The STOP Ransomware family keeps growing, and now Toec Ransomware has joined it. Unsurprisingly, this malicious infection is identical to hundreds of others that came before it. A few of them include Nols Ransomware, Noos Ransomware, and Boot Ransomware. This malware is likely to spread using spam emails, which means that the launcher is likely to be introduced to you as a document file. The message representing it could look as if it was sent by a delivery company, a bank, and airline, or something similar to that. While it is unlikely that many people would be tricked by emails sent by random senders, if they pose as well-known companies, cybercriminals are likely to have better chances of scamming people. If the threat is executed, it starts corrupting files immediately. After that, even when you delete Toec Ransomware, your files will remain encrypted. That being said, successful removal is crucial.
When Toec Ransomware slithers in first, you are likely to face a Windows update pop-up suggesting that important updates are being installed on your system. The pop-up message claims that the update is being prepared and configured and that you must not turn off the computer. In reality, this is a distraction, and if you turned off your computer, quite possibly, you would evade full encryption. To ensure that you do not detect and terminate a malicious process, Toec Ransomware also disables the Task Manager. In the meantime, all personal files are encrypted, and the “.toec” extension is appended. Once the attack is complete, this is the extension that will help you spot the corrupted files. Can you remove this extension? You sure can. Will that help with the decryption? No, it will not. Once files are encrypted, their data is changed, and you need a decryptor to read them again. Conveniently, that is what the attackers introduce using a file named “_readme.txt.”
The .txt file represents the Toec Ransomware ransom note. It states that files were encrypted using the “strongest encryption […] key,” and that your only option of recovering files is to purchase a decryption tool. You are informed that the ransom is $490, but there are not enough details to make the payment possible. That is not a mistake, and that is how cybercriminals can trick you into contacting them at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. If you send a message, the attackers could scam you further. In fact, the attackers’ promise to provide you with a decryptor in return for money is likely to be a scam as well. Unfortunately, at the time of research, there were no solutions for file decryption. Even the STOP Ransomware Decrypter that usually can restore files that were encrypted using an offline key for free was not yet able to crack the Toec Ransomware encryptor. A version capable of cracking it could emerge in the future, but we cannot predict that.
When it comes to malware, prevention and preparation are most important. It is easier to protect the operating system than it is to remove Toec Ransomware and similar threats. It is also usually easier to replace the encrypted files than to get them decrypted. If you have backups stored outside the infected computer, you might be able to replace the encrypted files with ease, but you should do that after you delete Toec Ransomware. You also must not forget to protect your system after the removal, and if you install automated anti-malware software, you will have the threat and the protection of your operating system handled at once. Of course, you must not forget to keep away from the security backdoors that cybercriminals could exploit to introduce you to malware. That means that you should not open any more suspicious emails. If you want to discuss anything further, add your questions below.