How to uninstall Pykw ransomware?

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

Pykw ransomware removal instructions

What is Pykw?

Pykw encrypts files, appends its extension to every encrypted file and creates a ransom note. It renames a file named "1.jpg" to "1.jpg.pykw", "2.jpg" to "2.jpg.pykw", and so on. Instructions on how to contact cyber criminals behind Pykw are provided in the "_readme.txt" text file, this ransomware drops it in every folder that contains encrypted data. Pykw belongs to the the ransomware family called Djvu.

As explained in the "_readme.txt" ransom note, victims can decrypt their files only with a decryption tool and unique key that can be purchased from Pykw's developers for $980 or $490. Victims can purchase them cheaper (with a 50% discount) by contacting cyber criminals in 72 hours after ransomware attack. They can be contacted by writing them to helpmanager@mail.ch or restoremanager@airmail.cc email address. An email can contain one encrypted file as well, Pykw's developers offer to decrypt it for free. Although, it is strongly recommended not to trust cyber criminals behind any ransomware, it is common that victims do not receive decryption tools even after a payment. Typically, victims can recover files for free/without a risk of getting scammed by restoring the from a backup. Also, malware of this type can be prevented from encrypting unencrypted files by uninstalling it from a computer. Although, encrypted files continue to be encrypted even after its uninstallation.

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

Pykw decrypt instructions (_readme.txt)

Examples of other malware of this type are Chinz, Pywdu and Gomer. In most cases two main variables are price of a decryption (size of a ransom) and encryption algorithm (symmetric or asymmetric) that ransomware uses to encrypt files. Typically, cyber criminals behind a particular ransomware are the only ones who have tools that can decrypt files encrypted by it. It is possible to decrypt files without their tools only when ransomware has some bugs, flaws, etc. Unfortunately, it does not happen often and the only free option to recover files is to restore them from a backup. Therefore, it is recommend to always have data backed up and store it on a remote server and/or unplugged storage device.

How did ransomware infect my computer?

Most common ways to proliferate malware are by using spam campaigns, fake software updaters, untrustworthy software download channels, Trojans and unofficial software activators ('cracking tools). Computers get infected via spam campaigns when recipients open malicious attachments that cyber criminals send to them. Usually cyber criminals attach some malicious Microsoft Office document, PDF document, archive file (like ZIP, RAR), executable file (like .exe) or a JavaScript file. It is worthwhile to mention that such emails can contain a website link that would open a malicious page or download malicious file too. Also, most cyber criminals disguise their emails as important, official. Fake software updaters infect computers by exploiting bugs, flaws of some outdated software that is installed on user's computer, or by installing malware instead of updates, fixes. Unreliable software download channels such as Peer-to-Peer networks (eMule, torrent clients, etc.), free file hosting and freeware download websites, third party downloaders, and other similar channels are used to distribute malicious files by disguising them as regular, legitimate. Malware gets installed when users download and execute those malicious files. Trojans are malicious programs that often are designed to cause chain infections - to cause installation of additional malware. However, Trojans can cause it only when they area installed on a computer. Unofficial software activators are illegal programs that supposed to activate other, licensed programs for free. Although, quite often they are designed to install some malware instead.

Threat Summary:
Name Pykw virus
Threat Type Ransomware, Crypto Virus, Files locker
Encrypted Files Extension .pykw
Ransom Demanding Message _readme.txt
Ransom Amount $980/$490
Cyber Criminal Contact helpmanager@mail.ch, restoremanager@airmail.cc
Detection Names Avast (Win32:CoinminerX-gen [Trj]), BitDefender (Trojan.GenericKD.43379826), ESET-NOD32 (A Variant Of Win32/Kryptik.HEHT), Kaspersky (Trojan-Ransom.Win32.Stop.ow), Full List Of Detections (VirusTotal)
Rogue Process Name 5.exe (its name may vary)
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.
Additional Information This malware is designed to show a fake Windows Update window and modify the Windows "hosts" file to prevent users from accessing cyber security websites (more information below).
Distribution methods Infected email attachments (macros), torrent websites, malicious ads, unofficial activation and updating tools.
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?

Irrelevant emails that contain attachments, web links and are received from unknown, suspicious addresses should be ignored. It is recommended to open email contents only when there is no reason to suspect that it is not safe. Also, software should not be downloaded (or installed) through third party downloaders (or installers), from unofficial pages and other channels that are mentioned in the paragraph above. Files and programs should be downloaded only from official websites (and via direct links). Installed software must be activated and/or updated only with tools that are designed by its official developers, None of the other tools are trustworthy. Besides, it is not legal to use various unofficial activation tools. And finally, operating system should be regularly scanned with a reputable antivirus or anti-spyware software that is always up to date. If your computer is already infected with Pykw, we recommend running a scan with Malwarebytes for Windows to automatically eliminate this ransomware.

Text presented in Pykw ransomware's text file ("_readme.txt"):

ATTENTION!

 

Don't worry, you can return all your files!
All your files like photos, databases, documents and other important are encrypted with strongest encryption and unique key.
The only method of recovering files is to purchase decrypt tool and unique key for you.
This software will decrypt all your encrypted files.
What guarantees you have?
You can send one of your encrypted file from your PC and we decrypt it for free.
But we can decrypt only 1 file for free. File must not contain valuable information.
You can get and look video overview decrypt tool:
hxxps://we.tl/t-Gf8avvBuir
Price of private key and decrypt software is $980.
Discount 50% available if you contact us first 72 hours, that's price for you is $490.
Please note that you'll never restore your data without payment.
Check your e-mail "Spam" or "Junk" folder if you don't get answer more than 6 hours.


To get this software you need write on our e-mail:
helpmanager@mail.ch

Reserve e-mail address to contact us:
restoremanager@airmail.cc

Your personal ID:
-

Pykw running in Task Manager as "5.exe" (its process name may vary):

pykw 5.exe malicious process in task manager

Screenshot of files encrypted by Pykw (".pykw" extension):

Files encrypted by Pykw ransomware (.pykw extension)

Screenshot of fake Windows update pop-up displayed during the encryption:

Fake Windows pop-up displayed by Pykw during the encryption

IMPORTANT NOTE! - As well as encrypting data, ransomware-type infections from the Djvu malware family also add a number of entries to the Windows "hosts" file. The entries contain URLs of various websites, most of which are related to malware removal. This is done to prevent users from accessing malware security websites and seeking help. Our website (PCrisk.com) is also on the list. Removing these entries, however, is simple - you can find detailed instructions in this article (note that, although the steps are shown in the Windows 10 environment, the process is virtually identical on all versions of the Microsoft Windows operating system).

Screenshot of websites added to Windows hosts file:

Tro Ransomware adding websites to Windows Hosts file

There are currently two versions of Djvu ransomware infections: old and new. The old versions were designed to encrypt data by using a hard-coded "offline key" whenever the infected machine had no internet connection or the server was timing out/not responding. Therefore, some victims were able to decrypt data using a tool developed by cyber security researcher, Michael Gillespie, however, since the encryption mechanism has been slightly changed (hence the new version, released in August, 2019), the decrypter no longer works and it is not supported anymore. If your data has been encrypted by an older version, you might be able to restore it with the another tool developed by Emsisoft and Michael Gillespie. It supports a total of 148 Djvu's variants and you can find more information, as well as download link and decryption instructions in Emsisoft's official page.

Screenshot of Djvu decryption tool by Emsisoft and Michael Gillespie:

Djvu ransomware decrypter by Michael Gillespie and Emsisoft

Additionally, Emsisoft is now providing a service that allows to decrypt data (again, only if it was encrypted by Djvu variants released before August, 2019) for those victims who have a pair of the same file before and after the encryption. All victims have to do is upload a pair of original and encrypted file to Emsisoft's Djvu decryption page and download the aforementioned decryption tool (the download link will be provided after uploading files). Note that the file processing may take some time so be patient. It is also worth mentioning that the system must have an Internet connection during the entire decryption process, otherwise it will fail.

Screenshot of Emsisoft's Djvu decryption service page:

Djvu ransomware decryption service by Emsisoft

Pykw 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 Pykw 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 Pykw 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 Pykw 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 Pykw 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 Pykw, 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 Pykw 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 Pykw 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.

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Pykw virus QR code
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