WATCH Ransomware πŸ” (.WATCH File) β€” Removal Guide

Written by Brendan Smith
The Watch virus falls within the Dharma ransomware family. Harmful software of this type encrypts all user’s data on the computer (photos, documents, excel tables, audio files, videos, etc) and appends its own extension to every file, leaving the info.txt files in every directory with the encrypted files.
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When we talk about the intrusion of unfamiliar programs into your computer’s work, the proverb β€œForewarned is forearmed” describes the situation as accurately as possible. Gridinsoft Anti-Malware is exactly the tool that is always useful to have in your armory: fast, efficient, up-to-date. It is appropriate to use it as an emergency help at the slightest suspicion of infection.
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Watch virus: what is known so far?

☝️ A scientifically accurate denomination for the Watch would be “a Dharma family ransomware-type infection”.

The pattern of renaming is the following: id-xxxxx.[contact_email].watch. After the encryption, a file named, for instance, “report.docx” will be changed to “report.docx.id-9ECFA84E.[watch@msgden.net].watch”.

In each directory containing the encrypted files, a info.txt file will be found. It is a ransom money note. It contains information about the ways of paying the ransom and some other remarks. The ransom note usually contains a description of how to buy the decryption tool from the ransomware developers. You can obtain this decryptor after contacting watch@msgden.net through email. That is it.

Watch abstract:
NameWatch Virus
Ransomware family1Dharma ransomware
Extension.watch
Ransomware noteinfo.txt
Contactwatch@msgden.net
Detection2Ransom:Win32/StopCrypt.PCG!MTB, Ransom:Win32/StopCrypt.SLO!MTB, Backdoor:Win32/Turla.W!dha
SymptomsYour files (photos, videos, documents) get a .watch extension and you can’t open them.
Fix ToolSee If Your System Has Been Affected by Watch virus

The info.txt document coming in package with the Watch ransomware provides the following discouraging information:

all your data has been locked us
You want to return?
write email watch@msgden.net or watch@mykolab.ch

In the picture below, you can see what a directory with files encrypted by the Watch looks like. Each filename has the “.watch” extension appended to it.

Watch Virus - encrypted .watch files

An example of encrypted .watch files.

How did my machine catch Watch ransomware?

There is a huge number of possible ways of ransomware infiltration.

Nowadays, there are three most exploited ways for malefactors to have the Watch virus planted in your system. These are email spam, Trojan infiltration and peer-to-peer file transfer.

If you open your mailbox and see emails that look like familiar notifications from utility services providers, delivery agencies like FedEx, web-access providers, and whatnot, but whose addresser is unknown to you, be wary of opening those letters. They are most likely to have a viral item enclosed in them. Thus it is even riskier to open any attachments that come with letters like these.

Another thing the hackers might try is a Trojan virus model3. A Trojan is a program that infiltrates into your machine pretending to be something else. For instance, you download an installer for some program you want or an update for some software. But what is unpacked turns out to be a harmful program that encodes your data. As the update file can have any title and any icon, you’d better be sure that you can trust the resource of the stuff you’re downloading. The optimal thing is to trust the software companies’ official websites.

As for the peer-to-peer networks like BitTorrent or eMule, the threat is that they are even more trust-based than the rest of the Web. You can never know what you download until you get it. Our suggestion is that you use trustworthy websites. Also, it is reasonable to scan the folder containing the downloaded items with the antivirus as soon as the downloading is finished.

How to remove the Watch virus?

It is important to inform you that besides encrypting your data, the Watch virus will probably install the Azorult Spyware on your PC to get access to credentials to various accounts (including cryptocurrency wallets). That program can extract your credentials from your browser’s auto-filling data.

Sometimes racketeers would unblock several of your files so you know that they do have the decryption program. As Watch virus is a relatively new ransomware, anti-malware designers have not yet found a method to reverse its work. Nevertheless, the decoding instruments are frequently updated, so the effective countermeasure may soon arrive.

Of course, if the evildoers succeed in encrypting victim’s essential files, the hopeless person will most likely comply with their demands. Nevertheless, paying to racketeers gives no guarantee that you’re getting your blocked information back. It is still risky. After getting the ransom, the racketeers may deliver a wrong decryption key to the injured party. There were reports of ransomware developers just vanishing after getting the ransom without even bothering to reply.

The best countermeasure to ransomware is to have aan OS restore point or the copies of your critical files in the cloud drive or at least on an external disk. Of course, that might be insufficient. Your most crucial thing could be that file you were working on when it all went down. Nevertheless, it is something. It is also reasonable to scan your drives with the anti-malware utility after the system restoration.

There are other ransomware products, besides Watch, that work similarly. For instance, Oori, Ooxa, Ggew, and some others. The two main differences between them and the Watch are the ransom amount and the method of encryption. The rest is almost identical: documents become inaccessible, their extensions altered, ransom notes appear in each directory containing encrypted files.

Some lucky users were able to decrypt the arrested files with the aid of the free tools provided by anti-malware specialists. Sometimes the criminals mistakenly send the decryption key to the victims in the ransom readme. Such an epic fail allows the injured part to restore the files. But obviously, one should never rely on such a chance. Remember, ransomware is a criminals’ instrument to lay their hands on the money of their victims.

How to avoid ransomware infection?

Watch ransomware doesn’t have a superpower, neither does any similar malware.

You can armour your computer from ransomware infiltration in three easy steps:

  • Never open any emails from unknown mailers with unknown addresses, or with content that has likely no connection to something you are expecting (how can you win in a lottery without even taking part in it?). In case the email subject is more or less something you are waiting for, check all elements of the dubious letter with caution. A fake letter will surely contain mistakes.
  • Never use cracked or untrusted programs. Trojan viruses are often shared as a part of cracked software, most likely under the guise of β€œpatch” to prevent the license check. But untrusted programs are difficult to distinguish from trustworthy ones, as trojans may also have the functionality you need. You can try to find information on this software product on the anti-malware message boards, but the best solution is not to use such programs at all.
  • And finally, to be sure about the safety of the files you downloaded, use GridinSoft Anti-Malware. This software will be a perfect armor for your personal computer.
Reasons why I would recommend GridinSoft4

There is no better way to recognize, remove and prevent ransomware than to use an 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 PC.

Run Setup.exe

An User Account Control asking you about to allow GridinSoft Anti-Malware to make changes to your device. So, you should click β€œYes” to continue with the installation.

GridinSoft Anti-Malware Setup

Press “Install” button.

GridinSoft Anti-Malware Install

Once installed, Anti-Malware will automatically run.

GridinSoft Anti-Malware Splash-Screen

Wait for the Anti-Malware scan to complete.

GridinSoft Anti-Malware will automatically start scanning your system for Watch infections and other malicious programs. This process can take a 20-30 minutes, so I suggest you periodically check on the status of the scan process.

GridinSoft Anti-Malware Scanning

Click on “Clean Now”.

When the scan has completed, you will see the list of infections that GridinSoft Anti-Malware has detected. To remove them click on the β€œClean Now” button in right corner.

GridinSoft Anti-Malware Scan Result

FAQ

πŸ€” Can I somehow access “.watch” files?

Unfortunately, no. You need to decipher the “.watch” files first. Then you will be able to open them.

πŸ€” The encrypted files are very important to me. How can I decrypt them quickly?

It’s good if you have fΠ°r-sightedly saved copies of these important files elsewhere. Otherwise, you might try to employ System Restore. The only question is whether you have saved any Restore Points that would be helpful now. All other solutions require time.

πŸ€” You have advised using GridinSoft Anti-Malware to get rid of the Watch virus. Does it mean that all my files, currently encrypted, will be removed too?

Absolutely not! The encrypted files are not harmful, so they won’t be deleted.

GridinSoft Anti-Malware will delete the viruses from your computer. The ransomware that has infected your system is must be still functional and running scans from time to time to arrest any new files you might create on your computer after the initial attack. As it has been said above, the Watch ransomware comes with the company. It installs backdoors and keyloggers that can steal your account credentials and provide malefactors with easy access to your PC in the future.

πŸ€” What to do if the Watch virus has blocked my computer and I can’t get the activation key.

If that happened, you need to prepare a memory stick with a pre-installed Trojan Killer. Use Safe Mode to execute the procedure. The point is that the ransomware starts automatically as the system boots and encrypts any new files created or imported into your system. To block this function – use Safe Mode, which allows only the essential programs to run automatically. Consider reading our manual on booting Windows in Safe Mode.

πŸ€” And what should I do now?

Some of the blocked data can be located elsewhere.

  • If you exchanged your critical files through email, you could still download them from your online mailbox.
  • You may have shared photographs or videos with your friends or family members. Just ask them to send those pictures back to you.
  • If you have initially downloaded any of your files from the Internet, you can try downloading them again.
  • Your messengers, social networks pages, and cloud drives might have all those files too.
  • Maybe you still have the needed files on your old computer, a notebook, mobile, external storage, etc.

USEFUL TIP: You can employ data recovery utilities6 to retrieve your lost information since ransomware blocks the copies of your files, deleting the authentic ones. In the video below, you can learn how to recover your files with PhotoRec, but remember: you won’t be able to do it before you remove the virus with an antivirus program.

Also, you can contact the following governmental fraud and scam sites to report this attack:

To report the attack, you can contact local executive boards. For instance, if you live in USA, you can have a talk with FBI Local field office, IC3 or Secret Service.

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Brendan Smith
How to Remove WATCH Ransomware & Recover PC

Name: WATCH Virus

Description: WATCH Virus is a ransomware-type infections. This virus encrypts important personal files (video, photos, documents). The encrypted files can be tracked by a specific .watch extension. So, you can't use them at all.

Operating System: Windows

Application Category: Virus

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References

  1. My files are encrypted by ransomware, what should I do now?
  2. Encyclopedia of threats.
  3. You can read more on Trojans, their use and types in the Trojan-dedicated section of GridinSoft official website.
  4. GridinSoft Anti-Malware Review from HowToFix site: https://howtofix.guide/gridinsoft-anti-malware/
  5. More information about GridinSoft products: https://gridinsoft.com/products
  6. Here’s the list of the top 10 file recovery tools of 2021.

About the author

Brendan Smith

Journalist, researcher, web content developer, grant proposal editor. Efficient and proficient on multiple platforms and in diverse media. Computer technology and security are my specialties.

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