Remove .HOW ransomware
What is .HOW ransomware
.HOW ransomware is file-encrypting malware that belongs to the notorious Dharma ransomware family. It gets in using the usual malware distribution methods, and once inside, it will scan for and encrypt certain files and add the .HOW file extension to them. Once files are encrypted, users will be unable to open them until they decrypt them. They will be offered to buy a decryption tool from the operators of this ransomware, but that is not a good idea. While these crooks will reassure users that a decryptor will be sent to them once they make the requested payment, there are no guarantees that it will happen. Furthermore, by paying, users would be encouraging cyber crooks to continue their criminal business and putting a target on their backs again.
For users who have backup, they need to first remove .HOW ransomware before they access the backup files. Otherwise, they too may get encrypted. If backup is not an option, users should keep in mind that malware researchers are sometimes able to release free decryptors. It is possible that they will be able to recover files this way.
Having good browsing habits often allows users to avoid all kinds of malware infections. The following section of the report will explain how one can avoid installing malware by following a few simple rules.
Ransomware distribution methods
Ransomware is very often spread using spam email campaigns. Malicious files may come attached to spam emails, and once users download and open them, the malware could initiate. But fortunately, it’s quite easy to differentiate these kinds of emails. They are often sent from nonsense email addresses made up of random letters and numbers but claim to be official correspondence from known companies, banks, goverment agencies, etc. The first thing users should always check when they receive an unsolicited email is the sender’s email address. Even if it does look legitimate, users should always make sure it belongs to whoever the sender claims to be. Another sign of a malicious email is the grammar and spelling mistakes. If there are many of them and they are obvious, users are likely dealing with spam. Finally, even if everything checks out, users should still scan the attached file with anti-malware software or VirusTotal before opening it.
Users also often pick up ransomware by downloading pirated content via torrents. Those sites are full of malicious software, and it’s often disguised as episodes of popular TV shows, movies, games, software, etc. While downloading pirated content from torrents may seem harmless enough, it is essentially stealing. It’s also potentially dangerous for the computer because of the malware. If users insist on downloading torrents, they should at least make sure it’s safe to do so.
Being careful with unsolicited emails with attachments, avoiding downloading pirated content via torrents, and installing updates regularly can go a long way towards preventing a malware infection.
What does ransomware do?
As soon as the .HOW ransomware is initiated, it will start encrypting certain files. It mainly targets photos, videos, documents and similar files because those are the ones users would be willing to pay for the most. All encrypted files will be renamed to include the victims ID, firstname.lastname@example.org, and the .how file extension. A ransom note will also be dropped and it will explain that files can be recovered if the victim is willing to pay a decryptor. Victims are asked to send an email to the provided email address with their IDs. The price for the decryptor is not included in the ransom note, but it will likely vary from $100 to $1000. Paying the ransom is not recommended because it does not guarantee file decryption. There’s little stopping these cyber crooks from simply taking the money and not sending victims anything.
If users do not have backup, we suggest they back up all encrypted files somewhere safe and wait for malware researchers to release a decryptor. If users do have backup for the encrypted files, they first need to remove .HOW ransomware before starting file recovery.
.HOW ransomware removal
Users will need to use anti-malware software to delete .HOW ransomware from their computers. If they try manual .HOW ransomware removal, they may end up doing even more damage.
Download Removal Toolto scan for .HOW ransomwareTo scan for .HOW ransomware, use our recommended security tool. The trial version of WiperSoft detects infections like .HOW ransomware and can assist with their removal for free. You can delete detected files, registry entries and processes manually, or you can purchase the full version of the program for automatic removal.
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How to remove .HOW ransomware
For .HOW ransomware removal, we have provided the following steps
STEP 1 .HOW ransomware removal using Safe Mode with Networking
For successful .HOW ransomware uninstallation, restarting your system in Safe Mode with Networking will be necessary. In case you’re not sure about how to proceed, you can follow the instructions provided below.
Step 1: How to access Safe Mode with Networking
- Open the start menu by pressing the window key on your keyboard or Start, then Shutdown and Restart, and OK.
- Once the system reboots, continually press F8 until the Advanced Boot Options window is shown.
- Go down to Safe Mode with Networking and tap Enter.
For Windows 10/Windows 8 users
- In the Windows login screen, select the Power button, hold the Shift key and press Restart.
- In the new window you will have to select Troubleshoot, then Advanced options, Startup Settings, and Restart.
- When the options become available in Startup Settings, select Enable Safe Mode with Networking.
Step 2: Using anti-malware software to remove .HOW ransomware
When the computer restarts, it will be in Safe Mode, and it’s different from the mode you usually use. When in Safe Mode, you will be able to delete .HOW ransomware. Unless anti-malware software is already installed on your computer, you will need to download and install it. To make sure you pick the correct software, do some research. Scan your system and uninstall .HOW ransomware with the anti-virus software.
It is possible that the ransomware will not let you use anti-malware software. In which case, you’ll have to try System Restore .HOW ransomware removal.
STEP 2 Use System Restore to uninstall .HOW ransomware
Accessing Safe Mode with Command Prompt will be the next step in order to use System Restore.
Step 1: Accessing Safe Mode with Command Prompt
- Click the window key in keyboard to access start menu, choose Shutdown, click Restart and then OK.
- You will have to open Advanced Boot Options which you could do by continually pressing F8 once your system starts restarting.
- Go down to Safe Mode with Command Prompt and press Enter.
- In the Windows login screen, select the Power button, press and hold the Shift key and press Restart.
- In the window that pops up, select Troubleshoot – Advanced options – Startup Settings – Restart.
- When the choice become available in Startup Settings, select Enable Safe Mode with Command Prompt.
Step 2: Use Command Prompt to recover your computer settings and system files
- In Command Prompt, type cd restore and press Enter.
- Then type rstrui.exe and press Enter.
- When the System Restore window pops up, press Next, select the restore point dating back to before the infection and click Next to begin System Restore.
- Press Yes in the warning window that pops up after you read what it says.
System restore should completely delete the malware. Nevertheless, just in case, it’s suggested to scan your computer with trustworthy anti-malware software.
STEP 3 Can you restore files encrypted by .HOW ransomware
You may start thinking how you could restore files as soon as your computer is no longer infected. There are a few options for you to try to recover files locked by .HOW ransomware, if you haven’t backed up your files before the infection occurred. Unfortunately, the available options do not always result in successful file decryption. It’s still not a good idea to pay the ransom.
Option 1: use a free decryption tool
Cybersecurity companies and malicious software researchers are occasionally able to help victims recover files with free decryptors. Even if you can’t find the one you need now, it might be released sometime in the future. It should not be difficult to find through Google, or it might be available on NoMoreRansom.
Option 2: file recovery software
A file recovery programs might be able to help you recover files, depending on a few factors. Sadly, we can’t ensure file recovery.
Use the following applications.
- Data Recover Pro. But do take into account that Data Recovery Pro cannot decrypt files, it instead scans your hard drive for copies of them.
Use the official website to get Data Recovery Pro. Carry out a scan of your system once the software is installed. You can restore any files that come up.
- Shadow Explorer. Shadow Explorer may be used to restore shadow copies of the files if they were not deleted by the ransomware.
After you use its official website to get it, install Shadow Explorer. In the launched application, select the disk in which files you want to restore are stored. You can Export any folders that come up. However, in many cases, in order to pressure users into paying the ransom, ransomware does delete the shadow copies.
Regularly backing up files would help prevent future file loss. And install trustworthy anti-virus software with ransomware protection. The anti-virus would prevent the ransomware from causing any hard, including file encryption.