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Karmen ransomware removal instructions
What is Karmen?
Karmen is a ransomware-type virus discovered by a group of security researchers called MalwareHunterTeam. This malware is based on Hidden Tear – an open source ransomware project. Once infiltrated, Karmen encrypts various files using AES cryptography. During encryption, Karmen appends the “.grt” extension to the name of each compromised file (for example, “sample.jpg” is renamed to “sample.jpg.grt“). Karmen then opens a pop-up window that contains a ransom-demand message.
The message (available in German and English) states that files are encrypted and that a ransom must be paid to restore them. AES is a symmetric encryption algorithm and, therefore, decryption without a unique key is impossible. Cyber criminals store this key on a remote server and users are encouraged to pay a ransom to receive it. The cost is specified at the bottom of the displayed pop-up and must be paid in Bitcoins. Research shows, however, that cyber criminals often ignore victims, despite submitted payments. Therefore, there is a high probability that paying will not deliver any positive result and you will probably be scammed. Furthermore, by paying you will support their malicious businesses. Therefore, we strongly advise you to ignore all requests to contact these people or pay any ransom. Unfortunately, there are no tools capable of restoring files encrypted by Karmen – the only solution is to restore files/system from a backup.
Screenshot of a message encouraging users to pay a ransom to decrypt their compromised data:
There are dozens of ransomware-type viruses similar to Karmen including Domino, Phoenix, and MafiaWare – these are just some examples from many. As with Karmen, these viruses also encrypt files and make ransom demands. The only major differences between ransomware-type viruses are cost of decryption and type of encryption algorithm (symmetric/asymmetric) used. Distribution methods are also identical. Ransomware is often distributed via spam emails (malicious attachments), peer-to-peer (P2P) networks and other third party software download sources (torrents, freeware download websites, free file hosting websites, etc.), fake software update tools, and trojans. Therefore, never open files received from suspicious emails or download software from unofficial sources. In addition, keep your installed applications up-to-date. Bear in mind, however, that cyber criminals often employ fake software updaters to proliferate malware. Therefore, never use third party update tools. In addition, use a legitimate anti-virus/anti-spyware suite. The key to computer safety is caution.
Screenshot of files encrypted by Karmen (“.grt” extension):
Karmen ransomware removal:
- What is Karmen?
- STEP 1. Karmen virus removal using safe mode with networking.
- STEP 2. Karmen ransomware removal using System Restore.
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.
Video showing how to start Windows 7 in “Safe Mode with Networking”:
Windows 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.
Video showing how to start Windows 8 in “Safe Mode with Networking”:
Windows 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.
Video showing how to start Windows 10 in “Safe Mode with Networking”:
Log in to the account infected with the Karmen 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.
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”:
1. 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.
2. When Command Prompt mode loads, enter the following line: cd restore and press ENTER.
3. Next, type this line: rstrui.exe and press ENTER.
4. In the opened window, click “Next”.
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 Karmen ransomware virus infiltrating your PC).
6. In the opened window, click “Yes”.
7. After restoring your computer to a previous date, download and scan your PC with recommended malware removal software to eliminate any remaining Karmen 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 Karmen 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.
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 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 Karmen ransomware.
HitmanPro.Alert CryptoGuard – detects encryption of files and neutralises any attempts without need for user-intervention:
Malwarebytes Anti-Ransomware Beta uses advanced proactive technology that monitors ransomware activity and terminates it immediately – before reaching users’ files:
- The best way to avoid damage from ransomware infections is to maintain regular up-to-date backups. More information on online backup solutions and data recovery software Here.
Other tools known to remove Karmen ransomware: