STEEL Virus 🔐 (.STEEL Files) — How to Remove?

Written by Brendan Smith
The Steel virus falls within the Phobos ransomware family. Ransomware of such sort encrypts all user’s data on the computer (photos, documents, excel sheets, audio files, videos, etc) and appends its specific extension to every file, leaving the info.txt files in every directory which contains the encrypted files.
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Steel virus: what is known so far?

☝️ A scientifically correct denomination for the Steel would be “a Phobos family ransomware infection”.

The renaming will be done by this pattern: .STEEL. In the process of encryption, a file named, for instance, “report.docx” will be altered to “report.docx.id[9ECFA84E-3351].[[email protected]].STEEL”.

In each folder containing the encrypted files, a info.txt file will be found. It is a ransom money note. Therein you can find information about the ways of paying the ransom and some other information. The ransom note most probably contains a description of how to buy the decryption tool from the tamperers. You can get this decryptor after contacting [email protected] via email. That is it.

Steel overview:
Name Steel Virus
Ransomware family1 Phobos ransomware
Extension .STEEL
Ransomware note info.txt
Contact [email protected]
Detection Crytex.Virus.FileInfector.DDS, Win32/Filecoder.OLC, Malware-Cryptor.InstallCore.5
Symptoms Your files (photos, videos, documents) get a .STEEL extension and you can’t open them.
Fix Tool See If Your System Has Been Affected by Steel virus

The info.txt file coming in package with the Steel malware states the following:

!!!All of your files are encrypted!!!
To decrypt them send e-mail to this address: [email protected].
If we don\'t answer in 24h, send messge to telegram: @Stop_24

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

Steel Virus - encrypted .STEEL files

An example of encrypted .STEEL files.

How did my machine catch Steel ransomware?

There are plenty of possible ways of ransomware injection.

Nowadays, there are three most popular methods for malefactors to have the Steel virus working in your system. These are email spam, Trojan infiltration and peer-to-peer file transfer.

If you access your inbox and see letters that look like familiar notifications from utility services providers, postal agencies like FedEx, Internet providers, and whatnot, but whose addresser is strange to you, beware of opening those letters. They are most likely to have a malware item enclosed in them. Thus it is even riskier to open any attachments that come with letters like these.

Another option for ransom hunters is a Trojan horse scheme2. A Trojan is an object that gets into your machine disguised as something different. For instance, you download an installer for some program you need or an update for some software. However, what is unboxed turns out to be a harmful agent that encrypts your data. Since the installation package can have any title and any icon, you have to make sure that you can trust the source of the things you’re downloading. The best thing is to use 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 know what you download until you get it. Our suggestion is that you use trustworthy resources. Also, it is a good idea to scan the folder containing the downloaded files with the anti-malware utility as soon as the downloading is finished.

How to remove the Steel virus?

It is crucial to inform you that besides encrypting your data, the Steel virus will most likely install the Azorult Spyware on your computer to get access to credentials to different accounts (including cryptocurrency wallets). The mentioned program can extract your logins and passwords from your browser’s auto-filling data.

Often racketeers would unblock few of your files to prove that they indeed have the decryption program. As Steel virus is a relatively new ransomware, security software developers have not yet found a way to undo its work. However, the decryption tools are frequently updated, so the effective countermeasure may soon arrive.

Sure thing, if the hackers do the job of encrypting someone’s critical data, the hopeless person will probably fulfill their demands. Nevertheless, paying a ransom does not necessarily mean that you’re getting your data back. It is still risky. After getting the ransom, the racketeers may deliver a wrong decryption code to the victim. There were reports about ransomware developers just disappearing after getting the ransom without even writing back.

The optimal countermeasure to ransomware is to have aan OS restore point or the copies of your essential files in the cloud disk or at least on an external disk. Obviously, that might be not enough. Your most important thing could be that one you were working on when it all happened. But at least it is something. It is also advisable to scan your PC for viruses with the anti-malware utility after the system is rolled back.

There are other ransomware products, besides Steel, that work similarly. For instance, Mzop, Vvoo, Erqw, and some others. The two major differences between them and the Steel are the ransom amount and the encoding method. The rest is the same: files become encrypted, their extensions altered, ransom notes emerge in each directory containing encrypted files.

Some lucky users were able to decrypt the arrested files with the aid of the free tools provided by anti-malware developers. Sometimes the racketeers mistakenly send the decoding code to the wronged in the ransom readme. Such an epic fail allows the victim to restore the files. But naturally, one should never rely on such a chance. Make no mistake, ransomware is a bandits’ tool to pull the money out of their victims.

How do I avoid ransomware infiltration?

Steel ransomware doesn’t have a superpower, neither does any similar malware.

You can armour your computer from its injection in several easy steps:

  • Never open any emails from unknown senders with unknown addresses, or with content that has likely no connection to something you are waiting for (how can you win in a money prize draw without participating in it?). If the email subject is more or less something you are expecting, check all elements of the dubious email with caution. A fake letter will surely contain a mistake.
  • Do not use cracked or unknown software. Trojan viruses are often distributed as an element of cracked products, most likely as a “patch” to prevent the license check. But untrusted programs are difficult to distinguish from trustworthy software, because trojans may also have the functionality you seek. Try searching for information on this software product on the anti-malware message boards, but the best solution is not to use such programs at all.
  • And finally, to be sure about the safety of the files you downloaded, scan them with GridinSoft Anti-Malware. This software will be a powerful armor for your personal computer.
Reasons why I would recommend GridinSoft3

There is no better way to recognize, remove and prevent ransomware than to use an anti-malware software from GridinSoft4.

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.

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 system for Steel 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

Frequently Asked Questions

🤔 Is it possible to open “.STEEL” files?

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

🤔 What should I do to make my files accessible as fast as possible?

It’s good if you have fаr-sightedly saved copies of these important files elsewhere. Otherwise, you might try to employ System Restore. The only question is whether you have saved any Restore Points that would be helpful now. The rest of the methods require patience.

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

No way! Your encrypted files are no threat to your PC.

GridinSoft Anti-Malware only deals with active threats. The virus that has infiltrated your computer is probably still active and launching checks periodically to arrest any new files you might create on your computer after the initial attack. As it has been said above, the Steel ransomware comes with the company. It installs backdoors and keyloggers that can steal your account credentials and provide hackers with easy access to your PC in the future.

🤔 What should I do if the Steel malware has blocked my computer and I can’t get the activation key.

If that happened, you need to have a memory stick with a previously installed Trojan Killer. Use Safe Mode to perform the cleaning. The point is that the ransomware runs automatically as the system launches and encrypts any new files created or brought into your system. To suppress this function – use Safe Mode, which allows only the essential programs to run upon system start. Consider reading our manual on running Windows in Safe Mode.

🤔 What could help the situation right now?

Many of the encoded files might still be within your reach

  • If you exchanged your critical files via email, you could still download them from your online mail server.
  • You might have shared photographs or videos with your friends or relatives. Just ask them to post those pictures back to you.
  • If you have initially downloaded any of your files from the Internet, you can try doing it again.
  • Your messengers, social networks 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 laptop, mobile, flash memory, etc.

HINT: You can employ data recovery programs5 to retrieve your lost information since ransomware blocks the copies of your files, removing the authentic ones. In the tutorial below, you can see how to recover your files with PhotoRec, but be advised: you can do it only after you remove 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 STEEL Ransomware & Recover PC

Name: STEEL Virus

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

Operating System: Windows

Application Category: Virus

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References

  1. My files are encrypted by ransomware, what should I do now?
  2. You can read more on Trojans, their use and types in the Trojan-dedicated section of GridinSoft official website.
  3. GridinSoft Anti-Malware Review from HowToFix site: https://howtofix.guide/gridinsoft-anti-malware/
  4. More information about GridinSoft products: https://gridinsoft.com/products
  5. Here are Best Data Recovery Software Of 2023.

About the author

Brendan Smith

I'm Brendan Smith, a passionate journalist, researcher, and web content developer. With a keen interest in computer technology and security, I specialize in delivering high-quality content that educates and empowers readers in navigating the digital landscape.

With a focus on computer technology and security, I am committed to sharing my knowledge and insights to help individuals and organizations protect themselves in the digital age. My expertise in cybersecurity principles, data privacy, and best practices allows me to provide practical tips and advice that readers can implement to enhance their online security.

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