November 16, 2016

What is WickedLocker?

WickedLocker is a file-encryption virus based on Hidden Tear - an open-source ransomware project. Following successful infiltration, WickedLocker encrypts files and file names with the ".locked" extension (e.g., "sample.jpg" is renamed to "sample.jpg.locked"). Following encryption, WickedLocker opens a pop-up window and creates a text file associated with each encrypted file. These text files are named after the encrypted files (e.g., "READ_IT_sample.txt").

The pop-up window and text files contain a ransom-demand message stating that files are encrypted. To restore them, victim must supposedly pay a ransom of 1 Bitcoin (currently equivalent to ~$705). No additional information is provided. Research shows that WickedLocker employs the AES encryption algorithm. Therefore, decryption without a unique key is impossible. Criminals store this key on a remote server and encourage victims to pay for it, however, they often ignore victims despite payments made. Thus, paying does not guarantee that your files will ever be decrypted - you will be scammed and your files will remain encrypted. Therefore, ignore all requests to pay or contact these people. There are currently no tools capable of restoring files encrypted by WickedLocker and you can only restore your files/system from a backup.

Screenshot of a message encouraging users to pay a ransom to decrypt their compromised data:

wickedlocker homepage

There are dozens of ransomware-type viruses similar to WickedLocker. Examples include iRansom, CerberTear, DummyLocker, and many others. All encrypt victims' files and make ransom demands. There are just two major differences between these viruses: 1) size of ransom, and; 2) type of encryption algorithm (symmetric/asymmetric) used. Criminals often proliferate ransomware via spam emails (malicious attachments), third party software download sources (peer-to-peer [P2P] networks, free file hosting sites, freeware download websites, etc.), trojans, and fake software updaters. Therefore, be cautious when opening files received from suspicious email addresses, never download software from unofficial sources, and keep your installed software up-to-date (cyber criminals are capable of exploiting software bugs/flaws to infect the system). In addition, using a legitimate anti-virus/anti-spyware suite is paramount. Be aware that lack of knowledge and careless behavior is often the reason for computer infections. The key to computer safety is caution.

Screenshot of the WickedLocker pop-up second page:

wickedlocker popup2

Ransom-demand message (presented within pop-up and text files):

random managed
Screenshot of files encrypted by WickedLocker ransomware (".locked" extension):

wickedlocker folder
WickedLocker ransomware removal:
quick solution

Step 1

Windows XP and Windows 7 users: Start your computer in Safe Mode. Click Start, click Shut Down, click Restart, click OK. During your computer start process, press the F8 key on your keyboard multiple times until you see the Windows Advanced Option menu, and then select Safe Mode with Networking from the list.
safe mode with networking
Video showing how to start Windows 7 in "Safe Mode with Networking":
windows7 safe modeWindows 8 users: Start Windows 8 is Safe Mode with Networking - Go to Windows 8 Start Screen, type Advanced, in the search results select Settings. Click Advanced startup options, in the opened "General PC Settings" window, select Advanced startup. Click the "Restart now" button. Your computer will now restart into the "Advanced Startup options menu". Click the "Troubleshoot" button, and then click the "Advanced options" button. In the advanced option screen, click "Startup settings". Click the "Restart" button. Your PC will restart into the Startup Settings screen. Press F5 to boot in Safe Mode with Networking.

windows8 safe mode with networking

Video showing how to start Windows 8 in "Safe Mode with Networking":
windows8 safe modeWindows 10 users: Click the Windows logo and select the Power icon. In the opened menu click "Restart" while holding "Shift" button on your keyboard. In the "choose an option" window click on the "Troubleshoot", next select "Advanced options". In the advanced options menu select "Startup Settings" and click on the "Restart" button. In the following window you should click the "F5" button on your keyboard. This will restart your operating system in safe mode with networking.

windows10 safe mode with networkingVideo showing how to start Windows 10 in "Safe Mode with Networking":
windows10 safe mode

Step 2

Log in to the account infected with the WickedLocker virus. Start your Internet browser and download a legitimate anti-spyware program. Update the anti-spyware software and start a full system scan. Remove all entries detected.
remove locked

If you cannot start your computer in Safe Mode with Networking, try performing a System Restore.

Video showing how to remove ransomware virus using "Safe Mode with Command Prompt" and "System Restore":
safe mode prompt1. During your computer start process, press the F8 key on your keyboard multiple times until the Windows Advanced Options menu appears, and then select Safe Mode with Command Prompt from the list and press ENTER.

safe mode with command prompt
2. When Command Prompt mode loads, enter the following line: cd restore and press ENTER.

system restore 1
3. Next, type this line: rstrui.exe and press ENTER.

system restore 2
4. In the opened window, click "Next".

system restore 3
5. Select one of the available Restore Points and click "Next" (this will restore your computer system to an earlier time and date, prior to the WickedLocker ransomware virus infiltrating your PC).

system restore 4
6. In the opened window, click "Yes".

system restore 6

7. After restoring your computer to a previous date, download and scan your PC with recommended malware removal software to eliminate any remaining WickedLocker ransomware files.

To restore individual files encrypted by this ransomware, try using Windows Previous Versions feature. This method is only effective if the System Restore function was enabled on an infected operating system. Note that some variants of WickedLocker are known to remove Shadow Volume Copies of the files, so this method may not work on all computers.

To restore a file, right-click over it, go into Properties, and select the Previous Versions tab. If the relevant file has a Restore Point, select it and click the "Restore" button.

cryptorbit restore files

If you cannot start your computer in Safe Mode with Networking (or with Command Prompt), boot your computer using a rescue disk. Some variants of ransomware disable Safe Mode making its removal complicated. For this step, you require access to another computer.

To regain control of the files encrypted by WickedLocker, you can also try using a program called Shadow Explorer. More information on how to use this program is available here.

shadow explorer screenshot

To protect your computer from file encryption ransomware such as this, use reputable antivirus and anti-spyware programs. As an extra protection method, you can use programs called HitmanPro.Alert and EasySync CryptoMonitor, which artificially implant group policy objects into the registry to block rogue programs such as WickedLocker ransomware.

HitmanPro.Alert CryptoGuard - detects encryption of files and neutralises any attempts without need for user-intervention:

hitmanproalert ransomware prevention1
EasySync CryptoMonitor - kills an encryption infection and blacklists it from running again:

cryptomonitor ransomware prevention2
Other tools known to remove WickedLocker ransomware:

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