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Remove CryptoWall 4.0 and Restore the Encrypted Files

Unfortunately, the most devastating ransomware virus has already released a new version and has outrun our predictions for 2016. A prevalent number of researchers have labeled this latest variant CryptoWall 4.0, even though it’s still unclear whether it’s CryptoWall 4.0 or just a point release.

Nonetheless, the security community is very aware of what its previous version CryptoWall 3.0 and its HELP_DECRYPT files did to computers worldwide – damages of over 18 million USD per year. Now, a new version has been reported to encrypt user files and leave a ransom note with instructions on how to decrypt them – a typical CryptoWall behavior. What is different is that this version may use stronger encryption algorithm and is reported to be extremely difficult to hack.

NameCryptoWall 4.0
TypeRansomware Trojan
Short DescriptionThis devastating infection encrypts user files and asks payment for decryption which is sent to cyber criminals.
SymptomsCryptowall 4.0 may leave files named “HELP_YOUR_FILES” with .txt, .html, .png extensions containing ransom instructions.The user may see their files of the PC with changed names as well as extensions.
Distribution MethodPhishing and Spam emails, attachments (ZIP and script files), others.
Detection ToolDownload Malware Removal Tool, to See If Your System Has Been Affected by CryptoWall 4.0
User ExperienceJoin our forum to follow the discussion about CryptoWall 4.0.
Data Recovery ToolWindows Data Recovery by Stellar Phoenix Notice! This product scans your drive sectors to recover lost files and it may not recover 100% of the encrypted files, but only few of them, depending on the situation and whether or not you have reformatted your drive.
Data Recovery ToolWindows Data Recovery by Stellar Phoenix Notice! This product scans your drive sectors to recover lost files and it may not recover 100% of the encrypted files, but only few of them, depending on the situation and whether or not you have reformatted your drive.

Cryptowall 4.0 – How Did I Get It?

This cyber-attack is reported to be spreading via several different methods and it aims to extort users for their money.

One method to spread is via email. We are talking about spam mail campaigns such as the notorious Windows 10 free upgrade spam, which resembles a message from Microsoft, for example. Users report email attacks associated with .ZIP attachments as well as links to malicious URLs.

Other forms of mail attacks are called email spoofing and phishing and they are more common with targeted attacks. Spoofing masks the sender’s email address as a person or an organization within the user’s familiar email addresses.

There is also a possibility you may have been redirected to a malicious online link by having an adware program on your computer. Adware programs mostly come as extensions to your browser bundled with free programs downloaded from software providing websites or torrent engines.

Cryptowall 4.0 – How Does It Work?

Once you have been infected with the ransomware, it may begin creating several different malicious files in Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8, 8.1 and 10:

C:\Documents and Settings\My Documents\Downloads\analytics.exe
C:\Documents and Settings\Administrator\ApplcationData\29780b04\f5de21f429.exe
C:\Documents and Settings\Administrator\ApplcationData\29780b04\

It also may modify the following Windows files:

C:\Documents and Settings\Administrator\Cookies\index.dat
C:\Documents and Settings\Adminstrator\Local Settings\History\History.IE5\index.dat
C:\Documents and Settings\Adminstrator\Local Settings\Temporary Internet Files\Content.IE5\Index.dat
C:\WINDOWS\Debug\UserMode\ChkAcc.bak
C:\WINDOWS\Debug\UserMode\ChkAcc.log
C:\WINDOWS\system32\CatRoot2\edb.chk
C:\WINDOWS\system32\CatRoot2\edb.log
C:\WINDOWS\system32\CatRoot2\{F750E6C3-38EE-11D1-85E5-00C04FC295EE}\catdb
C:\WINDOWS\system32\wbem\Logs\FrameWork.log

These files may be programmed to scan for user data, stop PC protection(Windows Firewall, antivirus software), user tracking and others. The devastating virus may also create the following registry entries for its malicious files to run on the next system start-up in the following registry locations:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\ComDlg32\OpenSaveMRU\*
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\ComDlg32\OpenSaveMRU\exe
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\ShellNoRoam\MUICache
HKEY_USERS\S-1-5-21-430184907-3966876259-3679084233-500\Software\Microsoft\CurrentVersion\Explorer\ComDlg32\OpenSaveMRU*
HKEY_USERS\S-1-5-21-430184907-3966876259-3679084233-500\Software\Microsoft\CurrentVersion\Explorer\ComDlg32\OpenSaveMRU\exe
HKEY_USERS\S-1-5-21-430184907-3966876259-3679084233-500\Software\Microsoft\CurrentVersion\Run
HKEY_USERS\S-1-5-21-430184907-3966876259-3679084233-500\Software\Microsoft\ShellNoRoam\MUICache

The virus then might begin to scan your computer for the most used file types main of which may be:

.exe, .pdf, .docx, .xls, .txt, .doc, .jpg, .bmp, .psd, .vdi, .swf, mp3, .mp4

The ransomware then may encrypt all of the user files and what is worse with this 4.0 variant is that it may use different file extensions (for example: NA7EP, 3A, A2 for different files) and it may also change the name of the files, additionally confusing the user. The files encrypted by this vile threat may vary from hundreds to thousands, depending on how many and how important files the user stores on his/her PC.

After encrypting the files with a strong, almost impossible to crack encryption, this vile threat then begins to create the following files in different folders. (may be%Appdata% %Local% %Desktop% %Users%):

HELP_YOUR_FILES.TXT
HELP_YOUR_FILES.HTML
HELP_YOUR_FILES.PNG

These files contain the instructions for how to pay the ransom. Infected users report seeing this message:
cryptowall-4-ransomware-help-your-files-html

Cryptowall 3.0 Similarities

What is reported to be the same as with its previous version, is that 4.0 remains to its roots and uses botnet (zombie) computers which are already infected with it to conduct its attacks. Furthermore, once activated, it may establish connection to the following domains to download the malicious executables:

pastimefoods (.) com;19bee88 (.)Com;adrive62 (.) com;httthanglong (.) com;mofiaweb (.) com;image camera club(.) com;vk1001 (.) rutuvestir (.) com;parsimaj (.) com;frc-pr (.) com;www.frc-pr (.)com;adcconsulting (.)net

Also, version 4.0 still uses a very strong encryption algorithm that has a decryption key for the files and it can only be decrypted with the specific decryption service, provided by the attackers.
Cryptowall-virus-decrypt-files
The ransomware still uses Tor networking in its instructions since Tor is still anonymous and protects the ransom payment process.

Unlike CryptoWall 3.0, Cryptowall 4.0 ransomware has become even more cunning, tricking enhanced firewall protection installed on the victim computer. The ransomware has also been reported to still demand a high ransom payment and entertainingly to mock users that they have become a part of the #Cryptowall community.

Security researchers strongly advise users not to pay the ransom since they fund the next ransomware operation of the cyber-crooks. It is also never a guarantee that they will receive the decryption keys. Even though Cryptowall decryption algorithm has been proven to be almost impossible to decrypt, there have been new ways that are continuously developing into hacking a computer using different out-of-the box methods. You can read more about it here and you can also try to decrypt your data using the tutorials provided after this article. But to decrypt files, it is important to remove this devastating threat first.

Removing Cryptowall 4.0 Completely from Your Computer

Since the ransomware is essentially a Trojan horse, it is important to first isolate it before removing it. Experts usually use Live OS booting to scan and remove malware such as Trojans from infected PCs, however you may also be able to remove CryptoWall by using Safe Mode and scanning your computer with it, instructions for which you can find below. Also, it is highly advisable to not try to remove the threat manually and use an Advanced anti-malware tool to scan and detect all of the associated CryptoWall 4.0 files automatically. Make sure you back up all your files, on an external device, such as a USB drive or external SSD while in Safe Mode. The ransomware may have scripts that delete files automatically in case its own malicious files are being removed.

In case your files have been encrypted with the .jpg extension you can find more information in the article on how to Remove CryptoWall RSA-4096 Variant and Restore .jpg Encrypted Files

When you boot into safe mode, make sure you have active connection to the web, since the anti-malware tool needs it to update and perform an effective scan.
Here is how to remove Cryptowall 4.0 Ransomware from your Computer:

1. Boot Your PC In Safe Mode to isolate and remove CryptoWall 4.0

1. Boot Your PC Into Safe Mode

1. For Windows 7,XP and Vista. 2. For Windows 8, 8.1 and 10.

For Windows XP, Vista, 7 systems:

1. Remove all CDs and DVDs, and then Restart your PC from the “Start” menu.
2. Select one of the two options provided below:

For PCs with a single operating system: Press “F8” repeatedly after the first boot screen shows up during the restart of your computer. In case the Windows logo appears on the screen, you have to repeat the same task again.

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For PCs with multiple operating systems: Тhe arrow keys will help you select the operating system you prefer to start in Safe Mode. Press “F8” just as described for a single operating system.

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3. As the “Advanced Boot Options” screen appears, select the Safe Mode option you want using the arrow keys. As you make your selection, press “Enter“.

4. Log on to your computer using your administrator account

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While your computer is in Safe Mode, the words “Safe Mode” will appear in all four corners of your screen.

Step 1: Open the Start Menu

donload_now_140

Step 2: Whilst holding down Shift button, click on Power and then click on Restart.
Step 3: After reboot, the aftermentioned menu will appear. From there you should choose Troubleshoot.

donload_now_140

Step 4: You will see the Troubleshoot menu. From this menu you can choose Advanced Options.

donload_now_140

Step 5: After the Advanced Options menu appears, click on Startup Settings.

donload_now_140

Step 6: Click on Restart.
donload_now_140

Step 7: A menu will appear upon reboot. You should choose Safe Mode by pressing its corresponding number and the machine will restart.

2. Remove CryptoWall 4.0 with SpyHunter Anti-Malware Tool

2. Remove CryptoWall 4.0 with SpyHunter Anti-Malware Tool

1. Install SpyHunter to scan for and remove CryptoWall 4.0.2. Scan with SpyHunter to Detect and Remove CryptoWall 4.0.
Step 1:Click on the “Download” button to proceed to SpyHunter’s download page.

donload_now_140
It is highly recommended to run a scan before purchasing the full version of the software to make sure that the current version of the malware can be detected by SpyHunter.

Step 2: Guide yourself by the download instructions provided for each browser.
Step 3: After you have installed SpyHunter, wait for it to automatically update.

pets-by-myway-ads-virus

Step1: After the update process has finished, click on the ‘Scan Computer Now’ button.
pets-by-myway-ads-virus
Step2: After SpyHunter has finished scanning your PC for any CryptoWall 4.0 files, click on the ‘Fix Threats’ button to remove them automatically and permanently.
pets-by-myway-ads-virus
Step3: Once the intrusions on your PC have been removed, it is highly recommended to restart it.

3. Back up your data to secure it against infections and file encryption by CryptoWall 4.0 in the future

3. Back up your data to secure it against attacks in the future

IMPORTANT! Before reading the Windows backup instructions, we highly recommend to back up your data automatically with cloud backup and insure it against any type of data loss on your device, even the most severe. We recommend reading more about and downloading SOS Online Backup .

To back up your files via Windows and prevent any future intrusions, follow these instructions:

1. For Windows 7 and earlier 1. For Windows 8, 8.1 and 10 1. Enabling the Windows Defense Feature (Previous Versions)

1-Click on Windows Start Menu
backup-1
2-Type Backup And Restore
3-Open it and click on Set Up Backup
w7-backup3
4-A window will appear asking you where to set up backup. You should have a flash drive or an external hard drive. Mark it by clicking on it with your mouse then click on Next.
backup-3
5-On the next window, the system will ask you what do you want to backup. Choose the ‘Let Me Choose’ option and then click on Next.
backup-4
6-Click on ‘Save settings and run backup’ on the next window in order to protect your files from possible attacks by CryptoWall 4.0.
backup-5

1-Press Windows button + R
filehistory-1
2-In the window type ‘filehistory’ and press Enter
filehistory-2
3-A File History window will appear. Click on ‘Configure file history settings’
filehistory-3
4-The configuration menu for File History will appear. Click on ‘Turn On’. After its on, click on Select Drive in order to select the backup drive. It is recommended to choose an external HDD, SSD or a USB stick whose memory capacity is corresponding to the size of the files you want to backup.
filehistory-4
5-Select the drive then click on ‘Ok’ in order to set up file backup and protect yourself from CryptoWall 4.0.

1- Press Windows button + R keys.
sysdm
2- A run windows should appear. In it type ‘sysdm.cpl’ and then click on Run.
windows-defense2
3- A System Properties windows should appear. In it choose System Protection.
windows-defense3
5- Click on Turn on system protection and select the size on the hard disk you want to utilize for system protection.
6- Click on Ok and you should see an indication in Protection settings that the protection from CryptoWall 4.0 is on.
windows-defense1
Restoring a file via Windows Defense feature:
1-Right-click on the encrypted file, then choose Properties.
file-restore1
2-Click on the Previous Versions tab and then mark the last version of the file.
file-restore2
3-Click on Apply and Ok and the file encrypted by CryptoWall 4.0 should be restored.

Optional: Using Alternative Anti-Malware Tools

4. Remove CryptoWall 4.0 Using Other Alternative Tools

Malwarebytes Anti-MalwareSTOPZilla Anti Malware
1. Install Malwarebytes Anti-Malware to scan for and remove CryptoWall 4.0.
Step 1: Download Malwarebytes by clicking here.
Step 2: A pop-up window will appear. Click on the ‘Save File’ button. If it does not, click on the Download button and save it afterwards.
pets-by-myway-ads-virus
pets-by-myway-ads-virus
Step 3: After you have downloaded the setup, simply open it.
Step 4: The installer should appear. Click on the ‘Next’ button.
pets-by-myway-ads-virus
Step 5: Check the ‘I accept the agreement’ check circle if not checked if you accept it and click the ‘Next’ button once again.
pets-by-myway-ads-virus
Step 6: Review and click on ‘Next’ on the following 4 steps that will appear afterwards and after that click on the ‘Install’ button.
pets-by-myway-ads-virus
Step 7: After the installation process has completed click on the ‘Finish’ button and check the ‘Launch MalwareBytes AntiMalware’ check box.

2. Scan your PC with MalwareBytes to remove all CryptoWall 4.0 associated files automatically.

Step 1: Launch MalwareBytes if you havent launched it after install.
Step 2: Wait for the software to update and then click on the blue ‘Scan Now’ button. If it doesnt start updating automatically, click on the blue ‘Update Now’ highlighted text.
pets-by-myway-ads-virus
Step 3: At this point, after clicking the ‘Scan Now’ button, the system should start scanning your PC. It may take a while but be patient – it is worth it.
pets-by-myway-ads-virus
Step 4: After the scan has been complete and all of the threats have been identified, click on the ‘Remove Selected’ button to delete them permanently.
pets-by-myway-ads-virus
Step 5: Once the scan has completed, MalwareBytes will prompt you to restart your computer. It is recommended to save all your data you are working on before restarting.

1. Download and Install STOPZilla Anti-malware to Scan for And Remove CryptoWall 4.0.
Step 1: Download STOPZilla by clicking here.
Step 2: A pop-up window will appear. Click on the ‘Save File’ button. If it does not, click on the Download button and save it afterwards.
pets-by-myway-ads-virus
Step 3: After you have downloaded the setup, simply open it.
Step 4: The installer should appear. Click on the ‘Next’ button.
pets-by-myway-ads-virus
Step 5: Check the ‘I accept the agreement’ check circle if not checked if you accept it and click the ‘Next’ button once again.
pets-by-myway-ads-virus
Step 6: Review and click on the ‘Install’ button.
pets-by-myway-ads-virus
Step 7: After the installation process has completed click on the ‘Finish’ button.

2. Scan your PC with STOPZilla Anti Malware to remove all CryptoWall 4.0 associated files completely.
Step 1: Launch STOPZilla if you haven’t launched it after install.
Step 2: Wait for the software to automatically scan and then click on the ‘Repair Now’ button. If it does not scan automatically, click on the ‘Scan Now’ button.
pets-by-myway-ads-virus
Step 3: After the removal of all threats and associated objects, you should Restart your PC.

Restoring Files Encrypted by CryptoWall 4.0

Cryptowall encryption is considered to be near-impossible to decrypt. However, the good news is that it may have several different variants which may use different decyrption methods that are easier to decrypt. In order to try and directly break the encryption, please refer to the following methods mentioned hereafter:

Method 1:

https://sensorstechforum.com/restore-files-encrypted-via-rsa-encryption-remove-cryptowall-and-other-ransomware-manually/

Method 2:

https://sensorstechforum.com/remove-rsa-2048-encryption-key-from-cryptowall-3-0/

Method 3:

Use file recovery software:

NOTE! Substantial notification about the CryptoWall 4.0 threat: Manual removal of CryptoWall 4.0 requires interference with system files and registries. Thus, it can cause damage to your PC. Even if your computer skills are not at a professional level, don’t worry. You can do the removal yourself just in 5 minutes, using a malware removal tool.
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Ventsislav Krastev

Ventsislav has been covering the latest malware, software and newest tech developments at SensorsTechForum for 3 years now. He started out as a network administrator. Having graduated Marketing as well, Ventsislav also has passion for discovery of new shifts and innovations in cybersecurity that become game changers. After studying Value Chain Management and then Network Administration, he found his passion within cybersecrurity and is a strong believer in basic education of every user towards online safety.

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