GPGQwerty ransomware removal instructions
What is GPGQwerty?
Discovered by malware security researcher, Michael Gillespie, GPGQwerty is a ransomware-type virus that, once infiltrated, encrypts most stored files. During encryption, GPGQwerty appends filenames with the ".[random_numbers].qwerty" extension. For example, "sample.jpg" is renamed to a filename such as "sample.jpg..qwerty". Following successful encryption, the virus places a text file ("README_DECRYPT.txt") on the desktop. This file contains a ransom-demand message.
The message is very simple - it states that files are encrypted and, to restore them, the victim must pay a ransom of .1 Bitcoin (currently equivalent to ~$1000). It is currently not known whether GPGQwerty uses symmetric or asymmetric cryptography - this information is not provided, however, it is certain that decryption requires a key generated uniquely for each victim. All keys are stored on a remote server controlled by cyber criminals (GPGQwerty's developers). In exchange for their key, each victim must pay a ransom. To do this, they must contact criminals via an email address provided. Victims are also permitted to attach one selected file (up to 1Mb), which can then be restored and returned to the victim as a 'guarantee' that decryption is possible. Despite this, cyber criminals can never be trusted. Research shows that these people often ignore victims, once payments are submitted. Paying typically gives no positive results and users are merely scammed. Therefore, you are strongly advised to ignore all requests to pay any ransoms. Never support cyber criminals' malicious businesses by paying. Unfortunately, there are no tools capable of restoring files compromised by GPGQwerty. Therefore, the only solution is to restore everything from a backup.
Screenshot of a message encouraging users to pay a ransom to decrypt their compromised data:
The Internet is full of ransomware-type viruses similar to GPGQwerty. The list of examples includes (but is not limited to) GANDCRAB2, BlackRuby, Jigsaw, Dharma, and Creeper. These viruses are developed by different cyber criminals, but all have identical behavior - they encrypt data and make ransom demands. Ransomware-type viruses commonly have just two major differences: 1) size of ransom, and; 2) type of cryptography used. Unfortunately, most use encryption algorithms (such as RSA, AES, and so on) that generate unique decryption keys. Therefore, ransomware presents a strong case for maintaining regular data backups, however, note that backup files must be stored on a remote server or unplugged external storage. If not, malware encrypts them as any regular file.
How did ransomware infect my computer?
How to protect yourself from ransomware infections?
The main reasons for computer infections are poor knowledge and careless behavior - the key to safety is caution. Therefore, pay close attention when browsing the Internet. Never open files received from suspicious/unrecognizable email addresses. Delete these emails immediately, without reading. You are also advised to avoid using third party download/installation tools, since they are likely to include dubious software. Download your applications from official sources only, using direct download links. Keep installed programs up-to-date and use a legitimate anti-virus software, however, remember that ransomware is distributed using fake updaters. Therefore, use implemented update features or tools provided by the official developer only.
Text presented in GPGQwerty ransomware text file ("README_DECRYPT.txt"):
Your computer is encrypted. All data will be lost if you do not pay 0.1 BTC to the specified BTC wallet 3M2QNTzEpEzFqzUtXZRt5FjG1YWfVDyh9k after payment you will receive the decryption code from this mail firstname.lastname@example.org, send your ID -. Before paying you can send us up to 1 files for free decryption. Please note: that files must NOT contain valuable information ant their size must be less than 1Mb
Screenshot of files encrypted by GPGQwerty (".[random_numbers].qwerty" extension):
GPGQwerty ransomware removal:
- What is GPGQwerty?
- STEP 1. GPGQwerty virus removal using safe mode with networking.
- STEP 2. GPGQwerty 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 GPGQwerty 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 recommended remover for
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 GPGQwerty 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 GPGQwerty 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 GPGQwerty 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 GPGQwerty ransomware.
Note that 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 GPGQwerty ransomware: