How to remove NetWalker ransomware from the operating system?

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

NetWalker ransomware removal instructions

What is NetWalker?

NetWalker is an updated variant of the Mailto ransomware. Systems infected with this malware experience data encryption and receive ransom demands for the decryption tools/software. During the encryption process, all compromised files are appended with a random character string extension; for example, a file originally titled "1.jpg" could appear as something similar to "1.jpg.3289cf" - following encryption. After this process is complete, a ransom note "[random-string]-Readme.txt" is dropped into every affected folder.

The ransom-demanding message informs victims' that their data has been encrypted by Netwalker. The only way of recovering the files is by purchasing the decryption tools/software from the cyber criminals behind the infection. To do so, users are to establish contact with the criminals. This is to be done via opening the malware's website (its link is listed in the note) via Tor browser. Though this site decryption can be tested by uploading one encrypted file. Victims are also warned that shutting down or rebooting the infected device and/or attempting manual decryption - will result in permanent data loss. There is more information provided in the webpage, concerning the infection, payment and decryption. The ransom is stated to be 26.50830000 BTC (Bitcoin cryptocurrency), however should victims fail to pay within the given time, it will double. At the current exchange rate, this sum is worth approximately 230 000 USD (note, exchange rates constantly fluctuate). However, even when leveraged against large companies, this ransom is significantly larger than the norm; hence, making this infection even more suspect as few entities would be willing to pay such an amount. In opposition to what is stated in the ransom note, the site offers free decryption of three files. These test files cannot be larger than 3 MB, they also must be either small document or image files (e.g. .jpg, jpeg, .png, .bmp, .doc, .docx formats). Unfortunately, in many cases of ransomware infections, decryption is impossible without interference of the cyber criminals responsible. It might be, if the malicious program is still in development and/or has bugs (flaws). Whatever the case, it is expressly advised against paying criminals. Since often, despite meeting the demands - victims do not receive the promised decryption tools. Therefore, they experience financial loss and their data remains encrypted. To prevent NetWalker from further encryptions, it must be eliminated from the operating system. However, removal will not restore already affected files. The sole viable solution is recovering them from a backup, if one was made 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:

NetWalker decrypt instructions ([random-string]-Readme.txt)

OFFWHITEZorgoCry and Paymen45 are a couple examples of other ransomware-type programs. They encrypt data and demand payment for the decryption. Crucial differences between these programs/infections include: the cryptographic algorithm they use (symmetric or asymmetric) and size of the ransom. The latter typically range from three to four digits, in rare cases - they can enter five digit sums (USD). Cyber criminals tend to demand the payments to be made in digital currencies (mainly, cryptocurrencies), due to transactions of them being difficult/impossible to trace. To avoid data loss, it is recommended to keep backups in remote servers and/or unplugged storage devices (preferably, in several different locations).

How did ransomware infect my computer?

Ransomware and other malware is primarily distributed using spam campaigns, trojans, illegal activation ("cracking") tools, illegitimate updaters and untrustworthy download sources. Spam campaigns are used to send deceptive emails on a large scale. This mail has infectious files attached to it or alternatively, has download links of malicious content. Virulent files can be in various formats (e.g. Microsoft Office and PDF documents, archive and executable files, JavaScript, etc.) and when they are opened - the infection process is initiated (i.e. download/installation of malware). Some trojan-type malware can cause chain infections. Rather than activate licensed product, "cracking" tools can download/install malicious software. Fake updaters cause infections by exploiting flaws of outdated products and/or by simply installing malware instead of the promised updates. Malicious content can be unintentionally downloaded from untrustworthy channels, e.g. unofficial and free file-hosting (freeware) websites, P2P sharing networks (BitTorrent, Gnutella, eMule, etc.) and other third party downloaders.

Threat Summary:
Name NetWalker virus
Threat Type Ransomware, Crypto Virus, Files locker
Encrypted Files Extension Extension consisting of a random character string
Ransom Demanding Message [random-string]-Readme.txt
Ransom Amount 26.50830000 BTC (Bitcoin cryptocurrency)
Cyber Criminals' Cryptowallet Address 3GJsUPkJpjo3ULFvio9N7Q81yShqQAfxXN (Bitcoin)
Cyber Criminal Contact Chat in the website on Tor network
Detection Names AVG (Other:Malware-gen [Trj]), BitDefender (Trojan.PowerShell.Agent.GV), ESET-NOD32 (A Variant Of Generik.CMKGJSA), Kaspersky (HEUR:Trojan.PowerShell.Generic), 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)

To eliminate possible malware infections, scan your computer with legitimate antivirus software. Our security researchers recommend using Malwarebytes.
▼ Download Malwarebytes
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How to protect yourself from ransomware infections?

Suspicious and/or irrelevant emails should not be opened, especially any attached files or links found in such - due to risk of possible system infections. It is recommended to only download from official and verified sources. Additionally, it is important to activate and update products with tools/functions, provided by legitimate developers. Using illegal activation tools ("cracks") and third party updaters is ill-advised, as they often proliferate malware. To ensure device safety, it is paramount to have a dependable anti-virus/anti-spyware installed. Furthermore, this software must be kept updated, used to run regular system scans and to eliminate all detected/potential threats. If your computer is already infected with NetWalker, we recommend running a scan with Malwarebytes for Windows to automatically eliminate this ransomware.

Text presented in NetWalker ransomware's text file ("[random-string]-Readme.txt"):

Hi!
Your files are encrypted by Netwalker.
All encrypted files for this computer has extension:

--
If for some reason you read this text before the encryption ended,
this can be understood by the fact that the computer slows down,
and your heart rate has increased due to the ability to turn it off,
then we recommend that you move away from the computer and accept that you have been compromised.
Rebooting/shutdown will cause you to lose files without the possibility of recovery.

--
Our  encryption algorithms are very strong and your files are very well protected,
the only way to get your files back is to cooperate with us and get the decrypter program.

Do not try to recover your files without a decrypter program, you may damage them and then they will be impossible to recover.

For us this is just business and to prove to you our seriousness, we will decrypt you one file for free.
Just open our website, upload the encrypted file and get the decrypted file for free.

--

Steps to get access on our website:

1.Download and install tor-browser: hxxps://torproject.org/

2.Open our website: pb36hu4spl6cyjdfhing7h3pw6dhpk32ifemawkujj4gp33ejzdq3did.onion
If the website is not available, open another one: rnfdsgm6wb6j6su5txkekw4u4y47kp2eatvu7d6xhyn5cs4lt4pdrqqd.onion

3.Put your personal code in the input form:

-

Appearance of NetWalker's website (GIF):

NetWalker ransomware website (GIF)

Text presented in this webpage:

"Payment" tab:


Your files are encrypted.
Only way to decrypt your files, is buy the decrypter program.
Your user key: 6DAC0A84, write it down and use it to log in again.
The system is fully automated. After payment you will automatically be able to download the decrypter.
Invoice for payment
You have left 3 days 9 hours 28 minutes 20 seconds
Status: Waiting for payment
You can buy the decrypter program for your network.
The amount before the increase is 250000$ (26.50830000 BTC).
If there is no payment before 07.05.20 [15:07], the price will increase by x2 times and will be 500000$ (53.01660000 BTC)
Decrypter for: ALL NETWORK / ALL COMPUTERS / ALL FILES
Bitcoin address: 3GJsUPkJpjo3ULFvio9N7Q81yShqQAfxXN
Amount for payment: 26.50830000 BTC
You payed: 0.00000000 BTC

 

"Free decrypt" tab:


For test we can upload and decrypt 3 images or document files free
File must be less than 3 megabyte.
Allow formats: .jpg, jpeg, .png, .bmp, .doc, .docx

Choose a file or drag it here


"FAQ" tab:


1. Where to buy bitcoin?
1) The fastest and most reliable way is to use the help of Cyber Security IT company, they will be able to solve all questions for you.
2) Buy bitcoins with cash, use google to search for sellers.
You will need a bitcoin wallet, we recommend using it: hxxps://login.blockchain.com/#/signup
3) The slowest way is to buy bitcoin on the exchange. The exchange requires verification, this process may take several days.
List of exchanges:
1) hxxps://localbitcoins.com
2) hxxps://blockchain.com
3) hxxps://www.coindesk.com
4) Other exchange.

 

2. How long after payment will I be able to get the decrypter program?
You will be able to download the decrypter program as soon as Your transaction has more 4 of confirmations.
This usually takes between 30 minutes and 3 hours.
(Depending on the size of the commission. Never specify a zero сommission, use an average/high сommission.)

 

3. I sent a message to the chat, how long to wait for a response?
The average response time to messages is 2 hours.
The maximum response time is 12 hours.

 

4. How can I make sure that you can decrypt my files?
When you log in, your user code or user key is checked and your keys are searched.
If you are logged in, your keys are found.
To make sure, you can decrypt 3 of photos (images) and document files for free in the "free decrypt" section

 

5. How can I make sure That you will give me the decrypter program after payment?
It's just business. We value our name, so after payment you are guaranteed to get the decrypter program.

 

6. How long does it take to decrypt files?
Decryption of files is a very fast process, it all depends on the number of encrypted files, as well as their location HDD/Network.

 

7. What if I can 't decrypt my files after receiving the decrypter program?
This is excluded, Your files will be 100% decrypted.
After payment, you will receive instructions for decryption along with the decrypter program.
We will answer any questions about decrypting files in the chat.
Along with the decrypt program, you get technical support.

 

"Chat" tab:

 

First, read the FAQ. If you still have questions, you can ask them to the operator.

Operator:
Hello! Can i help you?


You:
Hi
I am fail to do payment kindly help me do you have any other address where I can pay

Operator:
I update payment page. Now 1 invoice:
Bitcoin address: 3GJsUPkJpjo3ULFvio9N7Q81yShqQAfxXN
Amount for payment: 26.50830000 BTC

Screenshot of files encrypted by NetWalker (random string extension):

Files encrypted by NetWalker ransomware (random string extension)

Update May 15, 2020 - The developers of NetWalker ransomware have recently started leaking data stolen from their victims. The data is available in their website blog and only those victims who have not agreed to pay ransoms get their data leaked. Moreover, developers mostly leak information stolen from various companies, businesses, etc., because they have way more resources than a regular home user and thus may eventually agree to pay in exchange for data deletion and removal from the website.

Screenshot of NetWalker ransomware's data leaking blog:

NetWalker ransomware developers data leaking website

Update May 20, 2020 - Previously, the group behind NetWalker had mostly relied on phishing tactics to proliferate their ransomware. However, recently their operations have been solely focused on attacking compromised networks of huge enterprises. This group has begun looking for partners with significant experience and already established access to networks of interest. More information on these developments can be found in an article by Ionut Ilascu on bleepingcomputer.com.

NetWalker 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 NetWalker 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 NetWalker 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 NetWalker 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 NetWalker 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 NetWalker, 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 NetWalker 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 NetWalker 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
NetWalker 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 NetWalker virus on your mobile device.
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