QALL ransomware is a new computer virus released by the STOP/DJVU malware gang
- QALL ransomware is a new computer virus released by the STOP/DJVU malware gang
- Ransomware Distribution Techniques
- More details about the virus
- Remove QALL Ransomware Virus and Retrieve Your Files
- Decrypt QALL files
- Frequently Asked Questions
QALL ransomware is a highly destructive file-encrypting virus that recently emerged from the STOP/DJVU ransomware family. It operates by encrypting all files contained in any computer system in infects and also appends them with .qall extension to each filename. Take for instance, a file formerly known as 1.jpg will automatically become 1.jpg.qall and same thing will be done on all others. During the attack, certain notes known as _readme.txt will also be dropped in all the folders. These notes contain messages sent by the cybercriminals to the victim explaining the development to them and why they would have to get in touch with them and also pay a specific amount of money as ransom fee in order to receive QALL decryption tool.
They will further clarify in the ransom note that QALL ransomware virus was successful in its attempt to encrypt all files contained in the victim’s computer including important documents, pictures and every other data stored in the infected computer. Therefore, there is no way out except to pay the ransom fee being demanded by them. To create room for communication between both parties, two email addresses will also be dropped by the cybercriminals i.e. email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.
In addition to that, decryption service prices will also be included and would be accompanied with terms and conditions associated with the payment. They will state that the exact fees that would be eventually paid by the victim would depend on how quickly they are able to comply with it. For instance, responding within 72 hours of being notified attracts 50% discount. Therefore instead of paying $980 ransom fee, $490 would be acceptable. However, once it exceeds 3 days, the victim would be mandated to pay the full ransom fee.
If the victim decides to communicate with the cybercriminals, he would be mandated to make payment through the purchase of cryptocurrency that is worth the ransom fee and also transferring the amount to a wallet address that would be presented by the cybercriminals. The obvious reason why they typically request for such anonymous means of payment is to hide their identity and avoid possible arrest by law enforcement agents. To convince the victim about their expertise and make them pay the ransom fee, they may suggest that a sample of the encrypted files be forwarded to them for sample decryption.
Our cybersecurity experts recommend that victims should adhere to FBI’s guidelines that categorically warns against the payment of ransom to cybercriminals. There are several reasons why victims of ransomware attack shouldn’t pay ransom to cybercriminals. Doing so would only encourage them in their criminal activities since they would now find it profitable. More funds at their disposal would enable them to put more resources into extorting others. Also, aside the fact that paying ransom might be illegal by law in your country, it still does not guarantee you will recover your encrypted files.
There is another threat associated with this virus whereby it leverages accompanying Trojans like VIDAR and AZORULT to steal important and sensitive information like banking details, passwords, cryptocurrency wallets, software account credentials, browsing history, records etc. More problems could arise once such sensitive details get into the wrong hands.
Victims of STOP/DJVU ransomware variants are advised to remove QALL ransomware virus from the infected computer without delay. The safest way to do this is with the use of any reliable antivirus but the computer should be booted through Safe Mode with Networking option before running the antivirus on it. You should also consider the use of RESTORO in restoring Windows OS files that were damaged during the malware attack.
|Name||QALL Ransomware Virus|
|Type||Ransomware; Crypto-malware; Virtual Extortion Virus|
|Encryption type||RSA 2048 + Salsa20|
|Previous versions||OOPU, MMPU, MMVB, MMDT, EEWT, EEMV, (find full list here)|
|Cybercriminal email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Additional malware dropped||Azorult or Vidar Trojan|
|Damage||The ransomware uses encryption to maliciously modify all files on the PC and marks their original names with .qall extension. Ransom notes called as _readme.txt will be dropped in every computer folder. This piece of malware usually drags VIDAR Stealer alongside it and also eliminates VSS from the system. On top of that, it tends to modify Windows HOSTS file to restrict computer user’s access to cybersecurity-related websites online.|
|Ransom demand||$490-$980 in Bitcoin|
|Distribution||Victims often download this ransomware along illegal torrent downloads, cracked software, activators, key generators or tools like KMSPico.|
|Known software cracks to contain this malware||Corel Draw, Tenorshare 4ukey, Adobe Photoshop, Cubase, Adobe Illustrator, Internet Download Manager, Tally, League of Legends.|
|Detection names||Ransom:Win32/StopCrypt.PAL!MTB (Microsoft), Trojan.Crypt (A) (Emsisoft), HEUR:Trojan-Ransom.Win32.Stop.gen (Kaspersky), Trojan.GenericKD.47850419 (BitDefender), Trojan.MalPack.GS (Malwarebytes), ML.Attribute.HighConfidence (Symantec) see all detection name variations on VirusTotal|
|Removal||Remove ransomware and related malware from your PC using trustworthy software. To repair virus damage on Windows OS files, consider scanning with RESTORO (secure download link).|
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Ransomware Distribution Techniques
The most well-known distribution technique used by cybercriminals in spreading various types of STOP/DJVU ransomware including QALL virus is through malicious software contents downloaded from online torrents platforms. The cybercriminals often embed malware on pirated copies of popular software copies. Based on this, use of deceptive key generators and “cracks” are strongly discouraged.
Reports gathered from victims in recent times indicate that a number of software copies are often used by the cybercriminals for this purpose. These software contents are then uploaded to online torrent platforms with the typical ones listed below:
- KMSPico (illegal Windows activation tool);
- Fifa 20;
- Tenorshare 4ukey;
- Opera browser;
- Corel Draw;
- VMware Workstation;
- Adobe Illustrator;
- League of Legends;
- Internet Download Manager;
- Adobe Photoshop.
For those computer users who have a tendency of visiting such illegal file sharing platforms because they assume it might be a great way to save some money, you’re hereby warned to desist from doing so to avoid adding to the numbers of victims. Any moment spent in online torrents platforms would make the individual vulnerable and prone to cyber-attack that may occur at any time. Instead of getting involved in such illegal and potentially harmful activity, it is a lot better to patronize the original content developers. By so doing, you will be helping the industry to grow while protecting yourself as well. Remember that any amount the producers request can never be compared to the huge ransom fees usually demanded by cybercriminals and the disruption it will cause.
The main challenge for computer users is how to easily detect malware-carrying email from other genuine emails. The cybercriminals now impersonate individuals and actual brands such as eBay, UPS, Amazon, and FedEx among several others and would use inciting names like Order Summary, Invoice or Tracking Details for the attachments. On the other hand, they may decide to make use of email spoofing techniques in hiding the real originating email address, all in an attempt to deceive the victim. As a result of these, computer users are advised to apply discretion when opening emails. If an email appears out of place it should serve as a warning to thread carefully or better still avoid opening such email.
Victims of STOP/DJVU ransomware are advised to avoid some dubious websites that are known for advertising decryption solutions because such seldom exists. However, only tools from DiskTuna and Emsisoft have proven to be capable of repairing STOP/DJVU encrypted files. Some desperate cybercriminals even go as far as creating fake STOP/DJVU decryptors like ZORAB which they use in spreading other versions of ransomware.
More details about the virus
Just like many others, you may be wondering to which extent your computer was affected during QALL cyber-attack. This section will help you to understand the technical aspect of the attack and it affects your computer.
The first step the malware takes during an attack is to launch build.exe or build2.exe and would follow it up with winupdate.exe. Next, it will move swiftly by connecting with https[:]//api.2ip.ua/geo.json and would save the outcome on geo.json file. At this point, it will commence information gathering of important details concerning the computer under attack including its geolocation, time zone, zip code, latitude and longitude, and would save them accordingly. Shown below is an image of two geo.json file samples.
It will create another file for hardware details and installed software list, and would save them in information.txt.
Going further, the malware will make a comparison between the country code of the computer under attack with a list of countries they designated as encryption-exempted such as Ukraine, Belarus, Russian Federation, Syria, Armenia, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazachstan and Kyrgyzstan. If it establishes that such computer is domiciled in any of these countries, it would immediately terminate the mission but if otherwise, it will request an online encryption key and PersonalID from C&C server and save them to bowsakkdestx.txt file and the ID individually to PersonalID.txt file. Examples of such files are shown below.
If peradventure the virus couldn’t retrieve an online encryption key from their database, it will automatically opt for the use of hardcoded offline key instead, and this key would be same for all other victims of the same virus variant. The use of offline key can be easily detected if there is presence of t1 characters attached to the end of the personal ID. The implication is that .qall files could be decrypted someday. More information about this is provided below.
The ransomware will now begin total data encryption procedure by scanning all the folders and encrypting the respective files with Salsa20 before making use of the RSA-2048 key for securing the encryption. The same malware process also marks the files with an additional extension that matches the virus’ version name.
Shown below is an image of _readme.txt ransom note usually left by the virus on compromised computer.
In the last stages of the computer attack, the virus will add selected domains to the Windows HOSTS file and would map them to localhost IP thereby effectively preempting any attempt by the victim to seek help from online forums or similar platforms that assist victims of ransomware. Once the victim tries to browse any of the web pages blacklisted by the cybercriminals, they may only see DNS_PROBE_FINISHED_NXDOMAIN error message.
Remove QALL Ransomware Virus and Retrieve Your Files
For victims whose files were encrypted by the malware variant being discussed, it would be in your best interest to remove QALL ransomware virus without further delay and also report to the appropriate authorities vested to handle such challenges. Meanwhile, do not forget the key things to do as recommended earlier in this article i.e. booting your computer in Safe Mode with Networking before running a STRONG AND RELIABLE antivirus on it. You should also consider downloading RESTORO to help in identifying and repairing files damaged by the virus.
Now that QALL ransomware virus has been removed, you should take the following steps:
- Report the cyber-attack to the relevant authorities charged with handling such problems.
- Make use of any available data backup device in restoring lost data but ensure that the virus is completely removed before plugging an external device.
- Consider possible ways through which you can repair the files damaged by STOP/DJVU variants.
- It is very important to change all passwords that were used in the infected computer.
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RESTORO uses AVIRA scanning engine to detect existing spyware and malware. If any are found, the software will eliminate them.
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QALL Ransomware Virus Removal Guidelines
Method 1. Enter Safe Mode with Networking
Step 1. Start Windows in Safe Mode with Networking
Before you try to remove QALL Ransomware Virus virus, you must start your computer in Safe Mode with Networking. Below, we provide the easiest ways to boot PC in the said mode, but you can find additional ones in this in-depth tutorial on our website – How to Start Windows in Safe Mode. Also, if you prefer a video version of the tutorial, check our guide How to Start Windows in Safe Mode on Youtube.
Instructions for Windows XP/Vista/7 users
- First of all, turn off your PC. Then press the Power button to start it again and instantly start pressing F8 button on your keyboard repeatedly in 1-second intervals. This launches the Advanced Boot Options menu.
- Use arrow keys on the keyboard to navigate down to Safe Mode with Networking option and press Enter.
Instructions for Windows 8/8.1/10/11 users
- Open Windows Start menu, then press down the Power button. On your keyboard, press down and hold the Shift key, and then select Restart option.
- This will take you to Windows Troubleshoot screen. Choose Troubleshoot > Advanced Options > Startup Settings > Restart. Tip: If you can't find Startup Settings, click See more recovery options.
- In Startup Settings, press the right key between F1-F9 to enter Safe Mode with Networking. In this case, it is the F5 key.
Step 2. Remove files associated with the virus
Now, you can search for and remove QALL Ransomware Virus files. It is very hard to identify files and registry keys that belong to the ransomware virus, Besides, malware creators tend to rename and change them repeatedly. Therefore, the easiest way to uninstall such type of a computer virus is to use a reliable security program such as INTEGO Antivirus, which also includes data recovery software. For virus damage repair, consider using RESTORO.
Compatibility: Microsoft Windows
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Method 2. Use System Restore
In order to use System Restore, you must have a system restore point, created either manually or automatically.
Step 1. Boot Windows in Safe Mode with Command Prompt
Instructions for Windows XP/Vista/7 users
- Shut down your PC. Start it again by pressing the Power button and instantly start pressing F8 button on your keyboard repeatedly in 1-second intervals. You will see Advanced Boot Options menu.
- Using arrow keys on the keyboard, navigate down to Safe Mode with Command Prompt option and press Enter.
Instructions for Windows 8/8.1/10/11 users
- Launch Windows Start menu, then click the Power button. On your keyboard, press down and hold the Shift key, and then choose Restart option with the mouse cursor.
- In Startup Settings, press the right key between F1-F9 to enter Safe Mode with Command Prompt. In this case, press F6 key.
Step 2. Start System Restore process
- Wait until system loads and command prompt shows up.
- Type cd restore and press Enter, then type rstrui.exe and press Enter. Or you can just type %systemroot%system32restorerstrui.exe in command prompt and hit Enter.
- This launches System Restore window. Click Next and then choose a System Restore point created in the past. Choose one that was created before ransomware infection.
- Click Yes to begin the system restoration process.
After restoring the system, we recommend scanning the system with antivirus or anti-malware software. In most cases, there won't be any malware remains, but it never hurts to double-check. In addition, we highly recommend checking ransomware prevention guidelines provided by our experts in order to protect your PC against similar viruses in the future.
Alternative software recommendations
Removing spyware and malware is one step towards cybersecurity. To protect yourself against ever-evolving threats, we strongly recommend purchasing a Premium version of Malwarebytes Anti-Malware, which provides security based on artificial intelligence and machine learning. Includes ransomware protection. See pricing options and protect yourself now.
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Decrypt QALL files
Fix and open large QALL files easily:
It is reported that STOP/DJVU ransomware versions encrypt only the beginning 150 KB of each file to ensure that the virus manages to affect all files on the system. In some cases, the malicious program might skip some files at all. That said, we recommend testing this method on several big (>1GB) files first.
- Create a copy of encrypted file to a separate folder using Copy > Paste commands.
- Now, right-click the created copy and choose Rename. Select the QALL extension and delete it. Press Enter to save changes.
- In the prompt asking whether you want to make the changes as file might become unusable, click OK.
- Try opening the file.
STOP/DJVU decryption tool usage guide
STOP/DJVU ransomware versions are grouped into old and new variants. QALL Ransomware Virus is considered the new STOP/DJVU variant, just like OOPU, MMPU, MMVB, MMDT, EEWT, EEMV, (find full list here). This means full data decryption is now possible only if you have been affected by offline encryption key. To decrypt your files, you will have to download Emsisoft Decryptor for STOP DJVU, a tool created and maintained by a genius security researcher Michael Gillespie.
Note! Please do not spam the security researcher with questions whether he can recover your files encrypted with online key - it is not possible.
In order to test the tool and see if it can decrypt QALL files, follow the given tutorial.
- Download the decryption tool from Emsisoft.
- Click the little arrow next to your download and choose Show in Folder.
- Now, right-click the file and choose Run as Administrator. If asked, enter administrator's password.
- In UAC window, click Yes.
- Click Yes to agree to software terms in both windows.
- The tool will automatically include C:// disk as a location to decrypt. The file recovery tool will prepopulate the locations to scan, including connected data storage drives or network drives. Click Add folder if you wish to add additional locations.
In Options tab, you can choose to keep encrypted file copies. We recommend leaving this option selected, especially if you do not know if the decryption tool will work.
- Click Decrypt to start restoring QALL files. You will see the progress in the Results tab. Here, you can see messages from the tool, such as whether the decryption procedure is successful, or you need to wait for an update.
You might also be informed that online key was used to encrypt your files. In such case, the decryption tool won't work for you, and the only way to recover your files is to use a data backup.
Meanings of decryptor's messages
The QALL decryption tool might display several different messages after failed attempt to restore your files. You might receive one of the following messages:
Error: Unable to decrypt file with ID: [example ID]
This message typically means that there is no corresponding decryption key in the decryptor's database.
No key for New Variant online ID: [example ID]
Notice: this ID appears to be an online ID, decryption is impossible
This message informs that your files were encrypted with online key, meaning no one else has the same encryption/decryption key pair, therefore data recovery without paying the criminals is impossible.
Result: No key for new variant offline ID: [example ID]
This ID appears to be an offline ID. Decryption may be possible in the future.
If you were informed that an offline key was used, but files could not be restored, it means that the offline decryption key isn't available yet. However, receiving this message is extremely good news, meaning that it might be possible to restore your QALL extension files in the future. It can take a few months until the decryption key gets found and uploaded to the decryptor. We recommend you to follow updates regarding the decryptable DJVU versions here. We strongly recommend backing up your encrypted data and waiting.
Report Internet crime to legal departments
Victims of QALL Ransomware Virus should report the Internet crime incident to the official government fraud and scam website according to their country:
- In the United States, go to the On Guard Online website.
- In Australia, go to the SCAMwatch website.
- In Germany, go to the Bundesamt für Sicherheit in der Informationstechnik website.
- In Ireland, go to the An Garda Síochána website.
- In New Zealand, go to the Consumer Affairs Scams website.
- In the United Kingdom, go to the Action Fraud website.
- In Canada, go to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.
- In India, go to Indian National Cybercrime Reporting Portal.
- In France, go to the Agence nationale de la sécurité des systèmes d’information.
If you can't find an authority corresponding to your location on this list, we recommend using any search engine to look up "[your country name] report cyber crime". This should lead you to the right authority website. We also recommend staying away from third-party crime report services that are often paid. It costs nothing to report Internet crime to official authorities.
Another recommendation is to contact your country's or region’s federal police or communications authority.
Frequently Asked Questions
You can only open QALL files if you have the decryption key, or if you were affected by offline encryption type.
To figure out whether you were affected by offline encryption, please go to C:/SystemID/PersonalID.txt and see if the string inside of it ends in t1. You can also try using Emsisoft Decryptor for STOP/DJVU.
Please follow the guidances provided by the official QALL decryption tools and believe what they say. If they say it is impossible to decrypt, it really is so. There is no magic tool or human capable of decrypting your files hiding somewhere. Encryption is a technique created to be nearly impossible to decrypt without a special private key (held by the criminals).
We advise scanning with anti-virus, anti-malware, malware removal tools or software like RESTORO to eliminate virus damage on the system. If you do not trust using a single tool, try running one after another. However, we do not recommend keeping several security programs on a computer at once as they can interfere with each other's work.
Beware of fake QALL decryption tools circulating around the web. Cyber criminals are uploading them to various shady websites, also might be promoting them via suspicious Youtube videos. These programs can infect your computer even more heavily (Trojans, miners, etc.). We suggest being extremely cautious around the web. If there will be an official STOP/DJVU decryption tool available, it will be widely discussed in public media.
Norbert Webb is the head of Geek’s Advice team. He is the chief editor of the website who controls the quality of content published. The man also loves reading cybersecurity news, testing new software and sharing his insights on them. Norbert says that following his passion for information technology was one of the best decisions he has ever made. “I don’t feel like working while I’m doing something I love.” However, the geek has other interests, such as snowboarding and traveling.