How to Remove Horseleader Ransomware from your Computer and Decrypt your Files?

Horseleader is a malicious program that belongs to the Garrantydecrypt ransomware family. This ransomware encrypts your data and adds the extension “.horseleader” to it. For example, if you have a file named “test.jpg,” then Horseleader changes it to “test.jpg.horseleader.” It also changes the desktop wallpaper of the system. The wallpaper contains images of horses with contact details of the developer with a text file on the desktop named “#Decrypt#.txt.”

Horseleader

You can find the text file in all of the encrypted folders. #Decrypt#.txt contains instructions on how to contact Horseleader’s developers. You can contact them via ICQ@Horseleader or via Jabber (horseleader@xmpp.jp, bigbosshorse@xmpp.jp).
When contacted, they provide you with details to but the decryption tool or password. They also warn the victim not to try opening files using other tool or rename the file, since it may cause permanent data loss. If you are a victim of an attack from this ransomware, then take this warning very seriously. Ransomware developers use a high-end encryption algorithm for the files, and you cannot decrypt it without the key.

Many times even after the victim pays the ransom, the developer might not send the key. That means the victim loses his data as well as fall for a financial scam. The only way to get back your files for free is to have a backup on some other device. You cant recover the files even after deleting the ransomware, although you can stop it from spreading further.

This guide was written to help you remove the infection itself from your computer, and if a 100% proven method to recover the encrypted files is found we will update this guide.

We cannot help you recover your files and we can only recommend that you use ShadowExplorer or free file recovery software to restore your documents.

1. How did the Horseleader ransomware get on my computer?

The Horseleader ransomware is distributed via spam email containing infected attachments or by exploiting vulnerabilities in the operating system and installed software.

Cyber-criminals spam out an email, with forged header information, tricking you into believing that it is from a shipping company like DHL or FedEx. The email tells you that they tried to deliver a package to you, but failed for some reason. Sometimes the emails claim to be notifications of a shipment you have made. Either way, you can’t resist being curious as to what the email is referring to – and open the attached file (or click on a link embedded inside the email). And with that, your computer is infected with the Horseleader ransomware.

This ransomware was also observed attacking victims by hacking open Remote Desktop Services (RDP) ports. The attackers scan for the systems running RDP (TCP port 3389) and then attempt to brute force the password for the systems.


2. What is Horseleader ransomware?

  • Ransomware family: Garrantydecrypt
  • Extensions: .horseleader
  • Ransom note: #Decrypt#.txt
  • Ransom: Undisclosed
  • Contact: ICQ@Horseleader, horseleader@xmpp.jp, bigbosshorse@xmpp.jp (Jabber)

This Horseleader ransomware variant restricts access to data by encrypting files with the .horseleader extension. It then attempts to extort money from victims by asking for “ransom”, in form of Bitcoin cryptocurrency, in exchange for access to data.

This ransomware targets all versions of Windows including Windows 7, Windows 8.1 and Windows 10. Horseleader ransomware searches for files with certain file extensions to encrypt. The files it encrypts include important productivity documents and files such as .doc, .docx, .xls, .pdf, among others. When these files are detected, this infection will change the extension to .horseleader, so they are no longer able to be opened.

The Horseleader ransomware changes the name of each encrypted file to the following format: .horseleader.

Files targeted are those commonly found on most PCs today; a list of file extensions for targeted files include:

.sql, .mp4, .7z, .rar, .m4a, .wma, .avi, .wmv, .csv, .d3dbsp, .zip, .sie, .sum, .ibank, .t13, .t12, .qdf, .gdb, .tax, .pkpass, .bc6, .bc7, .bkp, .qic, .bkf, .sidn, .sidd, .mddata, .itl, .itdb, .icxs, .hvpl, .hplg, .hkdb, .mdbackup, .syncdb, .gho, .cas, .svg, .map, .wmo, .itm, .sb, .fos, .mov, .vdf, .ztmp, .sis, .sid, .ncf, .menu, .layout, .dmp, .blob, .esm, .vcf, .vtf, .dazip, .fpk, .mlx, .kf, .iwd, .vpk, .tor, .psk, .rim, .w3x, .fsh, .ntl, .arch00, .lvl, .snx, .cfr, .ff, .vpp_pc, .lrf, .m2, .mcmeta, .vfs0, .mpqge, .kdb, .db0, .dba, .rofl, .hkx, .bar, .upk, .das, .iwi, .litemod, .asset, .forge, .ltx, .bsa, .apk, .re4, .sav, .lbf, .slm, .bik, .epk, .rgss3a, .pak, .big, wallet, .wotreplay, .xxx, .desc, .py, .m3u, .flv, .js, .css, .rb, .png, .jpeg, .txt, .p7c, .p7b, .p12, .pfx, .pem, .crt, .cer, .der, .x3f, .srw, .pef, .ptx, .r3d, .rw2, .rwl, .raw, .raf, .orf, .nrw, .mrwref, .mef, .erf, .kdc, .dcr, .cr2, .crw, .bay, .sr2, .srf, .arw, .3fr, .dng, .jpe, .jpg, .cdr, .indd, .ai, .eps, .pdf, .pdd, .psd, .dbf, .mdf, .wb2, .rtf, .wpd, .dxg, .xf, .dwg, .pst, .accdb, .mdb, .pptm, .pptx, .ppt, .xlk, .xlsb, .xlsm, .xlsx, .xls, .wps, .docm, .docx, .doc, .odb, .odc, .odm, .odp, .ods, .odt

Once your files are encrypted with the .horseleader extension, this ransomware will create the #Decrypt#.txt ransom note in each folder that a file has been encrypted and on the Windows desktop.
When the infection has finished scanning your computer it will also delete all of the Shadow Volume Copies that are on the affected computer. It does this so that you cannot use the shadow volume copies to restore your encrypted files.


3. Is my computer infected with Horseleader Ransomware?

When Horseleader ransomware infects your computer it will scan all the drive letters for targeted file types, encrypt them, and then append the .horseleader extension to them. Once these files are encrypted, they will no longer able to be opened by your normal programs. When this ransomware has finished encrypting the victim’s files, it will create a #Decrypt#.txt text file which includes instructions on how to recover the files.

Below is the message that you will see in the #Decrypt#.txt file:

All your files have been ENCRYPTED!!!
Write to our ICQ @Horseleader
Or contact us via jabber - horseleader@xmpp.jp
Jabber client installation instructions:
Download the jabber (Pidgin) client from hxxps://pidgin.im/download/windows/

After installation, the Pidgin client will prompt you to create a new account.
Click - Add
In the -Protocol field, select XMPP
In -Username - come up with any name
In the field -domain - enter any jabber-server, there are a lot of them, for example - exploit.im
Create a password
At the bottom, put a tick -Create account
Click add
If you selected -domain - exploit.im, then a new window should appear in which you will need to re-enter your data:
User
password
You will need to follow the link to the captcha (there you will see the characters that you need to enter in the field below)
If you don't understand our Pidgin client installation instructions, you can find many installation tutorials on youtube - hxxps://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=pidgin+jabber+install
If you have not received a response from us then we may have technical problems and please write to us using Jaber here bigbosshorse@xmpp.jp or on icq
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.
tell your unique ID
-


4. Is it possible to decrypt files encrypted with the Horseleader ransomware?

The security companies and government officials often release decryptors for ransomware. You can take help of these decryptors to decrypt your encrypted files by Horseleader ransomware.

However, it is not necessary that decryptors are available for kind and type of the ransomware you got infected. Especially if the ransomware is new and widespread, then it is most likly that you won't find decryptors for it. If it is an old and popular ransomware then you might find the decryptors.

The first step towards finding the decryptor is to know the acutal name and type of ransomware you get infected. To do that you can take help of NoMoreRansom.org. Visit the website and paste the ransom note in box provided. You can also upload the encrypted file to know the ransomware name. Once you do that click on GO! FIND OUT button.

Now the website will tell you about the type of ransomware and also provide you link if there is a decryptor available.

ID Ransomware is a similar website, you can upload the ransom note, sample encrypted file, or the contact email address to know about the type of ransomware. Once you know about it you can find the decryptors on the internet. But do not download decryptors from shady websites they may further infect your computer.

If you haven't find the decryptors then it is not possible to get your files back. That doesn't mean you should pay ransom to the cybercriminals. Do not pay any money to recover your files. Even if you were to pay the ransom, there is no guarantee that you will regain access to your files.

If you’ve already paid the ransom, immediately contact your bank and your local authorities. If you paid with a credit card, your bank may be able to block the transaction and return your money.
You can also contact the following government fraud and scam reporting websites:

If your country or region isn’t listed here, we recommend that you contact your country or region’s federal police or communications authority.


5. How to remove the Horseleader ransomware (Virus Removal Guide)

It’s important to understand that by starting the removal process you risk losing your files, as we cannot guarantee that you will be able to recover them. MalwareFox and HitmanPro can detect and remove this infection, however, these programs cannot recover your documents, pictures, or files. Your files may be permanently compromised when trying to remove this infection or trying to recover the encrypted documents. We cannot be held responsible for losing your files or documents during this removal process.

STEP 1: Use MalwareFox to remove Horseleader ransomware

MalwareFox is antimalware that works on heuristic approach to detect and remove malware from your PC. It analyzes the malware signatures as well as their behaviour. If a program acts like a malware then MalwareFox blocks it right there. It is lightweight on your system resource and finishes the scan quickly.

Its not like I am recommending you to install a costly software to remove the malware. The MalwareFox subscription charges are fairly low. But that is for a fully featured program with real-time protection capabilities. The scanning works even with the free version, though you can try the MalwareFox Premium for 14 days. Also, you don't need to remove your current antivirus, MalwareFox will work effectively without any conflicts.

  1. Download MalwareFox.

    You can download MalwareFox by clicking the link below.

    MALWAREFOX DOWNLOAD LINK
    (The above link will open a new page)
  2. Double-click on the MalwareFox setup file.

    Once the MalwareFox is downloaded, double click on MalwareFox.exe file to install it on your PC. The downloaded files are mostly saved to the Downloads folder.

    Double Click on MalwareFox.exe to Install MalwareFox
    You will see an User Account Control pop-up asking if you want to allow MalwareFox to make changes to your device. Click on “Yes” to proceed with the installation steps.
    Windows asking for permission to install MalwareFox

  3. Follow the on-screen prompts to install MalwareFox.

    First MalwareFox installer ask you to choose the language, select your preferend language and click on OK.
    MalwareFox Installation - Select Language

    Then the MalwareFox installation Wizard appears, click on Next and follow the screen instructions to setup MalwareFox on your PC.
    MalwareFox Installation Wizard - Click Next

    Once the installation is complete, MalwareFox will download the latest version and virus signatures from the server. Let it update.
    MalwareFox is Installing

  4. Click on “Scan” Button.

    To perform a system scan, click on the “Scan” button.
    Start a scan with MalwareFox

  5. Wait for MalwareFox scan to complete.

    MalwareFox is now scanning your computer for adware, pop-ups, browser hijackers, and other malicious programs. This process can take a few minutes, so you can do some other work while it is scanning your PC, don't worry the PC won't get slow during the scan.
    MalwareFox scanning PC for malware

  6. Click on “Next”.

    Once the scan has completed, you will see the list of detected threats on your PC. To remove the malware that MalwareFox has found, click on the “Next” button.
    Click on the Next button to remove Horseleader virus

    When the malware removal process is complete, you can close MalwareFox and continue with the rest of the instructions.


STEP 2: Use HitmanPro to scan for malware and unwanted programs

HitanPro works on unique cloud-based approach to detect the threats. You can use it as a second opinion malware scanner. HitmanPro also observe the behaviour active programs and checks the locations where malware normally resides. If there is a suspicious file then it upload thes file to cloud where it is scanned by Bitdefender and Kaspersky antivirus engines.

HitmanPro is available for a 30-days trail that lets you to clean the threats. After that you may need to purchase it which costs around $24.95 for 1 year single PC. If you won't upgrade then you can scan using the HitmanPro however it won't let you remove or quarntine the detected threat.

  1. Download HitmanPro.

    You can download HitmanPro by clicking the link.

    HITMANPRO DOWNLOAD LINK
    (The link will open a new page from where you can download HitmanPro)
  2. Install HitmanPro.

    When HitmanPro has finished downloading, double-click on “hitmanpro.exe” if you have 32-bit Windows or “hitmanpro_x64.exe” if you have 64-bit windows, to install this program on your PC. In most cases, downloaded files are saved to the Downloads folder.
    Double-click on the HitmanPro setup file - Help Guide
    Now you will see an User Account Control pop-up asking if you want to allow HitmanPro to make changes to your device. Click “Yes” to install it on your PC.
    Windows asking for permissions to run the HitmanPro

  3. Follow the screen instructions.

    When HitmanPro starts you will see the start screen as shown below. Click on the “Next” button to perform a system scan.

    Click Next to install HitmanPro

    HitmanPro final installer screen

  4. Wait for the HitmanPro scan to complete.

    HitmanPro will now start scanning your PC for malware. This process may take a few minutes.
    HitmanPro while scanning for malware - Help Guide

  5. Click on “Next”.

    Once HitmanPro finished the scan, you will see a list of all the malicious programs that it found in your system. Click on the “Next” button to remove the malware.
    Click Next to remove Horseleader pop-up ads

    When the process is complete, you can close HitmanPro and continue with the rest of the instructions.

STEP 3: Restore the files encrypted by Horseleader ransomware with recovery software

In some cases, it may be possible to recover previous versions of the encrypted files using Horseleader Restore or other recovery software used to obtain “shadow copies” of files.

Option 1: Restore your files encrypted by Horseleader ransomware with ShadowExplorer

Horseleader will attempt to delete all shadow copies when you first start any executable on your computer after becoming infected. Thankfully, the infection is not always able to remove the shadow copies, so you should continue to try restoring your files using this method.

  1. You can download ShadowExplorer from the below link:
    SHADOW EXPLORER DOWNLOAD LINK (This link will open a new web page from where you can download “ShadowExplorer”)
  2. Once you have downloaded and installed ShadowExplorer, you can follow the below video guide on how to restore your files while using this program.

Option 2: Restore your files encrypted with the Horseleader extension with File Recovery Software

When the files are encrypted with the Horseleader, this ransomware first makes a copy of them, encrypts the copy, and then deletes the original. Due to this you can use file recovery software such as:

  • Recuva
    You can follow the below guide on how to use Recuva:

How to prevent your computer from becoming infected by Horseleader ransomware

To protect your computer from the Horseleader ransomware, you should a strong antimalware on your system like MalwareFox and keeps its real-time protection enabled. Also, you need to take backup of your personal documents.


Your computer should now be free of the Horseleader ransomware infection. If you are still experiencing problems while trying to remove Horseleader ransomware from your computer, please comment below we will try to help you as much as possible.

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