The Combo virus belongs to the Dharma ransomware family. Ransomware of this type encrypts all the data on your PC (images, documents, excel sheets, audio files, videos, etc) and appends its specific extension to every file, leaving the FILES ENCRYPTED.txt text files in every folder with the encrypted files.
It is better to prevent, than repair and repent!
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What is known about the Combovirus?
☝️ A strictly correct designation for the Combo is “a Dharma family ransomware-type infection”.
The scheme of renaming is this: [contact_email].combo. During the encryption, a file entitled, for instance, “report.docx” will be altered to “report.docx.[email@example.com].combo”.
In every folder that contains the encrypted files, a FILES ENCRYPTED.txt text file will be created. It is a ransom money note. It contains information on the ways of contacting the racketeers and some other remarks. The ransom note usually contains instructions on how to purchase the decryption tool from the ransomware developers. You can get this decryptor after contacting firstname.lastname@example.org via email. That is how they do it.
|Ransomware family1||Dharma ransomware|
|Ransomware note||FILES ENCRYPTED.txt|
|Detection2||Ransom:Win32/StopCrypt.SZ!MTB, Win32:TeslaCrypt-GL [Trj], Trojan:MSIL/KillMBR.RPZ!MTB|
|Symptoms||Your files (photos, videos, documents) get a .combo extension and you can’t open them.|
|Fix Tool||See If Your System Has Been Affected by Combo virus|
The FILES ENCRYPTED.txt file accompanying the Combo malware provides the following frustrating information:
all your data has been locked us You want to return? write email email@example.com
In the screenshot below, you can see what a directory with files encrypted by the Combo looks like. Each filename has the “.combo” extension added to it.
How did my machine catch Combo ransomware?
There are many possible ways of ransomware injection.
There are currently three most popular methods for criminals to have the Combo virus working in your digital environment. These are email spam, Trojan introduction and peer-to-peer file transfer.
If you access your inbox and see emails that look like familiar notifications from utility services providers, postal agencies like FedEx, web-access providers, and whatnot, but whose sender is strange to you, beware of opening those letters. They are very likely to have a harmful file enclosed in them. Therefore, it is even riskier to download any attachments that come with emails like these.
Another thing the hackers might try is a Trojan horse scheme3. A Trojan is an object that infiltrates into your computer disguised as something legal. For example, you download an installer for some program you want or an update for some program. However, what is unboxed turns out to be a harmful program that encodes your data. As the installation file can have any name and any icon, you have to make sure that you can trust the source of the files you’re downloading. The optimal thing is to trust the software developers’ official websites.
As for the peer networks like torrents or eMule, the threat is that they are even more trust-based than the rest of the Web. You can never guess what you download until you get it. So you’d better be using trustworthy resources. Also, it is reasonable to scan the directory containing the downloaded items with the anti-malware utility as soon as the downloading is done.
How to remove the Combo virus?
It is crucial to inform you that besides encrypting your data, the Combo virus will most likely install the Azorult Spyware on your PC to get access to credentials to different accounts (including cryptocurrency wallets). That spyware4 can extract your credentials from your browser’s auto-filling cardfile.
Sometimes criminals would unblock several of your files so you know that they really have the decryption program. Since Combo virus is a relatively recent ransomware, security software engineers have not yet found a method to undo its work. However, the decoding tools are constantly updated, so the effective countermeasure may soon arrive.
Understandably, if the hackers succeed in encoding someone’s critical data, the desperate person will most likely fulfill their demands. Despite that, paying to criminals gives no guarantee that you’re getting your files back. It is still dangerous. After getting the money, the racketeers may deliver a wrong decryption code to the victim. There were reports about malefactors simply vanishing after getting the money without even bothering to reply.
The best countermeasure to ransomware is to have a system restore point or the copies of your essential files in the cloud storage or at least on an external storage. Of course, that might be insufficient. Your most important thing could be that file you were working upon when it all went down. Nevertheless, it is something. It is also advisable to scan your PC for viruses with the anti-malware utility after the system restoration.
There are other ransomware products, besides Combo, that work similarly. For instance, Towz, Powd, Tuow, and some others. The two main differences between them and the Combo are the ransom amount and the encoding method. The rest is almost identical: documents become encrypted, their extensions changed, ransom notes appear in each directory containing encrypted files.
Some fortunate users were able to decrypt the arrested files with the help of the free tools provided by anti-ransomware specialists. Sometimes the racketeers mistakenly send the decryption key to the victims in the ransom note. Such an epic fail allows the victim to restore the files. But obviously, one should never rely on such a chance. Make no mistake, ransomware is a tamperers’ instrument to pull the money out of their victims.
How to avoid ransomware infection?
Combo ransomware has no superpower, neither does any similar malware.
You can protect your system from its attack in three easy steps:
- Ignore any letters from unknown mailers with strange addresses, or with content that has likely no connection to something you are waiting for (how can you win in a lottery without participating in it?). In case the email subject is more or less something you are expecting, scrutinize all elements of the dubious letter carefully. A hoax email will surely have a mistake.
- Do not use cracked or untrusted software. Trojans are often spreaded as an element of cracked software, possibly under the guise of “patch” which prevents the license check. But potentially dangerous programs are difficult to distinguish from reliable ones, because trojans may also have the functionality you need. Try to find information on this software product on the anti-malware message boards, but the best solution is not to use such software.
- And to be sure about the safety of the objects you downloaded, use GridinSoft Anti-Malware. This program will be a powerful shield for your personal computer.
Reasons why I would recommend GridinSoft5
There is no better way to recognize, remove and prevent ransomware than to use an anti-malware software from GridinSoft6.
Download Removal Tool.
You can download GridinSoft Anti-Malware by clicking the button below:
Run the setup file.
When setup file has finished downloading, double-click on the setup-antimalware-fix.exe file to install GridinSoft Anti-Malware on your system.
An User Account Control asking you about to allow GridinSoft Anti-Malware to make changes to your device. So, you should click “Yes” to continue with the installation.
Press “Install” button.
Once installed, Anti-Malware will automatically run.
Wait for the Anti-Malware scan to complete.
GridinSoft Anti-Malware will automatically start scanning your PC for Combo infections and other malicious programs. This process can take a 20-30 minutes, so I suggest you periodically check on the status of the scan process.
Click on “Clean Now”.
When the scan has completed, you will see the list of infections that GridinSoft Anti-Malware has detected. To remove them click on the “Clean Now” button in right corner.
🤔 Are the “.combo” files accessible?
Unfortunately, no. You need to decipher the “.combo” files first. Then you will be able to open them.
🤔 The encrypted files are very important to me. How can I decrypt them quickly?
If the “.combo” files contain some really important information, then you probably have them backed up. In case you haven’t, there is still a chance that you do have a Restore Point from some time ago to roll back the whole system to the moment when it had no virus yet, but already had your files. There are other ways to beat ransomware, but they take time.
🤔 You have advised using GridinSoft Anti-Malware to get rid of the Combo virus. Does it mean that all my files, currently encrypted, will be removed too?
No way! The encrypted files are not harmful, so they won’t be deleted.
GridinSoft Anti-Malware will delete actual viruses from your system. The malware that has attacked your PC is most likely still functional and running scans periodically to encode any new files you might create on your PC after the infection. As it has been mentioned above, the Combo malware does not come alone. It installs backdoors and keyloggers that can take your account passwords by trespass and provide malefactors with easy access to your system after some time.
🤔 What should I do if the Combo malware has blocked my PC and I can’t get the activation key.
If that happened, you need to have a flash memory card with a previously installed Trojan Killer. Use Safe Mode to do the cleaning. The point is that the ransomware runs automatically as the system boots and encrypts any new files created or brought into your PC. To block this function – use Safe Mode, which allows only the vital applications to run automatically. Consider reading our manual on booting Windows in Safe Mode.
🤔 And what should I do now?
Many of the encoded files might still be within your reach
- If you exchanged your important files by email, you could still download them from your online mail server.
- You may have shared images or videos with your friends or family members. Simply ask them to post those images back to you.
- If you have initially downloaded any of your files from the Internet, you can try downloading them again.
- Your messengers, social networks pages, and cloud drives might have all those files as well.
- Maybe you still have the needed files on your old computer, a notebook, mobile, external storage, etc.
USEFUL TIP: You can employ file recovery utilities7 to get your lost data back since ransomware blocks the copies of your files, deleting the authentic ones. In the tutorial below, you can learn how to recover your files with PhotoRec, but remember: you can do it only after you eradicate the virus with an anti-malware program.
Also, you can contact the following official fraud and scam sites to report this attack:
- In the United States: On Guard Online;
- In Canada: Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre;
- In the United Kingdom: Action Fraud;
- In Australia: SCAMwatch;
- In New Zealand: Consumer Affairs Scams;
- In France: Agence nationale de la sécurité des systèmes d’information;
- In Germany: Bundesamt für Sicherheit in der Informationstechnik;
- In Ireland: An Garda Síochána;
To report the attack, you can contact local executive boards. For instance, if you live in USA, you can have a talk with FBI Local field office, IC3 or Secret Service.
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How to Remove COMBO Ransomware & Recover PC
Name: COMBO Virus
Description: COMBO Virus is a ransomware-type infections. This virus encrypts important personal files (video, photos, documents). The encrypted files can be tracked by a specific .combo extension. So, you can't use them at all.
Operating System: Windows
Application Category: Virus
User Review( votes)
- My files are encrypted by ransomware, what should I do now?
- Encyclopedia of threats.
- You can read more on Trojans, their use and types in the Trojan-dedicated section of GridinSoft official website.
- You can read more on spyware variants and nature in the respective section of GridinSoft official website.
- GridinSoft Anti-Malware Review from HowToFix site: https://howtofix.guide/gridinsoft-anti-malware/
- More information about GridinSoft products: https://gridinsoft.com/products
- Here are the top 10 file recovery tools of 2021.