The Mzqw virus belongs to the STOP/DJVU family of ransomware infections. It actively encrypts your files (including videos, photos, and documents) and adds the “.mzqw” extension to them. The encryption method utilized by this virus is extremely strong, rendering it virtually impossible to calculate the decryption key.
I have compiled an extensive collection of potential solutions, tips, and practices for neutralizing the Mzqw virus and decrypting your files. In certain cases, file recovery is relatively straightforward, while in others, it may be exceedingly challenging.
Below, I will present several universal methods for recovering encrypted files with the “.mzqw” extension. It is crucial that you carefully read and comprehend the entire set of instructions, ensuring that you do not skip any steps. Each step is of utmost importance and must be completed by you.
Mzqw utilizes a unique key for each victim, with one exception:
- If the Mzqw virus fails to establish a connection with its command and control server (C&C Server) prior to initiating the encryption process, it resorts to using an offline key. This key remains the same for all victims, thereby enabling the decryption of files encrypted during a ransomware attack.
☝️ Mzqw can be correctly identified as a STOP/DJVU ransomware-type infection.
🤔 Mzqw virus is ransomware that originates from the DJVU/STOP family. Its primary purpose is to encrypt files that are important to you. After that ransomware virus asks its victims for a ransom fee ($490 – $980) in BitCoin.
The Mzqw ransomware is a type of malware that encrypts your files and demands payment for their restoration. This ransomware belongs to the Djvu/STOP ransomware family, which was first discovered by virus analyst Michael Gillespie.
The Mzqw virus shares similarities with other ransomware variants in the same Djvu family, such as Sato, Fofd, and Saba. It encrypts various common file types and adds its distinct “.mzqw” extension to all affected files. For example, a file named “1.jpg” would be changed to “1.jpg.mzqw“. Once the encryption process is complete, the virus creates a specific text file called “_readme.txt” and places it in all folders containing the encrypted files.
The image below provides a visual representation of how the files appear with the “.mzqw” extension:
|Ransomware family1||DJVU/STOP2 ransomware|
|Ransom||From $490 to $980 (in Bitcoins)|
|Contact||[email protected], [email protected]|
|Detection||Crytex.Virus.FileInfector.DDS, Win32/Filecoder.OLC, Malware-Cryptor.InstallCore.5|
The Mzqw ransomware performs the following actions:
To remove possible malware infections, scan your PC:
6-day free trial available.
This text asking payment is for restoring files via decryption key:
Mzqw ransomware arrives as a set of processes that perform different tasks on a victim’s computer. One of the first tasks it launches is winupdate.exe, a tricky process that displays a fake Windows update prompt during the attack. This process aims to convince the victim that a sudden system slowdown is caused by a Windows update. At the same time, the ransomware executes another process (usually named after four random characters) that scans the system for target files and encrypts them. Furthermore, the ransomware deletes Volume Shadow Copies from the system using the following CMD command:
vssadmin.exe Delete Shadows /All /Quiet
Once deleted, restoring the previous computer state becomes impossible using System Restore Points. The ransomware operators deliberately eliminate any Windows OS-based methods that could assist the victim in file restoration without charge. Additionally, the criminals modify the Windows HOSTS file by adding a list of domains and mapping them to the localhost IP. Consequently, when accessing one of the blocked websites, the victim encounters a DNS_PROBE_FINISHED_NXDOMAIN error.
We have observed that the ransomware attempts to block websites that publish various how-to guides for computer users. By restricting specific domains, the criminals endeavor to prevent the victim from accessing relevant and helpful information related to ransomware attacks online. The virus also saves two text files on the victim’s computer, containing attack-related details – the victim’s public encryption key and personal ID. These two files are named bowsakkdestx.txt and PersonalID.txt.
After all these modifications, the malware does not cease its activities. Variants of STOP/DJVU ransomware often deploy the Vidar password-stealing Trojan on compromised systems. This threat possesses a wide range of capabilities, including:
- Stealing Steam, Telegram, Skype login/password
- Stealing cryptocurrency wallets
- Downloading malware to the computer and executing it
- Stealing browser cookies, saved passwords, browsing history, and more
- Viewing and manipulating files on the victim’s computer
- Enabling hackers to remotely perform various tasks on the victim’s computer
The cryptography algorithm used by DJVU/STOP ransomware is AES-256. So, if your data got encrypted with an online decryption key, which is totally distinct. The sad reality is that it is impossible to decrypt the files without a unique key.
In case Mzqw worked in online mode, it is impossible for you to gain access to the AES-256 key. It is stored on a remote server owned by the frauds who promote the Mzqw infection.
For receiving the decryption key, the payment should be $980. To obtain the payment details, the victims are encouraged by the message to contact the frauds 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 strongest encryption and unique key. The only method of recovering files is to purchase decrypt tool and unique key for you. This software will decrypt all your encrypted files. What guarantees you have? You can send one of your encrypted file from your PC and we decrypt it for free. But we can decrypt only 1 file for free. File must not contain valuable information. You can get and look video overview decrypt tool: https://we.tl/t-WJa63R98Ku Price of private key and decrypt software is $980. Discount 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 answer more than 6 hours. To get this software you need write on our e-mail: [email protected] Reserve e-mail address to contact us: [email protected] Your personal ID: XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
Do not pay for Mzqw!
Please, try to use the available backups, or Decrypter tool
_readme.txt file also indicates that the computer owners must contact the Mzqw representatives within 72 hours starting from the moment files were encrypted. On the condition of getting in touch within 72 hours, users will be granted a 50% rebate. Thus the ransom amount will be minimized to $490). However, stay away from paying the ransom!
I strongly advise that you do not contact these crooks and do not pay. One of the most real working solutions to recover lost data – just using the available backups or use Decrypter tool.
The peculiarity of all such viruses apply a similar set of actions for generating the unique decryption key to recover the ciphered data.
Thus, unless the ransomware is still in the stage of development or possesses some hard-to-track flaws, manually recovering the ciphered data 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 crucial files.
Note that even if you do maintain such backups regularly, they ought to be put 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 alternative external hard drive storage. Optionally, you may refer to the help of online (cloud) information storage.
Needless to mention, when you maintain your backup data on your common device, it may be similarly ciphered as well as other data.
For this reason, locating the backup on your main PC is surely not a wise idea.
How I was infected?
Ransomware has various methods to build into your system. But it doesn’t matter what concrete way was used in your case.
Mzqw attack following a successful phishing attempt.
- hidden installation along with other apps, especially the utilities that work as freeware or shareware;
- dubious link in spam emails leading to the virus installer
- online free hosting resources;
- using illegal peer-to-peer (P2P) resources for downloading pirated software.
There were cases when the Mzqw virus was disguised as some legitimate tool, for example, in the messages demanding to initiate some unwanted software or browser updates. This is typically the way how some online frauds aim to force you into installing the Mzqw ransomware manually by actually making you directly participate in this process.
Surely, the bogus update alert will not indicate that you are actually going to inject the ransomware. This installation will be concealed under some alert mentioning that allegedly you should update Adobe Flash Player or some other dubious program whatsoever.
Of course, the cracked apps represent the damage too. Using P2P is both illegal and may result in the injection of serious malware, including the Mzqw ransomware.
To sum up, what can you do to avoid the injection of the Mzqw ransomware into your device? Even though there is no 100% guarantee to prevent your PC from getting damaged, there are certain tips I want to give you to prevent Mzqw penetration. You must be cautious while installing free software today.
Make sure you always read what the installers offer in addition to the main free program. Stay away from opening dubious email attachments. Do not open files from unknown addresses. Of course, your current security program must always be updated.
The malware does not speak openly about itself. It will not be mentioned in the list of your available programs. However, it will be masked under some malicious process running regularly in the background, starting from the moment when you launch your computer.
How To Remove Mzqw Virus?
In addition to encoding a victim’s files, the Mzqw infection has also started to install the Vidar Stealer on PC to steal account credentials, cryptocurrency wallets, desktop files, and more.3
Reasons why I would recommend GridinSoft4
There is no better way to recognize, remove and prevent ransomware than to use anti-malware software from GridinSoft5.
Download Removal Tool.
You can download GridinSoft Anti-Malware by clicking the button below:
Run the setup file.
When setup file has finished downloading, double-click on the setup-antimalware-fix.exe file to install GridinSoft Anti-Malware on your computer.
An User Account Control asking you about allowing GridinSoft Anti-Malware to make changes to your device. So, you should click “Yes” to continue with the installation.
Press the “Install” button.
Once installed, Anti-Malware will automatically run.
Wait for complete.
GridinSoft Anti-Malware will automatically start scanning your PC for Mzqw infections and other malicious programs. This process can take 20-30 minutes, so I suggest you periodically check on the status of the scan process.
Click on “Clean Now”.
When the scan has been completed, you will see the list of infections that GridinSoft Anti-Malware has detected. To remove them click on the “Clean Now” button in the right corner.
Trojan Killer for special instances
In certain instances, Mzqw ransomware can block the running of setup files of different anti-malware programs. In this situation, you must utilize the removable drive with a pre-installed antivirus tool.
There is a really small number of security tools that can be set up on USB drives, and antiviruses that can do so in most cases require obtaining quite an expensive license. For this instance, I can recommend you to use another solution of GridinSoft – Trojan Killer Portable. It has a 14-day cost-free trial mode that offers the exclusive features of the paid version 6. This term will be 100% enough to wipe malware out.
How To Decrypt .mzqw Files?
Restore solution for big “.mzqw files“
Try removing .mzqw extension on opening a few BIG files. Either the Mzqw infection read and did not encrypt the file, or it bugged and did not add the filemarker. If your files are huge (2GB+), the latter is most likely. Please, let me know in the comments if that will work for you.
As a result of the changes made by the criminals, STOPDecrypter is no longer supported. It has been removed and replaced with the Emsisoft Decryptor for STOP Djvu Ransomware developed by Emsisoft and Michael Gillespie.
You can download free decryption tool here: Decryptor for STOP Djvu.
Download and run the 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:
As soon as you accept the license terms, the main decryptor user interface comes up:
Select folders for decryption.
Based on the default settings, the decryptor will automatically populate the available locations in order to decrypt the currently available drives (the connected ones), including the network drives. Extra (optional) locations can be selected with the help of the “Add” button.
Decryptors normally suggest several options considering the specific malware family. The current options are presented in the Options tab and can be activated or deactivated there. You may locate a detailed list of the currently active Options below.
Click on the “Decrypt” button.
As soon as yo add all the desired locations for decryption to the list, click on the “Decrypt” button 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:
The decryptor will notify you as soon as the decryption procedure is completed. If you need the report for your personal log, you can save it by choosing the “Save log” button. Note that it is also possible to copy it directly to your clipboard and 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 mzqw files:
✓ Error: Unable to decrypt file with ID: [your ID]
✓ No key for New Variant online ID: [your ID]
Notice: this ID appears to be an online ID. Decryption is impossible
✓ Result: No key for new variant offline ID: [example ID]
This ID appears to be an offline ID. Decryption may be possible 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
How to Restore .mzqw Files?
In some cases, Mzqw ransomware is not doom for your files…
Mzqw ransomware encryption mechanism feature is next: it encrypts every file byte-by-byte, then saves a file copy, deleting (and not overriding!) the original file. Hence, the information on the file location on the physical disk is lost, but the original file is not deleted from the physical disk. The cell, or the sector where this file was stored, can still contain this file, but the file system does not list it and can be overwritten by data loaded to this disk after the deletion. Hence, it is possible to recover your files using special software.
Anyway, after realizing it was an online algorithm, it was 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.
I noticed the readme.txt ransom note in every folder when I started going through the folders. I opened some of the folders and found that all files not in a subfolder within that folder had been encrypted. However, I found a flaw and a 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 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 transferred some files from my backup.
Hopefully, this can help some other people in my situation.Jamie Newland
Recovering your files with PhotoRec
PhotoRec is an open-source program which is originally created for file recovery from damaged disks or for file recovery in case they are deleted. However, as time has gone by, this program got the ability to recover the files of 400 different extensions. Hence, it can be used for data recovery after the ransomware attack
At first, you need to download this app. It is 100% free, but the developer states there is no guarantee that your files will be recovered. PhotoRec is distributed in a pack with other utilities of the same developer – TestDisk. The downloaded archive will have a TestDisk name but don’t worry. PhotoRec files are right inside.
To open PhotoRec, you need to find and open “qphotorec_win.exe” file. No installation is required – this program has all the files it needs inside of the archive. Hence, you can fit it on your USB drive and try to help your friend/parents/anyone who was attacked by DJVU/STOP ransomware.
After the launch, you will see the screen showing you the full list of your disk spaces. However, this information is likely useless because the required menu is slightly higher. Click this bar, then choose the disk which was attacked by ransomware.
After choosing the disk, you must choose the destination folder for the recovered files. This menu is located at the lower part of the PhotoRec window. The best decision is to export them on a USB drive or any other removable disk.
Then, you need to specify the file formats. This option is located at the bottom, too. As mentioned, PhotoRec can recover files in about 400 different formats.
Finally, you can start file recovery by pressing the “Search” button. You will see the screen where the results of the scan and recovery are shown.
Mzqw files recovery guide
Frequently Asked Questions
No way. These files are modified by ransomware. The contents of .mzqw files are not available until they are decrypted.
If your data remaining in the .mzqw files is very valuable, you most likely made a backup copy.
If not, then you can try to restore them through the system function – Restore Point.
All other methods will require patience.
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 encrypts your files is most likely still active and periodically runs a test for the ability to encrypt even more files. Also, these viruses often install keyloggers and backdoors for further malicious actions (for example, theft of passwords and credit cards).
In this situation, you need to prepare the memory stick with a pre-installed Trojan Killer.
Have patience. You are infected with the new STOP/DJVU ransomware version, and decryption keys have not yet been released. Follow the news on our website.
We will keep you posted when new Mzqw keys or new decryption programs appear.
The Mzqw 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 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.
My favorite video tutorial is How to use GridinSoft Anti-Malware and Emsisoft Decryptor to fix ransomware infections.
If the guide doesn’t help you to remove Mzqw virus, 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 article to help people like you. You can use the buttons below to share this on your favorite social media Facebook, Twitter, or Reddit.Brendan Smith
MZQW Ransomware — How To Restore & Decrypt Files?
Name: MZQW Virus
Description: MZQW Virus is a STOP/DJVU family of ransomware-type infections. This virus encrypts your files, video, photos, and documents that can be tracked by a specific MZQW extension. So, you can't use them after that MZQW ransomware asks victims for a ransom fee ($490 - $980) in Bitcoin.
Operating System: Windows
Application Category: Virus
User Review( votes)
- My files are encrypted by ransomware. What should I do now?
- About DJVU (STOP) Ransomware.
- Windows passwords vulnerability (Mimikatz HackTool): https://howtofix.guide/mimikatz-hacktool/
- GridinSoft Anti-Malware Review from HowToFix site: https://howtofix.guide/gridinsoft-anti-malware/
- More information about GridinSoft products: https://gridinsoft.com/products
- Trojan Killer Review: https://howtofix.guide/trojan-killer/