How to salvage data lost to Gpcode.ak encryptor virus

Kaspersky unable to crack code, but says file-recovery utilities may save lost data

The Gpcode.ak virus, which encrypts files on the victim's desktop and demands a ransom to decrypt them, uses encryption that so far has proven too strong to crack. But Kaspersky Lab, which first identified Gpcode.ak earlier this month, says there is a way for most victims to at least recover their files.

Kaspersky says Gpcode.ak works by making a copy of the original file it wishes to kidnap using 1,028-bit encryption, then deleting the original. However, "it doesn't wipe the file from the system," says Roel Schouwenberg, senior antivirus research analyst at the security company.

Kaspersky is recommending the most cost-effective tools it determined can recover files, the freely available PhotoRec utility in conjunction with a free utility Kaspersky has designed called StopGPcode that restores the original file name and full paths of the recovered files. Kaspersky is recommending that anyone using the free PhotoRec utility for this purpose make a volunteer donation for its use in the open source spirit.

Various commercial file-recovery software packages may be able to find this kind of deleted file, too.

But any of these file-recovery methods could still prove ineffective in some cases.

"Some variables that come into play are that in re-booting the system or using it a lot, there's a higher chance you won't be able to recover the files," Schouwenberg says.

The underlying concern is that the unknown malware creator may create another version that does a better job of fully purging files after a copy of them has been encrypted.

While there hasn't been a massive Gpcode outbreak, the virus appears to slowly be gaining steam with a few thousand infections identified so far, including at a hospital outside the United States.

Kaspersky hasn't yet determined exactly how GPcode.ak spreads since first surfacing in early June, but a trail of clues is leading to suspect Blogspot spam and Usenet spam, Schouwenberg says.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Ellen Messmer

Network World
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?