Gw3w ransomware removal instructions
What is Gw3w?
Gw3w is a high-risk ransomware-type virus designed to infiltrate the system and encrypt most files using the AES-256 encryption algorithm. This malware was first discovered by Michael Gillespie. During encryption, Gw3w appends the ".email@example.com" extension to each filename. For instance, "sample.jpg" is renamed to "firstname.lastname@example.org". Note that the previous Gw3w version used ".email@example.com" and ".firstname.lastname@example.org" extensions for encrypted files. Once encrypted, data immediately becomes unusable. Following successful encryption, Gw3w creates a text file ("ScrewYou.txt") and places a copy in every existing folder.
The new text file contains a message informing users of the encryption and encouraging them to contact Gw3w's developers. As mentioned above, Gw3w employs AES-256 - a symmetric encryption algorithm that uses an identical key (generated individually for each victim) to encrypt and decrypt data. All keys are stored on a remote server controlled by Gw3w's developers, thus giving them a significant advantage - after contacting these criminals, users are asked to pay a ransom in exchange for release of their keys. The cost is currently unconfirmed - all details are provided via email. Note that, in most cases, ransomware developers demand $500-1500 in Bitcoins, Monero or another cryptocurrency. Furthermore, these people cannot be trusted. Research shows that cyber criminals often ignore victims, once payments are submitted. Therefore, paying typically gives no positive result and users are scammed. Therefore, we strongly advise you never to contact these people or send any money to them. There are currently no tools capable of cracking Gw3w's encryption and restoring data free of charge. 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:
There are dozens of ransomware-type viruses that share similarities with Gw3w, including RedEye, Pedcont, BI_D, and LittleFinger. Note that although these viruses are developed by different cyber criminals, their behavior is identical - all encrypt data and make ransom demands. In most cases, size of ransom and type of encryption algorithm used are the only major differences. Unfortunately, these viruses typically use algorithms that generate unique decryption keys. Therefore, unless the virus is not fully developed or has certain bugs/flaws, restoring data without involvement of developers (contacting these people is not recommended) is impossible. Ransomware-type viruses present a strong case for maintaining regular data backups, however, it is very important to store them on a remote server or an unplugged storage device, otherwise backups are encrypted with regular files.
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 and downloading/installing software. Carefully analyze each email attachment. If the file seems irrelevant or has been received from a suspicious/unrecognizable email address, it should never be opened. These emails should be deleted immediately, without reading. Furthermore, download your software from official sources only (using direct download links) and never use any third party downloader/installer. These tools often include rogue apps, and thus should never be used. Follow identical rules when updating software. Installed applications should be kept up-to-date, however, apps should be updated via implemented functions or tools provided by the official developer only. Having a reputable anti-virus/anti-spyware suite installed and running is also essential.
Text presented in Gw3w ransomware text file ("ScrewYou.txt"):
Your files were encrypted with AES-256.
Ask how to restore your files by email email@example.com
Use only gmail.com, yahoo.com, protonmail.com.
Messages written from other mail services we can not get.
We always respond to messages. If there is no answer within 24 hours, then write us with another email service.
If within 24 hours you have not received a response, you need to follow the following instructions:
a) Download and install TOR browser: hxxps://www.torproject.org/download/download-easy.html.en
b) From the TOR browser, follow the link: torbox3uiot6wchz.onion
c) Register your e-mail (Sign Up)
d) Write us on e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
ATTENTION: e-mail (email@example.com) accepts emails, only with e-mail registered in the TOR browser at torbox3uiot6wchz.onion
Any actions on your part over encrypted files can damage them. Be sure to make backups!
In the message write us this ID: -
Screenshot of files encrypted by Gw3w ("firstname.lastname@example.org" extension):
Gw3w ransomware removal:
- What is Gw3w?
- STEP 1. Gw3w virus removal using safe mode with networking.
- STEP 2. Gw3w 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 Gw3w 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 Gw3w 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 Gw3w 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 Gw3w 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 Gw3w 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 Gw3w ransomware: