How to remove Z9 ransomware?

Also Known As: Z9 virus
Distribution: Low
Damage level: Severe

Z9 ransomware removal instructions

What is Z9?

Z9 is belongs to the Dharma ransomware family, it was discovered by Raby. As a rule, ransomware-type programs encrypt victim's files, change their filenames and create and/or display ransom notes. Z9 renames encrypted files by adding victim's ID, email address and appending the ".Z9" extension to their filenames. For example, "1.jpg" gets renamed to "[].Z9", and so on. Also, this ransomware creates a text file/ransom note called "FILES ENCRYPTED.txt" and displays a pop-up window. Both of them contain instructions on how to contact cyber criminals who are behind this ransomware.

As stated in a pop-up window, Z9 encrypts all files and the only way to decrypt them is by using a decryption tool and key that can be purchased from Z9 developers. In order to get instructions on how to make a payment victims have to contact cyber criminals by writing them an email to or Also, they have to provide the appointed ID and can attach one encrypted file. These cyber criminals offer a free decryption as a way to prove that they have tools that can decrypt the rest of encrypted data. Additionally, victims are warned not to rename any of the encrypted files and try to decrypt them with some other software because it may cause permanent data loss. Unfortunately, there are no free tools that could decrypt files encrypted by this ransomware and cyber criminals behind Z9 are the only ones who can provide the right decryption tools. However, victims who pay a ransom tend to get scammed, cyber criminals often do not send decryption tools and/or keys even when all their demands are met. It is worth mentioning that files remain encrypted even if ransomware is uninstalled from the operating system. Removal of ransomware only prevents it from causing further encryptions. In most cases the only way to recover data without losing any money is to restore them from a backup.

Screenshot of a message encouraging users to pay a ransom to decrypt their compromised data:

Z9 decrypt instructions (pop-up window)

There is a great number of various ransomware-type programs, some examples are Nosu, Kodc and BWNG. Typically, they are designed to block access to data and create and/or display a ransom note that contains instructions on how to contact cyber criminals, pay a ransom and/or other details related to data recovery. In most cases the only main differences are price of a decryption software and/or key and cryptographic algorithm (symmetric or asymmetric) that ransomware uses to encrypt files. As we mentioned in the previous paragraph, most of the times cyber criminals who designed ransomware are the only ones who can provide tools that can decrypt victim's data. It is possible to avoid having to use their tools only when ransomware contains some bugs, flaws, or other vulnerabilities. Unfortunately, it does not happen of then and that is why it is even more important to always have data backed up and keep it on a remote servers or unplugged storage device.

How did ransomware infect my computer?

In most cases malicious programs are being distributed via spam campaigns, Trojans, untrustworthy software download channels, fake software updaters and unofficial software activation tools. It is very common for cyber criminals to spread malware by sending emails that contain malicious files (attachments) or web links that lead to their download. If opened, downloaded files install malicious software. Here are examples of files that cyber criminals usually attach to their emails: Microsoft Office documents, JavaScript files, executable files (like .exe), archive files like RAR, ZIP and PDF documents. Trojans are malicious programs that, if already installed on the operating system, usually cause chain infections. In other words, installed Trojans install other malware. Freeware download websites, free file hosting websites, unofficial websites, third party downloaders, Peer-to-Peer networks (such as eMule, torrent clients) are examples of file and software download channels that can be used to spread malware as well. Typically, cyber criminals upload some malicious and hope that someone will download, and open it. Once opened, that file infects a computer with some malicious software. Fake, unofficial software updating tools do that by exploiting bugs, flaws of outdated software that is installed on user's computer, or by installing malicious some program instead of updates. Unofficial software activation ('cracking') tools operate quite similarly. Typically, they are expected to activate licensed software for free, however, quite often they cause installation of some high-risk malware.

Threat Summary:
Name Z9 virus
Threat Type Ransomware, Crypto Virus, Files locker
Encrypted Files Extension .Z9
Ransom Demanding Message FILES ENCRYPTED.txt and a pop-up window.
Cyber Criminal Contact,
Detection Names Avast (Win32:RansomX-gen [Ransom]), BitDefender (Trojan.Ransom.Crysis.E), ESET-NOD32 (A Variant Of Win32/Filecoder.Crysis.P), Kaspersky (, Full List Of Detections (VirusTotal)
Symptoms Cannot open files stored on your computer, previously functional files now have a different extension (for example, my.docx.locked). A ransom demand message is displayed on your desktop. Cyber criminals demand payment of a ransom (usually in bitcoins) to unlock your files.
Distribution methods Infected email attachments (macros), torrent websites, malicious ads.
Damage All files are encrypted and cannot be opened without paying a ransom. Additional password-stealing trojans and malware infections can be installed together with a ransomware infection.

To eliminate Z9 virus our malware researchers recommend scanning your computer with Spyhunter.
▼ Download Spyhunter
Free scanner checks if your computer is infected. To remove malware, you have to purchase the full version of Spyhunter.

How to protect yourself from ransomware infections?

We recommend not to open attachments or web links that are included in irrelevant emails, especially if they are received from unknown, suspicious addresses. All software and files should be downloaded from official, trustworthy websites and via direct links. Other sources, tools like third party downloaders (and installers) Peer-to-Peer networks like torrents, eMule, questionable, unofficial websites, etc., should not be used. Furthermore, installed software should be updated via tools and/or implemented functions that are provided by official developers. The same applies its activation. It is worth mentioning that it is not legal to activate software by using various 'cracking tools (unofficial activation tools) One more important thing is to scan the operating system for threats regularly and do that with a reputable anti-spyware or antivirus software software that is always up to date. If your computer is already infected with Z9, we recommend running a scan with Spyhunter for Windows to automatically eliminate this ransomware.

Text presented in the pop-up window:

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.)
When you make sure of decryption possibility transfer the money to our bitcoin wallet. As soon as we receive the money we will send you:
1. Decryption program.
2. Detailed instruction for decryption.
3. And individual keys for decrypting your files.
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 Z9's text file ("FILES ENCRYPTED.txt"):

Z9 ransomware text file (FILES ENCRYPTED.txt)

Tex in this file:

all your data has been locked us
You want to return?
write email or

Screenshot of files encrypted by Z9 (".Z9" extension):

Files encrypted by Z9 ransomware (.Z9 extension)

Z9 ransomware removal:

Instant automatic removal of Z9 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 Z9 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 Z9 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 Z9 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 Z9 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 Z9 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 Z9, 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 Z9 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, and 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 Z9 ransomware:

About the author:

Tomas Meskauskas

Tomas Meskauskas - expert security researcher, professional malware analyst.

I am passionate about computer security and technology. I have an experience of over 10 years working in various companies related to computer technical issue solving and Internet security. I have been working as an author and editor for since 2010. Follow me on Twitter and LinkedIn to stay informed about the latest online security threats. Contact Tomas Meskauskas.

PCrisk security portal is brought by a company RCS LT. Joined forces of security researchers help educate computer users about the latest online security threats. More information about the company RCS LT.

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Malware activity

Global malware activity level today:

Medium threat activity

Increased attack rate of infections detected within the last 24 hours.

QR Code
Z9 virus QR code
A QR code (Quick Response Code) is a machine-readable code which stores URLs and other information. This code can be read using a camera on a smartphone or a tablet. Scan this QR code to have an easy access removal guide of Z9 virus on your mobile device.
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Platform: Windows

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