Guide to Remove Phobos Ransomware from your system


Guide To Remove Phobos Ransomware

Phobos is a Ransomware that has been making its presence felt since 21st October 2017. It is known for targeting a large number of systems in Western Europe & United States. Spam e-mail attachments & unprotected RDP (Remote Desktop Protocol) Ports are the prime methods using which Phobos Ransomware propagates.

Once the system is infected, Phobos implements AES 265 Encryption method to encrypt user & system files. The encrypted files are renamed & appended with extensions such as .phobos, .mamba, .pheonix, .karlos or .Frendi, hence rendering them inaccessible.

Phobos Ransom Note

Threat Summary-

Name Phobos
Type Ransomware
Category Malware
Operating System Impacted Windows
Targeted Browser Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox

Threat Behavior of Phobos Ransomware-

Phobos, the recent menacing member in the family of Ransomware, is targeting a large number of computers across the world.

Initially, Phobos appeared as an independent threat since it didn’t show signs of being connected to the vast family of RaaS (Ransomware As A Service). However, detailed analysis of this file-encrypting malware has revealed its alliance with two infamous & thriving threats to the cyber world – Dharma Ransomware & Crysis Ransomware.

Cyber Security Analysts at “Coveware” exposed how Phobos bears resemblance to Dharma.

Just like Dharma, Phobos Ransomware exploits vulnerabilities on open/unsecured RDP to creep in to the networks & infect the associated system. Once the system has been infected, the Ransomware Attack is executed.

The user & the system files are encrypted & renamed using AES Cryptography. The original file name is appended with victim’s unique ID of 8 characters, an e-mail address & .phobos extension.

For Example- The file name “12.xls” might be renamed as “12.xls.ID-xxxxxxx.[ [email protected]].phobos”.

The user-generated files targeted by the Phobos may include files with the extensions mentioned below-

  • Document files (.docx, .doc, .odt, .rtf, .text, .pdf, .htm, .ppt)
  • Audio Files (.mp3, .aif, .iff, .m3u, .m4u, .mid, .mpa, .wma, .ra, .avi, .mov, .mp4)
  • Video Files (.3gp, .mpeg, .3g2, .asf, .asx, .flv, .mpg, .wmv, .vob)
  • Images (.jpg, .jpeg, .raw, .tif, .gif, .png)
  • Backup Files (.bck, .bckp, .tmp, .gho)

Once the files are encrypted, the Phobos Ransomware generates an HTML Application (phobos.hta). This Application displays a pop-up window on the victim’s screen that contains a ransom message.

The Ransom Note & Amount for Phobos Ransomware

The Ransom Note for Phobos Ransomware bears resemblance to that of Dharma’s.

The note appears in the form of a program window & holds the title- “Your files have been encrypted”.

To purchase the decryption key, Victims are asked to contact the hackers via e-mail addresses such as [email protected] and [email protected] & provide the assigned Encryption ID.

It further prompts the users to pay the ransom amount in Bitcoin(s) in order to restore the encrypted data.

Ransom Note for Phobos Ransomware reads as follows-

Ransom Note2 - Phobos

Text presented in the other variant of Phobos Ransomware reads as follows-

Ransom Note1 - Phobos

Distribution Techniques of Phobos Ransomware

Phobos Ransomware can propagate its infection through various common methods. These may include-

1). Spam e-mail Campaigns containing harmful attachments.

2). Exploiting Unpatched Vulnerabilities in RDP.

3). Fake Software updates & dubious software download sources.

4). Infected Network File-Sharing Services

5). Zipped Java Script Attachments

Cyber criminals often insert harmful executable files, malicious links or attachments to the e-mails. A mere click on these attachments can install malicious software such as Phobos Ransomware on the system, resulting in computer infection.

How to Remove Phobos Ransomware infection from the system- 

STEP A: Remove the services installed by Phobos Ransomware from the System using Safe mode with Command Prompt

Windows 7/ Vista/ XP

  1. Click on Windows icon present in the lower left corner of the computer screen.
  2. Select and click Restart.
  3. When the screen goes blank, keep tapping F8 key until you see the Advanced Boot Options window.
  4. With the help of arrow keys on keyboard, Select Safe Mode with Command Prompt from the list and press the Enter Key. The system will then restart to Safe Mode with Command Prompt.
  5. Click on the username and enter the password (if any).

Windows 10 / Windows 8

  1. Press and hold the Shift Key and simultaneously click on the windows icon present in the lower left corner of your computer screen.
  2. While the Shift key is still pressed click on the Power button and then click on Restart.
  3. Now select Troubleshoot → Advanced options → Startup Settings.
  4. When the Startup Settings screen appears which is the first screen to appear after restart, select and click on Enable Safe Mode with Command Prompt. The system will then restart to Safe Mode with Command Prompt.
  5. Click on the username and enter the password.

STEP B: Restore your system files and settings

Method 1 using Control Panel

  1. Click on the ‘Start’ button on the taskbar. This will open the Start menu.
  2. Click on the ‘Control Panel’ button in the Start menu. This will open the control panel window.
  3. In the Control Panel window, click on the ‘View by:’ button on the top right. Select the Large Icon option
  4. In the control Panel window click on the ‘Recovery Icon’. This will open a window that will ask ‘Restore the computer to an earlier point in time’.
  5. Click on the ‘Open system restore’ button. This will open the ‘system restore ’window where you need to click on the Next Button.
  6.  Select the restore point that is prior the infiltration of Phobos Ransomware. After doing that, click Next.
  7. This will open the ‘Confirm your restore point’ dialog box. Click on Finish button. This will restore your system to a previous restore point before your system was infected by Phobos Ransomware.


Method 2 using Command Prompt

  1. Type cmd in the search box and click on the command prompt to open the Command Prompt window. box and clicking on it.
  2. Once the Command Prompt window shows up, enter cd restore and click Enter.(Ensure that you in the system32 directory of Windows folder in C Drive)
  3. Now type rstrui and press Enter again.
  4. When a new window shows up, click Next and select your restore point that is prior the infiltration of Phobos Ransomware. After doing that, click Next.
  5. This will open the ‘Confirm your restore point’ dialog box. Click on Finish button. This will restore your system to a previous restore point before your system was infected by Phobos Ransomware


  1. Type ‘Rstrui’ in the search box present on the task bar. This will open the System restore dialog box.

Continue to follow steps 4 & 5 of Method 2 to restore the System Files and settings.

How to prevent Phobos Ransomware from infecting your system- 

  1. Keeping the Operating System Updated- In order to remain protected and avoid such infections, it is recommended to keep your Operating System updated by enabling the automatic update on your system. The systems with outdated or older versions of Operating System become an easy target for the attackers.
  2. Resist clicking on spam emails – One of the major techniques used for malware distribution is forwarding spam emails to the user. The system gets infected as soon as the user clicks on the attachment. These mails appear to be genuine, so be aware and resist falling for these tricks.
  3. Keep an eye on third party installations- It is quite important that you take due care while installing any third party applications for they are major source of such infections. Such malware programs come bundled with the free applications thereby requiring the user to remain cautious.
  4. Regular periodical backup- In order to keep your data and files safe, it is recommended to take regular back up of all your data and files either on an external drive or cloud.
  5. Use Anti-Virus Protection- We strongly recommend the use of antivirus protection/internet security in your PC like Norton, Kaspersky or Vipre so that it remains safe.
  6. Enable the Ad Blocker/Popup Blocker in your browser- Enabling the popup blocker/ ad blocker in your chosen browser will help you to stay protected from annoying adware.
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