WWKA ransomware encrypts files to demand a ransom
- WWKA ransomware encrypts files to demand a ransom
- Ransomware distribution techniques
- Remove WWKA ransomware and decrypt your files
- Decrypt WWKA files
- Frequently Asked Questions
WWKA ransomware is a new variant of STOP/DJVU file-encrypting virus. It is designed to attack computers and encrypt all files on them using RSA Salsa20 algorithm. Once the virus affects all personal files, it leaves _readme.txt notes from cybercriminals who demand paying a ransom for data decryption. To make affected files distinguishable, the virus marks them with additional .wwka extension after encryption. For example, a file originally called 1.jpg will appear as 1.jpg.wwka after modification. As explained in the ransom note, the virus’ developers suggest buying WWKA decryption tool for a specified price which depends on how fast the victim writes to the attackers. If one does this within 3 days, the ransom price will be $490, otherwise – $980. The only way to contact the criminals is writing to provided emails: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The primary aim of WWKA ransomware is to extort the owner of the infected computer by keeping one’s files hostage. The encryption method is considered military-grade, therefore the attackers expect that the victim will listen to their demands’ and pay the ransom as requested. We must mention a specific detail about the whole file modification process – the ransomware encrypts only the first 150 KB of each file, which makes file inaccessible and doesn’t slow down the whole attack time. However, this also allows restoring certain file formats as described in this guide.
WWKA decryption tool price depends on how fast the victim writes to the attackers. If the victim contacts the attackers within 72 hours and manages to settle an agreement (and of course, pay the ransom), the criminals will offer 50% discount which means the tool and unique decryption key costs $490. Otherwise, the price will bounce back to full amount – $980. Of course, the attackers want to receive the payment in untraceable way and that is why they demand paying in cryptocurrency. This requires the victim to purchase Bitcoin worth specified amount and transferring it to criminals’ wallet. To encourage the victim to believe in them, the attackers offer test decryption service on one small file.
Geek’s Advice team as well as FBI recommend you to NOT PAY THE RANSOM. Some of the reasons why it is wrongful and not worth doing so are:
- There are no guarantees that you will recover your files after paying the ransom. The criminals might just disappear into the thin air after receiving the payment and not respond anymore.
- Actors behind the ransomware attacks earn millions of US dollars each year. By paying them, you would contribute to the growth of this illegal business. As long as they are able to earn money from their activities, they will continue doing it. Besides, the insane amounts they earn lures other people to join in.
- Paying a ransom might be considered an illegal act in your country.
- Viruses that belong to STOP/DJVU ransomware family such as WWKA virus run AZORULT Trojan on compromised systems.
Ransomware damage explained in detail
WWKA ransomware begins the attack by running a deceptive process called winupdate.exe, which launches a fake Windows update prompt on the screen. This method is used to trick the victim into thinking that computer slowdown is caused by system updates and not something malicious. Meanwhile, the virus also executes another process that encrypts all files on the system. Additionally, the virus runs a Command Prompt command that deletes Volume Shadow Copies from the computer:
vssadmin.exe Delete Shadows /All /Quiet
This prevents the victim from restoring encrypted files with the help of System Restore Points (if any were created prior to the cyberattack). The next thing this virus does is adding a list of domains to Windows HOSTS file to prevent the victim from accessing them. This file is used to map domains to localhost IP in order to prevent the computer user from reaching certain websites. Once the victim attempts to visit one of these sites, DNS_PROBE_FINISHED_NXDOMAIN error will show up in web browser. It has been noticed that the virus tries to block websites that publish how-to articles and relevant cybersecurity-related information. In other words, it seems that virus’ developers seek to prevent the victim from reaching self-help information online. Finally, the ransomware drops bowsakkdestx.txt (contains victim’s public encryption key and personal ID) and PersonalID.txt (only includes victim’s identification string) on victim’s computer.
Victims of WWKA virus should keep in mind that certain STOP/DJVU versions can drag AZORULT Trojan into the already compromised computer. This Remote Access Trojan (RAT) can be used to perform various tasks on victim’s computer remotely.
- Downloading malware to the computer and running it;
- Stealing Steam, Telegram login credentials;
- Viewing or deleting files on victim’s computer;
- Stealing cryptocurrency wallets;
- Stealing browser cookies, saved passwords, browsing history and more.
Considering the amount of damage this malware caused to your computer, we strongly recommend you to remove WWKA ransomware virus from your computer as fast as you can. For that, we suggest following the instructions given below along with professional security program such as INTEGO Antivirus. Additionally, we recommend scanning your PC with RESTORO to repair virus damage on Windows OS files.
|Name||WWKA Ransomware Virus|
|Type||Ransomware; Crypto-malware; Virtual Extortion Virus|
|Encryption type||RSA Salsa20|
|Previous versions||FATP, FATE, TCBU, POZQ, ZATP, ZATE (find full list here)|
|Dropper||SmokeLoader (see VirusTotal details)|
|Damage||The virus infects computers using stealthy techniques and then encrypts victim’s personal files using RSA Salsa20 encryption algorithms. The virus also appends .wwka extension to each file, saves _readme.txt notes and removes Volume Shadow Copies from the system. Finally, it uploads a list of blocked domain names to Windows HOSTS file.|
|Ransom demand||$490-$980 in Bitcoin|
|Distribution||Hides in illegal torrent downloads, cracked software, key generators or tools like KMSPico.|
|Detection names||Trojan:Win32/Glupteba (Microsoft), VHO:Trojan-Spy.Win32.Stealer.gen (Kaspersky), Gen:Variant.Graftor.974954 (BitDefender), ML.Attribute.HighConfidence (Symantec), W32.Trojan.Gen (Webroot) see all detection name variations on VirusTotal|
|Removal||Remove ransomware and related malware from your PC using professional software of your choice. We highly recommend using INTEGO Antivirus. To repair virus damage on Windows OS files, consider scanning with RESTORO.|
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Ransomware distribution techniques
Almost every STOP/DJVU malware variant, including WWKA ransomware, reaches victim’s computer along a malicious software crack or another illegal and copyright-protected torrent download. Victims have reported getting the infection after trying to illegally obtain these programs:
- Adobe Photoshop;
- Corel Draw;
- Adobe Illustrator;
- Windows activation tools such as KMSPico.
Cybercriminals know that many computer users are trying to get paid programs for free, therefore they set up a trap for them by uploading infectious downloads on various file-sharing sites. The worst part is that when trying to obtain programs illegally, victims are often willing to ignore their security software warnings and proceed to open the file even if it is marked as potentially malicious. If you want to avoid getting infected, we strongly advise choosing only legitimate sources to get your software from. Consider heading to official software developer’s or distributor’s website and paying for legitimate license if you wish to get a unique and working version of the program that you need. We can assure you that this is always cheaper to support software developers rather than greedy cybercriminals.
Viruses that fall into ransomware category are also distributed in a form of email attachments. The attackers compose infectious files in the following formats: DOCX, XLS, PDF and name them as invoice/pending payment/parcel delivery tracking details or similarly and attach them to deceptive emails which they send to mass of people. Typically, criminals get potential target email lists from various online data leaks. We strongly suggest looking for these signs that signal about potentially malicious email:
- Urgent message tone and suggestions to open attached contents immediately;
- Claims about an invoice or another important document that needs to be reviewed instantly;
- The sender pretends to be someone from a well-known company;
- Spoofed email address;
- Your email box provider marks the letter as spam.
Geek’s Advice team experts suggest ignoring emails that you did not wait for or that seem even slightly suspicious. If something seems a bit off, or if you start questioning yourself “why am I getting this email”, delete the email and do not even consider opening its attachments or links included as they can lead to severe computer infection.
If you’ve fallen victim to this ransomware, we must warn you that there are a number of fake STOP/DJVU decryption tools online that can severely infect your computer with other ransomware strains, for instance, ZORAB. In other words, cybercriminals are trying to target and double-encrypt victims who desperately look for a way to decrypt their files. We can assure you that once a real decryption tool appears, all of the reputable cybersecurity-related sites will mention it in their news.
Remove WWKA ransomware and decrypt your files
To secure your computer, we strongly recommend you to remove WWKA ransomware virus and take actions to prevent similar attacks in the future. To eliminate malware safely, you will need to follow the guide given below to boot into Safe Mode with Networking. For virus removal, we recommend using INTEGO Antivirus, which also provides robust real-time protection. Finally, download RESTORO and scan your PC to repair virus damage on Windows OS files.
Once you safely remove WWKA ransomware virus, you should take the following actions:
- Report cybercrime incident to your local authority responsible for handling such events.
- Try to think if you have created a data backup lately. If so, use it to restore at least part of important files.
- Follow the given instructions to decrypt or repair files affected by STOP/DJVU versions.
- We also recommend changing your passwords, especially for sites that you chose to save login credentials for in your browser.
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:
WWKA 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 WWKA 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 WWKA 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
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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 WWKA files
Fix and open large WWKA 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 WWKA 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. WWKA ransomware virus is considered the new STOP/DJVU variant, just like FATP, FATE, TCBU, POZQ, ZATP, ZATE (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 WWKA 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 WWKA 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 WWKA 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 WWKA 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 WWKA 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 WWKA 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 WWKA 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 WWKA 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.