Pouu ransomware is a type of computer virus that injects your system, encrypts your files, and then asks to pay the money for file decryption. Besides these unpleasant activities, that virus also modifies some important settings and can even suspend your antivirus program.
|Damage||All 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.|
|Pouu Removal Tool||To use full-featured product, you have to purchase a license. 6 days free trial available.|
Pouu malware – what is it?
Pouu virus can correctly be classified as a STOP/Djvu virus family. That type of computer virus is targeted at individuals. This feature supposes that Pouu does not bring any sort of additional malware, which sometimes helps virus of other families to take control of your computer. Since the majority people do not have anything valuable , there is no need to infiltrate additional malware that increases the risk of failure of the whole ransomware injection.
The common signs of this virus activity is the emersion of .pouu files in your folders, instead of the document you used to have. The photo.jpg turns into photo.jpg.pouu, report.xlsx – into report.xlsx.pouu and so on. You are not able to stop this action, as well as can’t open that documents – they are ciphered with pretty strong cipher.
You can also see different other signs of malware activity. Spontaneously stopped Microsoft Defender and inability to check the famous anti-malware forums or websites, where the virus removal and 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 delete Pouu virus and get the .pouu files back.
How did Pouu ransomware encrypt my files?
After the malware injection, the Pouu virus starts a connection with its command and control server. This server is commanded by malware maintainers – people who manage the spreading of this virus. Another activity which is performed by those crooks is answering the email messages of sufferers, who intend to decrypt their files.
The documents are ciphered with one of the strongest encryption algorithm – AES-256. The digit in the name of this algorithms means the power of two – 2^256 for this case. 78-digit number of possible decryption keys variations – it is impossible to brute force it. As analysts say, it will take more time than our planet can approximately exist, even when you make use of the most powerful computers. In each folder that contains the encrypted documents, Pouu 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: email@example.com Reserve e-mail address to contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org Your personal ID: XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
Nonetheless, you can still use some of your documents. The Pouu ransomware encrypts only the first 150 KB of each file, but the other part of this file can be accessed. Primarily, it works best with audio/video files, which are definitely bigger than 150 kilobytes. Not each media player can open these files – WinAmp is the best choice, since it is free and well-tested. First seconds of each song or video will be silent – this part is encrypted – but the rest of the file will be accessible like nothing happened.
Is Pouu ransomware dangerous for my PC?
As it was described several paragraphs above, ransomware is not only about encrypting the files. Pouu virus makes the changes in your operating system in order to prevent looking for the ransomware removal and file decryption guides. Malware does not establish the software barrier – it just modifies the system settings, primarily – networking and security configurations.
Among the networking settings, the most changed item is the HOSTS configuration file. This text file contains the DNS-address instructions, which are used by the browsers while requesting to the server. If you add a specific DNS-address for the certain web page, your web browser will connect that page through this DNS next time. Ransomware modifies this file, adding the unknown DNS, so any of the web browsers will show you the “Unable to resolve the DNS-address” error.
Other modifications done by the ransomware are aimed at prevention of early spotting of itself, and also blocking the installation of the majority of security tools. Pouu malware implements some changes in Group Policies – the system setting interface which allows to change the rights of each application. In such a way, the virus disables the Microsoft Defender and several other security programs, and also prevents the launch of anti-malware installation files.
How did I get infected?
Throughout the whole term while STOP/Djvu family is active, it was using questionable applications as the main way of ransomware injection. Under the term of dubious programs I mean apps that are already not controlled by the maintainer and spread through the file sharing websites. These apps may be cracked, to make them possible to use 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.
These software may be spread in many ways – through the web page that offers a downloading link, and also through the peering networks – ThePirateBay, eMule and so on. All these sources are well-known as the biggest computer piracy resources. People use these sites to get a wide range of apps or games for free, even if these apps must be purchased. Nobody can prevent the users who hack these apps from adding malware of some type to the files of the hacked app. Hacktools, meanwhile, are created for outlaw targets, so their developers may easily insert the virus under the guise of some program element.
These cracked programs, regardless of their source, are one of the most often carriers for various viruses, and 100% the most popular one for Pouu virus. It is better to avoid making use of it, and not only because of malware installation risks. Avoiding the license purchase is an illegal action, and both hackers and users who make use of hacked programs fall under the charge of piracy.
How do I remove Pouu virus?
The Pouu malware is very hard to remove manually. In fact, because of the number of modifications it makes in your system, it is almost impossible to find them all and fix. The best decision is to make use of antivirus software. But which one to choose?
You can read the advices to use Microsoft Defender, which is already inside of your system. However, as it was mentioned earlier, most of STOP/Djvu malware examples stop it even before the encryption procedure. Using the third-party tool is the only possible solution – and I can advice you the GridinSoft Anti-Malware as a solution for this case. It has impressive detection abilities, so the virus will not be missed. It is also capable of system repairing, that is heavily demanded after the Pouu virus attack.
To remove Pouu malware infections, scan your computer with legitimate antivirus software.
After the ransomware removal, you can go to file decryption. Ransomware removal is required to prevent the repeating encryption of your files: while Pouu ransomware is active, it will not pass any unencrypted file.
How to decrypt the .pouu files?
There are two ways to recover your files after a Pouu ransomware attack. First one and the most popular is file decryption. It is conducted with a special tool, designed by Emsisoft, and called 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 option to get your files back is to try to recover them from your physical disks. Since ransomware deletes them and substitutes with an encrypted copy, the residue of the files are still kept on the disk drive. After the removal, the information about them is removed from the file system, but not from a disk drive. 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 some files unintentionally.
Decrypting the .pouu files with Emsisoft Decrypter for STOP/Djvu
Download and install Emsisoft Decrypter tool. Agree with its EULA and continue to the interface.
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.
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 .pouu 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 attempts to recover them. That app is able to recover the files of more than 400 different extensions. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Pouu malware dangerous?
No. Pouu 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, ransomware creators may publish the rest of the keys when they stop their activity.
✔️Not all of my .pouu 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.