Remove ZOUU Ransomware Virus (+DECRYPT .zouu Files)

Zouu malware is a type of computer virus that injects your system, encrypts your files, and then asks to pay the ransom for file decryption. Besides these bad actions, that malware also changes some important settings and can even stop your antivirus program.


Zouu Ransomware Summary

NameZouu virus
TypeSTOP/Djvu Ransomware
Files.zouu
Message_readme.txt
Ransom$490/$980
Contactsupport@fishmail.top, datarestorehelp@airmail.cc
DamageAll files are encrypted and cannot be opened without paying a ransom. Additional password-stealing trojans and malware infections can be installed together with a ransomware infection.
Zouu Removal Tool To use full-featured product, you have to purchase a license. 6 days free trial available.

Zouu ransomware – what is it?

Zouu ransomware can correctly be described as a STOP/Djvu virus family. That sort of malware is aimed on individuals. This feature supposes that Zouu does not carry any type of additional viruses, which often helps ransomware of other families to take control of your system. Because of the fact that most people do not have anything valuable on their PCs, there is no need to infiltrate other malware that increases the risk of failure of the whole ransomware injection.

The typical signs of that virus activity is the emersion of .zouu files in your folders, instead of the document you used to have. The photo.jpg turns into photo.jpg.zouu, report.xlsx – into report.xlsx.zouu and so on. You cannot to stop this action, and can’t open these files – they are ciphered with pretty strong algorithm.

Zouu Virus - encrypted .zouu files
Zouu Encrypted Files

You can also spectate different other signs of ransomware activity. Abruptly stopped Microsoft Defender and inability to check the well-known anti-malware forums or web pages, where the removal and file decryption guides are posted. You will see how it is conducted in the paragraph below. The malware removal and decryption guide are also available – check below how to wipe out Zouu malware and get the .zouu files back.

How did Zouu ransomware encrypt my files?

After the injection, the Zouu ransomware starts a connection with its command and control server. This server is commanded by ransomware maintainers – fraudsters who manage the distribution of this ransomware. Another activity which is done by those crooks is answering the email messages of victims, who wish to decrypt their files.

The documents are ciphered with one of the strongest encryption algorithm – AES-256. The “256” digit in the name of this algo means the power of two – 2^256 for this case. 78-digit number of possible decryption password variations – it is unreal to brute force it. As cipher analysts say, it will need more time than our planet can estimate to exist, even in case if you make use of the most powerful computers. In each folder that keeps the encrypted documents, Zouu virus creates the _readme.txt file with the following contents:

ATTENTION!

Don't worry, you can return all your files!

All your files like photos, 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:

https://we.tl/t-WJa63R98Ku

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:

support@fishmail.top

Reserve e-mail address to contact us:

datarestorehelp@airmail.cc

Your personal ID:
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Nonetheless, you can still open some of your documents. The Zouu malware encrypts only the initial 150 KB of each file, but the rest of this document can be accessed. Primarily, it works best with audio/video files, which are definitely larger than 150 kilobytes. Not each media player is able to open these files – WinAmp is the best choice, since it is free and well-tested. First seconds of each song or video will be missing – this part is encrypted – but the rest of the video or music will be accessible like nothing happened.

Is Zouu ransomware dangerous for my PC?

As it was described several paragraphs before, ransomware is not only about encrypting the files. Zouu ransomware makes the changes in your computer in order to prevent searching the virus removal and file decryption guides. Zouu virus does not create the software obstacle – it just alters the system settings, primarily – networking and security configurations.

Through the networking settings, the most changed item is the HOSTS file. This text file keeps the DNS-address configurations, which are used by the browsers while sending a request to the website server. If you add a specific DNS-address for the certain website, your web browser will connect that site through this DNS next time. Ransomware edits this file, adding the non-existent DNS, so any of the web browsers will show you the “Unable to resolve the DNS-address” error.

Error 404

Other modifications done by the ransomware are targeted on prevention of early spotting of itself, and also preventing the installation of the majority of security tools. Zouu ransomware implements some changes in Group Policies – the system configuration app which gives you the right to change the abilities of each program. In such a way, ransomware stops the Microsoft Defender and several other security tools, as well as blocks the launch of antivirus installation files.

How did I get infected?

Throughout the whole term while STOP/Djvu family is active, it was using dubious applications as a primary method of ransomware injection. Under the term of questionable applications I mean software that are already not controlled by the creator and distributed through the file sharing websites. These applications may be hacked, to make them usable without purchasing any license. One more example of such a program type is different hacking tools – cheat engines, keygens, Windows activation tools and so on.

This sort of programs may be distributed in different ways – through the website that offers a downloading link, as well as through the p2p networks – ThePirateBay, eMule and so on. All these sources are well-known as the biggest computer piracy websites. Folks use these sites to get a wide range of apps or games for free, even if they must be purchased. Nobody can prevent the users who hack these apps from adding malware of some sort to the files of the hacked tool. Hacktools, meanwhile, are created for outlaw targets, so their developers may easily add the malware under the guise of some program part.

injecting viruses into program
when creating the jumps on license checking, hackers can easily inject malicious code into the program

These hacked apps, regardless of their source, are one of the most often carriers for various viruses, and definitely the most widespread one for Zouu malware. The best solution is to stop using of it, and not only because of virus installation risks. Avoiding the license buying is an outlaw action, and both hackers and persons who make use of hacked programs fall under the charge of piracy.

How do I remove Zouu ransomware?

The Zouu virus is extremely hard to wipe out manually. In fact, because of the amount of alterations it makes into your PC, it is almost impossible to detect them all and fix. The best decision is to use anti-malware programs. But which one to choose?

You may see the advices to make use of Microsoft Defender, that is already in your computer. Nonetheless, as it was mentioned before, the majority of STOP/Djvu malware examples block it even before the ciphering procedure. Using the third-party tool is the only solution – and I can advice you the GridinSoft Anti-Malware as a solution for this case. It has perfect detection abilities, so the virus will not be missed. It is also capable of system repairing, which is heavily needed after the Zouu virus attack.

To remove Zouu malware infections, scan your computer with legitimate antivirus software.

  • Download and install GridinSoft Anti-Malware by the button above. After the installation, you will be offered to start a 6-day free trial. In this term, the program has its full functionality, so you will surely be able to both wipe out the virus and repair your computer. To activate a trial period, you just need to type your email address.
  • Free trial activation GridinSoft Anti-Malware

  • After activating the trial, launch the full scan of your PC. It will last for about 15-20 minutes, and check each folder you have in your system. Ransomware will not hide!
  • Full scan in GridinSoft Anti-Malware

  • When the scan is finished, press the Clean Now button to wipe out the Zouu ransomware and all other malware detected by a program.
  • Clean the viruses

    After the ransomware removal, you can go to file decryption. Malware removal is needed to prevent the repeating ciphering of your files: while Zouu ransomware is active, it will not miss any unencrypted file.

    How to decrypt the .zouu files?

    There are two ways to decrypt your files after a Zouu virus attack. First one and the most obvious is file decryption. It is performed with a special app, designed by Emsisoft, and named Emsisoft Decryptor for STOP/Djvu. This program is absolutely free. Analysts update its decryption keys databases as often as possible, so you will surely get your files back, sooner or later.

    Another way to get your files back is to try to recover them from your disks. Since ransomware deletes them and substitutes with an encrypted copy, the residue of the files are still stored on the disk drive. After the deletion, the information about them is wiped from the file system, but not from a disk. Special tools, like PhotoRec, are able to recover these files. It is free, too, and may also be used for file recovery in case when you have deleted a thing unintentionally.

    Decrypting the .zouu files with Emsisoft Decrypter for STOP/Djvu

    Download and install Emsisoft Decrypter tool. Agree with its EULA and continue to the interface.

    Emsisoft Decrypter EULA

    The interface of this program is extremely easy. All you have to do is to select the folder where the encrypted files are stored, and wait. If the program has the decryption key which corresponds to your ransomware case – it will decrypt it.

    Emsisoft Decrypter decryption process

    During the use of Emsisoft Decrypter for STOP/Djvu, you may observe various error messages. Don’t worry, that does not mean that you did something wrong or a program does not work properly. Each of these errors refer to a specific case. Here is the explanation:

    Error: Unable to decrypt file with ID: [your ID]

    The program does not have a corresponding key for your case. You need to wait for some time until the key database will be updated.

    No key for new variant online ID: [your ID]

    Notice: this ID appears to be an online ID, decryption is impossible.

    This error means that your files are encrypted with an online key. In such a case, the decryption key is unique and stored on the remote server, controlled by crooks. Unfortunately, the decryption is impossible.

    Result: No key for new variant offline ID: [example ID]

    This ID appears to be an offline ID. Decryption may be possible in the future.

    Ransomware uses the offline key to encrypt your files. This key is not unique, so you likely have it in common with another victim. Since offline keys must be collected, too, it is important to keep calm and wait until the analysts team finds one which will fit your case.

    Remote name could not be resolved

    This error indicates that the program has problems with DNS on your computer. That’s a clear sign of malicious alterations in your HOSTS file. Reset it using the official Microsoft guide.

    Recovering the .zouu files with PhotoRec tool

    PhotoRec is an open-source tool, which is designed to recover the deleted or lost files from the disk. It checks each disk sector for the residues of deleted files, and then tries to recover them. That app is able to recover the files of more than 400 different formats. Because of the described feature of ransomware encryption mechanism, it is possible to use this tool to get the original, unencrypted files back.

    Download PhotoRec from the official website. It is absolutely free, however, its developer warns that he does not guarantee that this program will be 100% effective for file recovery purposes. Moreover, even paid apps can barely give you such a guarantee, because of the chain of random factors that can make the file recovery harder.

    Unzip the downloaded archive to the folder you like. Don’t worry because of its name – TestDisk – this is the name of the utility developed by the same company. They decided to spread it together since PhotoRec and TestDisk are often used together. Among the unzipped files, search for qphotorec_win.exe file. Run this executable file.

    PhotoRec and TestDisk

    Before you can start the recovery process, you need to specify several settings. In the drop-down list, choose the logic disk where the files were stored before the encryption.

    PhotoRec recovering choose disk drive

    Then, you need to specify the file formats you need to recover. It may be difficult to scroll all 400+ formats, luckily, they are sorted by alphabetical order.

    PhotoRec file formats

    Finally, name the folder you want to use as a container for recovered files. The program will likely dig out a lot of useless files, which were deleted intentionally, so desktop is a bad solution. The best option is to use the USB-drive.

    PhotoRec recovery drive

    After these easy manipulations, you may just press the “Search” button (it turns active if you specified all required parameters). The recovery process may take several hours, so keep patient. It is recommended not to use the computer during this term, since you may overwrite some files you are intending to recover.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    ✔️Are the files encrypted by Zouu ransomware dangerous?


    No. Zouu files is not a virus, it is not able to inject its code into the files and force them to execute it. The .EXT files are just the same as regular ones, but encrypted and cannot be opened in the usual way. You may store it together with normal files without any fears.

    ✔️Is it possible that antivirus software will delete the encrypted files?


    As I have mentioned in a previous paragraph, encrypted files are not dangerous. Hence, good anti-malware programs like GridinSoft Anti-Malware will not trigger on them. Meanwhile, some of the “disk cleaning tools” may remove them, stating that they belong to the unknown format and are likely broken.

    ✔️The Emsisoft tool says my files are encrypted with the online key and cannot be decrypted. What do I need to do?

    It is very unpleasant to hear that the files you have are likely lost. Ransomware creators lie a lot in order to scare their victims, but they tell the truth in claims about the strength of the encryption. Your decryption key is stored on their servers, and it is impossible to select it because of the strength of the encryption mechanism.

    Try other recovery methods – through the PhotoRec, or using the previously created backups. Search for the previous versions of these files – getting back a part of your dissertation, for example, is better than missing it all.

    Last option is just waiting. When the cyber police caughts the crooks who create and distribute ransomware, first get the decryption keys and publish it. Emsisoft analysts will surely take these keys and add them to the Decryptor databases. In some cases, virus creators may publish the rest of the keys when they stop their activity.

    ✔️Not all of my .zouu files are decrypted. What do I need to do?

    The situation when the Emsisoft Decryptor failed to decrypt several files usually happens when you have not added the correct file pair for the certain file format. Another case when this problem may appear is when some problem occurred during the decryption process – for example, RAM limit reached. Try to perform the decryption process once again.

    Another situation when the Decryptor app may leave your files unencrypted is when ransomware uses different keys for certain files. For example, it may use offline keys for a short period of time when it has connection issues. The Emsisoft tool is not able to check both key types simultaneously, so you need to launch the decryption again, in order to repeat the process.

    Helga Smith

    I was always interested in computer sciences, especially data security and the theme, which is called nowadays "data science", since my early teens. Before coming into the Virus Removal team as Editor-in-chief, I worked as a cybersecurity expert in several companies, including one of Amazon's contractors. Another experience: I have got is teaching in Arden and Reading universities.

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