Adding up to the extended list of ransomware under STOP family is called Gero. Malware researchers discovered that this new variant has no notable changes than its predecessors. Only the appended extension is literally updated on this edition. As such, data that were infected with this ransomware will bear the .gero file extension. It targets user’s valuable files with formats like .doc, .xls, .ppt, .jpg, . pdf, . dwg, .zip, .rar, .dwg, .htm, and many more. To give an example, file presentation.ppt will transform into presentation.ppt.gero after it was fully encrypted with Gero ransomware.
Nearly all incident of Gero ransomware infection are through user’s ignorance in the misleading tactics perpetuated by attackers. Most computer users are unaware that virus like this and previous versions like Cetori and Carote are usually disseminates in deceitful campaign like spam emails, malicious advertising, and free software distribution. Therefore, being careless in executing any attachments, links, or downloaded program from these schemes will instantly unloads Gero ransomware onto the computer.
On its initial attack, Gero ransomware drops multiple files on various system folders and vital directories that can inflict unwanted behavior, which is beneficial to the virus in the further domination of the computer. This initial action can render anti-virus programs useless and block victim’s access to predefined security websites. Actually, carrying out the said task will prevent users from downloading removal tools or any possible decryption software that security websites normally publish when made available by malware researchers.
The final stage of the infection is to search the storage drive for files and encrypts them with sophisticated algorithm. As stated, Gero ransomware also renames the files as a way to disassociate them with any installed program. These two file alteration processes really make it impossible for users to open them without the private key and decryption software combination.
The last phase is conclusive if ransom note is generated on the same exact location where .gero files are situated. As what security experts suggests, never deal with the ransomware even though the document stated that paying the ransom demand is the only solution to recover all encrypted files. There is actually an alternative way to restore the data and remove the virus, which is what we are providing on the next segment.
How to Remove Gero Ransomware
Ransomware files are placed deeply into the system and on various locations, thus, thorough scanning is vital to totally remove Gero virus. Aside from our suggested tool, you may also run your own security program.
Though affected files may be impossible to decrypt due to complexity of the encryption, you can still try recovery method like alternative tool, Shadow Explorer or Previous Version as described below.
Stage 1: Scan the Computer with Anti-Malware Tool
1. Download free anti-malware scanner called MalwareBytes Anti-Malware.
Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Download Link (this will open a new window)
2. After downloading, install the program. It may run automatically or you have to double-click on the downloaded file MB3-Setup-[version].exe.
3. Carry out the installation with default setup process.
4. At the last stage of installation process, click the Finish button. The program should launch momentarily.
5. On Malwarebytes Anti-Malware console, select Scan from the menu to see available Scan Method.
6. Next, click on Threat Scan. This is the most complete scan method that will surely find any hidden malicious objects associated to Gero ransomware.
7. Finally, click on Start Scan begin checking the computer for malware and similar threats.
8. Once the scan has completed, the tool will display the list of detected threats. Remove all identified malicious items and restart the computer if necessary.
Stage 2: Double-check for Gero’s leftover with Microsoft’s Malicious Software Removal Tool
1. Download the free scanner called Malicious Software Removal Tool.
Malicious Software Removal Tool Download Link (this will open a new window)
2. The tool automatically checks the operating system and suggest appropriate download version. Click on Download button to begin. Save the file to a convenient location, preferably on Desktop.
3. After downloading the file, Windows will prompt that download has completed. Click Run to start scanning for Gero ransomware. Another option is to browse the location folder and double click on the file to run.
4. The tool will display Welcome screen, click Next. Please note the message “This tool is not a replacement for an antivirus product.” You must understand that this program is made specifically to find and remove malware, viruses, Trojans, and other harmful elements on the computer. It was not designed to protect the computer.
5. Next, you will see Scan Type. Please choose Full Scan to ensure that all Gero ransom virus entities and other harmful files left on the computer will be found and removed. For advanced computer user, you can opt for Customized Scan, if there are other drives or folders you wanted to include in this scan.
6. Full scan may take a while, please wait for Malicious Software Removal Tool to complete the tasks. However, you may cancel the scan anytime by clicking on the Cancel button.
7. After scanning, the tool will reveal all identified threats. There may be other threats that our first scan fails to detect. Please remove/delete all detected items.
8. When removal procedure is complete, you may now close Malicious Software Removal Tool. We hope that Gero ransomware have been completely deleted from the computer. Please restart Windows to proceed with the normal operation.
Stage 3 : Unlocking files with Gero Decryption Tool
Emsisoft Decryptor for STOP Djvu will work only if affected files were encrypted using Offline Keys. Gero ransomware uses the alternate Offline Keys during encryption if there is a problem encountered while communicating to a remote command-and-control server. Follow the guide to start recovering .gero encrypted files.
1. As precautionary measures, we suggest to BACKUP all your .gero encrypted files first on a separate media (USB Drive, Flash Drive, DVD Discs, etc…).
2. Download Emsisoft Decryptor for STOP Djvu from this archive page.
3. Right-click on decrypt_STOPDjvu.exe and click “Run as Administrator“. Windows may prompt “Do you want to allow this app…” just click Yes to continue.
4. By default, the tool will pre-populate the locations where encrypted files were identified. To include other directories, simply click Add Folder button.
5. To start recovering files infected by Gero ransomware, click on Decrypt button to start the procedure. The interface will display status of the current decryption process.
We will update this section once the full decryption tool is on hand. In the meantime, please try other options below if the above procedure is not not effective.
Option 1: Windows Previous Version Tool
Windows Vista and Windows 7 have a feature called Previous Versions. However, this tool is only usable if restore point was made prior to Gero ransomware infection. To use this tool and recover files affected by the virus, please follow these steps:
1. Open My Computer or Windows Explorer.
2. Right-click on the affected files or folders. From the drop-down list, please click on Restore previous versions.
3. New window will open display all backup copy of files and folders you wanted to recover. Choose the appropriate file and click on Open, Copy, or Restore. Restoring selected files overwrites the current encrypted files on the computer.
Option 2: Use ShadowExplorer to restore files encrypted by Gero Ransomware
Just like Previous Version tool, ShadowExplorer is taking advantage of shadow copy created by Windows. This tool allows you to retrieve older version of files before it was encrypted by Gero ransomware.
1. Download ShadowExplorer from the official web site.
2. Install the program with the default settings.
3. The program should run automatically after installation. If not, double-click on ShadowExplorer icon.
4. You can see the drop-down list on top of the console. Please select proper drive and the most recent point-in-time shadow copies of files you wish to restore prior to Gero ransomware infection.
5. Right-click on the Drive, Folder, or File you wish to restore and click Export…
6. Lastly, ShadowExplorer will prompt for location where you want to save the copy of recovered files.