.HARDITEM Files Encrypted (HARDITEM Virus) — How to Remove?

Written by Brendan Smith
The Harditem virus belongs under the ransomware type of infection. Ransomware of this type encrypts all user’s data on the computer (images, text files, excel tables, audio files, videos, etc) and adds its own extension to every file, creating the RESTORE_FILES_INFO.txt files in every directory containing encrypted files.
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Harditem virus: what is known so far?

☝️ A strictly accurate denomination for the Harditem would be “a ransomware infection”.

Harditem appends its specific .harditem extension to every file’s name. For example, a file named “photo.jpg” will be turned into “photo.jpg.harditem”. In the same manner, the Excel table with the name “table.xlsx” will become “table.xlsx.harditem”, and so on.

In each directory containing the encoded files, a RESTORE_FILES_INFO.txt text file will be created. It is a ransom money memo. Therein you can find information on the ways of paying the ransom and some other remarks. The ransom note usually contains a description of how to purchase the decryption tool from the racketeers. That is how they do it.

Harditem outline:
NameHarditem Virus
Extension.harditem
Ransomware noteRESTORE_FILES_INFO.txt
Detection1Trojan-Ransom.Win32.Wanna.apno, Win32/Injector.AOXO, Win32/Spy.Chekafev.AB
SymptomsYour files (photos, videos, documents) get a .harditem extension and you can’t open them.
Fix ToolSee If Your System Has Been Affected by Harditem virus

In the image below, you can see what a folder with files encrypted by the Harditem looks like. Each filename has the “.harditem” extension added to it.

Harditem Virus - encrypted .harditem files

An example of encrypted .harditem files.

How did my machine catch Harditem ransomware?

There are many possible ways of ransomware injection.

There are currently three most exploited methods for malefactors to have ransomware working in your digital environment. These are email spam, Trojan injection and peer networks.

If you access your inbox and see letters that look like familiar notifications from utility services companies, postal agencies like FedEx, web-access providers, and whatnot, but whose addresser is strange to you, be wary of opening those letters. They are very likely to have a ransomware item attached to them. So it is even more dangerous to download any attachments that come with emails like these.

Another thing the hackers might try is a Trojan horse model2. A Trojan is a program that infiltrates into your machine pretending to be something legal. For example, you download an installer of some program you need or an update for some program. But what is unpacked turns out to be a harmful agent that corrupts your data. As the update file can have any name and any icon, you’d better be sure that you can trust the source of the files you’re downloading. The best thing is to use the software companies’ official websites.

As for the peer networks like BitTorrent 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. Our suggestion is that you use trustworthy resources. Also, it is a good idea to scan the directory containing the downloaded objects with the antivirus as soon as the downloading is done.

How do I get rid of the Harditem virus?

It is important to inform you that besides encrypting your files, the Harditem virus will probably deploy the Azorult Spyware on your machine to get access to credentials to various accounts (including cryptocurrency wallets). That spyware3 can derive your credentials from your browser’s auto-filling cardfile.

Sometimes criminals would decrypt few of your files so you know that they do have the decryption program. Since Harditem virus is a relatively recent ransomware, anti-malware designers have not yet found a way to undo its work. However, the decoding tools are constantly upgraded, so the effective countermeasure may soon be available.

Understandably, if the hackers do the job of encoding someone’s essential files, the hopeless person will probably comply with their demands. However, paying a ransom does not necessarily mean that you’re getting your data back. It is still risky. After receiving the money, the racketeers may deliver a wrong decryption key to the injured party. There were reports of malefactors simply vanishing after getting the ransom without even bothering to reply.

The best safety measure against ransomware is to have a system restore point or the copies of your critical files in the cloud disk or at least on an external storage. Obviously, that might be not enough. Your most important thing could be that file you were working upon when it all happened. But at least it is something. It is also reasonable to scan your drives with the antivirus program after the system is rolled back.

There are other ransomware products, besides Harditem, that work similarly. For instance, Zfdv, Bbyy, Bbzz, and some others. The two basic differences between them and the Harditem are the ransom amount and the encoding method. The rest is almost identical: files become encrypted, their extensions changed, ransom notes are found in each folder containing encoded files.

Some fortunate victims were able to decrypt the arrested files with the aid of the free software provided by anti-malware experts. Sometimes the racketeers accidentally send the decryption key to the victims in the ransom readme. Such an epic fail allows the user to restore the files. But naturally, one should never rely on such a chance. Remember, ransomware is a criminals’ technology to pull the money out of their victims.

How to avoid ransomware infiltration?

Harditem ransomware has no endless power, so as any similar malware.

You can defend your system from ransomware injection within three easy steps:

  • Never open any emails from unknown senders with strange addresses, or with content that has likely no connection to something you are expecting (can you win in a money prize draw without participating in it?). If the email subject is more or less something you are waiting for, scrutinize all elements of the dubious email carefully. A fake letter will always have a mistake.
  • Avoid using cracked or untrusted programs. Trojan viruses are often shared as an element of cracked products, possibly under the guise of “patch” preventing the license check. But potentially dangerous programs are very hard to tell from trustworthy ones, because trojans sometimes have the functionality you seek. You can try to find information on this program on the anti-malware message boards, but the optimal way is not to use such software.
  • And finally, to be sure about the safety of the objects you downloaded, use GridinSoft Anti-Malware. This program will be a perfect shield for your personal computer.
Reasons why I would recommend GridinSoft4

There is no better way to recognize, remove and prevent ransomware than to use an anti-malware software from GridinSoft5.

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 computer.

Run Setup.exe

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.

GridinSoft Anti-Malware Setup

Press “Install” button.

GridinSoft Anti-Malware Install

Once installed, Anti-Malware will automatically run.

GridinSoft Anti-Malware Splash-Screen

Wait for the Anti-Malware scan to complete.

GridinSoft Anti-Malware will automatically start scanning your computer for Harditem 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.

GridinSoft Anti-Malware Scanning

Click on “Clean Now”.

When the scan has finished, 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.

GridinSoft Anti-Malware Scan Result

FAQ

🤔 How can I open “.harditem” files?Are the “.harditem” files accessible?

There’s no way to do it, unless the files “.harditem” files are decrypted.

🤔 I really need to decrypt those “.harditem” files ASAP. How can I do that?

If the “.harditem” 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. The rest of the methods require patience.

🤔 Will GridinSoft Anti-Malware remove all the encrypted files alongside the Harditem virus?

Absolutely not! Your encrypted files are no threat to your PC.

GridinSoft Anti-Malware will remove active viruses from your computer. The virus that has infected your device is must be still functional and running scans periodically to encrypt any new files you might create on your PC after the initial attack. As it has already been said, the Harditem malware comes with the company. It installs backdoors and keyloggers that can steal your account credentials and provide malefactors with easy access to your PC in the future.

🤔 What should I do if the Harditem ransomware 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 pre-installed Trojan Killer. Use Safe Mode to perform the procedure. You see, the ransomware starts automatically as the system boots and encodes any new files created or brought into your machine. To block this function – use Safe Mode, which allows only the vital programs to run automatically. Consider reading our manual on running Windows in Safe Mode.

🤔 And what should I do now?

Many of the blocked files might still be at your disposal

  • If you exchanged your critical files by email, you could still download them from your online mail server.
  • You may have shared images or videos with your friends or relatives. Just ask them to send those images back to you.
  • If you have initially downloaded any of your files from the Web, you can try doing it again.
  • Your messengers, social media pages, and cloud disks might have all those files as well.
  • It might be that you still have the needed files on your old computer, a portable device, mobile, memory stick, etc.

USEFUL TIP: You can use data recovery utilities6 to retrieve your lost information since ransomware blocks the copies of your files, removing the authentic ones. In the video below, you can see how to recover your files with PhotoRec, but be advised: you can do it only after you kill the ransomware itself with an anti-malware program.

Also, you can contact the following official fraud and scam sites to report this attack:

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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Brendan Smith
How to Remove HARDITEM Ransomware & Recover PC

Name: HARDITEM Virus

Description: HARDITEM Virus is a ransomware-type infections. This virus encrypts important personal files (video, photos, documents). The encrypted files can be tracked by a specific .harditem extension. So, you can't use them at all.

Operating System: Windows

Application Category: Virus

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References

  1. Encyclopedia of threats.
  2. You can read more on Trojans, their use and types in the Trojan-dedicated section of GridinSoft official website.
  3. You can read more on spyware variants and nature in the respective section of GridinSoft official website.
  4. GridinSoft Anti-Malware Review from HowToFix site: https://howtofix.guide/gridinsoft-anti-malware/
  5. More information about GridinSoft products: https://gridinsoft.com/products
  6. Here are the best 10 file recovery tools of 2021.

About the author

Brendan Smith

Journalist, researcher, web content developer, grant proposal editor. Efficient and proficient on multiple platforms and in diverse media. Computer technology and security are my specialties.

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