The Pouu virus, known as a ransomware infection, belongs to the STOP family. This malware family is known for malignant file encryption operations. Once the Pouu virus infects a computer, it targets various types of files, such as photos, videos, documents, and more. It alters the file structure and appends the “.pouu” extension to each file, making them unusable without the decryption key.
What Is Pouu Virus?
🤔 Pouu virus belongs to ransomware that belongs to the DJVU/STOP ransomware family. Its primary purpose is to lock your files. Then, ransomware virus asks its victims for a ransom payment – ($490 – $980) in Bitcoin.
The Pouu virus is a malware type that encrypts your files and coerces you into paying for their restoration. This ransomware encrypts various file types. ciphered files are identifiable by a distinct “.pouu” extension. As a result, the affected files become inaccessible and unusable. Subsequently, the ransomware demands a file decryption payment in Bitcoin from its victims, ranging from $490 to $980. Typically, a ransom text file is named as “_readme.txt“.
Pouu Ransomware operates by Salsa20 encryption algorithms to scramble the contents of the targeted files. Since Pouu virus uses such a robust ciphering method, it becomes quite hard, if not impossible, to pick the decryption key without the assistance of the attackers.
Once the files are encrypted, the Pouu virus displays a ransom note to the victim, demanding a ransom payment for the decryption key. The ransom note provides instructions on how to pay off the bill and often includes threats of data loss or ransom amounts surge if the demands are not met within a specified timeframe.
I have made a comprehensive list of the solutions, advice, and practices to disable the Pouu ransomware and decrypt your files. In some cases, it may be feasible to restore your files, while sometimes, it may be impossible.
📌 Important Note!
It is essential to voice that paying off the ransom is not a guarantee of the successful recovery of your files. The scoundrels who stand behind the Pouu virus are known for their untrustworthiness. There were the cases where victims have paid the ransom, only to be denied by the cybercriminals with the decryption key provision.
Pouu uses a unique key for every victim, with one exception:
- If Pouu fails to establish a connection with its command and control server (C&C Server) before starting the encryption process, it it uses offline keys. This key is not unique and is the same for all users, which allows for the decryption of files encrypted by the ransomware.
The Pouu virus is highly similar to other DJVU ransomware samples such as Popn, Poaz, Wspn, and Wsaz. This virus encrypts a wide range of common file types and appends its distinct “.pouu” extension to all files. For instance, a file named “1.jpg” would be altered to “1.jpg.pouu” and “2.png” to “2.png.pouu“. Upon successful encryption, the virus creates a special text file named “_readme.txt” and places it in every folder containing the encrypted files.
The image below provides a visual representation of files with the “pouu” extension:
|Ransomware family1||DJVU/STOP2 ransomware|
|Ransom||From $490 to $980 (in Bitcoins)|
|Contact||[email protected], [email protected]|
|Detection||Trojan:MSIL/AgentTesla.SV!MTB Virus Removal, Trojan:Win32/AgentTesla.A!MTB Virus Removal, Phorpiex.Trojan.Bot.DDS Virus Removal|
To remove possible malware infections, scan your PC:
6-day free trial available.
This message asking payment is for restore files via decryption key:
Pouu ransomware arrives as a set of actions that are used to execute certain tasks on a victim’s computer. One of the initial processes being launched is winupdate.exe, a deceptive process that shows a fraudulent Windows update notification during the attack. Such a trick helps to convince the victim that a sudden PC slowdown is caused by a Windows update. But meanwhile, the ransomware runs another process (usually named by four random characters) which commences scanning the system for target files and encrypting them. Then the ransomware removes Volume Shadow Copies from the disk by the following CMD command:
vssadmin.exe Delete Shadows /All /Quiet
Once removed, it becomes nearly impossible to retrieve the previous computer state using System Restore Points. The problem is, ransomware operators are eliminating any built-in Windows approaches that could assist the victim to regain files for free. In addition, the crooks modify the Windows HOSTS file by including a list of domains to it and linking them to the localhost IP. As a result, the victim will face a DNS_PROBE_FINISHED_NXDOMAIN error when trying to access one of the listed websites.
We noticed that ransomware attempts to restrict websites that promote various how-to guides for computer users. It is evident that by restricting specific domains, the malefactors are trying to prevent the victim from reaching relevant and helpful ransomware-attack-related information online. Malware also saves two text files on the victim’s computer that offer details related to the attack – 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 doesn’t stop. Variants of STOP/DJVU are inclined to deploy Vidar password-stealing Trojan on compromised systems. This threat carries an large list of capabilities, including:
- Infiltrating the victim’s computer with malware and executing it to gain unauthorized access.
- Obtaining unauthorized access to login credentials of Steam, Telegram, and Skype.
- Manipulating and viewing files on the victim’s computer without their knowledge.
- Stealing cryptocurrency wallets from the victim’s system.
- Granting the hackers remote control over the victim’s computer for various malicious activities.
- Extracting sensitive information such as browser cookies, saved passwords, and browsing history.
The cryptography algorithm in STOP/Djvu ransomware is AES-256. So, if your data got encrypted with an online decryption key, the chances to get your files back without paying the ransom are quite low. Thing is, this key is unique for each victim, and picking it will take too much time.
Retrieving the online key in another way is also merely impossible. It is stored on a server controlled by the crooks who promote the Pouu infection. For receiving unlocking key the payment should be $980. To obtain the payment details, the victims should contact the fraudsters 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 the ransom!
Please, try to use the available backups, or Decrypter tool
The _readme.txt file also requests that the system user must get in touch with the hackers during 72 hours since the file encryption. If user contacts hackers within 72 hours, hackers grant a 50% off. Thus the ransom amount will be minimized down to $490. Yet, stay away from paying off the ransom! I highly recommend that you to avoid contacting these fraudsters and do not pay. One of the most real working solution to retrieve the lost data is just using the available backups, or using Decrypter tool from Emsisoft.
The peculiarity of all such viruses is the application a similar set of actions to generate the unique decryption key. Thus, unless the ransomware is still in development or has some hard-to-track encryption, 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 critical files.
Note that even if you do create such backups regularly, they ought to be located 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. Alternatively, you may rely to the help of online (cloud) information storage.
Needless to say, when you keep your backup on your regular device, it may be similarly ciphered as well as other data. 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.
Ransomware attack following a successful phishing attempt.
- Concealing the virus within seemingly legitimate apps, especially utilities provided as freeware or shareware.
- Spreading the virus through spam emails containing suspicious links that lead to the virus installer.
- Exploiting online free hosting resources to host and distribute the virus files discreetly.
- Obtaining pirated software from illegal peer-to-peer (P2P) resources, which may unknowingly contain malware.
Instances have been reported when the Pouu virus hiding as a legit procedure, for example, the messages insisting to install a browser update or a vastly needed codec for online media playback. This is commonly the way how some online frauds aim to force you into install the ransomware manually, by actually making you directly engage in this process.
Surely, the bogus update alert will not tell that you are going to actually embed the virus. This process will be concealed under some alert stating that you need to install an urgent security update or some questionable program whatsoever.
Certainly, the software cracks represent the harm too. Using P2P is illegal and may end up with the injection of serious malware, including the Pouu ransomware.
To sum up, what can you do to avoid the penetration of the ransomware into your computer? Even though there is no 100% assurance to prevent your PC from getting compromised, there are some tips I want to give you to shield the Pouu penetration. You must be vigilant while setting up free software today.
Make sure you always read what the installer offers aside from the main free program. Stay away from opening suspicious email attachments. Do not open files from the unknown recipients. Of course, your current anti-malware software must always be updated.
The malware does not states openly about itself. It will not appear in the list of your available programs. Instead, it will be masked under some malevolent process running regularly in the background, starting from the moment when you launch your computer.
How To Remove Ransomware?
Moreover, aside from the file encryption, the Djvu ransomware has also installed the Vidar Stealer on PC to snatch account credentials, crypto wallets, desktop files, and more.
Remove Pouu 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 Pouu Virus as well as other malware hiding on your computer.
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.
3.Follow the installation setup wizard's instructions diligently.
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.
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.
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.
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 “Pouu 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.
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.
2. Insert a USB flash drive into this computer.
3. Install Trojan Killer to the "removable drive" following the on-screen instructions.
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.
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.
Step 4: Remove Found Threats:
12. After the scan is complete, Trojan Killer will display a list of detected threats.
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.
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 Pouu 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.
How To Decrypt .pouu Files?
How to restore big files?
Try removing .pouu extension on a few big files and opening them. This malware has issues with large files encryption. Either the virus read and did not lock the file, or it bugged and did not add the filemarker. If your files are very large (2GB+), the latter is most likely. Please, let me know in comments if that will work for you.
As a result of the alterations 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.
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:
As soon as you accept the license terms, the main decryptor user interface comes up:
Select folders for decryption.
Based on the default configurations, the decryptor will automatically choose the available directories in order to decode the currently accessible drives (the connected ones), including the network drives. Additional (optional) locations can be selected with the assistance of the “Add” button.
Decryptors typically propose several options depending on the specific malware family. The present possible options are displayed in the Options tab and can be enabled or disabled there. You may locate a detailed list of the currently active Options below.
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:
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]
✓ 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 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 .pouu Files?
In some case ransomware is not doom for your files…
The Pouu ransomware encryption mechanism algoritm is next: it ciphers every file byte-by-byte, then saves a file copy, erasing (not overriding!) the original file. Thus, the data of the file placement on the disk drive 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 hold this file, but it is not present in the file system and can be rewritten by data that has been 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 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
Recovering .pouu files with PhotoRec
PhotoRec is an open-source program, which is initially created for file retrieval from damaged disks, or for data recovery in case if they are unintentionally deleted. However, with time flow, this program got the ability to restore the files of 400 different formats. Hence, it can be used for file restoration after the Pouu attack.
First, you need to download this app. It is 100% free, but the developer states that there is no guarantee that the files will be restored. PhotoRec is spread in a pack with other 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, you need to find and open “qphotorec_win.exe” file. No installation is required – this program has all the files it need within the archive, hence, you can fit it on your USB drive, and try to help your friends/parents/anyone who has been attacked by Pouu ransomware.
Upon the launch, you will encounter the screen showing you the full list of your disks. However, this details are likely unhelpful, because the required menu is placed a bit higher. Click this menu, then choose the disk which was attacked by ransomware.
After opting for the disk, you need to pick the destination folder for the reclaimed files. This menu is located at the lower part of the PhotoRec window. The best option is to export them on USB drive or any other type of removable disk.
Then, you need to designate the file formats. This option is located at the bottom, too. As it was mentioned, PhotoRec can recover the files of about 400 different formats.
Finally, you can initiate files recovery by pressing the “Search” button. You will see the screen where the results of the scan and recovery are shown.
Recovery of Encrypted Files
Frequently Asked Questions
No way. These files are encrypted by ransomware. The contents of encrypted files are not available until they are decrypted.
If your data remained in the .pouu files are very valuable, then most likely you 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 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.
In this situation, you need to prepare the memory stick with a pre-installed Trojan Killer.
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.
The Pouu 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
POUU Ransomware — How To Restore & Decrypt Files?
Name: POUU Virus
Description: POUU Virus belongs to STOP/DJVU ransomware family. This virus encrypts your files, video, photos, documents that can be tracked by a specific .pouu extension. So, you can't use them at all after that POUU ransomware asks victims for a ransom fee ($490 - $980) in Bitcoin.
Operating System: Windows
Application Category: Virus
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