XHAMSTER Virus Ransomware — How to remove X HAMSTER?

Written by Brendan Smith
Virus analyst Tomas Meskauskas was the one who originally revealed the Xhamster virus, which falls under the Phobos ransomware family. Harmful software of such sort encrypts all user’s data on the computer (photos, documents, excel sheets, music, videos, etc) and adds its extra extension to every file.
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What is known about the Xhamstervirus?

☝️ A strictly accurate designation for the Xhamster is “a Phobos family ransomware infection”.

The renaming will be done according to the following pattern: XHAMSTER. After the encryption, a file entitled, for instance, “report.docx” will be altered to “report.docx.id[C279F237-2797].[ICQ@xhamster2020].XHAMSTER”.

The ransom note most probably contains instructions on how to purchase the decryption tool from the tamperers. You can get this tool after contacting @xhamster2020 on ICQ by email. That is how they do it.

Xhamster overview:
NameXhamster Virus
Ransomware family1Phobos ransomware
Extension.XHAMSTER
Contact@xhamster2020 on ICQ
Detection2TrojanSpy:Win32/Ursnif!K, Ransom:Win32/StopCrypt.PMB!MTB, FileRepMalware [Wrm]
SymptomsYour files (photos, videos, documents) get a .XHAMSTER extension and you can’t open them.
Fix ToolSee If Your System Has Been Affected by Xhamster virus

The note accompanying the Xhamster malware states the following:

All your files have been encrypted!
All your files have been encrypted due to a security problem with your PC.
If you want to restore them, install ICQ software on your PC here hxxps://icq.com/windows/
or on mobile phone from Appstore/Google Play Market search for \"ICQ\"
Write to our ICQ @xhamster2020 hxxps://icq.im/xhamster2020
Write this ID in the title of your message -
You have to pay for decryption in Bitcoins. The price depends on how fast you write to us.
Free decryption as guarantee
Before paying you can send us up to 5 files for free decryption. The total size of files must be less than 3Mb (non archived), and files should not contain valuable information. (databases,backups, large excel sheets, etc.)
Attention!
Do not rename encrypted files.
Do not try to decrypt your data using third party software, it may cause permanent data loss.
Decryption of your files with the help of third parties may cause increased price (they add their fee to our) or you can become a victim of a scam.
Be assured we are the only people who can recover your files and there is no free tool.

In the picture below, you can see what a directory with files encrypted by the Xhamster looks like. Each filename has the “.XHAMSTER” extension appended to it.

Xhamster Virus - encrypted .XHAMSTER files

That is how encrypted “.XHAMSTER” files look.

How did my computer get infected with Xhamster ransomware?

There are many possible ways of ransomware injection.

There are currently three most exploited methods for tamperers to have ransomware settled in your digital environment. These are email spam, Trojan injection and peer file transfer.

If you open your inbox and see letters that look like familiar notifications from utility services companies, postal agencies like FedEx, Internet 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 enclosed in them. Therefore, it is even riskier to download any attachments that come with letters like these.

Another thing the hackers might try is a Trojan horse scheme3. A Trojan is an object that infiltrates into your computer pretending to be something legal. Imagine, you download an installer of some program you want or an update for some software. However, what is unpacked reveals itself a harmful program that compromises your data. Since the installation wizard can have any name and any icon, you have to make sure that you can trust the resource of the stuff you’re downloading. The optimal thing is to trust the software developers’ official websites.

As for the peer file transfer protocols like torrent trackers or eMule, the threat is that they are even more trust-based than the rest of the Internet. You can never know what you download until you get it. Our suggestion is that you use trustworthy websites. Also, it is a good idea to scan the directory containing the downloaded objects with the antivirus as soon as the downloading is finished.

How do I get rid of the Xhamster virus?

It is important to inform you that besides encrypting your data, the Xhamster virus will probably install the Azorult Spyware on your computer to seize your credentials to various accounts (including cryptocurrency wallets). That spyware4 can derive your credentials from your browser’s auto-filling cardfile.

Often racketeers would unblock several of your files to prove that they do have the decryption tool. Since Xhamster virus is a relatively recent ransomware, anti-malware developers have not yet found a method to undo its work. However, the anti-ransomware tools are frequently updated, so the solution may soon arrive.

Of course, if the tamperers succeed in encrypting someone’s essential data, the hopeless person will probably comply with their demands. Nevertheless, paying to racketeers 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 victim. There were reports about hackers simply vanishing after getting the ransom without even bothering to reply.

The best countermeasure to 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. Of course, that might be insufficient. 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 wise to scan your PC for viruses with the anti-malware utility after the OS restoration.

There are other ransomware products, besides Xhamster, that work similarly. Examples of those are Jhdd, Hhjk, Xcvf, and some others. The two main differences between them and the Xhamster are the ransom amount and the method of encryption. The rest is almost identical: files become encrypted, their extensions changed, ransom notes are created in each directory containing encrypted files.

Some fortunate people were able to decrypt the blocked files with the aid of the free software provided by anti-malware developers. Sometimes the hackers mistakenly send the decoding code to the wronged in the ransom note. Such an epic fail allows the victim to restore the files. But naturally, one should never expect such a chance. Make no mistake, ransomware is a bandits’ instrument to pull the money out of their victims.

How do I avert ransomware infection?

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

You can defend your system from ransomware attack within several easy steps:

  • Never open any emails from unknown mailers with unknown addresses, or with content that has likely no connection to something you are waiting for (can you win in a money prize draw without participating in it?). In case the email subject is likely something you are expecting, check all elements of the dubious letter carefully. A hoax letter will always have a mistake.
  • Avoid using cracked or unknown programs. Trojans are often distributed as an element of cracked products, possibly as a “patch” to prevent the license check. But untrusted programs are difficult to tell from trustworthy ones, because trojans may also have the functionality you need. Try to find information on this program on the anti-malware forums, but the best way is not to use such software.
  • And finally, to be sure about the safety of the files you downloaded, check them with 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.

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 Xhamster 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 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.

GridinSoft Anti-Malware Scan Result

FAQ

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

Negative. That is why ransomware is so frustrating. Until you decode the “.XHAMSTER” files you will not be able to access them.

🤔 The encrypted files are very important to me. How can I decrypt them quickly?

It’s good if you have fаr-sightedly saved copies of these important files elsewhere. If not, there is still a function of System Restore but it needs a Restore Point to be previously saved. All other solutions require time.

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

No way! The encrypted files are not harmful, so they won’t be deleted.

GridinSoft Anti-Malware only deals with active threats. The virus that has attacked your system is most likely still active and it scans your system every so often to encode any new files you might create on your PC after the infection. As it has been mentioned above, the Xhamster ransomware comes with the company. It installs backdoors and keyloggers that can steal your account credentials and provide malefactors with easy access to your computer in the future.

🤔 What should I do if the Xhamster virus has blocked my PC and I can’t get the activation key.

In such a case, you need to prepare a flash memory card with a pre-installed Trojan Killer. Use Safe Mode to do the cleaning. You see, the ransomware starts automatically as the system launches and encodes any new files created or imported into your system. To stop this process – use Safe Mode, which allows only the essential applications to run upon system start. Consider reading our manual on running Windows in Safe Mode.

🤔 What can I do right now?

Many of the encrypted files might still be within your reach

  • If you exchanged your important files via email, you could still download them from your online mailbox.
  • You may 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 downloading them again.
  • Your messengers, social networks pages, and cloud storage might have all those files as well.
  • Maybe you still have the needed files on your old computer, a notebook, mobile, memory stick, etc.

USEFUL TIP: You can use data recovery programs7 to get your lost data back since ransomware arrests the copies of your files, deleting the authentic ones. In the video below, you can learn how to recover your files with PhotoRec, but be advised: you can do it only after you remove the virus 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 XHAMSTER Ransomware & Recover PC

Name: XHAMSTER Virus

Description: XHAMSTER Virus is a ransomware-type infections. This virus encrypts important personal files (video, photos, documents). The encrypted files can be tracked by a specific .XHAMSTER 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. Encyclopedia of threats.
  3. You can read more on Trojans, their use and types in the Trojan-dedicated section of GridinSoft official website.
  4. You can read more on spyware variants and nature in the respective section of GridinSoft official website.
  5. GridinSoft Anti-Malware Review from HowToFix site: https://howtofix.guide/gridinsoft-anti-malware/
  6. More information about GridinSoft products: https://gridinsoft.com/products/
  7. Here’s the list of 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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