Qwex Ransomware

Also Known As: Qwex virus
Distribution: Moderate
Damage level: Severe

Qwex ransomware removal instructions

What is Qwex?

Qwex is high-risk ransomware discovered by Jakub Kroustek. This virus is a new variant of another ransomware called Dharma. Once infiltrated, Qwex encrypts most stored files and appends filenames with the ".qwex" extension together with the cyber criminal's email address and victim's personal ID. For instance, "sample.jpg" might be renamed to something like "sample.jpg.id-1E857D00.[backdata@qq.com].qwex". As well as encrypting data, Qwex opens a pop-up window and creates a text file ("FILES ENCRYPTED.txt"), both containing ransom-demand messages.

The delivered messages essentially state that data is encrypted and can only be restored using a unique decryption key/tool. Unfortunately, this information is accurate. Although it is currently unknown whether Qwex uses symmetric or asymmetric cryptography, decryption requires a unique key generated individually for each victim. All keys are stored on a remote server controlled by Qwex's developers (cyber criminals). Thus, since restoring data without the key is impossible, cyber criminals are able to blackmail victims to pay a ransom to restore their files. The ransom amount is not specified and depends on how quickly victims contact the criminals via the email address provided. Note that ransomware developers typically demand $500-1500 in Bitcoins or another cryptocurrency. These people cannot be trusted. Research shows that they often ignore victims, once payments are submitted. Therefore, paying usually gives no positive result. We strongly advise you to ignore all requests to submit payments or even contact these people. Unfortunately, there are no tools capable of cracking Qwex 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:

Qwex decrypt instructions

There are hundreds of ransomware-type viruses all of which are virtually identical. LockerGoga, UNIT09, and JSWorm are just some examples from many. Although these viruses are developed by different cyber criminals, their behavior is virtually identical - all encrypt data and make ransom demands. In most cases, ransomware-type viruses have just two major differences: 1) size of ransom, and; 2) type of encryption algorithm used. Unfortunately, viruses such as Qwex often use algorithms such as RSA, AES, and others that generate unique decryption keys. Therefore, in most cases it is impossible to decrypt data without developers' involvement. The only possible scenario is ransomware not being fully developed or having certain bugs/flaws. To prevent data loss, maintain regular data backups and store them on remote servers or unplugged storage devices. Locally stored backups will probably be encrypted together with regular data.

How did ransomware infect my computer?

It is currently not known exactly how developers proliferate Qwex. In most cases, however, such viruses are distributed using spam email campaigns, third party software download sources, fake software updaters, 'cracks', and trojans. Criminals send spam emails to hundreds of thousands of users hoping that a number of people will fall for deceptive messages encouraging them to open attached files/links. Ppening the attachment usually results in a computer infection (such as ransomware). Unofficial download sources (peer-to-peer [P2P] networks, third party software download sources, freeware download websites, free file hosting sites, etc.) present malicious executables as legitimate, thereby tricking users into downloading and installing viruses. Fake update tools infect computers by exploiting outdated software bugs/flaws or simply downloading and installing malware rather than promised updates. Software cracks are used to bypass product activation and to use paid software free of charge, however, criminals often use these tools to proliferate viruses - thus, rather than activating software, users end up infecting their computers. Finally, Trojans are malicious applications that cause "chain infections". They stealthily infiltrate computers and continue to inject other viruses into the system.

How to protect yourself from ransomware infections?

To prevent this situation, be very cautious when browsing the internet and downloading/installing software. Think twice before opening email attachments. If the file/link seems irrelevant or the sender seems suspicious/unrecognizable, do not open anything. Furthermore, download your software from official sources only, using direct download links. Third party downloaders/installers are often used to proliferate malware, and thus these tools should not be used. Keep installed applications up-to-date. To achieve this, however, use implemented functions or tools provided by the official developer only. Furthermore, never use software cracking tools, since using pirated software is considered a cyber crime and you also risk infecting your computer. Having a reputable anti-virus/anti-spyware suite installed and running is also paramount, since these tools detect and eliminate malware before any harm is done. The key to computer safety is caution. If your computer is already infected with Qwex, we recommend running a scan with Spyhunter for Windows to automatically eliminate this ransomware.

Text presented in Qwex ransomware pop-up window:

All your files have been encrypted!
All your files have been encrypted due to a security problem with your PC. If you want to restore them, write us to the e-mail backdata@qq.com
Write this ID in the title of your message 1E857D00
In case of no answer in 24 hours write us to theese e-mails:dta@cock.li
You have to pay for decryption in Bitcoins. The price depends on how fast you write to us. After payment we will send you the decryption tool that will decrypt all your files.
Free decryption as guarantee
Before paying you can send us up to 1 file for free decryption. The total size of files must be less than 1Mb (non archived), and files should not contain valuable information. (databases,backups, large excel sheets, etc.)
How to obtain Bitcoins
The easiest way to buy bitcoins is LocalBitcoins site. You have to register, click 'Buy bitcoins', and select the seller by payment method and price.
hxxps://localbitcoins.com/buy_bitcoins
Also you can find other places to buy Bitcoins and beginners guide here:
hxxp://www.coindesk.com/information/how-can-i-buy-bitcoins/
Attention!
Do not rename encrypted files.
Do not try to decrypt your data using third party software, it may cause permanent data loss.
Decryption of your files with the help of third parties may cause increased price (they add their fee to our) or you can become a victim of a scam.

Screenshot of Qwex text file ("FILES ENCRYPTED.txt"):

Qwex text file

Text presented within this file:

all your data has been locked us
You want to return?
write email backdata@qq.com or dta@cock.li

Screenshot of files encrypted by Qwex (".qwex" extension):

Files encrypted by Qwex

Qwex ransomware removal:

Instant automatic removal of Qwex virus: Manual threat removal might be a lengthy and complicated process that requires advanced computer skills. Spyhunter is a professional automatic malware removal tool that is recommended to get rid of Qwex virus. Download it by clicking the button below:
▼ DOWNLOAD Spyhunter By downloading any software listed on this website you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. Free scanner checks if your computer is infected. To remove malware, you have to purchase the full version of Spyhunter.

Quick menu:

Step 1

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.

Safe Mode with Networking

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.

Windows 8 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.

windows 10 safe mode with networking

Video showing how to start Windows 10 in "Safe Mode with Networking":

Step 2

Log in to the account infected with the Qwex 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.

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.

Boot your computer in Safe Mode with Command Prompt

2. When Command Prompt mode loads, enter the following line: cd restore and press ENTER.

system restore using command prompt type cd restore

3. Next, type this line: rstrui.exe and press ENTER.

system restore using command prompt rstrui.exe

4. In the opened window, click "Next".

restore system files and settings

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 Qwex ransomware virus infiltrating your PC).

select a restore point

6. In the opened window, click "Yes".

run system restore

7. After restoring your computer to a previous date, download and scan your PC with recommended malware removal software to eliminate any remaining Qwex 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 Qwex 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.

Restoring files encrypted by CryptoDefense

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 regain control of the files encrypted by Qwex, you can also try using a program called Shadow Explorer. More information on how to use this program is available here.

shadow explorer screenshot

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 Qwex 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.

Controll Folder Access

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:

hitmanproalert ransomware prevention application

Malwarebytes Anti-Ransomware Beta uses advanced proactive technology that monitors ransomware activity and terminates it immediately - before reaching users' files:

malwarebytes anti-ransomware

  • 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 Qwex ransomware: