Ransomware is by far the most feared threat on the internet. It creeps into your system without any indication and then encrypts your files with a strong encryption algorithm, making them completely inaccessible to anyone.
And as if that weren’t enough, the virus then proceeds to demand a ransom payment from the victim user in exchange for the special decryption key, which is the only means of unlocking the encrypted files. The ransom amount may range from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand, depending on the separate case, the specific virus and even the victim. Oftentimes ransomware viruses may target businesses and corporations specifically, because they have deeper pockets, meaning the hackers will have larger gain. But that’s not necessarily always the case, as average users can fall victim to these nasty threats just as often. This article is dedicated to a specific ransomware representative called .Serp File Virus. This article is dedicated to informing users about how these viruses work, how they get distributed and what you can do to try and recover from its devastating consequences, if it has already managed to invade your machine.
Ransomware: how it works
.Serp File Virus belongs to the file-encrypting type of ransomware. There are also other types, such as those that only lock the screen of your device or simply try to scare you into paying money. This is the worst type, because as a result of its activity you may permanently lose important files. The ransomware typically invades your computer by stealth, after which it starts scanning your machine for specific file types. Everything can become a target from video files, to images, documents and even system files. Once it is done with this, the virus will start creating encrypted copes of the files in question. Finally, once all of this is done, it will delete the original files, leaving you with a bunch of inaccessible data. A point worthy of making here is that your antivirus program will most likely not detect this entire process, as encryption isn’t inherently malicious. In fact, it’s a very common security measure used for a variety of purposes by numerous programs. That is why the process will often continue undisturbed and the user will only find out about after it’s been completed. Typically, that is when a ransom note appears on the screen with details regarding the transfer.
It is, however, possible to spot the infection and potentially even intercept it before it has become too late for all your files types. Depending on how powerful your processor is and how many files you have stored on your PC, the encryption process may cause your machine to run slower than usual. It’s also likely to cause seemingly random spikes in CPU and RAM usage that you can monitor in your Task Manager. Should you this way manage to discover an ongoing infection, you much immediately shut down your PC and contact a specialist for help. Do not switch your computer back on on your own, as the process may just continue.
Distribution and what to do in case of an infection
There are numerous ways, in which you can get infected by .Serp File Virus or any other ransomware variant. The most common distribution methods involve malvertisements and spam email campaigns. In the case of the former, cybercriminals will usually inject online ads such as popups and banners with the malicious script of the various. If a user happens to click on that compromised ad, they will either immediately download the ransomware onto their machine or be redirected to a website that is laced with viruses, including the one in question. Spam emails are incredibly common and those containing malware seem to only be increasing in numbers. It’s important to note that the hackers behind the ransomware will often use very elaborate techniques to make their emails seem trustworthy and trick users into downloading their attachments or following the links they may contain. This, again, will result in an automatic infection. At times, they may be spreading a backdoor virus, such as a Trojan horse, which once in your machine, will then download the malware onto the victim’s computer. Therefore, be extremely careful with the web locations you visit and don’t open any suspicious looking emails.
As for dealing with an infection that has already taken place, there aren’t all that many options. You can either pay the ransom and hope for the best, or pursue other means of recovering your files. We would recommend abstaining from the former, as you are likely to only throw your money out the window and never receive a decryption key. Try the steps in our removal guide below in order to first remove the virus. After this, you can try to extract copies of your encrypted data from system backups. You will find instructions on this in the same guide below.
.Serp File Virus Removal
Prior to starting to execute the steps from the guide, we advise you to either bookmark this page or open it on a separate device since throughout the process of completing the guide, you might need to exit your browser.
1: Using Safe Mode
Before beginning to troubleshoot the issue, you are advised to enter Safe Mode on your PC. If you do not know how to do that, use this guide on how to enter Safe Mode.
2: Spotting the process
Open your Task Manager using the Ctrl + Shift + Esc key combination. Next, go to the processes tab and carefully look through the list for any shady entries. Usually, malicious processes will be consuming large amounts of CPU and RAM and will either have no description or will have a suspicious-looking one.
Once you identify the virus’ process, right-click on it and select Open File Location. Delete everything in the folder that opens if you are sure that the process was malicious. If you are not sure, contact us in the comments.
Go back to the Task Manager and end the potentially harmful process.
3: Hosts file IP’s
Go to your start menu and in the search field, paste the following address: notepad %windir%/system32/Drivers/etc/hosts. Select the first result and look at the bottom of the newly opened notepad file. See if there are any IP’s below “Localhost” and tell us in the comments if there were any IP addresses.
4: System Configuration Startup Programs
Type System Configuration in the Windows search bar and open the first result. Go to the Startup tab and take a look at the list of startup programs (on Windows 10, the Startup programs can be seen in the Startup Section of the Task Manager). If any of them look shady or have unknown manufacturer or a manufacturer with a sketchy name, uncheck those entries and click on OK.
Open the Run window (WinKey + R), type regedit and press Enter. Once the Registry Editor opens, press Ctrl + F and type the name of the virus. Select Find Next and delete whatever gets found that has the virus’ name. Do that with all search results.
6: Deleting potential virus files
Open the Start Menu and separately type each of the following locations: %AppData% %LocalAppData% %ProgramData% %WinDir% %Temp% . Open each of those folders and sort their contents by date. Delete the most recent files and folders. When you open the Temp folder, delete everything in it.