Name(s) Detection Threat Level
Alpha, Alpha virus, Alfa Ransomware 100 / 100  *WARNING – REMOVE IMMEDIATELY!


Alpha ransomware is a malicious file encrypter developed by the same entity behind Cerber ransomware. Alpha ransomware will encrypt files, add .bin to the file extension name, and leave 2 ransom notes on the computer  named README HOW TO DECRYPT YOUR FILES.HTML and README HOW TO DECRYPT YOUR FILES.TXT.

alpha ransomware

The ransom note contains information and instructions about how to obtain a individual private key to decrypt your files. However, in order to do so the malicious program wants you to purchase the key and a special “Alfa Decryptor” for an excessive price via Bitcoin. The website associated with Alpha ransomware claims that after 3 days the price of the decryptor will increase by 20%. Here’s an example of what the ransom note says:

Cannot you find the files you need?

Is the content of the files that you looked for not readable?

If you are reading this message it means the software

"Alpha Ransomware" has been removed from your computer

When Alpha ransomware infects a computer it will scan all the local drives for certain file types. Once it locates a specific file with the right file extension it will encrypt the file and add a .bin extension to the encrypted file name. For example, botcrawl.png will be encrypted to the filename botcrawl.png.bin. Here are the types of files that Alpha ransomware encrypts:

.c, .h, .m, .ai, .cs, .db, .nd, .pl, .ps, .py, .rm, .3dm, .3ds, .3fr, .3g2, .3gp, .ach, .arw, .asf, .asx, .avi, .bak, .bay, .cdr, .cer, .cpp, .cr2, .crt, .crw, .dbf, .dcr, .dds, .der, .des, .dng, .doc, .dtd, .dwg, .dxf, .dxg, .eml, .eps, .erf, .fla, .flvv, .hpp, .iif, .jpe, .jpg, .kdc, .key, .lua, .m4v, .max, .mdb, .mdf, .mef, .mov, .mp3, .mp4, .mpg, .mrw, .msg, .nef, .nk2, .nrw, .oab, .obj, .odb, .odc, .odm, .odp, .ods, .odt, .orf, .ost, .p12, .p7b, .p7c, .pab, .pas, .pct, .pdb, .pdd, .pdf, .pef, .pem, .pfx, .pps, .ppt, .prf, .psd, .pst, .ptx, .qba, .qbb, .qbm, .qbr, .qbw, .qbx, .qby, .r3d, .raf, .raw, .rtf, .rw2, .rwl, .sql, .sr2, .srf, .srt, .srw, .svg, .swf, .tex, .tga, .thm, .tlg, .txt, .vob, .wav, .wb2, .wmv, .wpd, .wps, .no, .xlk, .xlr, .xls, .yuv, .back, .docm, .docx, .flac, .indd, .java, .jpeg, .pptm, .pptx, .xlsb, .xlsm, .xlsx

Alpha ransomware will also download 2 ransom notes in the Documents and Desktop folders called README HOW TO DECRYPT YOUR FILES.HTML and README HOW TO DECRYPT YOUR FILES.TXT. The ransom notes contain information about what happened to the files, links to the TOR payment sites, and a unique ID that must be used to login to the payment site. Two of the current TOR payment sites that this ransomware uses are http://alfadecrfgqkcw6m.onion and http://2uxzf2mxe23f3clc.onion.

alpha virus

The ransomware will also create an autorun for the malware executable file so that it will run every time Windows starts. The autorun is called MSEstl and the executable file can be found here: %UserProfile%\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Essential\msestl32.exe.

To make matters much worse, Alpha ransomware will delete the Shadow Volume Copies on your computer in order to make it impossible to recover unencrypted files this way.

At this time, there does not appear to be a working decryptor for this ransomware. It is not recommended to pay ransomware authors to decrypt your files. Instead you can try to use programs like Shadow Explorer or Recuva to restore encrypted or deleted files.

Alpha ransomware files


Alpha ransomware registry entries

HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run\MSEstl %UserProfile%\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Essential\msestl32.exe

How to remove Alpha ransomware

  1. Restore your encrypted files with Recuva
  2. Remove Alpha with Malwarebytes
  3. Perform a second-opinion scan with HitmanPro
  4. Cleanup junk and repair your settings with CCleaner

Restore your encrypted files with Recuva

1. Download and Install Recuva by Pirform.


2. Run the program and start the Recuva Wizard.

3. Select All Files and click Next.

4. Select a file location. Click I’m not sure to search everywhere on your computer.

5. Click Start.

6. Select All Files with your mouse and click the Recover button.

A decryptor has also been released that might be able to decrypt your files for free. You can find the decryptor here:

Remove Alpha with Malwarebytes

1. Download and Install Malwarebytes Anti-Malware software.


2. Open Malwarebytes and click the Scan Now button – or go to the Scan tab and click the Start Scan button.

3. Once the Malwarebytes scan is complete click the Remove Selected button.

4. To finish the Malwarebytes scan and remove detected threats click the Finish button and restart your computer if promoted to do so.

Perform a second-opinion scan with HitmanPro

1. Download and Install HitmanPro by Surfright.


2. Open HitmanPro and click Next to start scanning your computer. *If you are using the free version you may chose to create a copy or perform a one-time scan.

3. Once the HitmanPro scan is complete click the Next button.

4. To activate the free version of HitmanPro: enter your email address twice and click the Activate button.

5. Click the Reboot button.

Cleanup junk and repair your settings with CCleaner

1. Download and Install CCleaner by Piriform.


2. Open CCleaner and go to the main Cleaner screen. Click the Analyze button. When the process is complete, click the Run Cleaner button on the bottom right of the program interface.

3. Go to Tools > Startup and search for suspicious entries in each tab starting from Windows all the way to Content Menu. If you find anything suspicious click it and click the Delete button to remove it.

4. Go to the Registry window and click the Scan for Issues button. When the scan is complete click the Fix selected issues… button and click Fix All Selected Issues.

How to stay protected against future infections

The key to staying protected against future infections is to follow common online guidelines and take advantage of reputable Antivirus and Anti-Malware security software with real-time protection.

Real-time security software

Security software like Malwarebytes and Norton Security have real-time features that can block malicious files before they spread across your computer. These programs bundled together can establish a wall between your computer and cyber criminals.

Common Online Guidelines

  • Backup your computer and personal files to an external drive or online backup service
  • Create a restore point on your computer in case you need to restore your computer to a date before infection
  • Avoid downloading and installing apps, browser extensions, and programs you are not familiar with
  • Avoid downloading and installing apps, browser extensions, and programs from websites you are not familiar with – some websites use their own download manager to bundle additional programs with the initial download
  • If you plan to download and install freeware, open source software, or shareware make sure to be alert when you install the object and read all the instructions presented by the download manager
  • Avoid torrents and P2P clients
  • Do not open email messages from senders you do not know

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