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ZCryptor ransomware: decrypt .zcrypt files

3 min read
Get rid of ZCryptor ransomware, prevent it from spreading over to other Windows computers and recover .zcrypt files that it skews during the attack.

A ransom Trojan that locks files using a strong cryptosystem, appends them with .zcrypt extension and drops recovery instructions in ‘How to decrypt files.html’ document, is categorized as a severe ransomware with the conventional name of Ransom:Win32/ZCryptor.A, or simply ZCrypt. Whereas this breed may look like a run-of-the-mill data encoding malware to the naked eye, it exhibits characteristics that are nowhere to be found in other strains.

So, what’s special about ZCryptor and how is it different from the ransomware norm? According to a research performed by several renowned antimalware labs, including Microsoft’s, this offending code is capable of propagating similarly to computer worms. It is common knowledge that worms utilize self-replication activity, which means that they copy themselves to different connected devices in a bid to spread across a breached environment exponentially. That’s how this particular crypto virus operates. It can replicate itself to removable drives and thus contaminate any machine that the contagious data medium is subsequently inserted into. To top it off, the infection evades antivirus detection by adopting complex obfuscation.

'How to decrypt files.html' presented to infected users
‘How to decrypt files.html’ presented to infected users

It goes without saying that ZCryptor also targets local drives as well as network directories that the computer has access to. It moves laterally inside non-system paths and locates files whose extensions indicate that they are likely to be valuable for the victim. Several examples of more than 100 targeted formats include objects with .txt, .dng, .doc(x), .java, .jpeg, .jpg, .mp4, .mpeg, .msg, .pdf, .php, .png, .ppt(x), .psd, .rtf, .sql, .xls(x), .xml, and .zip extensions.

The ransomware then uses an asymmetric encryption algorithm to make it impossible for the user to open or otherwise access any of the mutilated personal items. Every such file retains its original filename but is complemented with the ‘.zcrypt’ string, so it’s easy to tell what exactly has been encrypted. The Trojan reaches out to its C2 server to exchange crypto keys in a secure way. To tell the victim what’s going on and advise him or her on further steps to get the data back, ZCryptor opens a document titled ‘How to decrypt files.html’ via the web browsing client that’s currently set as the default one on the PC. The ransom notes read:

All your data (photos, documents, databases, …) have been encrypted with a private and unique key generated for this computer. It means that you will not be able to access your files anymore until they’re decrypted. The private key is stored in our servers and the only way to receive your key to decrypt your files is making a payment.

The monetary expression of this imposed deal starts with 1.2 Bitcoins, which is about $500. Unless this amount of money is sent out during 4 days, the ransom will increase to 5 BTC. After 7 days have expired, the key will purportedly be destroyed beyond retrieval. Although this situation looks like doom and gloom for the most part, there are ways to regain possession of the frozen .zcrypt files without having to pay up.

Automated removal of ZCryptor virus

Owing to an up-to-date database of malware signatures and intelligent behavioral detection, the recommended software can quickly locate the infection, eradicate it and remediate all harmful changes. So go ahead and do the following:

1. Download and install the antimalware tool. Open the solution and have it check your PC for PUPs and other types of malicious software by clicking the Start Computer Scan button

Download ZCryptor remover

2. Rest assured the scan report will list all items that may harm your operating system. Select the detected entries and click Fix Threats to get the troubleshooting completed.

Ways of non-ransom recovery of .zcrypt files

Cracking the crypto used by this ransom trojan is more of a science fiction thing rather than an attainable prospect for the masses. This is why the troubleshooting in predicaments of this sort is a matter of two approaches: one is to pay the ransom, which isn’t an option for many victims; and the other is to apply instruments that take advantage of the ransomware’s possible weaknesses. If the latter is your pick, the advice below is a must-try.

Backups can make your day

Not only are you a lucky person in case you’ve been backing up your most important files, but you’re also a wise and prudent user. This isn’t necessarily a resource-heavy activity these days – in fact, some providers of online services are allocating a sufficient size of cloud storage space for free so that every customer can easily upload their critical data without paying a penny. Having removed ZCryptor ransomware, therefore, all you have to do is download your stuff from the remote server or transfer it all from an external piece of hardware if that’s the case.

Restore previous versions of encrypted files

A positive upshot of using this technique depends on whether or not the ransomware has erased the Volume Shadow Copies of the files on your PC. This is a Windows feature that automatically makes and keeps the backups of data elements on the hard drive as long as System Restore is enabled. The cryptoware in question is programmed to switch off the Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS), but it has reportedly failed to in some cases. Checking one’s options regarding this workaround is doable in two ways: through the Properties menu of each file or by means of the remarkable open-source tool called Shadow Explorer. We recommend the software-based way because it’s automated, hence faster and easier. Just install the app and use its intuitive controls to get previous versions of the encrypted objects reinstated.
Shadow Explorer

Data recovery toolkit to the rescue

Some strains of ransomware are known to delete the original files after the encryption routine has been completed. As hostile as this activity appears, it can play into your hands. There are applications designed to revive the information that was obliterated because of malfunctioning hardware or due to accidental removal. The tool called Data Recovery Pro by ParetoLogic features this type of capability therefore it can be applied in ransom attack scenarios to at least get the most important files back. So download and install the program, run a scan and let it do its job.

Download Data Recovery Pro

Data Recovery Pro

Ransomware Prevention Tips

To avoid the ZCryptor ransomware and other file-encrypting infections in the future, follow several simple recommendations:

  • Toggle your email provider’s anti-spam settings to filter out all the potentially harmful incoming messages. Raising the bar beyond the default protection is an important countermeasure for ransom Trojans

  • Define specific file extension restrictions in your email system. Make sure that attachments with the following extensions are blacklisted: .js, .vbs, .docm, .hta, .exe, .cmd, .scr, and .bat. Also, treat ZIP archives in received messages with extreme caution

  • Rename the vssadmin.exe process so that ransomware is unable to obliterate all Shadow Volume Copies of your files in one shot

  • Keep your Firewall active at all times. It can prevent crypto ransomware from communicating with its C&C server. This way, the threat won’t be able to obtain cryptographic keys and lock your files

  • Back up your files regularly, at least the most important ones. This recommendation is self-explanatory. A ransomware attack isn’t an issue as long as you keep unaffected copies of your data in a safe place

  • Use an effective antimalware suite. There are security tools that identify ransomware-specific behavior and block the infection before it can do any harm.
These techniques are certainly not a cure-all, but they will add an extra layer of ransomware protection to your security setup.

Revise your security status

Post-factum assessment of the accuracy component in malware removal scenarios is a great habit that prevents the comeback of harmful code or replication of its unattended fractions. Make sure you are good to go by running an additional safety checkup.

Download ZCryptor ransomware removal tool

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