ZHONG Virus Ransomware 🔐 .ZHONG File Decrypt & Removal

Written by Brendan Smith
The Zhong virus belongs with the ransomware type of malicious agent. Harmful software of this type encrypts all the data on your PC (images, documents, excel sheets, music, videos, etc) and appends its specific extension to every file, leaving the Restore.txt text files in each folder containing encrypted files.
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What is Zhong virus?

☝️ A strictly accurate description for the Zhong is “a ransomware malicious agent”.

Zhong adds its extra .zhong extension to every file’s name. For instance, a file named “photo.jpg” will be altered to “photo.jpg.zhong”. Likewise, the Excel sheet with the name “table.xlsx” will end up as “table.xlsx.zhong”, and so forth.

In each folder containing the encrypted files, a Restore.txt text file will be created. It is a ransom money memo. It contains information on the ways of contacting the racketeers and some other information. The ransom note most probably contains instructions on how to buy the decryption tool from the racketeers. You can get this decrypting software after contacting [email protected], [email protected] via email. That is pretty much the scheme of the malefaction.

Zhong summary:
Name Zhong Virus
Extension .zhong
Ransomware note Restore.txt
Contact [email protected], [email protected]
Detection Win32/DelShad.B, Ransom:MSIL/HiddenTear.PB!MTB, Trojan.Email.FakeDoc
Symptoms Your files (photos, videos, documents) get a .zhong extension and you can’t open them.
Fix Tool See If Your System Has Been Affected by Zhong virus

The Restore.txt file coming in package with the Zhong ransomware states the following:

YOUR FILES ARE ENCRYPTED!!


Hello!
Your files have been encryptedand leaked by us!
You have 48 hours to contact us,
otherwise, your data will be merged into the public domain.
Contact us by mail:
[email protected]
Spare Mail:
[email protected] 

In the image below, you can see what a directory with files encrypted by the Zhong looks like. Each filename has the “.zhong” extension added to it.

Zhong Virus - encrypted .zhong files

That is how encrypted “.zhong” files look.

How did my machine catch Zhong ransomware?

There are many possible ways of ransomware infiltration.

Nowadays, there are three most exploited ways for hackers to have the Zhong virus settled in your digital environment. These are email spam, Trojan infiltration and peer file transfer.

If you access your mailbox and see emails that look just like notifications from utility services companies, postal agencies like FedEx, Internet providers, and whatnot, but whose mailer is unknown to you, be wary of opening those letters. They are very likely to have a malicious file enclosed in them. So it is even more dangerous to open any attachments that come with letters like these.

Another thing the hackers might try is a Trojan file model. A Trojan is a program that gets into your machine pretending to be something legal. Imagine, you download an installer for some program you want or an update for some service. However, what is unboxed turns out to be a harmful agent that corrupts your data. As the installation package 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 use 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 guess what you download until you get it. Our suggestion is that you use trustworthy websites. Also, it is a good idea to scan the directory containing the downloaded items with the anti-malware utility as soon as the downloading is complete.

How do I get rid of the Zhong virus?

It is important to inform you that besides encrypting your data, the Zhong virus will most likely install Vidar Stealer on your machine to seize your credentials to different accounts (including cryptocurrency wallets). That program can extract your logins and passwords from your browser’s auto-filling data.

Often criminals would decrypt several of your files to prove that they indeed have the decryption program. As Zhong virus is a relatively new ransomware, security software developers have not yet found a way to reverse its work. However, the decoding instruments are constantly upgraded, so the solution may soon arrive.

Understandably, if the malefactors do the job of encoding someone’s critical data, the desperate person will most likely comply with their demands. Nevertheless, paying to racketeers does not necessarily mean that you’re getting your blocked information back. It is still dangerous. After getting the money, the racketeers may deliver a wrong decryption key to the injured party. There were reports about malefactors simply disappearing after getting the money without even bothering to reply.

The optimal countermeasure to ransomware is to have aan OS restore point or the copies of your essential files in the cloud drive or at least on an external drive. Of course, that might be insufficient. Your most crucial thing could be that file you were working on when it all started. Nevertheless, it is something. It is also wise to scan your PC for viruses with the anti-malware utility after the system is rolled back.

Zhong is not the only ransomware of its kind, since there are other specimens of ransomware out there that act in the same manner. Examples of those are Qore, Xaro, Xatz, and some others. The two main differences between them and the Zhong are the ransom amount and the method of encryption. The rest is the same: documents become encrypted, their extensions changed, ransom notes emerge in each folder containing encrypted files.

Some lucky users were able to decode the arrested files with the aid of the free software provided by anti-ransomware experts. Sometimes the criminals mistakenly send the decoding code to the victims in the ransom readme. Such an extraordinary fail allows the user to restore the files. But naturally, one should never expect such a chance. Make no mistake, ransomware is a criminals’ instrument to pull the money out of their victims.

How сan I avoid ransomware attack?

Zhong ransomware has no superpower, neither does any similar malware.

You can protect your computer from its injection within three easy steps:

  • Never open any letters from unknown mailboxes with unknown addresses, or with content that has nothing to do with something you are waiting for (how can you win in a lottery without participating in it?). If the email subject is more or less something you are waiting for, check all elements of the questionable letter carefully. A fake email will always contain a mistake.
  • Never use cracked or unknown software. Trojan viruses are often distributed as an element of cracked software, most likely under the guise of “patch” to prevent the license check. But dubious programs are difficult to tell from trustworthy ones, because trojans sometimes have the functionality you need. Try to find information about this program on the anti-malware message boards, but the optimal solution is not to use such programs at all.
  • And to be sure about the safety of the files you downloaded, scan them with GridinSoft Anti-Malware. This program will be a perfect armor for your personal computer.
Reasons why I would recommend GridinSoft1

There is no better way to recognize, remove and prevent ransomware than to use an anti-malware software from GridinSoft2.

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 “Yes” 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 PC for Zhong 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 “Clean Now” button in right corner.

GridinSoft Anti-Malware Scan Result

FAQ

🤔 How can I open “.zhong” files?Can I somehow access “.zhong” files?

There’s no way to do it, unless the files “.zhong” files are decrypted.

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

If the “.zhong” files contain some really important information, then you probably have them backed up. If not, there is still a function of System Restore but it needs a Restore Point to be previously saved. All other solutions require time.

🤔 If GridinSoft deletes the Zhong malware, will it also delete my files that were encrypted?

No way! Unlike the ransomware program itself, the encrypted files do not jeopardize your system.

GridinSoft Anti-Malware will remove the infections from your computer. The virus that has infected your PC is probably still functional and it scans your system every so often to encrypt any new files you might create on your PC after the initial attack. As it has been said above, the Zhong ransomware comes with the company. It installs backdoors and keyloggers that can take your account passwords by trespass and provide criminals with easy access to your computer after some time.

🤔 What to do if the Zhong virus has blocked my computer and I can’t get the activation code.

If that happened, you need to prepare a memory stick with a previously installed Trojan Killer. Use Safe Mode to do the cleaning. You see, the ransomware starts automatically as the system boots and encrypts any new files created or brought into your machine. To stop this process – use Safe Mode, which allows only the essential applications to run upon system start. Consider reading our manual on booting Windows in Safe Mode.

🤔 And what should I do now?

Many of the blocked files might still be at your disposal

  • If you sent or received your critical files by email, you could still download them from your online mail server.
  • You may have shared images or videos with your friends or relatives. Just ask them to post those images back to you.
  • If you have initially downloaded any of your files from the Internet, you can try to do it again.
  • Your messengers, social media pages, and cloud disks might have all those files as well.
  • It might be that you still have the needed files on your old computer, a notebook, phone, flash memory, etc.

USEFUL TIP: You can employ file recovery utilities3 to retrieve your lost information since ransomware encodes the copies of your files, removing the original ones. In the tutorial below, you can learn how to use PhotoRec for such a recovery, but remember: you won’t be able to do it before you remove the ransomware itself with an anti-malware program.

Also, you can contact the following official 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 ZHONG Ransomware & Recover PC

Name: ZHONG Virus

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

Operating System: Windows

Application Category: Virus

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References

  1. GridinSoft Anti-Malware Review from HowToFix site: https://howtofix.guide/gridinsoft-anti-malware/
  2. More information about GridinSoft products: https://gridinsoft.com/products
  3. Here’s the list of Top 10 Data Recovery Software Of 2023.

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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