email contains, as long as it comes from an unknown sender, you shouldn’t rush to click the attachment. Apply a large dose of wisdom and run an antivirus scan with a powerful tool if need be.
- Protect your system with an excellent security tool. Speaking of antivirus tools, it would be pretty bad not to have one when you need it. Make sure you use a reputable tool like Auslogics Anti-Malware. Even more critical is to keep it updated all the time so it can better deal with the new threats that are springing up on a daily basis.
How to Remove DesuCrypt Threat from Your Computer
Most ransomware isn’t totally destructive, but DesuCrypt certainly is. Its developers have given no indication that they have decryption software, and neither have they announced any ransom demands, at least for the moment. Therefore, those who fall prey to this entity must assume they won’t get any data recovery help.
Even so, affected users still need to make an attempt to recover the lost data. If the ransomware happens to leave loopholes, all hope is not totally lost. After exhausting all viable avenues of file recovery, the user should then turn their attention to removing the malware from the PC.
NB: It is recommended to back up the affected data and proceed to virus removal immediately. This way, you can bring your PC back to a clean slate as soon as possible while retaining the damaged files in case a method of recovering them comes up. Of course, all this is moot should you have a backup of the data before it becomes damaged. In this scenario, you just need to remove the ransomware and then transfer the files from your backup.
Some Methods of Data Recovery
These methods are ways you can get your files back:
- Backups. There is no need to talk too much about this method. Individuals and companies should do regular backups of the files that they need or use most. You can use an external storage device or a cloud service like Google Drive or Microsoft OneDrive as your backup location. After an attack, you just need to transfer copies of the damaged files and all will be well.
- Shadow Volume Copies. There are conflicting reports on whether the DesuCrypt ransomware deletes shadow volume copies created by the system before it damages the targeted files. After experiencing an attack, you should try and recover your files using this avenue. It might just be your lucky day.
- Decryption Services. These are hit and miss but work for certain ransomware. The success rate varies from malware to malware but isn’t on the high side for DesuCrypt. All the same, if you’re desperate, you can give one or two of them a try. The slim chance you will get your data back is worth a few quid.
- File Recovery Tools. Unlike decryption services that work through the web, file recovery tools are applications you can download and use on Windows. Again, they are hit or miss, and the success rate for complex ransomware is generally no higher than 20 percent. What’s more, even if they work, they may not recover everything and may even damage some files irreversibly.
It is better to download a portable file recovery tool and transfer it to an uninfected flash drive. Next, boot your computer in Safe Mode with Networking, connect the USB drive, and use the software to recover your files.
To boot the PC in Safe Mode with Networking, follow these steps:
- Press the Windows Logo key to display the Start menu.
- Click the Power icon to reveal different shutdown options.
- Press and hold Shift. While still holding Shift, click the Restart option.
- Go to Troubleshoot > Advanced Options > Startup Settings and click the Restart button.
- When Windows reboots again, press the F5 key to boot into Safe Mode with Networking.
After you log back in, deploy the file recovery software from the connected USB and try your luck.
There is a reason paying the ransom isn’t included as an option here. As earlier explained, those behind the DesuCrypt ransomware don’t seem to have a ransom payment in mind. Perhaps they created the virus out of some strange desire to cause mayhem and destruction. Irrespective of their motive, the cold fact is that the victim of DesuCrypt doesn’t have that option to pay in exchange for software or a key to decrypt their data. In any case, the ransomware effectively destroys the files, so any software isn’t guaranteed to be effective.
How to Get Rid of DesuCrypt on Windows 10
After taking stock of the ransomware and your options for file recovery, you should proceed to its removal. You can do this immediately if you have a backup of your files or decide that you can let them go. You can transfer the affected files to an external device so you can work on them later.
Security experts recommend Safe Mode as the best environment to carry out virus removal after a ransomware infection. Safe Mode disables most third-party processes so you can troubleshoot any issues in peace. You won’t need to worry about possible interference by the malware.
If you already have an anti-malware program installed on your PC or a portable malware removal tool on your flash drive, you can boot into simple Safe Mode. Otherwise, it is better to boot into Safe Mode with Networking so you can use the internet to download the tool you need.
There are lots of options out there for virus removal, but our personal recommendation is Auslogics Anti-Malware. It is approved by Microsoft for spyware, ransomware, Trojan, and general-purpose malware removal on Windows 10. It works as either your primary antivirus tool or a complementary option to mop up any threats your main software might have overlooked.
When you launch the software, make sure to choose the option of a full scan. Auslogics Anti-Malware will scan your computer and eliminate all threats. Once it is done, reboot your computer and enjoy a virus-free PC once again.
Don’t forget to keep the tool active all the time so you can enjoy round-the-clock protection against file destroyers like DesuCrypt and other forms of malware.