QQJJ ransomware aims to lock your files, then demand a ransom
- QQJJ ransomware aims to lock your files, then demand a ransom
- Ransomware distribution techniques: know what to expect
- Remove QQJJ Ransomware Virus and Recover Data
- Decrypt QQJJ files
- Frequently Asked Questions
QQJJ virus belongs to ransomware category and it is also recognized to be a variant from the notorious STOP/DJVU ransomware family. After entering the target computer, it begins encrypting each file it detects during the scan of the data system, and and completes the procedure by appending a new .qqjj extension to each file name. To illustrate how this works, see this example: 1.jpg becomes 1.jpg.qqjj, 2.txt becomes 2.txt.qqjj after the attack and so on. Once maliciously modified, these files can no longer be accessed by the computer user. Furthermore, the virus drops ransom note files named _readme.txt in several data folders.
The primary aim of STOP/DJVU ransomware variants including QQJJ virus is to extort the computer user by convincing him/her to pay a ransom once the personal data is made inaccessible. Computer users typically download this threat in a form of a setup file that is supposed to install a pirated software version. Victims usually find these downloads in rogue online websites promoting software cracks and other illegal content.
The message left in the ransom note asks for a payment
The ransom note briefly explains that the malware has encrypted all of the personal data stored on the computer and that there is no way to restore the data without the help of ransomware operators. They suggest a deal – purchasing a decryption tool and key from them for a specified price. However, victims should NOT follow commands of cybercriminals, despite the threats that they make.
The note explains that the criminals want $980 as a ransom but are willing to slash the amount in half if the computer user sends them an email within 72 hours. This means the ransom amount would be lowered to $490. The note also recommends attaching one sample of encrypted file to the email and including the Personal ID (provided in the note) for victim identification. The victim is asked to send the email to one of the following email addresses provided at the very end of the ransom note: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com.
Victims report that after contacting the perpetrators they were asked to purchase cryptocurrency worth the amount specified in USD and transfer it to the attackers’ virtual wallet address. The reason behind such payment method is anonymity – FBI can hardly trace such transactions and identify the cybercriminals or their location.
Even if your files were encrypted and you feel hopeless to recover them in other way than paying the criminals, we DO NOT RECOMMEND PAYING THE RANSOM. You can read these recommendations for ransomware victims released by FBI and also take into account our arguments:
- Paying the ransom doesn’t guarantee that criminals will fullfil their part and help you to decrypt locked data;
- Cybercriminals often try to repeatedly target victims who have paid the ransom;
- Transferring funds to ransomware operators helps them to continue their operations going.
Beware of Trojans that travel alongside this ransomware strain
Our research team warns victims of this threat to scan their computers with a genuine antivirus solution as soon as possible due to possibility that additional malware was installed alongside the main payload (the ransomware). Analysis shows that STOP/DJVU variants like this one travel along with VIDAR and AZORULT Trojans, both highly dangerous and capable to steal private information such as browser-saved passwords, cookies, browsing history and more.
Therefore, to remove QQJJ ransomware virus, we recommend preparing your computer by booting it into Safe mode with Networking. The next step should be launching of a robust antivirus solution and starting a full system scan. Afterward, we recommend you to download RESTORO (official download link) and using it to identify and repair virus-damaged Windows OS files.
|Name||QQJJ Ransomware Virus|
|Type||Ransomware; Crypto-malware; Virtual Extortion Virus|
|Encryption type||RSA 2048 + Salsa20|
|Previous versions||MANW, MZOP, MZQW, ERQW, EROP, ASSM, MZTU (find full list here)|
|Cybercriminal firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com|
|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 .qqjj 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).|
REPAIR VIRUS DAMAGE
Scan your system for FREE to detect security, hardware and stability issues. You can use the scan results and try to remove threats manually, or you can choose to get the full version of software to fix detected issues and repair virus damage to Windows OS system files automatically. Includes Avira spyware/malware detection & removal engine.
The screenshot below shows how encrypted files look like in folders. You can see that there is a _readme.txt note dropped next to encrypted data.
Ransomware distribution techniques: know what to expect
Ransomware-type computer threats can be distributed either via email (in a form of malicious attachments), via rogue websites offering a wide range of downloads (mostly pirated software and other copyright-protected content) and via fake ads promoting malicious software update installers.
The highest risk of becoming a victim of QQJJ ransomware or any other virus from the STOP/DJVU ransomware family is for those who have a tendency to search for cracked software versions to download and install. The cybercriminals upload the malicious setup files to rogue websites that promote all kinds of software and claim the user can download them via a generated link. Another way to get these files is via torrent downloads. However, as soon as the computer user launches the alleged setup, the ransomware along other malware begins attacking the unprotected computer system.
Due to malware risks, computer users should never search for software on such rogue warez sites and instead visit the official and legitimate software developers’ websites only. It is the only way to avoid malware infections and ensure that a genuine software version is installed.
Cybercriminals are also keen on promoting malware via phishing emails containing attachments. They often pretend to be someone they’re not (such as a well-known business, for example, e-commerce website or a parcel delivery company). Hiding behind a reputable entity’s name, they claim there is an invoice, order summary or parcel delivery details included in the email attachment. However, the attachment is a typical malware-injected file that contains scripts used to run malware on the victim’s computer.
To avoid opening unsolicited emails, try to ask yourself whether the email was awaited and does the sender seems to be someone you can trust. Look out for warning signs such as unfamiliar greeting line, grammar and typo mistakes, low-quality logos, suspicious attachment type and similar to avoid getting infected.
Finally, malware is often promoted via dubious ads that are designed to promote fake software update installers. These installers are modified to install a bunch of additional software (such as spyware or malware) along the promoted update. Therefore, if you suspect that you need a software update, you should check for it in legitimate websites only.
Remove QQJJ Ransomware Virus and Recover Data
Computer users who have fallen victim to a file-encrypting malware attack should endeavor to remove QQJJ ransomware virus and additional threats as soon as they can. To ensure a smooth removal without any malware interfering the procedure, we recommend booting the infected computer in Safe Mode with Networking first (instructions provided below). Ensure you use a genuine antivirus software to detect and eliminate malicious components automatically.
Afterward, we recommend downloading this tool – RESTORO (secure and official download link) and running a full system scan to identify and repair virus-damaged Windows OS files.
Additionally, we advise that you change all of the passwords for the online accounts that you used to access on the compromised computer. For data recovery options, scroll down to the instructions provided below.
OUR GEEKS RECOMMEND
Our team recommends a two-step rescue plan to remove ransomware and other remaining malware from your computer, plus repair caused virus damage to the system:
QQJJ 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 QQJJ 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 QQJJ 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. For virus damage repair, consider using RESTORO.
Compatibility: Microsoft Windows
See Full Review
RESTORO is a unique PC Repair Tool which comes with an in-built Avira scan engine to detect and remove spyware/malware threats and uses a patented technology to repair virus damage. The software can repair damaged, missing or malfunctioning Windows OS files, corrupted DLLs, and more. The free version offers a scan that detects issues. To fix them, license key for the full software version must be purchased.
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 QQJJ files
Fix and open large QQJJ 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 QQJJ 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. QQJJ Ransomware Virus is considered the new STOP/DJVU variant, just like MANW, MZOP, MZQW, ERQW, EROP, ASSM, MZTU (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 QQJJ 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 QQJJ 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 QQJJ 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 QQJJ 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 QQJJ 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 QQJJ 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 QQJJ 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 QQJJ 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.