How to remove Waldo ransomware from the operating system

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

Waldo ransomware removal instructions

What is Waldo?

Discovered by dnwls0719, Waldo is a malicious program classified as ransomware. Systems infected with this malware have their data encrypted and users receive ransom demands for decryption tools/software. During the encryption process, filenames of affected files are typically appended with an extension, however, in the case of Waldo, they remain unchanged. After the malicious executable file of this ransomware is executed, a pop-up window is displayed. The text presented instructs users to read a ransom message within a text file ("READ_ME.txt"), which is created on the desktop.

The text file ("READ_ME.txt") informs victims that their system has been infected with Waldo ransomware, and hence the data stored on the system has been encrypted with AES and RSA cryptographic algorithms. It clarifies that, despite the the names of compromised files being unaltered (which is usual for ransomware infections), the contents of the files have been encrypted. The message states that recovery is not easy, however, there is a way to decrypt the data. To learn how to recover the files, users are urged to establish contact with the cyber criminals behind Waldo, via email. The message ends with a warning that if users lose the ID assigned to them (listed in the message), decryption becomes impossible. In most cases of such infections, decryption is impossible without involvement of the criminals responsible, unless the malware in question is still in development and/or has significant bugs/flaws. Regardless of the circumstances, you are strongly advised against communicating with and/or meeting the demands of cyber criminals. Despite paying, users often receive none of the necessary decryption tools/software. Therefore, their data remains encrypted and they experience financial loss. Removing this ransomware will prevent it from further encryption, but will not restore already encrypted files. The only viable solution is to recover them from a backup, if one was created prior to the infection and was stored in a separate location.

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

Waldo decrypt instructions (READ_ME.txt)

NpskProLockVelar and Gate are some examples of other ransomware-type programs. They encrypt data and demand payment for decryption. There are two crucial differences: the cryptographic algorithm they use (symmetric or asymmetric) and ransom size. The latter varies from three to four digit sums (in USD). Cyber criminals usually demand digital currencies (e.g. cryptocurrencies, pre-paid vouchers, etc.), since these transactions are difficult/impossible to trace. To protect data integrity, you are strongly advised to keep backups on remote servers and/or unplugged storage devices (ideally, in several different locations).

How did ransomware infect my computer?

The most common ransomware and malware proliferation methods are via Trojans, spam campaigns, software "cracking" (activation) tools and fake updates, and through untrusted download sources. Trojans are malicious programs capable of causing chain infections (i.e., download/installation of additional malware). Spam campaigns are used to send deceptive/scam emails on a mass scale. These messages are typically presented as "official", "important" or otherwise "priority" mail. The emails have infectious files attached to (or linked inside) them. These malicious files can be in various formats (e.g. archive and executable files, Microsoft Office and PDF documents, JavaScript, etc.). When they are opened, the infection process begins. Rather than activating licensed products, "cracking" tools can download/install malicious programs. Rogue updaters infect systems by exploiting flaws of outdated products and/or simply by installing malware rather than the promised updates. Untrustworthy download channels such as unofficial and free file-hosting websites, P2P sharing networks (BitTorrent, Gnutella, eMule, etc.) and other third party downloaders can offer malicious content disguised as, or bundled with, normal products.

Threat Summary:
Name Waldo virus
Threat Type Ransomware, Crypto Virus, Files locker.
Encrypted Files Extension No extension, filenames are unaltered.
Ransom Demand Message READ_ME.txt
Cyber Criminal Contact iamwaldo@tutamail.com
Detection Names Avast (Win64:Malware-gen), BitDefender (Trojan.Ransom.CDH), ESET-NOD32 (A Variant Of Generik.RWPIPR), Kaspersky (Trojan-Ransom.Win32.Encoder.hnd), 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.
Malware Removal (Windows)

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How to protect yourself from ransomware infections

Do not open suspicious or irrelevant emails, especially those received from dubious/unknown senders. Any attachments (or links) found in suspect messages must not be opened, as doing so can lead to high-risk infection. Use only official and verified download sources. Activate and update products with tools/functions provided by legitimate developers. Illegal activation tools ("cracks") and third party updaters should not be used, as they are commonly used to proliferate malware. To ensure device integrity and user safety, it is paramount to have reputable anti-virus/anti-spyware software installed and kept updated. Furthermore, use this software to run regular system scans and to remove all detected/potential threats. If your computer is already infected with Waldo, we recommend running a scan with Malwarebytes for Windows to automatically eliminate this ransomware.

Text presented in Waldo ransomware text file ("READ_ME.txt"):

[WALDO RANSOMWARE]


Oops!
Your computer has been infected by the Waldo Ransomware.
Your files have been encrypted to hex codes by AES and RSA algorithms.
The file extensions haven't changed, but the contents are encrypted.
They won't be recovered easily, but there is clearly a way to get them back.


Contact me by email :
iamwaldo@tutamail.com

Your personal code :
-


You can't get your files back if you lose your personal code.
Good Luck!

Screenshot of files encrypted by Waldo (no additional extension):

Files encrypted by Waldo ransomware

Screenshot of the pop-up displayed after execution of Waldo ransomware:

Waldo ransomware pop-up displayed after execution

Waldo ransomware removal:

Instant automatic malware removal: Manual threat removal might be a lengthy and complicated process that requires advanced computer skills. Malwarebytes is a professional automatic malware removal tool that is recommended to get rid of malware. Download it by clicking the button below:
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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 Waldo 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 Waldo 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 Waldo 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 Waldo 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 Waldo, 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 Waldo 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 Waldo 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 pcrisk.com 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
Waldo 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 Waldo virus on your mobile device.
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