Restore .coot Files

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Coot Virus — Update October 2019

The Coot virus as one of the popular and active STOP ransomware samples is actively being pushed to users worldwide. It is one of the later variants of this subset of viruses and the used algorithm is a strong one. As a result, it is difficult to restore the system as many advanced modules may have been started.

Other threats that are very similar to the Coot virus can lead to dangerous system changes that can lead to errors, data loss and also further difficulty in the recovery process.

Distribution of Coot Virus:

Coot virus is a new data locker ransomware that has been released in active attack campaigns against computer users worldwide. The threat could be utilizing common tactics of distribution to infect computer systems.

One of the easiest ways for the criminals to spread the payload of Coot ransomware is by attaching it to email messages that are later released in active attack campaigns. The method allows hackers to send the virus to large lists of potential victims. The attachments to malicious email spam messages usually have Word documents or other types of files that users open without hesitation. Once opened on a target host these compromised files trigger the ransomware payload and infect the device with the Coot cryptovirus. Another infection tactic related to emails is hyperlink inserted in the content of the messages. The links are usually labeled as leading to a familiar website or a file of user interest.

Computer criminals behind this new ransomware can be using malicious sites or download portals to distribute malware of different kinds, including the Coot virus. A popular option is the use of infected documents which may be of different types ‒ spreadsheets, rich text documents, presentations, and databases. They are modified to initiate the virus once the built-in scripts are run. Usually when the files are opened a notification will ask the users to run the macros (scripts). If this is done the infection follows.

The hacker-controlled sites are specialist portals that have been created either manually or automatically by the criminals behind the Coot virus. They can either directly distribute the threat by initiating various scripts or automated operations or link to such instances. Redirects are usually caused by email interaction, ad networks or other browsing activity. However one of the main sources is the availability of browser hijackers. They are malicious add-ons made for the most popular web browsers ‒ Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, Opera, Microsoft Edge and Safari. Once installed they not only infect the users with the malware but also redirect the victims to a hacker-controlled site. Depending on the configuration the browser hijackers can also steal sensitive information such as any stored passwords, account credentials, history, bookmarks, form data and settings.

Impact of Coot Virus:

The so-called Coot virus has been detected in active attack campaigns. It is based on the code of the infamous ransomware family STOP. The code of this threat is designed to plague essential system settings with the purpose to reach target types of files and encode them with sophisticated cipher algorithm.

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The beginning of the attack is marked by the execution of the Coot payload file. Soon after the occurrence of this event, the threat becomes able to pass through several attack stages. At first, it triggers the creation of additional malicious files that support all the following operations. The ransomware could either create or drop them on the system. Typically, threats like Coot Virus are designed to place malicious files in system folders like %Roaming %, %Windows %, %AppData %, %Local %, %Temp%

Once the Coot Virus establishes the files, it starts executing them in a predefined order. As a result, it affects some essential system settings. Affected could be some main registry keys stored by the Registry Editor, legitimate processes and other major components that control the regular system performance.

Following system corruption, Coot ransomware utilizes a built-in encryption module to complete its main purpose – data encryption. Since this module is designed to transform the code of targeted files with a sophisticated cipher algorithm, the files remain unusable until their code is reverted back to its original state.

All files that are renamed with the extension .coot are encrypted by the ransomware. Unfortunately, they could be all files that store valuable data of you like:

  • Documents
  • Archives
  • Backups
  • Databases
  • Images
  • Videos
  • Music

Following data corruption, Coot STOP drops the text file _readme.txt which contains its ransom message. This file may automatically be loaded on the screen as its purpose is to blackmail you into paying hackers a ransom fee. Here is what its text usually informs:

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Have in mind that even a successful ransom payment does not guarantee the recovery of .coot files. Hackers could trick you once again by neglecting your messages or sending you a broken decryption tool.

Remove Coot Ransomware Virus and Restore PC;

Please note that paying the requested ransom fee to cybercriminals does not really solve your problem with the Coot cryptovirus. In fact, you only encourage hackers to continue spreading ransomware of this kind. Instead, you must remove the threat immediately, and only then look for optional ways to recover your data.
WARNING! Manual removal of the Coot ransomware virus requires being familiar with system files and registries. Removing important data accidentally can lead to permanent system damage. If you don’t feel comfortable with manual instructions, download a powerful anti-malware tool that will scan your system for malware and clean it safely for you.

Coot Ransomware Virus – Manual Removal Steps:

 Start the PC in Safe Mode with Network
This will isolate all files and objects created by the ransomware so they will be removed efficiently. The steps below are applicable to all Windows versions.
1. Hit the  WIN Key + R
2. A Run window will appear. In it, write MSConfig and then press Enter
3. A Configuration box shall appear. In it Choose the tab named Boot
4. Mark Safe Boot option and then go to Network under it to tick it too
5. Apply -> OK
 Show Hidden Files
Some ransomware threats are designed to hide their malicious files in the Windows so all files stored on the system should be visible.
1. Open My Computer/This PC
2. Windows 7
  • Click on Organize button
  • Select Folder and search options
  • Select the View tab
  • Go under Hidden files and folders and mark Show hidden files and folders option

3. Windows 8/ 10
  • Open View tab
  • Mark Hidden items option

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4. Click Apply and then OK button
 Enter the Windows Task Manager and Stop Malicious Processes
1. Hit the following key combination: CTRL+SHIFT+ESC
2. Get over to Processes
3. When you find suspicious process right-click on it and select Open File Location
4. Go back to Task Manager and end the malicious process. Right-click on it again and choose End Process
5. Next, you should go folder where the malicious file is located and delete it

 Repair Windows Registry

1. Again type simultaneously the  WIN Key + R key combination
2. In the box, write Regedit and hit Enter
3. Type the CTRL+ F and then write the malicious name in the search type field to locate the malicious executable
4. In case you have discovered registry keys and values related to the name, you should delete them, but be careful not to delete legitimate keys

Recover Encrypted Files

WARNING! All files and objects associated with the Coot ransomware virus should be removed from the infected PC before any data recovery attempts. Otherwise, the virus may encrypt restored files. Furthermore, a backup of all encrypted files stored on external media is highly recommendable.
1. Use present backups
2. Use professional data recovery software
Stellar Phoenix Data Recovery – a specialist tool that can restore partitions, data, documents, photos, and 300 more file types lost during various types of incidents and corruption.
3. Using System Restore Point
  • Hit WIN Key
  • Select “Open System Restore” and follow the steps

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4. Restore your personal files using File History

  • Hit WIN Key
  • Type restore your files in the search box
  • Select Restore your files with File History
  • Choose a folder or type the name of the file in the search bar
  • Hit the “Restore” button
How to Prevent Future Malware Instructions? Enable and properly configure your Firewall. Install and maintain reliable anti-malware software. Secure your web browser. Check regularly for available software updates and apply them. Disable macros in Office documents. Use strong passwords. Don’t open attachments or click on links unless you’re certain they’re safe. Backup regularly your data.