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Remove PhonyWall Ransomware, the CryptoWall 3.0 Copycat

There is a copycat of the CryptoWall 3.0 Ransomware that is infecting computers. It is also known as PhonyWall. It searches for files with many different extensions, overwrites them with its own files and then displays the decryption note of CryptoWall 3.0.

NamePhonyWall Ransomware
TypeRansomware, Trojan
Short DescriptionThe PhonyWall Ransomware overwrites a huge portion of the user’s files and demands a payment. Poses as the CryptoWall 3.0 Ransomware.
SymptomsFiles are overwritten with the same file size, but unusable. A ransom message is displayed. Information about payment and “decryption” are included in a file that is a copy of CryptoWall’s decryption instructions.
Distribution MethodIt can be distributed through browsing unsafe sites, malicious email attachments, drive-by downloads, etc.
Detection ToolDownload Malware Removal Tool, to See If Your System Has Been Affected by PhonyWall Ransomware
User ExperienceJoin our forum to discuss the PhonyWall Ransomware.

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PhonyWall Ransomware – How Did I Get It?

There are a number of ways you could get infected with Trojans such as the PhonyWall Ransomware.

The most common distribution method is known to be through malicious email attachments and spam emails. There are even cases, where an email itself also contains malicious code and upon opening the email, the user infects its computer with it, even if he doesn’t open the attachment inside.

Around social networks and file sharing services there may be similar attachments and files containing the PhonyWall Ransomware, disguised as something else.

Another common way of getting infected with Ransomware is through exploit kits run from legitimate websites. For exploit kits to run, these websites must have been compromised, to have some sort of a security breach. Also, landing suspicious sites with malicious code on them may just as easily get you infected.

PhonyWall Ransomware – In Detail

The PhonyWall Trojan horse is also classified as Ransomware. It is a copycat of CryptoWall 3.0, although not as dangerous. There have been other Ransomware Copycats in the past, pretending to be some other Ransomware. When PhonyWall is executed on a compromised computer it will first create the following two files:

→%UserProfile%\Application Data\Microsoft\Windows\[Random Symbols].exe

→%AllUsersProfile%\Application Data\Microsoft\Windows\[Random Symbols].exe

When those two files are created and hidden, it will inject entries into the Windows Registry:

→HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\[Random Symbols] HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\[Random Symbols]\Type = 0x10
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\[Random Symbols]\Start = 2
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\[Random Symbols]\ErrorControl =1
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\[Random Symbols]\ImagePath =”%ALL_USERS%\Application Data\Microsoft\Windows\[Random Symbols].exe” -run [Parameter] HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\[Random Symbols]\DisplayName= “CheckDisk Service”
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\[Random Symbols]\Description= “Creates and displays a status report for a disk based on the file system. Chkdsk also lists and corrects errors on the disk.”
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CURRENTCONTROLSET\ENUM\ROOT\LEGACY_[Random Symbols] HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run=”%USERAPPDATA%\Microsoft\Windows\[Random Symbols].exe”-run [Parameter]

The [Parameter] is such, that is passed when the original file is executed.

Afterwards, the Ransomware will overwrite files with ones of the same file size. It will overwrite all files it can find on a compromised computer except files with the following strings, being extensions or prefixes:

→ *.scr *.exe *.msi *.msu *.dll *.ocx *.ax *.com *.sys *.lnk *.inf bootmgr ntldr boot.inintuser.*

The PhonyWall Ransomware does not overwrite files in these directories: Boot, Windows, Program Files settings, System Volume Information. So, System Restore Points and Shadow Volume Copies will still be available and the thing is the program only overwrites files and does NOT encrypt them. It is just trying to scare you into paying the requested sum of money under the false pretense of being CryptoWall 3.0.

The PhonyWall Ransomware will terminate the following processes on the computer:

• *sql*
• *msdtssrvr*
• *fdlauncher*
• *ReportingServicesService*
• *mad*
• *exchange*
• *w3wp*
• *iis*
• *exfba*
• *store*
• *inet*

The Ransomware, then creates a DESCRYPTION_INSTRUCTION.html file. That ransom note instruction file is an exact copy of the CryptoWall 3 one. Although, the user ID for every victim is always “vRRRbw”. The difference here is that CryptoWall uses different, individual keys for each infected computer.

Remove PhonyWall Ransomware Completely

To completely remove the PhonyWall Ransomware Trojan from your computer, you should have at least minimal experience in removing viruses. It is highly recommended to first to back up all of your personal files that you value, no matter if it is encrypted. Afterwards, carefully follow the instructions provided here:

1. Boot Your PC In Safe Mode to isolate and remove PhonyWall Ransomware

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

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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.

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

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

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Step 6: Click on Restart.
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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 PhonyWall Ransomware with SpyHunter Anti-Malware Tool

2. Remove PhonyWall Ransomware with SpyHunter Anti-Malware Tool

1. Install SpyHunter to scan for and remove PhonyWall Ransomware.2. Scan with SpyHunter to Detect and Remove PhonyWall Ransomware.
Step 1:Click on the “Download” button to proceed to SpyHunter’s download page.

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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.

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

3. Remove PhonyWall Ransomware with Malwarebytes Anti-Malware.

3. Remove PhonyWall Ransomware with Malwarebytes Anti-Malware

1. Install Malwarebytes Anti-Malware to scan for and remove PhonyWall Ransomware. 2. Scan your PC with MalwareBytes to remove all PhonyWall Ransomware associated files automatically.
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.
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Step 3: After you have downloaded the setup, simply open it.
Step 4: The installer should appear. Click on the ‘Next’ button.
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Step 5: Check the ‘I accept the agreement’ check circle if not checked if you accept it and click the ‘Next’ button once again.
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Step 6: Review and click on ‘Next’ on the following 4 steps that will appear afterwards and after that click on the ‘Install’ button.
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Step 7: After the installation process has completed click on the ‘Finish’ button and check the ‘Launch MalwareBytes AntiMalware’ check box.
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.
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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.
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Step 4: After the scan has been complete and all of the threats have been identified, click on the ‘Remove Selected’ button to detelete them permanently.
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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.

4. Remove PhonyWall Ransomware with STOPZilla AntiMalware

4. Remove PhonyWall Ransomware with STOPZilla AntiMalware

1. Install STOPZilla Anti Malware to scan for and remove PhonyWall Ransomware. 2. Scan your PC with STOPZilla Anti Malware to remove all PhonyWall Ransomware associated files completely.
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.
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Step 3: After you have downloaded the setup, simply open it.
Step 4: The installer should appear. Click on the ‘Next’ button.
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Step 5: Check the ‘I accept the agreement’ check circle if not checked if you accept it and click the ‘Next’ button once again.
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Step 6: Review and click on the ‘Install’ button.
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Step 7: After the installation process has completed click on the ‘Finish’ button.
Step 1: Launch STOPZilla if you havent 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.
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Step 3: After the removal of all threats and associated objects, you should Restart your PC.

5. Back up your data to secure it against infections and file encryptions by PhonyWall Ransomware in the future

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

Security engineers recommend that you back up your files immediately, preferably on an external memory carrier in order to be able to restore them. In order to protect yourself from PhonyWall Ransomware (For Windows Users) please follow these simple steps:

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
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2-Type Backup And Restore
3-Open it and click on Set Up Backup
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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.
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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.
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6-Click on ‘Save settings and run backup’ on the next window in order to protect your files from possible attacks by PhonyWall Ransomware.
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1-Press Windows button + R
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2-In the window type ‘filehistory’ and press Enter
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3-A File History window will appear. Click on ‘Configure file history settings’
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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.
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5-Select the drive then click on ‘Ok’ in order to set up file backup and protect yourself from PhonyWall Ransomware.

1- Press Windows button + R keys.
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2- A run windows should appear. In it type ‘sysdm.cpl’ and then click on Run.
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3- A System Properties windows should appear. In it choose System Protection.
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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 PhonyWall Ransomware is on.
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Restoring a file via Windows Defense feature:
1-Right-click on the encrypted file, then choose Properties.
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2-Click on the Previous Versions tab and then mark the last version of the file.
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3-Click on Apply and Ok and the file encrypted by PhonyWall Ransomware should be restored.

After its removal, you might try recovering your files, using backups from an external device or cloud if you made such backups in the past, using Windows Restore Points or Shadow Volume Copies.

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Berta Bilbao

Berta is a dedicated malware researcher, dreaming for a more secure cyber space. Her fascination with IT security began a few years ago when a malware locked her out of her own computer.

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