UAZQ (.UAZQ) Ransomware Virus Removal & File Decryption

Written by Brendan Smith

What Is the Uazq Virus? The Uazq virus is a type of ransomware from the STOP (DJVU) family that encrypts files on a computer, making them inaccessible. It specifically targets a variety of file types by appending a “.uazq” extension, rendering the files unusable without a decryption key.

How Does It Operate?

Upon infecting a system, Uazq demands a ransom in Bitcoin for file decryption. A “_readme.txt” guide on desktops and within folders instructs victims on payment, though paying does not guarantee recovery.

📌 Important Reminder!

Paying the ransom carries risks, as attackers may not deliver the decryption key. Focusing on prevention and outlined recovery methods is advised.

The Uazq virus uses the Salsa20 encryption algorithm, complicating decryption efforts without attacker cooperation. However, if Uazq fails to connect to its server before encryption, it resorts to a standard offline key, offering a potential decryption avenue.

Recovery and Prevention: Starting with a comprehensive antivirus scan is crucial for recovery. While not all files may be recoverable, our guide outlines several potential methods to regain access to encrypted files.

Uazq bears similarities to other ransomware variants like Vook and Looy, highlighting a trend in ransomware attacks. Below, an image demonstrates the appearance of encrypted files, marked by the “.uazq” extension.

Uazq Virus - encrypted uazq files

Encrypted Files by STOP/DJVU Ransomware

Name Uazq Virus
Ransomware family1 DJVU/STOP2 ransomware
Extension .uazq
Ransomware note _readme.txt
Ransom From $499 to $999 (in Bitcoins)
Contact [email protected], [email protected]
Detection MSIL/TrojanDownloader.Agent.PYG, Trojan:MSIL/AgentTesla.MBCS!MTB
Symptoms
  • Encrypted most of your files (photos, videos, documents) and added a particular “.uazq” extension;
  • Can delete Volume Shadow copies to make victim’s attempts to restore data impossible;
  • Adds a list of domains to the HOSTS file to block access to certain security-related sites;
  • Installs password-stealing Trojan on the system, like Vidar Stealer or RedLine Stealer;
  • Manages to install a SmokeLoader backdoor;
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This message asking for payment is for restoring files via decryption key:

_readme.txt (STOP/DJVU Ransomware)

_readme.txt (STOP/DJVU Ransomware) – The terrifying notification requesting users to pay off the ransom to decrypt the encrypted data contains these exasperating admonitions.

Uazq ransomware arrives as a set of procedures that are used to carry out certain tasks on a victim’s computer. One of the initial processes being launched is winupdate.exe, a sneaky process that shows a fraudulent Windows update prompt 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 ciphering them. Next, the ransomware removes Volume Shadow Copies from the system using the following CMD command:

vssadmin.exe Delete Shadows /All /Quiet

Once removed, it becomes impossible to retrieve the previous computer state using System Restore Points. The concern is, that ransomware operators are eliminating any built-in Windows approaches that could assist the victim to restore files for free. In addition, the crooks modify the Windows HOSTS file by including a list of domains to it and redirecting them to the localhost IP. As a result, the victim will encounter a DNS_PROBE_FINISHED_NXDOMAIN error when trying to open one of the blocked websites.

We’ve observed that ransomware tries to restrict websites that publish various how-to guides for computer users. It is evident that by limiting specific domains, the crooks are attempting to prevent the victim from connecting to relevant and helpful ransomware-attack-related information online. The virus also stores two .txt files on the victim’s computer that provide attack-related information – the public key of this victim and personal ID. These two files are named bowsakkdestx.txt and PersonalID.txt.

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

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 possesses a huge 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, once your data is encrypted with an online decryption key, the possibility of getting your files back is quite low. The thing is, this key is unique for each victim, and finding a suitable one will take too much time.

Retrieving the online key in another way is also merely impossible. It is stored on a server owned by the hackers who spread the Uazq infection. For receiving decrypting code the payment should be $999. To obtain 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 pictures, 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.
Do not ask assistants from youtube and recovery data sites for help in recovering your data.
They can use your free decryption quota and scam you.
Our contact is emails in this text document only.
You can get and look video overview decrypt tool:
https://wetransfer.com/downloads/df01994dd8d37c2c33469922f8e7155a20240402134014/fd95b0
Price of private key and decrypt software is $999.
Discount 50% available if you contact us first 72 hours, that's price for you is $499.
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 ID:
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

How To Remove STOP/Djvu Ransomware?

Remove Uazq 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 Uazq 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 Uazq 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 Uazq 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 Uazq 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 “Uazq 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 Uazq Virus Virus

Step 4: Remove Found Threats:

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

Searching Uazq 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 Uazq 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 .uazq Files?

How to restore big files?

Try deleting . uazq extension on a few big files and opening them. This malware has issues with large file encryption. Either the virus accessed 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 the comments if that will work for you.

The newest extensions were released around the end of August 2019 after the criminals made changes.

As an outcome of the changes 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 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:

    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 reachable directories to unlock the currently reachable drives (the connected ones), including the network drives. You can choose other locations with the “Add” button.

    Decryptors generally propose several options depending on the specific malware family. The existing possible options are presented in the Options tab and can be turned on or deactivated there. You may find 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 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:

    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 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 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 a file with ID: [your ID]

There is no corresponding decryption key in the Emsisoft decryptor’s database.

✓ No key for New Variant online ID: [your ID]

Notice: this ID appears to be an online ID, decryption is impossible

Your original files were encrypted with an online key. So no one else has the same encryption/decryption key pair. Recovery of files without paying the criminals 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.

Malware used an offline key, but files could not be restored (the offline decryption key isn’t available yet). Nonetheless, receiving this message is good news for you, because 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 issue. Our first recommendation is to reset your HOSTS file back to default.

How to Restore .uazq Files?

In some cases ransomware is not doom for your files…

The Uazq ransomware encryption algorithm is next: it encrypts every file byte-by-byte, then saves a duplicate, erasing (not overriding!) the initial file. Thus, the information on the file placement on the physical disk is lost, but the original file is not removed from the drive. The cell, or the sector where this file was kept, 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 drive after the deletion. Hence, it is possible to retrieve your files using special software.

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

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.

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 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 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 Uazq files (true for all STOP/DJVU variants):

  • I have seen Stop/Djvu variants fail to encrypt deeper nested folders, so you can check that. You may find those are not encrypted.
  • This ransomware saves encrypted data to a new file and 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 non-encrypted part may be recoverable.
  • Joep

    Recovering your files with PhotoRec

    PhotoRec is a free program, which is created for file recovery from damaged disks, or data recovery in case they are unintentionally deleted. However, as time has gone by, this program adopted the ability to restore the files of 400 different file types. Hence, it can be used for data recovery after the Uazq attack.

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

    To launch PhotoRec, find and open “qphotorec_win.exe” file. No setup is required – this program has all the files it needs 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 Uazq ransomware.

    PhotoRec file in the folder for restore Uazq files

    Upon the start, you will witness the screen showing you the complete list of your disks. However, this information is probably useless, because the required menu is placed a bit higher. Click this bar, then choose the disk which was attacked by ransomware.

    Choose the disc in PhotoRec

    After opting for the disk, you need to choose the destination folder for the retrieved files. This menu is located at the lower part of the PhotoRec window. The best selection is to export them on a USB drive or any other type of removable disk.

    Choosing the destination folder of recovery Uazq files

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

    Choose the file format

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

    Recovery process

    Uazq files recovery Video Guide.


    If the guide doesn’t help you to remove the 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.

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    References

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

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    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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