What is Zouu virus?
Zouu virus is a ransomware designed to block access to victims’ files until a ransom is paid. Once it infects a system, the virus quietly encrypts every data file. The infection also modifies filenames by appending them with the extension .zouu, and generates ransom messages named “_readme.txt”. For instance, it renames a file named “document.docx” to “document.docx.zouu”, a file named “image.jpg” file to “image.jpg.zouu”, and so on. Zouu is distributed through unofficial software activation (‘cracking’) tools, spam campaigns, Trojans, unofficial software updaters and untrustworthy software download sites.
- What is Zouu virus?
- Remove Zouu virus (ransomware)
- Decrypt .zouu files
- Restore .zouu files
- Video Guide
Zouu ransomware is a malware that encrypts files on the victim’s computer and demands a ransom payment to restore access to the contents of these files. Zouu targets users running Microsoft Windows. In most cases, this malware requires user actions in order to be installed on the computer. Typically, criminals use various tricks, for example, disguising the malicious software as a freeware, cracks, activators and key generators, so that victims download and run Zouu virus on their computer.
Upon execution, Zouu creates a folder in the Windows system directory where it places a copy of itself and changes some Windows settings so that it starts up every time the computer is restarted or turned on. The virus collects information about the victim’s computer and then tries to establish a connection with its command server (C&C). If the connection has been established, then it sends information about the infected computer to the server, and in response receives the encryption key (the so-called ‘online key’) and additional commands and malware that must be executed on the victim’s computer. If the virus could not establish a connection with its command server, then it uses a fixed key (the so-called ‘offline key’).
Zouu ransomware virus encrypts files using a strong encryption algorithm and a key (‘offline key’ or ‘online key’, as described above). The virus tries to encrypt as many files as possible, for this it only encrypts the first 154kb of the contents of each file and thus significantly speeds up the encryption process. Zouu has the ability to encrypt files on all drives connected to the computer: internal hard drives, flash USB disks, network storage, and so on. It skips without encryption: files located in the Windows system directories, files with the extension .ini, .bat, .dll, .lnk, .sys and files with the name ‘_readme.txt’. The remaining files located on the victim’s computer can be encrypted. For example, the following file types may be the target of ransomware attack:
.kdb, .wotreplay, .ysp, .mp4, .kf, .orf, .docx, .y, .cas, .m4a, .rtf, .slm, .srf, .xf, .xls, .wpd, .vpp_pc, .ai, .layout, .mdb, .wbz, .xlsb, .vdf, .mdbackup, .odm, .das, .xar, .xlk, .xll, .vcf, .wot, .blob, .esm, .iwi, .xx, .xmmap, .ff, wallet, .odt, .hvpl, .crw, .x3f, .wmv, .wps, .xdl, .p7c, .wsc, .vfs0, .wpa, .zip, .wbk, .ltx, .asset, .wsh, .dba, .3fr, .webp, .sav, .wire, .yml, .css, .ybk, .tax, .d3dbsp, .flv, .mlx, .apk, .xlgc, .z, .m3u, .desc, .raf, .pkpass, .xyw, .bar, .wcf, .wpe, .wpl, .pfx, .mef, .qic, .menu, .epk, .icxs, .indd, .pptx, .r3d, .3dm, .wn, .cr2, .x3d, .xld, .srw, .odb, .avi, .vpk, .wmv, .w3x, .sidn, .sie, .wps, .t13, .pef, .kdc, .rb, .zdb, .x, .ods, .txt, .xxx, .jpg, .pdd, .wbd, .1st, .wpb, .dwg, .0, .zif, .itm, .accdb, .sis, .lbf, .doc, .map, .dng, .qdf, .arw, .nrw, .wma, .yal, .mddata, .wp, .lrf, .7z, .m2, .zabw, .wpw, .xbdoc, .vtf, .wb2, .big, .bay, .wpd, .ws, .bkp, .raw, .x3f, .2bp, .t12, .rim, .mov, .der, .1, .pem, .psk, .gho, .xwp, .wri, .snx, .ppt, .wp7, .db0, .xpm, .upk, .js, .docm, .bik, .itl, .wpg, .wbm, .tor, .rwl, .xlsx, .ptx, .xml, .xls, .lvl, .wgz, .p12, .py, .rofl, .wp6, .ntl, .dmp, .fos, .wp4, .cdr, .odc, .svg, .fpk, .wmd, .hplg, .rgss3a, .mdf, .itdb, .rw2, .sb, .wbc, .eps, .xyp, .zw, .zi, .dxg, .wsd, .z3d, .wbmp, .wpt, .p7b, .xdb, .webdoc, .dcr, .jpe, .pdf, .jpeg, .sidd, .mpqge, .cfr, .ibank, .cer, .forge, .ztmp, .syncdb, .wav, .zdc, .xy3, .3ds, .wma, .re4, .fsh, .wdp, .zip, .xlsm, .pst, .sum, .bc6, .csv, .gdb, .ncf, .bkf, .wdb, .png, .xbplate, .mcmeta, .wm, .bsa, .sid, .bc7, .wp5, .wmf, .xlsm, .wmo, .sr2, .hkdb, .iwd, .rar, .dbf, .crt, .xlsx, .mrwref, .odp, .litemod
Zouu ransomware encrypts file-by-file. Each file that has been encrypted will be renamed, the .zouu extension will be added at the end of its name. Thus, it marks all encrypted files. In every directory where there is at least one encrypted file, the virus places a file named ‘_readme.txt’. The file contains a message from Zouu authors. An example of the contents of this file is given below.
This message says that all files on the computer are encrypted and the only way to decrypt them is to purchase a key and a decryptor from the authors of Zouu virus. That is, criminals demand a ransom for unlocking the victim’s files. The size of the ransom is $980, but if the victim is ready to pay the ransom within 72 hours, then its size is halved to $490. Attackers offer victims to verify that encrypted files can be decrypted. To do this, the victim must send them a small file to one of the email addresses specified in the ‘_readme.txt’ file. Of course, it is obvious that a single decrypted file cannot guarantee that after paying the ransom, the criminals will provide the victim with a working key and decryptor.
The presented in the Zouu ransom note:
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:
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:
Reserve e-mail address to contact us:
Your personal ID:
Security researchers confirm the words of the Zouu authors. All files with the extension ‘.zouu’ are encrypted and thus cannot be read and used. The only way to decrypt them is to use the key and the decryptor. Fortunately, there is some good news. As we already reported above, Zouu virus belongs to STOP ransomware family, which means that you can use the free Emsisoft decryptor to decrypt the encrypted files. Even if the decryptor does not help, there are some alternative ways that can help restore the contents of the encrypted files. To learn more about decrypting files, simply scroll down to section ‘How to decrypt .zouu files’.
|Name||Zouu ransomware, Zouu File Virus|
|Type||Crypto malware, Crypto virus, File locker, Ransomware, Filecoder|
|Encrypted files extension||.zouu|
|Ransom amount||$490 or $980 in Bitcoins|
|Detection Names||Gen:Heur.Mint.Zard.52, PWSX-gen [Trj], BehavesLike.Win32.Lockbit.cc, ML/PE-A + Troj/Krypt-SY, VHO:Trojan.Win32.Convagent.gen, Ransom.Win32.STOP.SMYACKFT, Trojan.Win32.Save.a, Ransom:Win32/StopCrypt.MK!MTB, W32/Kryptik.IBG.gen!Eldorado|
|Symptoms||Cannot open files stored on the computer. Your personal files now have odd extensions that end with something like .locked, .crypted or .cryptor. Files named such as ”, ‘READ-ME’, ‘_open me’, _DECRYPT YOUR FILES’ or ‘_Your files have been encrypted” in every folder with an encrypted file. Desktop wallpaper is changed to the ransom note.|
|Distribution methods||Phishing email scam that attempts to scare users into acting impulsively. Exploit kits (cybercriminals use ransomware packaged in an ‘exploit kit’ that can find a vulnerability in Adobe Flash Player, PDF reader, Microsoft Windows operating system, Internet browser). Social media, such as web-based instant messaging applications. Malicious web pages.|
|Removal||Zouu ransomware removal guide|
|Decryption||Zouu File Decrypt Tool|
How to remove Zouu virus (ransomware)
Before you start decrypting or recovering .zouu files, you need to remove the Zouu autostart entries. This must be done since otherwise the ransomware may re-encrypt the restored files. You can stop the ransomware from working, as it is not difficult to do. Another option is to perform a full system scan using free malware removal tools capable of detecting and removing ransomware infection. Read the entire manual carefully. To make it easier for you to follow the instructions, we recommend that you print it or open it on your smartphone.
It is very important to scan the computer for malware, as security researchers found that spyware could be installed on the infected computer along with the Zouu ransomware. Spyware is a very dangerous security threat as it is designed to steal the user’s personal information such as passwords, logins, contact details, etc. If you have any difficulty removing the Zouu virus, then let us know in the comments, we will try to help you.
To remove Zouu ransomware, follow the steps below:
Kill Zouu virus
Press CTRL, ALT, DEL keys together.
Click Task Manager. Select the “Processes” tab, look for something suspicious that is the Zouu ransomware then right-click it and select “End Task” or “End Process” option. If your Task Manager does not open or the Windows reports “Task manager has been disabled by your administrator”, then follow the guide: How to Fix Task manager has been disabled by your administrator.
It is not difficult to detect a process related to the Zouu ransomware. When looking for a malicious process, pay attention to the process icon and its name. Most often, this ransomware has a process name in the following format: 4-characters.tmp.exe or 4-characters.exe. For example: 7533.tmp.exe, A4b1.exe, CD15.tmp.exe, 19b2.exe. The process name can also contain “(32 bit)”. If you do not find a process with a similar name in the list of processes, then most likely the Zouu ransomware has finished working. But keep in mind, if you do not remove the ransomware autostart entries, as demonstrated below, and do not delete its file, then after a while it may start again, and if it finds unencrypted files, immediately encrypt them.
Disable Zouu startup
Select the “Start-Up” tab, look for something similar to the one shown in the example below, right click to it and select Disable.
Close Task Manager.
Delete Zouu task
Type “Task Scheduler” in the search bar. Click Task Scheduler app in the search results. Click “Task Scheduler Library” in the left panel. On the right panel, right-click to “Time Trigger Task” and select Delete.
Close Task Scheduler.
Remove Zouu virus
Run Task Manager and select the “Start-Up” tab. Right click to the Zouu ransomware Start-Up entry and select Open File Location as shown below.
A directory containing one file will open in front of you, this file is the Zouu virus. It needs to be removed. If you try to delete it immediately, then you will not succeed, since this file is protected from deletion.
To delete this file, you need to do the following. Right-click on the file, select Properties. In the window that opens, select Security tab. Next, click the Advanced button below. A window will open as shown in the following example.
Click Disable inheritance. In the Block inheritance dialog box that opens, select the first item (Convert inherited permissions…) as shown below.
In the Permission entries list, select “Deny Everyone”, click Remove button and then OK. Close the file properties window. You should now be able to remove the Zouu virus. Right-click on the file and select Delete.
Scan computer for malware
MalwareBytes Anti-Malware (MBAM) is an antimalware software that can help you remove Zouu virus. MalwareBytes can be used to remove almost all the forms of malicious programs including ransomware, trojans, worms, adware, browser hijackers, potentially unwanted software and spyware. MalwareBytes has real-time protection that can defeat most malicious software and ransomware. Despite so many features, it does not reduce the performance of your computer. You can use MalwareBytes Anti-Malware with any other antivirus without any conflicts.
First, please go to the link below, then click the ‘Download’ button in order to download the latest version of MalwareBytes AntiMalware.
Category: Security tools
Update: April 15, 2020
When the downloading process is done, close all windows on your computer. Further, launch the file named MBSetup. If the “User Account Control” dialog box pops up like below, click the “Yes” button.
It will show the Setup wizard which will assist you install MalwareBytes on the computer. Follow the prompts and do not make any changes to default settings.
After the setup is complete successfully, press “Get Started” button. Then MalwareBytes AntiMalware will automatically run and you can see its main window such as the one below.
Next, click the “Scan” button for scanning your computer for the Zouu ransomware and other security threats. A system scan can take anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes, depending on your computer. While the MalwareBytes program is scanning, you can see how many objects it has identified as threat.
When the scanning is done, the results are displayed in the scan report. In order to remove all threats, simply press “Quarantine” button.
MalwareBytes Anti-Malware will remove Zouu virus related folders,files and registry keys and move the selected threats to the program’s quarantine. Once that process is done, you can be prompted to reboot your computer.
In order to be 100% sure that the computer no longer has the Zouu virus, we recommend using Kaspersky virus removal tool (KVRT). It is free and easy to use. It can detect and remove ransomware, spyware, potentially unwanted programs, worms, trojans, adware and other malicious software. KVRT is powerful enough to find and remove malicious registry entries and files that are hidden on the computer.
Download Kaspersky virus removal tool on your Windows Desktop from the link below.
Author: Kaspersky® lab
Category: Security tools
Update: March 5, 2018
After the downloading process is done, double-click on the Kaspersky virus removal tool icon. Once initialization procedure is done, you will see the KVRT screen as displayed on the screen below.
Click Change Parameters and set a check near all your drives. Press OK to close the Parameters window. Next click Start scan button to detect the Zouu virus and other known infections. While the Kaspersky virus removal tool is scanning, you can see how many objects it has identified either as being malicious software.
Once Kaspersky virus removal tool completes the scan, it will produce a list of unwanted apps and ransomware viruses as shown below.
In order to delete all threats, simply press on Continue to start a cleaning process.
How to decrypt .zouu files
As we already reported above, files with .zouu extension are files that have been encrypted by Zouu ransomware virus. Their contents will remain locked until decrypted using the decryptor and the key. Fortunately, there is a free decryptor that can decrypt .zouu files. Below we provide instructions on where to download and how to use Zouu File Decrypt Tool.
To decrypt .zouu files, use Zouu File Decrypt Tool
- Download Zouu File Decrypt Tool from the following link.
STOP Djvu decryptor
- Scroll down to ‘New Djvu ransomware’ section.
- Click the download link and save the decrypt_STOPDjvu.exe file to your desktop.
- Run decrypt_STOPDjvu.exe, read the license terms and instructions.
- On the ‘Decryptor’ tab, using the ‘Add a folder’ button, add the directory or disk where the encrypted files are located.
- Click the ‘Decrypt’ button.
Zouu File Decrypt Tool is a free software that can decrypt the encrypted files only in some cases, when the files were encrypted with an ‘offline key’. If the files were encrypted with an ‘online key’, then they cannot be decrypted. The reason for this is that the decryption key is in the hands of criminals and this key can not be determined. This does not mean that if your files are encrypted with an online key, then their contents are lost forever. Fortunately, there are several ways to recover encrypted files. These methods do not involve the use of decryption and therefore can be used in any case, no matter what key the ransomware used to encrypt files.
How to find out which key was used to encrypt files
Below we show two ways to help you determine what type of key was used to encrypt your files. This is very important, since the type of key determines whether it is possible to decrypt .zouu files. We recommend using the second method, as it is more accurate.
Find out the type of key using ‘_readme.txt’ file
- Open the ransom demand message (‘_readme.txt’ file).
- Scroll down to the end of the file.
- There you will see a line with the text ‘Your personal ID’.
- Below is a line of characters – this is your personal id.
Find out the type of key using ‘PersonalID.txt’ file
- Open disk C.
- Open directory ‘SystemID’.
- Open file named ‘PersonalID.txt’. This file lists ‘Personal ID’s that match the keys that the Zouu ransomware used to encrypt files.
The ‘Personal ID’ is not a key, it is an identifier related to a key that was used to encrypt files. If the ID ends with ‘t1’, then the files are encrypted with an offline key. If the ID does not end with ‘t1’, Zouu ransomware virus used an online key. If you could not figure out how to determine which key was used to encrypt files, then we can help. Just write a request here or in the comments below.
Zouu File Decrypt Tool : “No key for New Variant online ID”
If, when you try to decrypt .zouu files, Zouu File Decrypt Tool reports:
No key for New Variant online ID: *
Notice: this ID appears to be an online ID, decryption is impossible
It means that your files are encrypted with an ‘online key’ and their decryption is impossible, since only the Zouu authors have the key necessary for decryption. In this case, you need to use alternative methods listed below to restore the contents of encrypted files.
Zouu File Decrypt Tool : “No key for New Variant offline ID”
If, during decryption of .zouu files, Zouu File Decrypt Tool reports:
No key for New Variant offline ID: *t1
Notice: this ID appears be an offline ID, decryption MAY be possible in the future.
It means the following: your files are encrypted with an ‘offline key’, but the key itself has not yet been obtained by security researchers, in this case, you need to be patient and wait a while, in addition, you can also use alternative ways for recovering encrypted data.
If for some reason you were unable to decrypt the encrypted files, then We recommend to follow the news on our Facebook or YouTube channels. So you ‘ll know right away that it ‘s possible to decrypt .zouu files.
This video step-by-step guide will demonstrate How to use STOP Djvu decryptor to Decrypt encrypted files.
How to restore .zouu files
As we mentioned above, in addition to using the Zouu File Decrypt Tool, there are several more methods for recovering encrypted files. These methods do not require the use of a decryptor and a key, and therefore are suitable for all cases when the ransomware used an online key, and for the case when the ransomware used an offline key. It is very important to check your computer for malware before you try to recover encrypted files. You must be 100% sure that Zouu ransomware virus is completely removed. To scan your computer for ransomware, use free malware removal tools.
Restore .zouu files with ShadowExplorer
The Microsoft Windows has a feature called ‘Shadow Volume Copies’ that can help you to recover .zouu files encrypted by the ransomware. A small tool called ShadowExplorer will allow you to easily access the Shadow copies and restore the encrypted files to their original state. Unfortunately, the ransomware can delete these Shadow copies before it starts encrypting files. Therefore, if ShadowExplorer did not help you, then try another method, which is given below.
Installing the ShadowExplorer is simple. First you will need to download ShadowExplorer on your PC from the link below.
Category: Security tools
Update: September 15, 2019
When the downloading process is done, open a directory in which you saved it. Right click to ShadowExplorer-0.9-portable and select Extract all. Follow the prompts. Next please open the ShadowExplorerPortable folder like below.
Start the ShadowExplorer utility and then choose the disk (1) and the date (2) that you wish to restore the shadow copy of file(s) encrypted by the Zouu ransomware virus as shown on the screen below.
Now navigate to the file or folder that you wish to recover. When ready right-click on it and click ‘Export’ button such as the one below.
This video step-by-step guide will demonstrate How to recover encrypted files using Shadow Explorer.
Recover .zouu files with PhotoRec
The last chance to restore encrypted files to their original state is using data recovery tools. We recommend a program called PhotoRec. It has all the necessary functions to restore the contents of encrypted files. It helped many victims recover data when it seemed like there was no more hope.
Download PhotoRec on your Windows Desktop from the following link.
Category: Security tools
Update: March 1, 2018
When the download is done, open a directory in which you saved it. Right click to testdisk-7.0.win and choose Extract all. Follow the prompts. Next please open the testdisk-7.0 folder as displayed below.
Double click on qphotorec_win to run PhotoRec for Microsoft Windows. It’ll display a screen as shown below.
Select a drive to recover such as the one below.
You will see a list of available partitions. Select a partition that holds encrypted photos, documents and music as displayed below.
Press File Formats button and specify file types to restore. You can to enable or disable the recovery of certain file types. When this is done, click OK button.
Next, click Browse button to select where recovered photos, documents and music should be written, then click Search. We strongly recommend that you save the recovered files to an external drive.
Count of recovered files is updated in real time. All restored files are written in a folder that you have selected on the previous step. You can to access the files even if the recovery process is not finished.
When the restore is done, click on Quit button. Next, open the directory where recovered documents, photos and music are stored. You will see a contents as displayed in the following example.
All restored photos, documents and music are written in recup_dir.1, recup_dir.2 … sub-directories. If you are looking for a specific file, then you can to sort your restored files by extension and/or date/time.
This video step-by-step guide will demonstrate How to recover encrypted files using PhotoRec.
How to protect your computer from Zouu ransomware
Most antivirus programs already have built-in protection system against the ransomware. Therefore, if your PC does not have an antivirus program, make sure you install it. As an extra protection, run the HitmanPro.Alert. All-in-all, HitmanPro.Alert is a fantastic utility to protect your system from any ransomware. If ransomware is detected, then HitmanPro.Alert automatically neutralizes malware and restores the encrypted files. HitmanPro.Alert is compatible with all versions of MS Windows operating system from MS Windows XP to Windows 10.
First, click the link below, then press the ‘Download’ button in order to download the latest version of HitmanPro Alert.
Category: Security tools
Update: March 6, 2019
Once the download is done, open the folder in which you saved it. You will see an icon like below.
Double click the HitmanPro Alert desktop icon. Once the utility is launched, you will be displayed a window where you can choose a level of protection, as on the image below.
Now click the Install button to activate the protection.
To sum up
This guide was created to help all victims of Zouu ransomware virus. We tried to give answers to the following questions: how to remove ransomware; how to decrypt .zouu files; how to recover encrypted files; what is an online key and what is an offline key. We hope that the information presented in this manual has helped you.
If you have questions, then write to us, leaving a comment below. If you need more help with Zouu related issues, go to here.