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Zouu ransomware


Zouu virus Removal Guide

What is Zouu ransomware?

Zouu ransomware belongs to the file-locking malware family with over 600 variants

Zouu ransomwareNew Djvu ransomware variants are released every week

Zouu, a malicious form of ransomware,[1] part of the Djvu ransomware family, targets user data by encrypting[2] files on impacted computers and rendering them unusable until the ransom is paid. Zouu does not discriminate between file types – documents, images, audio/video recordings, and archives are all susceptible to its attack; however, it leaves system folders undisturbed. Consequently, this virus can cause irrevocable damage if left unchecked.

The ransomware is particularly hazardous due to its covert operations – victims may not realize their files have been encrypted until it is too late. It also utilizes a .zouu file extension to identify the compromised files and might even attempt to disguise its actions by displaying false Windows update pop-ups.

NAMEZouu
TYPECryptovirus, file-locker
MALWARE FAMILYDjvu ransomware
FILE EXTENSION.zouu
RANSOM NOTE_readme.txt
RANSOM AMOUNT$490/$980
CONTACT MAILS[email protected], [email protected]
DISTRIBUTIONMalicious files can be shared via email, as well as through various online platforms that may present security risks or engage in pirating activities
REMOVALUse specialized tools that are designed to remove threats and protect against security breaches
SYSTEM FIXIf the infection has caused damage to parts of your machine, you can use ReimageIntego to repair any issues with the system that have been caused by the corruption.

The ransom note

Zouu ransomware drops a _readme.txt file which is a ransom note. It reads as follows:

ATTENTION!

Don’t worry, you can return all your files!
All your files like pictures, databases, documents and other important are encrypted with strongest encryption and unique key.
The only method of recovering files is to purchase decrypt tool and unique key for you.
This software will decrypt all your encrypted files.
What guarantees you have?
You can send one of your encrypted file from your PC and we decrypt it for free.
But we can decrypt only 1 file for free. File must not contain valuable information.
You can get and look video overview decrypt tool:
hxpps://we.tl/t-N3pXlaPXFm
Price of private key and decrypt software is $980.
Discount 50% available if you contact us first 72 hours, that’s price for you is $490.
Please note that you’ll never restore your data without payment.
Check your e-mail “Spam” or “Junk” folder if you don’t get answer more than 6 hours.

To get this software you need write on our e-mail:
[email protected]

Reserve e-mail address to contact us:
[email protected]

Your personal ID:

This is a ransom note from the Zouu ransomware virus. The attackers claim to have encrypted the victim’s files using strong encryption and a unique key, and state that the only way to recover the files is to purchase a decrypt tool and unique key from them. They offer to decrypt one file for free as a guarantee but warn that the victim will never be able to restore their data without paying the ransom.

The price for the decrypt tool and the key is stated as $980, but there is a 50% discount available if the victim contacts them within the first 72 hours, bringing the price down to $490. The ransom note provides email addresses for the victim to contact the attackers and includes a personal ID for the victim. The attackers warn the victim to check their spam or junk folder if they do not receive a response within six hours.

However, don’t be fooled – paying the ransom is not a guaranteed solution. The extortionists may demand payment in exchange for a decryption key, which usually comes with malicious instructions or threats attached to it. To avoid becoming targeted by future attacks, you should instead restore your files from backup and take necessary steps to bolster security measures against ransomware attempts.

Zouu ransom note

Cybercriminals cannot be trusted so it is not recommended to pay the ransom

Ransomware removal

Zouu ransomware is an alarming threat that can potentially ruin your computer and information if not addressed immediately. To avoid further harm, it’s imperative to utilize anti-malware tools as quickly as possible to eliminate the virus from your system. These utilities are tailored with the capability to identify and clear away this specific danger, guaranteeing heightened security for you.

If the malicious software isn’t eradicated on time, it could persist in damaging your device even more; there may be no way of bringing back lost data after a certain point! To keep your system secure, it is critical to eliminate the virus using anti-malware tools structured on reliable antivirus detection mechanisms such as Malwarebytes and SpyHunter 5Combo Cleaner.

Running a complete system scan will help detect all potential threats like viruses and potentially hazardous programs. By eliminating every threat, malware,[3] or destructive data present in your device you can stop the ransomware from spreading further. Make sure to double-check any files before recovering them so they remain unaffected by damage.

Decrypt .zouu files

If your computer has been infected with a variant of the Djvu ransomware, it may be possible to use the Emsisoft decryptor to attempt to recover your data. It is important to note that this tool may not work for everyone. It can only be used if the data was locked with an offline ID, meaning the malware failed to communicate with its remote servers.

Even if your case meets this condition, someone among the victims must pay the attackers, obtain the offline key, and share it with the security researchers at Emsisoft. This means that you may not be able to restore your encrypted files immediately. If the decryptor indicates that your data was locked with an offline ID but cannot be recovered at this time, it is recommended to try again later. To use the decryptor, you will also need to upload a set of files – one encrypted and one healthy – to the company’s servers.

From here, there are three available outcomes:

  1. Decrypted!” will be shown under files that were decrypted successfully – they are now usable again.
  2. Error: Unable to decrypt file with ID:” means that the keys for this version of the virus have not yet been retrieved, so you should try later.
  3. This ID appears to be an online ID, decryption is impossible” – you are unable to decrypt files with this tool.

System file recovery

Malware can be devastating to a computer’s operation, wreaking havoc in the Windows registry database, corrupting essential bootup and other components, deleting or damaging DLL files – and more. In some cases of file damage due to malware infection, antivirus software may not be able to repair it; leaving your system with stability issues that could only be cured through a complete reinstallation of Windows.

To resolve these problems, we suggest ReimageIntego, a patented and exclusive repair technology. This application is also capable of remedying an array of Windows errors unrelated to malware infections, such as Blue Screen issues, system freezes, registry errors, and damaged DLLs.

Reimage Intego has a free limited scanner. Reimage Intego offers more through scan when you purchase its full version. When free scanner detects issues, you can fix them using free manual repairs or you can decide to purchase the full version in order to fix them automatically.

Alternative Software

Different software has a different purpose. If you didn’t succeed in fixing corrupted files with Reimage, try running SpyHunter 5.
Malwarebytes

Alternative Software

Different software has a different purpose. If you didn’t succeed in fixing corrupted files with Intego, try running Combo Cleaner.

Getting rid of Zouu virus. Follow these steps

Important steps to take before you begin malware removal

File encryption and ransomware infection are two independent processes (although the latter would not be possible without the former). However, it is important to understand that malware performs various changes within a Windows operating system, fundamentally changing the way it works.

IMPORTANT for those without backups! → 
If you attempt to use security or recovery software immediately, you might permanently damage your files, and even a working decryptor then would not be able to save them.

Before you proceed with the removal instructions below, you should copy the encrypted files onto a separate medium, such as USB flash drive or SSD, and then disconnect them from your computer. Encrypted data does not hold any malicious code, so it is safe to transfer to other devices.

The instructions below might initially seem overwhelming and complicated, but they are not difficult to understand as long as you follow each step in the appropriate order. This comprehensive free guide will help you to handle the malware removal and data recovery process correctly.

If you have any questions, comments, or are having troubles with following the instructions, please do not hesitate to contact us via the Ask Us section.

IMPORTANT! →
It is vital to eliminate malware infection from the computer fully before starting the data recovery process, otherwise ransomware might re-encrypt retrieved files from backups repeatedly.

Restore Windows “hosts” file to its original state

Some ransomware might modify Windows hosts file in order to prevent users from accessing certain websites online. For example, Djvu ransomware variants add dozens of entries containing URLs of security-related websites, such as 2-spyware.com. Each of the entries means that users will not be able to access the listed web addresses and will receive an error instead.

Here’s an example of “hosts” file entries that were injected by ransomware:

Hosts file

In order to restore your ability to access all websites without restrictions, you should either delete the file (Windows will automatically recreate it) or remove all the malware-created entries. If you have never touched the “hosts” file before, you should simply delete it by marking it and pressing Shift + Del on your keyboard. For that, navigate to the following location:

C:\\Windows\\System32\\drivers\\etc\\

Delete Windows "hosts" file

Restore files using data recovery software

Since many users do not prepare proper data backups prior to being attacked by ransomware, they might often lose access to their files permanently. Paying criminals is also very risky, as they might not fulfill the promises and never send back the required decryption tool.

While this might sound terrible, not all is lost – data recovery software might be able to help you in some situations (it highly depends on the encryption algorithm used, whether ransomware managed to complete the programmed tasks, etc.). Since there are thousands of different ransomware strains, it is immediately impossible to tell whether third-party software will work for you.

Therefore, we suggest trying regardless of which ransomware attacked your computer. Before you begin, several pointers are important while dealing with this situation:

  • Since the encrypted data on your computer might permanently be damaged by security or data recovery software, you should first make backups of it – use a USB flash drive or another storage.
  • Only attempt to recover your files using this method after you perform a scan with anti-malware software.

Install data recovery software

  1. Download Data Recovery Pro.
  2. Double-click the installer to launch it.Launch installer
  3. Follow on-screen instructions to install the software.Install program
  4. As soon as you press Finish, you can use the app.
  5. Select Everything or pick individual folders where you want the files to be recovered from.Select what to recover
  6. Press Next.
  7. At the bottom, enable Deep scan and pick which Disks you want to be scanned.Select Deep scan
  8. Press Scan and wait till it is complete.Scan
  9. You can now pick which folders/files to recover – don’t forget you also have the option to search by the file name!
  10. Press Recover to retrieve your files.Recover files

Create data backups to avoid file loss in the future

One of the many countermeasures for home users against ransomware is data backups. Even if your Windows get corrupted, you can reinstall everything from scratch and retrieve files from backups with minimal losses overall. Most importantly, you would not have to pay cybercriminals and risk your money as well.

Therefore, if you have already dealt with a ransomware attack, we strongly advise you to prepare backups for future use. There are two options available to you:

  • Backup on a physical external drive, such as a USB flash drive or external HDD.
  • Use cloud storage services.

The first method is not that convenient, however, as backups need to constantly be updated manually – although it is very reliable. Therefore, we highly advise choosing cloud storage instead – it is easy to set up and efficient to sustain. The problem with it is that storage space is limited unless you want to pay for the subscription.

Using Microsoft OneDrive

OneDrive is a built-in tool that comes with every modern Windows version. By default, you get 5 GB of storage that you can use for free. You can increase that storage space, but for a price. Here’s how to setup backups for OneDrive:

  1. Click on the OneDrive icon within your system tray.
  2. Select Help & Settings > Settings.Go to OneDrive settings
  3. If you don’t see your email under the Account tab, you should click Add an account and proceed with the on-screen instructions to set yourself up.Add OneDrive account
  4. Once done, move to the Backup tab and click Manage backup.Manage backup
  5. Select Desktop, Documents, and Pictures, or a combination of whichever folders you want to backup.
  6. Press Start backup.Pick which folders to sync

After this, all the files that are imported into the above-mentioned folders will be automatically backed for you. If you want to add other folders or files, you have to do that manually. For that, open File Explorer by pressing Win + E on your keyboard, and then click on the OneDrive icon. You should drag and drop folders you want to backup (or you can use Copy/Paste as well).

Using Google Drive

Google Drive is another great solution for free backups. The good news is that you get as much as 15GB for free by choosing this storage. There are also paid versions available, with significantly more storage to choose from.

You can access Google Drive via the web browser or use a desktop app you can download on the official website. If you want your files to be synced automatically, you will have to download the app, however.

  1. Download the Google Drive app installer and click on it.Install Google Drive app
  2. Wait a few seconds for it to be installed.Complete installation
  3. Now click the arrow within your system tray – you should see Google Drive icon there, click it once.Google Drive Sign in
  4. Click Get Started.Backup and sync
  5. Enter all the required information – your email/phone, and password.Enter email/phone
  6. Now pick what you want to sync and backup. You can click on Choose Folder to add additional folders to the list.
  7. Once done, pick Next.Choose what to sync
  8. Now you can select to sync items to be visible on your computer.
  9. Finally, press Start and wait till the sync is complete. Your files are now being backed up.

Report the incident to your local authorities

Ransomware is a huge business that is highly illegal, and authorities are very involved in catching malware operators. To have increased chances of identifying the culprits, the agencies need information. Therefore, by reporting the crime, you could help with stopping the cybercriminal activities and catching the threat actors. Make sure you include all the possible details, including how did you notice the attack, when it happened, etc. Additionally, providing documents such as ransom notes, examples of encrypted files, or malware executables would also be beneficial.

Law enforcement agencies typically deal with online fraud and cybercrime, although it depends on where you live. Here is the list of local authority groups that handle incidents like ransomware attacks, sorted by country:

Internet Crime Complaint Center IC3

If your country is not listed above, you should contact the local police department or communications center.

Manual removal using Safe Mode

Important! →
Manual removal guide might be too complicated for regular computer users. It requires advanced IT knowledge to be performed correctly (if vital system files are removed or damaged, it might result in full Windows compromise), and it also might take hours to complete. Therefore, we highly advise using the automatic method provided above instead.

Step 1. Access Safe Mode with Networking

Manual malware removal should be best performed in the Safe Mode environment. 

Windows 7 / Vista / XP
  1. Click Start > Shutdown > Restart > OK.
  2. When your computer becomes active, start pressing F8 button (if that does not work, try F2, F12, Del, etc. – it all depends on your motherboard model) multiple times until you see the Advanced Boot Options window.
  3. Select Safe Mode with Networking from the list.Windows 7/XP
Windows 10 / Windows 8
  1. Right-click on Start button and select Settings.Settings
  2. Scroll down to pick Update & Security.Update and security
  3. On the left side of the window, pick Recovery.
  4. Now scroll down to find Advanced Startup section.
  5. Click Restart now.Reboot
  6. Select Troubleshoot.Choose an option
  7. Go to Advanced options.Advanced options
  8. Select Startup Settings.Startup settings
  9. Press Restart.
  10. Now press 5 or click 5) Enable Safe Mode with Networking.Enable safe mode

Step 2. Shut down suspicious processes

Windows Task Manager is a useful tool that shows all the processes running in the background. If malware is running a process, you need to shut it down:

  1. Press Ctrl + Shift + Esc on your keyboard to open Windows Task Manager.
  2. Click on More details.Open task manager
  3. Scroll down to Background processes section, and look for anything suspicious.
  4. Right-click and select Open file location.Open file location
  5. Go back to the process, right-click and pick End Task.End task
  6. Delete the contents of the malicious folder.

Step 3. Check program Startup

  1. Press Ctrl + Shift + Esc on your keyboard to open Windows Task Manager.
  2. Go to Startup tab.
  3. Right-click on the suspicious program and pick Disable.Startup

Step 4. Delete virus files

Malware-related files can be found in various places within your computer. Here are instructions that could help you find them:

  1. Type in Disk Cleanup in Windows search and press Enter.Disk cleanup
  2. Select the drive you want to clean (C: is your main drive by default and is likely to be the one that has malicious files in).
  3. Scroll through the Files to delete list and select the following:

    Temporary Internet Files
    Downloads
    Recycle Bin
    Temporary files

  4. Pick Clean up system files.Delete temp files
  5. You can also look for other malicious files hidden in the following folders (type these entries in Windows Search and press Enter):

    %AppData%
    %LocalAppData%
    %ProgramData%
    %WinDir%

After you are finished, reboot the PC in normal mode.

How to prevent from getting ransomware

Do not let government spy on you

The government has many issues in regards to tracking users’ data and spying on citizens, so you should take this into consideration and learn more about shady information gathering practices. Avoid any unwanted government tracking or spying by going totally anonymous on the internet. 

You can choose a different location when you go online and access any material you want without particular content restrictions. You can easily enjoy internet connection without any risks of being hacked by using Private Internet Access VPN.

Control the information that can be accessed by government any other unwanted party and surf online without being spied on. Even if you are not involved in illegal activities or trust your selection of services, platforms, be suspicious for your own security and take precautionary measures by using the VPN service.

Backup files for the later use, in case of the malware attack

Computer users can suffer from data losses due to cyber infections or their own faulty doings. Ransomware can encrypt and hold files hostage, while unforeseen power cuts might cause a loss of important documents. If you have proper up-to-date backups, you can easily recover after such an incident and get back to work. It is also equally important to update backups on a regular basis so that the newest information remains intact – you can set this process to be performed automatically.

When you have the previous version of every important document or project you can avoid frustration and breakdowns. It comes in handy when malware strikes out of nowhere. Use Data Recovery Pro for the data restoration process.

About the author

Linas Kiguolis

Linas Kiguolis
– Expert in social media

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