POLA ransomware encrypts files, drops ransom-demanding notes
- POLA ransomware encrypts files, drops ransom-demanding notes
- Learn how to avoid ransomware: common hideaways
- Remove POLA ransomware virus safely
- Decrypt POLA files
- Frequently Asked Questions
POLA ransomware is a file-encrypting computer virus identified as the 277th variant from STOP/DJVU ransomware family. This malicious virus uses Rivest-Shamir-Adleman algorithm to encrypt all personal data on victim’s computer (photos, videos, documents, spreadsheets, archives and similar). The program marks each infected file with .pola extension and drops ransom note called _readme.txt in the same folder. For instance, file called 1.jpg becomes 1.jpg.pola after the cyber attack. The _readme.txt note explains that cybercriminals behind the virus can restore victim’s files for a specific price that ranges between $490-$980 in Bitcoin. To get further details regarding the ransom payment and attacker’s conditions, the victim is asked to write to provided emails, email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pola ransomware is known to deliver AZORULT password-stealer on the compromised computers and networks. That said, it will not only lock your personal files and prevent access to them, but it will also grab all your login credentials from browsers and transfer them to the attackers Command & Control server. In addition, this ransomware modifies Windows HOSTS file to block a list of domains on the infected host.
Ransom note suggests testing the decryption tool
To convince the victim to pay the ransom, the attackers suggest to decrypt one .pola file for free. The ransom note instructs to write to provided emails, include the personal ID attached at the end of the note, and attach one small encrypted file. However, they warn not to include file that has important information in it. The ransomware developers also suggest that if the victim writes to them within 72 hours, one will be eligible for 50% discount for the ransom price, meaning the decryption tools cost $490. If the victim waits longer than full 3 days, the ransom price will be $980.
Typically, the ransomware operators want to receive ransoms to provided virtual wallet address in specific cryptocurrency. In the majority of cases, they demand money in Bitcoin currency. This helps them to avoid getting tracked down and caught.
However, we do not recommend paying any money to cybercriminals as this doesn’t mean that you will receive anything from them. Besides, paying ransoms means keeping cybercrime industry thriving, and no one wants that. Finally, paying a ransom is not legal in certain countries.
Our recommendation is to remove POLA ransomware virus as quickly as possible. We typically suggest using a powerful security tool capable of doing it, as well as eliminating the password-stealer mentioned earlier. In addition, we suggest scanning with RESTORO to eliminate virus damage on Windows OS files.
Scan your system for FREE to detect security, hardware and stability issues. You can use the scan results and try to remove threats manually, or you can choose to get the full version of software to fix detected issues and repair virus damage to Windows OS system files automatically. Includes Avira spyware/malware detection & removal engine.
|Name||POLA Ransomware Virus|
|Type||Ransomware; Crypto-malware; Virtual Extortion Tool|
|Damage||Uses RSA-cryptography to encrypt all personal files on the system; installs password-stealer; deletes Volume Shadow Copies; Adds a domain-blocking list to Windows HOSTS file|
|Ransom demand||$490-$980 in Bitcoin|
|Distribution||Awaits in fake software cracks, keygens on various torrent download sites|
|Detection names||Trojan:Win32/Glupteba (Microsoft), Glupteba.Backdoor.Bruteforce.DDS (Malwarebytes), TR/AD.InstaBot.ysgps (Avira), Gen:Variant.Bulz.311604 (B) (Emsisoft), see all detection name variations on VirusTotal|
|Removal||Use anti-malware software to remove ransomware from the system. Scan with RESTORO to repair virus damage on Windows OS files afterward.|
Learn how to avoid ransomware: common hideaways
Ransomware-type computer viruses are mostly distributed in several common ways, such as malicious email spam, infectious websites and fake pop-up ads, and illegal downloads. The latter method is known to be the primary distribution vector for variants of STOP/DJVU, including POLA ransomware, WBXD, COOS, QLKM and others.
To infect users via illegal downloads, the ransomware operators typically name the virus as crack.exe or similar, insert it alongside specific software pack and upload these on various torrent-sharing websites for potential victims to discover. Alternatively, they can create a fake crack that has a function to download the malicious payload from external source and execute it on victim’s computer.
Victims who look up for free ways to obtain paid software versions often end up on shady websites offering such downloads that can be landed via torrent-agents, such as uTorrent, eMule and similar. These programs do not check the security of the download, thus, users of these agents often ignore antivirus alerts about potentially malicious crack. As a consequence, opening such file can result in complete data corruption on the computer, plus additional damage such as installation of Trojans or backdoors.
Ransomware-type viruses can also await in infected websites serving malicious payloads. Computer users who like to wander through insecure domains can accidentally click the wrong link and end up on infectious website. Such websites are often designed to leverage browser vulnerabilities and perform various attacks.
Probably the most well-known, yet very successful malware distribution method is email spam. The attackers compose convincing messages urging the victim to open attached contents or links that hide malicious payload. Such emails can contain attachments of various type, such as .pdf, .doc, .ace, .img, .zip, .rar and others. Each of these can be exploited to land malware on victim’s computer. These days, cybercriminals use a variety of technologies to hide true presence of the email sender, such as email spoofing. This helps criminals to present a different email address of the sender rather than real one, which can be checked via “original contents” option in email clients.
Our recommendation is to avoid opening emails originating from someone you do not know or didn’t expect to write you. For example, if you didn’t order anything online, do not open suspicious parcel delivery links sent to you. The attackers tend to call themselves representatives of UPS, DHL or DPD to trick the victim into opening the malicious ransomware file.
Remove POLA ransomware virus safely
You can find easy instructions how to remove POLA ransomware virus down below. Our experts have prepared a step-by-step guide for you to follow. To automatise the elimination procedure, consider using anti-virus or anti-malware of your choice.
Once you complete POLA virus removal, you can focus all your attention on data decryption procedure. Now, you can find a list of tools to decrypt/repair encrypted files down below. Besides, there are explanations on decryptor’s messages and how to understand them. Do not forget to develop a habit of creating data backups regularly after this cyber attack.
Finally, we recommend you to report cybercrime incidents via given authority reference pages.
OUR GEEKS RECOMMEND
Our team recommends removing malware using a professional antivirus software and then using the following tool to repair virus damage to Windows system files:
REPAIR VIRUS DAMAGE TO YOUR COMPUTER
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RESTORO uses AVIRA scanning engine to detect existing spyware and malware. If any are found, the software will eliminate them.
Read full review here.
POLA ransomware virus Removal Guidelines
Method 1. Enter Safe Mode with Networking
Step 1. Start Windows in Safe Mode with Networking
Before you try to remove POLA ransomware virus virus, you must start your computer in Safe Mode with Networking. Below, we provide the easiest ways to boot PC in the said mode, but you can find additional ones in this in-depth tutorial on our website – How to Start Windows in Safe Mode. Also, if you prefer a video version of the tutorial, check our guide How to Start Windows in Safe Mode on Youtube.
Instructions for Windows XP/Vista/7 users
- First of all, turn off your PC. Then press the Power button to start it again and instantly start pressing F8 button on your keyboard repeatedly in 1-second intervals. This launches the Advanced Boot Options menu.
- Use arrow keys on the keyboard to navigate down to Safe Mode with Networking option and press Enter.
Instructions for Windows 8/8.1/10/11 users
- Open Windows Start menu, then press down the Power button. On your keyboard, press down and hold the Shift key, and then select Restart option.
- This will take you to Windows Troubleshoot screen. Choose Troubleshoot > Advanced Options > Startup Settings > Restart. Tip: If you can't find Startup Settings, click See more recovery options.
- In Startup Settings, press the right key between F1-F9 to enter Safe Mode with Networking. In this case, it is the F5 key.
Step 2. Remove files associated with the virus
Now, you can search for and remove POLA ransomware virus files. It is very hard to identify files and registry keys that belong to the ransomware virus, Besides, malware creators tend to rename and change them repeatedly. Therefore, the easiest way to uninstall such type of a computer virus is to use a reliable security program such as INTEGO Antivirus, which also includes data recovery software. For virus damage repair, consider using RESTORO.
Compatibility: Microsoft Windows
See Full Review
RESTORO is a unique PC Repair Tool which comes with an in-built Avira scan engine to detect and remove spyware/malware threats and uses a patented technology to repair virus damage. The software can repair damaged, missing or malfunctioning Windows OS files, corrupted DLLs, and more. The free version offers a scan that detects issues. To fix them, license key for the full software version must be purchased.
Method 2. Use System Restore
In order to use System Restore, you must have a system restore point, created either manually or automatically.
Step 1. Boot Windows in Safe Mode with Command Prompt
Instructions for Windows XP/Vista/7 users
- Shut down your PC. Start it again by pressing the Power button and instantly start pressing F8 button on your keyboard repeatedly in 1-second intervals. You will see Advanced Boot Options menu.
- Using arrow keys on the keyboard, navigate down to Safe Mode with Command Prompt option and press Enter.
Instructions for Windows 8/8.1/10/11 users
- Launch Windows Start menu, then click the Power button. On your keyboard, press down and hold the Shift key, and then choose Restart option with the mouse cursor.
- In Startup Settings, press the right key between F1-F9 to enter Safe Mode with Command Prompt. In this case, press F6 key.
Step 2. Start System Restore process
- Wait until system loads and command prompt shows up.
- Type cd restore and press Enter, then type rstrui.exe and press Enter. Or you can just type %systemroot%system32restorerstrui.exe in command prompt and hit Enter.
- This launches System Restore window. Click Next and then choose a System Restore point created in the past. Choose one that was created before ransomware infection.
- Click Yes to begin the system restoration process.
After restoring the system, we recommend scanning the system with antivirus or anti-malware software. In most cases, there won't be any malware remains, but it never hurts to double-check. In addition, we highly recommend checking ransomware prevention guidelines provided by our experts in order to protect your PC against similar viruses in the future.
Alternative software recommendations
Removing spyware and malware is one step towards cybersecurity. To protect yourself against ever-evolving threats, we strongly recommend purchasing a Premium version of Malwarebytes Anti-Malware, which provides security based on artificial intelligence and machine learning. Includes ransomware protection. See pricing options and protect yourself now.
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Decrypt POLA files
Fix and open large POLA files easily:
It is reported that STOP/DJVU ransomware versions encrypt only the beginning 150 KB of each file to ensure that the virus manages to affect all files on the system. In some cases, the malicious program might skip some files at all. That said, we recommend testing this method on several big (>1GB) files first.
- Create a copy of encrypted file to a separate folder using Copy > Paste commands.
- Now, right-click the created copy and choose Rename. Select the POLA extension and delete it. Press Enter to save changes.
- In the prompt asking whether you want to make the changes as file might become unusable, click OK.
- Try opening the file.
STOP/DJVU decryption tool usage guide
STOP/DJVU ransomware versions are grouped into old and new variants. POLA ransomware virus is considered the new STOP/DJVU variant, just like BBYY, BBII, BBZZ, BBII, HKGT, EFVC, EIJY (find full list here). This means full data decryption is now possible only if you have been affected by offline encryption key. To decrypt your files, you will have to download Emsisoft Decryptor for STOP DJVU, a tool created and maintained by a genius security researcher Michael Gillespie.
Note! Please do not spam the security researcher with questions whether he can recover your files encrypted with online key - it is not possible.
In order to test the tool and see if it can decrypt POLA files, follow the given tutorial.
- Download the decryption tool from Emsisoft.
- Click the little arrow next to your download and choose Show in Folder.
- Now, right-click the file and choose Run as Administrator. If asked, enter administrator's password.
- In UAC window, click Yes.
- Click Yes to agree to software terms in both windows.
- The tool will automatically include C:// disk as a location to decrypt. The file recovery tool will prepopulate the locations to scan, including connected data storage drives or network drives. Click Add folder if you wish to add additional locations.
In Options tab, you can choose to keep encrypted file copies. We recommend leaving this option selected, especially if you do not know if the decryption tool will work.
- Click Decrypt to start restoring POLA files. You will see the progress in the Results tab. Here, you can see messages from the tool, such as whether the decryption procedure is successful, or you need to wait for an update.
You might also be informed that online key was used to encrypt your files. In such case, the decryption tool won't work for you, and the only way to recover your files is to use a data backup.
Meanings of decryptor's messages
The POLA decryption tool might display several different messages after failed attempt to restore your files. You might receive one of the following messages:
Error: Unable to decrypt file with ID: [example ID]
This message typically means that there is no corresponding decryption key in the decryptor's database.
No key for New Variant online ID: [example ID]
Notice: this ID appears to be an online ID, decryption is impossible
This message informs that your files were encrypted with online key, meaning no one else has the same encryption/decryption key pair, therefore data recovery without paying the criminals is impossible.
Result: No key for new variant offline ID: [example ID]
This ID appears to be an offline ID. Decryption may be possible in the future.
If you were informed that an offline key was used, but files could not be restored, it means that the offline decryption key isn't available yet. However, receiving this message is extremely good news, meaning that it might be possible to restore your POLA extension files in the future. It can take a few months until the decryption key gets found and uploaded to the decryptor. We recommend you to follow updates regarding the decryptable DJVU versions here. We strongly recommend backing up your encrypted data and waiting.
Report Internet crime to legal departments
Victims of POLA ransomware virus should report the Internet crime incident to the official government fraud and scam website according to their country:
- In the United States, go to the On Guard Online website.
- In Australia, go to the SCAMwatch website.
- In Germany, go to the Bundesamt für Sicherheit in der Informationstechnik website.
- In Ireland, go to the An Garda Síochána website.
- In New Zealand, go to the Consumer Affairs Scams website.
- In the United Kingdom, go to the Action Fraud website.
- In Canada, go to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.
- In India, go to Indian National Cybercrime Reporting Portal.
- In France, go to the Agence nationale de la sécurité des systèmes d’information.
If you can't find an authority corresponding to your location on this list, we recommend using any search engine to look up "[your country name] report cyber crime". This should lead you to the right authority website. We also recommend staying away from third-party crime report services that are often paid. It costs nothing to report Internet crime to official authorities.
Another recommendation is to contact your country's or region’s federal police or communications authority.
Frequently Asked Questions
You can only open POLA files if you have the decryption key, or if you were affected by offline encryption type.
To figure out whether you were affected by offline encryption, please go to C:/SystemID/PersonalID.txt and see if the string inside of it ends in t1. You can also try using Emsisoft Decryptor for STOP/DJVU.
Please follow the guidances provided by the official POLA decryption tools and believe what they say. If they say it is impossible to decrypt, it really is so. There is no magic tool or human capable of decrypting your files hiding somewhere. Encryption is a technique created to be nearly impossible to decrypt without a special private key (held by the criminals).
We advise scanning with anti-virus, anti-malware, malware removal tools or software like RESTORO to eliminate virus damage on the system. If you do not trust using a single tool, try running one after another. However, we do not recommend keeping several security programs on a computer at once as they can interfere with each other's work.
Beware of fake POLA decryption tools circulating around the web. Cyber criminals are uploading them to various shady websites, also might be promoting them via suspicious Youtube videos. These programs can infect your computer even more heavily (Trojans, miners, etc.). We suggest being extremely cautious around the web. If there will be an official STOP/DJVU decryption tool available, it will be widely discussed in public media.
Norbert Webb is the head of Geek’s Advice team. He is the chief editor of the website who controls the quality of content published. The man also loves reading cybersecurity news, testing new software and sharing his insights on them. Norbert says that following his passion for information technology was one of the best decisions he has ever made. “I don’t feel like working while I’m doing something I love.” However, the geek has other interests, such as snowboarding and traveling.