XZZX ransomware removal instructions
What is XZZX?
XZZX is a new variant of high-risk ransomware called CryptoMix. This malware was first discovered by computer security researcher, Lawrence Abrams. Immediately after infiltration, XZZX encrypts stored data using AES and RSA encryption algorithms. During encryption, XZZX renames files using the "[32_random_digits_and_letters].XZZX" pattern. For instance, "sample.jpg" is renamed to a filename such as "2333F86C00C22D4CC955649603FBD1BC.XZZX". From this point, it becomes impossible to use and distinguish files. After successfully encrypting data, XZZX places a "_HELP_INSTRUCTION.TXT" file in each existing folder.
The new text file contains a simple message informing victims of the encryption and encouraging them to contact XZZX's developers via one of the email addresses provided. As mentioned above, XZZX employs AES and RSA encryption algorithms. AES is a symmetric encryption algorithm and is used to encrypt data. This algorithm generates a single encryption/decryption key uniquely for each victim. RSA is an asymmetric cryptography algorithm, which generates two keys (public [encryption] and private [decryption]). Criminals employ one of 11 pre-generated public keys to encrypt the key generated by the AES algorithm. Thus, files are locked with double encryption. After contacting cyber criminals, users are encouraged to pay a ransom to receive the key. The cost of XZZX encryption is currently unknown, however, its previous variant (CryptoMix) demanded 5 Bitcoins (currently equivalent to ~$33000). Note that, at the time of CryptoMix's release, 5 Bitcoins were equivalent to ~$2240. Clearly, the value of this cryptocurrency has risen significantly, however, the cost is still high, since the ransom usually fluctuates between the equivalent of $500 and $1500. In any case, never trust cyber criminals, since these people are more likely to ignore victims after payments are submitted. Therefore, even if you decide to pay, there is no guarantee that your files will ever be restored - you will probably be scammed. We strongly advise you to ignore all requests to contact these people or pay any ransom. Unfortunately, there are no tools capable of cracking AES/RSA cryptographies and restoring files encrypted by XZZX. Therefore, you can only restore files/system from a backup.
Screenshot of a message encouraging users to contact cyber criminals to decrypt their compromised data:
There are dozens of ransomware-type viruses similar to XZZX. For example, Cyber Police, jCandy, SIGMA, Relock, and many others. Although these viruses are developed by different cyber criminals, they have few differences. All encrypt data and make ransom demands. The only major differences are size of ransom and type of encryption algorithm used. Unfortunately, research shows that most of these viruses employ algorithms that generate unique decryption keys. Therefore, unless the malware is still in development or has certain bugs/flaws (e.g., the key is hard-coded, stored locally, etc.), restoring files manually (without help from developers) is impossible. For these reasons, ransomware-type viruses such as XZZX are one of the main reasons for keeping regular data backups. Bear in mind, however, that backup files must be stored on an external/unplugged hard drive or a remote server (e.g., Cloud), otherwise the backup files are also encrypted.
How did ransomware infect my computer?
How to protect yourself from ransomware infections?
To prevent this situation, be very cautious when browsing the Internet. Never open files attached to emails and received from suspicious/unrecognized addresses. In fact, these emails should be deleted without reading. Furthermore, download your software from official/certified sources and, if possible, using a direct download link. We strongly advise you to avoid using third party downloaders/installers, since they stealthily install dubious apps. Keep installed applications up-to-date and use a legitimate anti-virus/anti-spyware suite, however, it is important to note that all software should be updated via an implemented "Update" feature or at least a tool provided by the official developer. The key to computer safety is caution.
Message presented within XZZX ransomware text file ("_HELP_INSTRUCTION.TXT"):
Attention! All Your data was encrypted!
For specific informartion, please send us an email with Your ID number:
Please send email to all email addresses! We will help You as soon as possible!
Screenshot of files encrypted by XZZX ("[32_random_digits_and_letters].XZZX" filename pattern):
XZZX ransomware removal:
- What is XZZX?
- STEP 1. XZZX virus removal using safe mode with networking.
- STEP 2. XZZX ransomware removal using System Restore.
Windows XP and Windows 7 users: Start your computer in Safe Mode. Click Start, click Shut Down, click Restart, click OK. During your computer start process, press the F8 key on your keyboard multiple times until you see the Windows Advanced Option menu, and then select Safe Mode with Networking from the list.
Video showing how to start Windows 7 in "Safe Mode with Networking":
Windows 8 users: Start Windows 8 is Safe Mode with Networking - Go to Windows 8 Start Screen, type Advanced, in the search results select Settings. Click Advanced startup options, in the opened "General PC Settings" window, select Advanced startup. Click the "Restart now" button. Your computer will now restart into the "Advanced Startup options menu". Click the "Troubleshoot" button, and then click the "Advanced options" button. In the advanced option screen, click "Startup settings". Click the "Restart" button. Your PC will restart into the Startup Settings screen. Press F5 to boot in Safe Mode with Networking.
Video showing how to start Windows 8 in "Safe Mode with Networking":
Windows 10 users: Click the Windows logo and select the Power icon. In the opened menu click "Restart" while holding "Shift" button on your keyboard. In the "choose an option" window click on the "Troubleshoot", next select "Advanced options". In the advanced options menu select "Startup Settings" and click on the "Restart" button. In the following window you should click the "F5" button on your keyboard. This will restart your operating system in safe mode with networking.
Video showing how to start Windows 10 in "Safe Mode with Networking":
Log in to the account infected with the XZZX virus. Start your Internet browser and download a legitimate anti-spyware program. Update the anti-spyware software and start a full system scan. Remove all entries detected.
Download remover for XZZX virus
1) Download and install 2) Run system scan 3) Enjoy your clean computer!
If you cannot start your computer in Safe Mode with Networking, try performing a System Restore.
Video showing how to remove ransomware virus using "Safe Mode with Command Prompt" and "System Restore":
1. During your computer start process, press the F8 key on your keyboard multiple times until the Windows Advanced Options menu appears, and then select Safe Mode with Command Prompt from the list and press ENTER.
2. When Command Prompt mode loads, enter the following line: cd restore and press ENTER.
3. Next, type this line: rstrui.exe and press ENTER.
4. In the opened window, click "Next".
5. Select one of the available Restore Points and click "Next" (this will restore your computer system to an earlier time and date, prior to the XZZX ransomware virus infiltrating your PC).
6. In the opened window, click "Yes".
7. After restoring your computer to a previous date, download and scan your PC with recommended malware removal software to eliminate any remaining XZZX ransomware files.
To restore individual files encrypted by this ransomware, try using Windows Previous Versions feature. This method is only effective if the System Restore function was enabled on an infected operating system. Note that some variants of XZZX are known to remove Shadow Volume Copies of the files, so this method may not work on all computers.
To restore a file, right-click over it, go into Properties, and select the Previous Versions tab. If the relevant file has a Restore Point, select it and click the "Restore" button.
If you cannot start your computer in Safe Mode with Networking (or with Command Prompt), boot your computer using a rescue disk. Some variants of ransomware disable Safe Mode making its removal complicated. For this step, you require access to another computer.
To protect your computer from file encryption ransomware such as this, use reputable antivirus and anti-spyware programs. As an extra protection method, you can use programs called HitmanPro.Alert and EasySync CryptoMonitor, which artificially implant group policy objects into the registry to block rogue programs such as XZZX ransomware.
Note that the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update includes a "Controlled Folder Access" feature that blocks ransomware attempts to encrypt your files. By default, this feature automatically protects files stored in the Documents, Pictures, Videos, Music, Favorites as well as Desktop folders.
Windows 10 users should install this update to protect their data from ransomware attacks. Here is more information on how to get this update and add an additional protection layer from ransomware infections.
HitmanPro.Alert CryptoGuard - detects encryption of files and neutralises any attempts without need for user-intervention:
Malwarebytes Anti-Ransomware Beta uses advanced proactive technology that monitors ransomware activity and terminates it immediately - before reaching users' files:
- The best way to avoid damage from ransomware infections is to maintain regular up-to-date backups. More information on online backup solutions and data recovery software Here.
Other tools known to remove XZZX ransomware: