AZHI Virus (.AZHI File Decrypt) + Ransomware Removal

Written by Brendan Smith

The Azhi virus, belongs to the STOP/Djvu ransomware family. This malware family is famous for its malicious file encryption capabilities. When the Azhi virus infiltrates a computer system, it targets various types of files, such as videos, photos, documents, and more. It alters the file structure and appends the “.azhi” extension to each encrypted file, rendering them unusable without the decryptor.

Azhi Virus Overview

Azhi

🤔 Azhi malware belongs to ransomware that originates from the DJVU/STOP family. Its main target is to lock all of your files it can reach. After that ransomware virus asks for a ransom fee – ($490 – $980) in Bitcoin.

The Azhi virus is a type of malware that encrypts your files and coerces you into paying for their decryption. This ransomware encrypts various file types. ciphered files can be identified by a distinct “.azhi” extension. As a result, the files touched by ransomware become inaccessible and unusable.

Then, the ransomware demands a ransom payment in Bitcoin from its victims, ranging from $490 to $980. Usually, a ransom text file is named as “_readme.txt“.

Azhi Ransomware uses Salsa20 encryption algorithms to scramble the contents of the targeted files. Since the Azhi virus utilizes such a strong ciphering method, it becomes particularly difficult, if not impossible, to find the decryption key without cooperating with the attackers.

Once the files are encrypted, the Azhi virus displays a ransom note to the victim, demanding a ransom payment in exchange for the decryption key. The ransom note provides instructions on the ways of making the payment and often contains threats of permanent data loss or increased ransom amounts if the demands are not met within a specified timeframe.

I have made a comprehensive list of the solutions, tips, and methods to stop the Azhi ransomware and recover access to your files. There are situations where it may be feasible to restore your files, but sometimes, it may be impossible.

Brendan Smith
Brendan Smith
IT Security Expert
First, perform a PC scan using an antivirus tool!
I will assist you in removing the Azhi virus and guide you through the process of decrypting or restoring encrypted files. Below, you will find several universally applicable methods to recover encrypted .azhi files. It is crucial to thoroughly read and comprehend the entire set of instructions. Do not skip any steps. Each step is of utmost importance and must be completed by you.
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📌 Important Note!

It is critical to note that paying off the ransom does not guarantee the successful files recovery. The rascals who stand behind the Azhi virus are not trustworthy. There were cases where people have paid the ransom, only to be denied by the cyber criminals with the decryption key provision.

Azhi employs a unique key for each victim, with one exception:

  • If Azhi fails to establish a connection with its command and control server (C&C Server) before starting the encryption process, it uses offline keys as a fallback option. This key is not unique and is the same for all users, which allows for the decryption of files encrypted by the ransomware.

The Azhi virus is highly similar to other DJVU ransomware variants like Wwhu, Wwpl, Wwty, and Wwza. This virus encrypts a wide range of common file types and appends its distinct “.azhi” extension to all files. For instance, a file named “1.jpg” would be altered to “1.jpg.azhi” and “2.png” to “2.png.azhi“.

After successful encryption, the virus spawns a special text file named “_readme.txt” and places it in every folder containing the encrypted files. It also adds this file to the desktop, so the user will not miss the attack even without opening folders.

The image below provides a visual representation of files with the “azhi” extension:

Azhi Virus - encrypted azhi files

Encrypted Files by STOP/DJVU Ransomware

Name Azhi Virus
Ransomware family1 DJVU/STOP2 ransomware
Extension .azhi
Ransomware note _readme.txt
Ransom From $490 to $980 (in Bitcoins)
Contact [email protected], [email protected]
Detection MSIL/Kryptik.AJSO Virus Removal, Trojan.Win32.Injuke.hrwa Virus Removal, Trojan.Pirminay Virus Removal
Symptoms
  • Disables Volume Shadow copies, making victim’s attempts to restore data futile;
  • Installs password-stealing Trojan on the system, like Vidar Stealer or RedLine Stealer;
  • Successfully installs a SmokeLoader backdoor for remote access;
  • Updates the HOSTS file with a list of domains to block access to certain security-related sites;
  • Implements encryption to lock most of your files (photos, videos, documents) and adds a particular “.azhi” extension;
Fix Tool To remove possible malware infections, scan your PC:


6-day free trial available.

This message asking for payment is for restoring files via decryption key:

_readme.txt (STOP/DJVU Ransomware)

_readme.txt (STOP/DJVU Ransomware) – The scary notification insisting users to pay off the ransom to decrypt the encoded data contains these frustrating cautions.

Azhi ransomware arrives as a set of procedures that are used to perform certain functions on a victim’s computer. One of the primary ones being launched is winupdate.exe, a tricky process that shows a fake Windows update notification during the attack. That is needed to convince the victim that their PC has become slow because of a Windows update.

Meanwhile, the ransomware runs another process (named 4 random chars) which starts scanning the computer for target files and encrypting them. Then the ransomware removes Volume Shadow Copies from the disk using the following CMD command:

vssadmin.exe Delete Shadows /All /Quiet

Once erased, it becomes impossible to retrieve the previous computer state using System Restore Points. The concern is, ransomware operators are getting rid of any built-in Windows approaches that could help the victim to regain files for free. In addition, the hackers modify the Windows HOSTS file by adding a list of domains to it and linking them to the localhost IP. As a result, the victim will see a DNS_PROBE_FINISHED_NXDOMAIN error when trying to open one of the listed websites.

We noticed that ransomware endeavors to restrict websites that post various how-to guides for computer users. It is evident that by limiting specific domains, the perpetrators are attempting to hinder the victim from connecting to relevant and helpful ransomware-attack-related information online. Malware also saves two .txt files on the victim’s computer that offer attack-related particulars – the victim’s public key and personal ID. These two files are named bowsakkdestx.txt and PersonalID.txt.

Azhi ransomware virus saves public encryption key and victim's id in bowsakkdestx.txt file

After all these modifications, the malware doesn’t halt. Variants of STOP/DJVU tend to install Vidar password-stealing Trojan on compromised systems. This threat has a large list of capabilities, including:

  • Stealing Steam, Telegram, Skype login/password;
  • Stealing cryptocurrency wallets;
  • Downloading other malware to the computer and running it;
  • Stealing browser cookies, saved passwords, browsing history, and more;
  • Viewing and manipulating files on victim’s computer;
  • Allowing the hackers to perform other tasks on the victim’s computer remotely.

The cryptography algorithm used by the DJVU/STOP virus is AES-256. So, if your data got encrypted with an online decryption key, the chances of getting your files back are quite low. The thing is, the key is unique for each victim, and picking it will take an exceptionally big amount of time.

Retrieving the online decryption key in another way is also nearly impossible. It is kept on a command server owned by the crooks who spread the Azhi infection. For receiving the decryption key the payment should be $980. To get the payment details, the victims should contact the hackers by email ([email protected]).

The message by the ransomware states the following information:

ATTENTION!

Don't worry, you can return all your files!

All your files like photos, databases, documents, and other important are encrypted with the strongest encryption and unique key.
The only method of recovering files is to purchase a decrypt tool and a unique key for you.
This software will decrypt all your encrypted files.

What guarantees do you have?

You can send one of your encrypted files from your PC and we decrypt it for free.
But we can decrypt only 1 file for free. The file must not contain valuable information.

You can get and look video overview decrypt tool:

https://we.tl/t-WJa63R98Ku

The price of private key and decrypt software is $980.
Discount of 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 an answer more than 6 hours.

To get this software you need to write on our e-mail:

[email protected]

Reserve an e-mail address to contact us:

[email protected]

Your personal ID:
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Do not pay the ransom!

Please, try to use the available backups, or Decrypter tool

_readme.txt file also states that the system user must get in touch with the hackers’ representatives within 72 hours starting from the moment of files were encrypted. If user contacts hackers within 72 hours, hackers grant a 50% off. This decreases the ransom sum down to $490.

Yet, stay away from paying off the ransom! I strongly recommend that you to avoid contacting these swindlers and do not pay. A highly effective solution to regain the lost data is just using the backups you have, or using Decrypter tool from Emsisoft.

The distinctiveness of all such viruses is the utilization a similar set of actions for decryption key generation. Thus, unless the ransomware is still in development or possesses with some hard-to-track flaws, manual data recovery is a thing you can’t perform. The only solution to prevent the loss of your valuable data is to regularly make backups of your important files.

Note that even if you do create such backups regularly, they should be stored into a specific location without loitering, not being connected to your main workstation. For instance, the backup may be kept on the USB flash drive or some substitute external hard drive storage. Optionally, you may turn to the help of online (cloud) information storage.

Needless to say, when you maintain your backup data on your common device, it may be encrypted together with your files. For this reason, storing the backup on your disk is surely not a wise idea.

How I was infected?

Ransomware has a various methods to built into your system. But it doesn’t really matter what way had place in your case.

Azhi ransomware attack

Ransomware attack following a successful phishing attempt.

However, cybercriminals can inject the Azhi virus into your PC through common vulnerabilities:

  • They use online free hosting resources to distribute the virus undetected.
  • They disguise the virus installer alongside various apps, especially freeware or shareware.
  • They spread the virus through spam emails containing deceptive links that lead to its installation.
  • They distribute pirated software through illegal peer-to-peer (P2P) resources, exposing users to potential malware threats.

In some cases, the Azhi virus masquerades as a legitimate process, such as messages urging you to initiate a browser update or install a codec for online media playback. This is a common tactic used in online scams to trick you into manually deploying the ransomware.

These deceptive update alerts won’t openly reveal that you’re installing the virus; instead, they’ll be disguised as urgent security updates or questionable programs.

Cracked apps also pose a threat. Using P2P for downloading software is illegal and can result in the injection of serious malware, including the Azhi ransomware.

To prevent the injection of ransomware into your system, while there’s no foolproof guarantee, follow these tips:

1. Exercise caution when using free software.

2. Always read and understand what’s offered in the installation window, especially with free programs.

3. Avoid opening suspicious email attachments.

4. Do not open files from unknown senders.

5. Ensure your anti-malware software is regularly updated.

The malware operates discreetly, staying hidden from your list of installed programs. Instead, it runs silently in the background, launching when you start your computer.

How To Remove Ransomware?

Remove Azhi Virus with Gridinsoft Anti-Malware

We have also been using this software on our systems ever since, and it has always been successful in detecting viruses. It has blocked the most common Ransomware as shown from our tests with the software, and we assure you that it can remove Azhi Virus as well as other malware hiding on your computer.

Gridinsoft Anti-Malware - Main Screen

To use Gridinsoft for remove malicious threats, follow the steps below:

1. Begin by downloading Gridinsoft Anti-Malware, accessible via the blue button below or directly from the official website gridinsoft.com.

2.Once the Gridinsoft setup file (setup-gridinsoft-fix.exe) is downloaded, execute it by clicking on the file.

setup-gridinsoft-fix.exe

3.Follow the installation setup wizard's instructions diligently.

Gridinsoft Setup Wizard

4. Access the "Scan Tab" on the application's start screen and launch a comprehensive "Full Scan" to examine your entire computer. This inclusive scan encompasses the memory, startup items, the registry, services, drivers, and all files, ensuring that it detects malware hidden in all possible locations.

Scan for Azhi Virus Ransomware

Be patient, as the scan duration depends on the number of files and your computer's hardware capabilities. Use this time to relax or attend to other tasks.

5. Upon completion, Anti-Malware will present a detailed report containing all the detected malicious items and threats on your PC.

The Azhi Virus was Found

6. Select all the identified items from the report and confidently click the "Clean Now" button. This action will safely remove the malicious files from your computer, transferring them to the secure quarantine zone of the anti-malware program to prevent any further harmful actions.

The Azhi Virus has been removed

8. If prompted, restart your computer to finalize the full system scan procedure. This step is crucial to ensure thorough removal of any remaining threats. After the restart, Gridinsoft Anti-Malware will open and display a message confirming the completion of the scan.

Remember Gridinsoft offers a 6-day free trial. This means you can take advantage of the trial period at no cost to experience the full benefits of the software and prevent any future malware infections on your system. Embrace this opportunity to fortify your computer's security without any financial commitment.

Trojan Killer for “Azhi Virus” removal on locked PC

In situations where it becomes impossible to download antivirus applications directly onto the infected computer due to malware blocking access to websites, an alternative solution is to utilize the Trojan Killer application.

Trojan Killer - Main View

There is a really little number of security tools that are able to be set up on the USB drives, and antiviruses that can do so in most cases require to obtain quite an expensive license. For this instance, I can recommend you to use another solution of GridinSoft - Trojan Killer Portable. It has a 14-days cost-free trial mode that offers the entire features of the paid version. This term will definitely be 100% enough to wipe malware out.

Trojan Killer is a valuable tool in your cybersecurity arsenal, helping you to effectively remove malware from infected computers. Now, we will walk you through the process of using Trojan Killer from a USB flash drive to scan and remove malware on an infected PC. Remember, always obtain permission to scan and remove malware from a computer that you do not own.

Step 1: Download & Install Trojan Killer on a Clean Computer:

1. Go to the official GridinSoft website (gridinsoft.com) and download Trojan Killer to a computer that is not infected.

Download Trojan Killer

2. Insert a USB flash drive into this computer.

3. Install Trojan Killer to the "removable drive" following the on-screen instructions.

Install Trojan Killer to Removable Drive

4. Once the installation is complete, launch Trojan Killer.

Step 2: Update Signature Databases:

5. After launching Trojan Killer, ensure that your computer is connected to the Internet.

6. Click "Update" icon to download the latest signature databases, which will ensure the tool can detect the most recent threats.

Click Update Button

Step 3: Scan the Infected PC:

7. Safely eject the USB flash drive from the clean computer.

8. Boot the infected computer to the Safe Mode.

9. Insert the USB flash drive.

10. Run tk.exe

11. Once the program is open, click on "Full Scan" to begin the malware scanning process.

Searching Azhi Virus Virus

Step 4: Remove Found Threats:

12. After the scan is complete, Trojan Killer will display a list of detected threats.

Searching Azhi Virus Finished

13. Click on "Cure PC!" to remove the identified malware from the infected PC.

14. Follow any additional on-screen prompts to complete the removal process.

Restart needed

Step 5: Restart Your Computer:

15. Once the threats are removed, click on "Restart PC" to reboot your computer.

16. Remove the USB flash drive from the infected computer.

Congratulations on effectively removing Azhi Virus and the concealed threats from your computer! You can now have peace of mind, knowing that they won't resurface again. Thanks to Gridinsoft's capabilities and commitment to cybersecurity, your system is now protected.

Video Guide


How To Decrypt .azhi Files?

How to restore big files?

Try deleting .azhi extension on a few big files and opening them. This malware has issues with large files encryption. Either the virus scanned and did not lock the file, or it failed and did not add the filemarker. If your files are very large (2GB+), the latter is most likely. Please, text me in the comments whether this helped you or not.

The newest extensions released around the end of August 2019 after the criminals made changes. This includes Wwhu, Wwpl, Wwty etc.

As a result of the modifications made by the criminals, STOPDecrypter is no longer supported. It has been replaced with the Emsisoft Decryptor for STOP Djvu Ransomware developed by Emsisoft.

You can download free decryption tool here: Decryptor for STOP Djvu.

  1. Download and run decryption tool.

    Start downloading the decryption tool.

    Make sure to launch the decryption utility as an administrator. You need to agree with the license terms that will come up. For this purpose, click on the “Yes” button:

    Emsisoft Decryptor - license terms

    As soon as you accept the license terms, the main decryptor user interface comes up:

    Emsisoft Decryptor - user interface

  2. Select folders for decryption.

    Based on the default configurations, the decryptor will automatically choose the accessible directories in order to unlock the currently available drives (the connected ones), including the network drives. Additional (optional) locations can be selected with the aid of the “Add” button.

    Decryptors typically offer several options considering the specific malware family. The present possible options are displayed in the Options tab and can be turned on or deactivated there. You may discover a detailed list of the currently active Options below.

  3. Click on the “Decrypt” button.

    As soon as you add all the desired locations for decryption into the list, click on the “Decrypt” button in order to initiate the decryption procedure.

    Note that the main screen may turn you to a status view, letting you know of the active process and the decryption statistics of your data:

    Emsisoft Decryptor - the decryption statistics

    The decryptor will notify you as soon as the decryption procedure is completed. If you need the report for your personal papers, you can save it by choosing the “Save log” button. Note that it is also possible to copy it directly to your clipboard and to paste it into emails or messages here if you need to do so.

The Emsisoft Decryptor might display different messages after a failed attempt to restore your files:

✓ Error: Unable to decrypt file with ID: [your ID]
Emsisoft failed to find a correspondnig decryption key in their database.
✓ No key for New Variant online ID: [your ID]
Notice: this ID appears to be an online ID, decryption is impossible
Malware used an online key to cipher your files. There is no one to share the decryption key with you. File recovery without paying the ransom is impossible. 🙁
✓ Result: No key for new variant offline ID: [example ID]
This ID appears be an offline ID. Decryption may be possible in the future.
Malware used an offline key, though the file recovery operation failed (the offline decryption key isn’t available yet). Nonetheless, this message is a good news for you, since it is possible to restore your files in the future. 🙂
It can take a few weeks or months until the decryption key gets found and uploaded to the decryptor. Please follow updates regarding the decryptable DJVU versions here.
✓ Remote name could not be resolved
This stands for a DNS issues. Consider resetting your HOSTS file to default.

How to Restore .azhi Files?

In some case ransomware is not doom for your files…

The Azhi ransomware encryption mechanism sequence is next: it encrypts every file byte-by-byte, then saves a file copy, removing (not overriding!) the initial file. Hence, the data of the file placement on the physical disk is lost, but the original file is not removed from the disk. The cell, or the sector where this file was stored, can still contain this file, but it is not listed by the file system and can be overwritten by data that has been loaded to this drive after the deletion. Hence, it is possible to recover your files using special software.

I recently had my pc infected by the this virus. It managed to bypass 2 Antivirus software and 2 malware fighters.

Anyway, after realizing it was an online algorithm, it is impossible to retrieve my encrypted files. I also had my backup drive plugged in at the time of the virus, and this was also infected, or so I thought. Every folder within my backup drive had been infected and was encrypted. However, despite losing some important files, I retrieved almost 80% of my 2TB storage.

When I started going through the folders, I noticed the readme.txt ransom note in every folder. I opened some of the folders and found that all files that were not in a subfolder within that folder had been encrypted. However, I found a flaw and glimmer of hope when I went into the subfolders in other folders and found that these files had not been encrypted. Every folder within my c and d drives, including subfolders, had been encrypted, but this was not the case with the backup drive. Having subfolders created within a folder has saved 80% of my data.

As I said, I believe this to be only a small loophole on a backup drive. I’ve since found a further 10 % of my data on another hard drive on a different pc. So my advice is if you use a backup drive, create subfolders. I was lucky, I guess. But I was also unlucky that the virus hit as I was transferring some files from my backup.

Hopefully, this can help some other people in my situation.

Jamie Newland
Some pointers for recovery repair of Azhi files (true for all STOP/DJVU variants):

  • I have seen Stop/Djvu variants fail to encrypt deeper nested folders, so that you can check that. You may find those are not encrypted.
  • This ransomware saves encrypted data to a new file, deletes the original. So there’s a slight chance part of that deleted file can be recovered using file recovery software. It’s unlikely the folder structure can be restored, so a free tool like PhotoRec may be as good as any.
  • This ransomware only partially encrypts (about the first 150 KB), so depending on file size and type of data, the not encrypted part may be recoverable.
  • Joep

    Recovering your files with PhotoRec

    PhotoRec is an open-source program, which is initially created for file retrieval from damaged disks, or for files recovery in case if they are unintentionally deleted. However, as time has gone by, this program received the ability to retrieve the files of 400 different file types. Hence, it can be used for data recovery after the Azhi attack.

    First, you need to download this app. It is 100% free, but the developer notifies that there is no guarantee that the files will be restored. PhotoRec is distributed in a pack with another utility of the same developer – TestDisk. The downloaded archive will bear TestDisk name, but don’t worry. PhotoRec files are right inside.

    To launch PhotoRec, find and open “qphotorec_win.exe” file. No setup is needed – this program has all the files it need inside of the archive, hence, you can fit it on your USB drive, and help your friends/parents/anyone who has been attacked by Azhi ransomware.

    PhotoRec file in the folder for restore Azhi files

    Upon the launch, you will observe the screen showing you the full list of your disk drives. However, this details are probably futile, because the required menu is placed a bit higher. Click this menu, then choose the disk which was attacked by ransomware.

    Choose the disc in PhotoRec

    After selecting the disk, you need to pick the destination folder for the restored files. This menu is located at the lower part of the PhotoRec window. The best choice is to export them on USB drive or any other type of removable disk.

    Choosing the destination folder of recovery Azhi files

    Then, you need to specify the file formats. This option is located at the bottom, too. As it was mentioned, PhotoRec can regain the files of about 400 different formats.

    Choose the file format

    Finally, you can begin files recovery by pressing the “Search” button. You will observe the screen where the outcomes of the scan and recovery are shown.

    Recovery process

    Frequently Asked Questions

    🤔 How can I open “.azhi” files?

    No way. These files are encrypted by ransomware. The contents of encrypted files are not available until they are decrypted.

    🤔 You have advised using GridinSoft Anti-Malware to remove Azhi. Does this mean that the program will delete my encrypted files?

    Of course not. Your encrypted files do not pose a threat to the computer. What happened has already happened.

    You need GridinSoft Anti-Malware to remove active system infections. The virus that encrypted your files is most likely still active and periodically runs a test for the ability to encrypt even more files. Also, these viruses install keyloggers and backdoors for further malicious actions (for example, theft of passwords, credit cards) often.

    🤔 This virus has blocked infected PC: I can’t get the activation code.

    In this situation, you need to prepare the memory stick with a pre-installed Trojan Killer.

    🤔 Decryptor did not decrypt all my files, or not all of them were decrypted. What should I do?

    Have patience. You are infected with the new version of STOP/DJVU ransomware, and decryption keys have not yet been released. Follow the news on our website.

    We will keep you posted on when new keys or new decryption programs appear.

    🤔 What can I do right now?

    The Azhi ransomware encrypts only the first 150KB of files. So MP3 files are rather large, some media players (Winamp for example) may be able to play the files, but – the first 3-5 seconds (the encrypted portion) will be missing.

    You can try to find a copy of an original file that was encrypted:

    • Files you downloaded from the Internet that were encrypted and you can download again to get the original.
    • Pictures that you shared with family and friends that they can just send back to you.
    • Photos that you uploaded on social media or cloud services like Carbonite, OneDrive, iDrive, Google Drive, etc
    • Attachments in emails you sent or received and saved.
    • Files on an older computer, flash drive, external drive, camera memory card, or iPhone where you transferred data to the infected computer.

    If the guide doesn’t help you to remove infection, please download the GridinSoft Anti-Malware that I recommended. Do not forget to share your experience in solving the problem. Please leave a comment here! This can help other victims to understand they are not alone. And together we will find ways to deal with this issue.

    I need your help to share this article.

    It is your turn to help other people. I have written this guide to help people like you. You can use buttons below to share this on your favorite social media Facebook, Twitter, or Reddit.

    Brendan Smith
    How To Restore & Decrypt .AZHI Files?

    Name: AZHI Ransomware

    Description: The AZHI Virus belongs to the STOP/DJVU family of ransomware infections. This malicious software encrypts various file types, including videos, photos, and documents, which become identifiable by a distinct azhi extension. As a result, the affected files become inaccessible and unusable. Subsequently, the AZHI ransomware demands a ransom payment in Bitcoin from its victims, ranging from $490 to $980.

    Operating System: Windows

    Application Category: Virus

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    User Review
    3.91 (11 votes)
    Comments Rating 0 (0 reviews)

    References

    1. My files are encrypted by ransomware, what should I do now?
    2. About DJVU (STOP) Ransomware.

    About the author

    Brendan Smith

    I'm Brendan Smith, a passionate journalist, researcher, and web content developer. With a keen interest in computer technology and security, I specialize in delivering high-quality content that educates and empowers readers in navigating the digital landscape.

    With a focus on computer technology and security, I am committed to sharing my knowledge and insights to help individuals and organizations protect themselves in the digital age. My expertise in cybersecurity principles, data privacy, and best practices allows me to provide practical tips and advice that readers can implement to enhance their online security.

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