THREAT REMOVAL

Remove ZeroCrypt Ransomware and Restore .zn2016 Files

zerocrypt_recover_info-ransom-note-sensorstechforumNew ransomware virus dubbed ZeroCrypt by malware researchers has been spotted to encrypt files adding it’s .zn2016 file extension after their original ones and rendering them no longer openable. After it encrypts the files, the virus notifies the victim whose computer has been infected via a ransom note going by the name of “ZEROCRYPT_RECOVER_INFO.txt”. Malware researchers do not predict this virus to be very widespread but there is a cloud of uncertainty surrounding it’s decryption. It is also strongly recommended to focus on removing ZeroCrypt in case you have become a victim of it. This can be achieved by reading the following article which also has alternative methods to try and recover the encrypted files instead of paying money to criminals to decrypt your files. We will also keep following malware researchers and notify you with a web link on this article as soon as the ZeroCrypt virus is cracked.

Threat Summary

Name

ZeroCrypt

TypeRansomware virus.
Short DescriptionThe malware encrypts users files using a strong encryption algorithm, making direct decryption possible only via a unique decryption key available to the cyber-criminals.
SymptomsThe user may witness ransom notes and “instructions” in the form of “ZEROCRYPT_RECOVER_INFO.txt” file that may lead to a web page and a decryptor. Changed file names and the file-extension .zn2016 has been used.
Distribution MethodVia an Exploit kit, Dll file attack, malicious JavaScript or a drive-by download of the malware itself in an obfuscated manner.
Detection Tool See If Your System Has Been Affected by malware.
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.

ZeroCrypt – In-Depth Analysis

The infection process of ZeroCrypt begins with the most important for the cyber-criminals distribution stage or spreading of the malware.

Stage 1: ZeroCrypt Ransomware Spread

This particular type of malware may employ a combination of methods and tools that allow it to spread via two main methods:

  • Via malicious web links (URLs).
  • Via malicious files.

When we take a look at malicious URLs, we take into consideration that the cyber-criminals may have utilized spam bots and spamming software which allows them to insert a malicious script on a web host that causes the infection. But since such malicious web links are immediately detected by online services and e-mail spam filters, the cyber-criminals use a so-called browser redirect from a legitimate link. This means that the web link you may have clicked on believing it is legitimate transfers you to the malicious web link that causes the infection.

In case the infection is performed via malicious files, then this means that a combination of advanced tools may be used to obfuscate the files and hide them from any security software. Usually if files are being used for infection, they may be of the following types:

.hta, .wsf, .exe, .cmd, .bat, .vbs, .html, .js, .dll, .tmp

The files usually pretend to be legitimate with changed file icons to an often used program, like Adobe PDF Reader file or a Microsoft Office document. They may be spread via file sharing services like dropbox or online sharing websites, but there is also the possibility that the files may be in a .zip, .rar or other archives and sent to you via fake e-mail spam message. Fake messages usually pretend to be a legitimate service or institution to trick you the file itself is important, so proceed wisely in the future.

Once the malicious file or web link is opened, there may be an exploit kit, other malware or a malicious script that may download the actual payload of ZeroCrypt ransomware on your computer. The payload of ZeroCrypt may be consisting of malicious files, which malware researchers refer to as modules. Those modules may be the same type like the ones mentioned in the red frame above and each of them may execute a separate function. They may be located in the often used administrative Windows directories, such as:

commonly used file names and folders

Post Infection Activity of ZeroCrypt Ransomware

Once the files are activated, ZeroCrypt gets down to business. The malware’s first activity is to inject malicious scripts into the legitimate Windows processes such as:

  • Sysdm.cpl
  • Svchost.exe
  • Explorer.exe
  • Others.

As soon as this is done, ZeroCrypt may also drop files in the %Startup% folder that run every time Windows starts. It then may modify the Windows Registry editor, adding custom values in different registry keys. Most often the Run and RunOnce keys of HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE and HKEY_CURRENT_USER are modified with custom values set in them to run the malicious module that actually encrypts your files.

As soon as the file encryptor is ran, according to the ransom note, ZeroCrypt appends a powerful Rivest-Shamir encryption algorithm (RSA) with the bit strength of 1024. This encryption changes the structure code of several blocks of data on the files replacing it with symbols generated by the cipher. This makes the files no longer openable. Judging by the encryption algorithm reported, the ZeroCrypt malware may also generate two type of decryption keys, private and public, which can only be directly cracked by using factorization programs with specific scripts in them, like Python, for example.

Related Article: Restore Files Encrypted via RSA Encryption. Remove CryptoWall and Other Ransomware Manually

After the encryption is complete, the ZeroCrypt virus also adds it’s unique file extension .zn2016 to the encrypted files, making them look somewhat like the following image:

zerocrypt-ransowmare-encrypted-my-files-help-sensorstechforum-com

After the encryption process is complete, ZeroCrypt ransomware drops a .txt file notifying the user what had happened. Interestingly enough ZeroCrypt is not very polite in it’s ransom note, asking the insane amount of 10 BTC to just get the simple decryption key and try to figure out how to decrypt your files with it and the even more preposterous amount of 100 BTC to get a working decryption software! Now multiply that by 695$ which is the current BitCoin rate! Here are the contents of the ransom message ZeroCrypt drops:

zerocrypt-ransom-note-sensorstechforum

ZeroCrypt Ransomware Virus – Conclusion and Removal and File Restoring Tips

If you have been infected by ZeroCrypt, do not pay up the ransom! The obvious reasons are that there is no guarantee you will get your files back and the crooks may want more from you afterwards. Researchers also advise against paying up the criminals, because this will assist them in further investing in the spreading of the virus. But what to do in case you haven’t paid? There are several alternatives that may help you, but first it is recommended to remove ZeroCrypt.

To perform a safe removal, you can follow our removal instructions below. Security experts often recommend using automatic removal solutions like an anti-malware software that will automatically remove every registry object and malicious modules of the ZeroCrypt virus.

After having removed the virus, we have provided several suggestions on how to restore your files in step “2. Restore files encrypted by ZeroCrypt” below. They include web links to two of the largest developers of decryptors – Kaspersky and Emsisoft which have expert reverse engineers and may develop a decryptor for your virus soon. However, bear in mind that these decryptors are third-party and any of the methods besides them used below are not 100% guarantee you will restore your files. This is why we also advise you to back them up prior to any tampering with them.

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Ventsislav Krastev

Ventsislav is a cybersecurity expert at SensorsTechForum since 2015. He has been researching, covering, helping victims with the latest malware infections plus testing and reviewing software and the newest tech developments. Having graduated Marketing as well, Ventsislav also has passion for learning new shifts and innovations in cybersecurity that become game changers. After studying Value Chain Management, Network Administration and Computer Administration of System Applications, he found his true calling within the cybersecrurity industry and is a strong believer in the education of every user towards online safety and security.

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Attention! SensorsTechForum strongly recommends that all malware victims should look for assistance only by reputable sources. Many guides out there claim to offer free recovery and decryption for files encrypted by ransomware viruses. Be advised that some of them may only be after your money.

As a site that has been dedicated to providing free removal instructions for ransomware and malware since 2014, SensorsTechForum’s recommendation is to only pay attention to trustworthy sources.

How to recognize trustworthy sources:

  • Always check "About Us" web page.
  • Profile of the content creator.
  • Make sure that real people are behind the site and not fake names and profiles.
  • Verify Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter personal profiles.


OFFER

REMOVE IT NOW (PC)
with Anti-Malware
We recommend you to download SpyHunter and run free scan to remove all virus files on your PC. This saves you hours of time and effort compared to doing the removal yourself.
SpyHunter 5 free remover allows you, subject to a 48-hour waiting period, one remediation and removal for results found. Read EULA and Privacy Policy


Windows Mac OS X

How to Remove ZeroCrypt from Windows.


Step 1: Boot Your PC In Safe Mode to isolate and remove ZeroCrypt

OFFER

Manual Removal Usually Takes Time and You Risk Damaging Your Files If Not Careful!
We Recommend To Scan Your PC with SpyHunter

Keep in mind, that SpyHunter’s scanner is only for malware detection. If SpyHunter detects malware on your PC, you will need to purchase SpyHunter's malware removal tool to remove the malware threats. Read our SpyHunter 5 review. Click on the corresponding links to check SpyHunter's EULA, Privacy Policy and Threat Assessment Criteria

1. Hold Windows key() + R


2. The "Run" Window will appear. In it, type "msconfig" and click OK.


3. Go to the "Boot" tab. There select "Safe Boot" and then click "Apply" and "OK".
Tip: Make sure to reverse those changes by unticking Safe Boot after that, because your system will always boot in Safe Boot from now on.


4. When prompted, click on "Restart" to go into Safe Mode.


5. You can recognise Safe Mode by the words written on the corners of your screen.


Step 2: Uninstall ZeroCrypt and related software from Windows

Here is a method in few easy steps that should be able to uninstall most programs. No matter if you are using Windows 10, 8, 7, Vista or XP, those steps will get the job done. Dragging the program or its folder to the recycle bin can be a very bad decision. If you do that, bits and pieces of the program are left behind, and that can lead to unstable work of your PC, errors with the file type associations and other unpleasant activities. The proper way to get a program off your computer is to Uninstall it. To do that:


1. Hold the Windows Logo Button and "R" on your keyboard. A Pop-up window will appear.


2. In the field type in "appwiz.cpl" and press ENTER.


3. This will open a window with all the programs installed on the PC. Select the program that you want to remove, and press "Uninstall"
Follow the instructions above and you will successfully uninstall most programs.


Step 3: Clean any registries, created by ZeroCrypt on your computer.

The usually targeted registries of Windows machines are the following:

  • HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run
  • HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run
  • HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\RunOnce
  • HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\RunOnce

You can access them by opening the Windows registry editor and deleting any values, created by ZeroCrypt there. This can happen by following the steps underneath:

1. Open the Run Window again, type "regedit" and click OK.


2. When you open it, you can freely navigate to the Run and RunOnce keys, whose locations are shown above.


3. You can remove the value of the virus by right-clicking on it and removing it.
Tip: To find a virus-created value, you can right-click on it and click "Modify" to see which file it is set to run. If this is the virus file location, remove the value.

IMPORTANT!
Before starting "Step 4", please boot back into Normal mode, in case you are currently in Safe Mode.
This will enable you to install and use SpyHunter 5 successfully.

Step 4: Scan for ZeroCrypt with SpyHunter Anti-Malware Tool

1. Click on the "Download" button to proceed to SpyHunter's download page.


It is 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. Click on the corresponding links to check SpyHunter's EULA, Privacy Policy and Threat Assessment Criteria.


2. After you have installed SpyHunter, wait for it to update automatically.

SpyHunter5-update-2018


3. After the update process has finished, click on the 'Malware/PC Scan' tab. A new window will appear. Click on 'Start Scan'.

SpyHunter5-Free-Scan-2018


4. After SpyHunter has finished scanning your PC for any files of the associated threat and found them, you can try to get them removed automatically and permanently by clicking on the 'Next' button.

SpyHunter-5-Free-Scan-Next-2018

If any threats have been removed, it is highly recommended to restart your PC.

Step 5 (Optional): Try to Restore Files Encrypted by ZeroCrypt.

Ransomware infections and ZeroCrypt aim to encrypt your files using an encryption algorithm which may be very difficult to decrypt. This is why we have suggested a data recovery method that may help you go around direct decryption and try to restore your files. Bear in mind that this method may not be 100% effective but may also help you a little or a lot in different situations.

1. Download the reccomended Data Recovery software by clicking on the link underneath:

Simply click on the link and on the website menus on top, choose Data Recovery - Data Recovery Wizard for Windows or Mac (depending on your OS), and then download and run the tool.


Windows Mac OS X

Get rid of ZeroCrypt from Mac OS X.


Step 1: Uninstall ZeroCrypt and remove related files and objects

OFFER
Manual Removal Usually Takes Time and You Risk Damaging Your Files If Not Careful!
We Recommend To Scan Your Mac with SpyHunter for Mac
Keep in mind, that SpyHunter for Mac needs to purchased to remove the malware threats. Click on the corresponding links to check SpyHunter’s EULA and Privacy Policy


1. Hit the ⇧+⌘+U keys to open Utilities. Another way is to click on “Go” and then click “Utilities”, like the image below shows:


2. Find Activity Monitor and double-click it:


3. In the Activity Monitor look for any suspicious processes, belonging or related to ZeroCrypt:

Tip: To quit a process completely, choose the “Force Quit” option.


4. Click on the "Go" button again, but this time select Applications. Another way is with the ⇧+⌘+A buttons.


5. In the Applications menu, look for any suspicious app or an app with a name, similar or identical to ZeroCrypt. If you find it, right-click on the app and select “Move to Trash”.


6: Select Accounts, after which click on the Login Items preference. Your Mac will then show you a list of items that start automatically when you log in. Look for any suspicious apps identical or similar to ZeroCrypt. Check the app you want to stop from running automatically and then select on the Minus (“-“) icon to hide it.


7: Remove any left-over files that might be related to this threat manually by following the sub-steps below:

  • Go to Finder.
  • In the search bar type the name of the app that you want to remove.
  • Above the search bar change the two drop down menus to “System Files” and “Are Included” so that you can see all of the files associated with the application you want to remove. Bear in mind that some of the files may not be related to the app so be very careful which files you delete.
  • If all of the files are related, hold the ⌘+A buttons to select them and then drive them to “Trash”.

In case you cannot remove ZeroCrypt via Step 1 above:

In case you cannot find the virus files and objects in your Applications or other places we have shown above, you can manually look for them in the Libraries of your Mac. But before doing this, please read the disclaimer below:

Disclaimer! If you are about to tamper with Library files on Mac, be sure to know the name of the virus file, because if you delete the wrong file, it may cause irreversible damage to your MacOS. Continue on your own responsibility!

1: Click on "Go" and Then "Go to Folder" as shown underneath:

2: Type in "/Library/LauchAgents/" and click Ok:

3: Delete all of the virus files that have similar or the same name as ZeroCrypt. If you believe there is no such file, do not delete anything.

You can repeat the same procedure with the following other Library directories:

→ ~/Library/LaunchAgents
/Library/LaunchDaemons

Tip: ~ is there on purpose, because it leads to more LaunchAgents.


Click the button below below to download SpyHunter for Mac and scan for ZeroCrypt:


Download

SpyHunter for Mac



Step 3 (Optional): Try to Restore Files Encrypted by ZeroCrypt.

Ransomware infections and ZeroCrypt aim to encrypt your files using an encryption algorithm which may be very difficult to decrypt. This is why we have suggested a data recovery method that may help you go around direct decryption and try to restore your files. Bear in mind that this method may not be 100% effective but may also help you a little or a lot in different situations.

1. Download the reccomended Data Recovery software by clicking on the link underneath:

Simply click on the link and on the website menus on top, choose Data Recovery - Data Recovery Wizard for Windows or Mac (depending on your OS), and then download and run the tool.


ZeroCrypt FAQ

What is ZeroCrypt ransomware and how does it work?

ZeroCrypt is a ransomware infection - the malicious software that enters your computer silently and blocks either access to the computer itself or encrypt your files.

Many ransomware viruses use sophisticated encryption algorithm how to make your files inaccessible. The goal of ransomware infections is to demand that you pay a ransom payment to get access to your files back.

How does ZeroCrypt ransomware infect my computer?

Via several ways.ZeroCrypt Ransomware infects computers by being sent via phishing e-mails, containing virus attachment.

This attachment is usually masked as an important document, like an invoice, bank document or even a plane ticket and it looks very convincing to users.

After you download and execute this attachment, a drive-by download occurs and your computer is infected with the ransomware virus.

Another way, you may become a victim of ZeroCrypt is if you download a fake installer, crack or patch from a low reputation website or if you click on a virus link. Many users report getting a ransomware infection by downloading torrents.

How to open .ZeroCrypt files?

You can't. At this point the .ZeroCrypt files are encrypted. You can only open them once they are decrypted.

Decryptor did not decrypt my data. What now?

Do not panic and backup the files. If a decryptor did not decrypt your .ZeroCrypt files successfully, then do not despair, because this virus is still new.

One way to restore files, encrypted by ZeroCrypt ransomware is to use a decryptor for it. But since it's a new virus, advised that the decryption keys for it may not be out yet and available to the public. We will update this article and keep you posted as soon as this decryptor is released.

How Do I restore ".ZeroCrypt" files (Other Methods)?

Yes, sometimes files can be restored. We have suggested several file recovery methods that could work if you want to restore .ZeroCrypt files.

These methods are in no way 100% guarantee that you will be able to get your files back. But if you have a backup, your chances of success are much greater.

How do I get rid of ZeroCrypt ransomware virus?

The safest way and the most efficient one for the removal of this ransomware infection is the use a professional anti malware software. It will scan for and locate ZeroCrypt ransomware and then remove it without causing any additional harm to your important .ZeroCrypt files.

Also, keep in mind that viruses like ZeroCrypt ransomware also install Trojans and keyloggers that can steal your passwords and accounts. Scanning your computer with an anti-malware software will make sure that all of these virus components are removed and your computer is protected in the future.

What to Do If nothing works?

There is still a lot you can do. If none of the above methods seem to work for you, then try these methods:

  • Try to find a safe computer from where you can can login on your own line accounts like One Drive, iDrive, Google Drive and so on.
  • Try to contact your friends, relatives and other people so that they can check if they have some of your important photos or documents just in case you sent them.
  • Also, check if some of the files that were encrypted it can be re-downloaded from the web.
  • Another clever way to get back some of your files is to find another old computer, a flash drive or even a CD or a DVD where you may have saved your older documents. You might be surprised what will turn up.
  • You can also go to your email account to check if you can send any attachments to other people. Usually what is sent the email is saved on your account and you can re-download it. But most importantly, make sure that this is done from a safe computer and make sure to remove the virus first.

More tips you can find on our forums, where you can also asks any questions about your ransomware problem.

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