ZATP ransomware virus is currently being circulated to infect computers and get their owners to pay the ransom fee. So what the promoters do is to spread this malware using deceptive methods, encrypt files found within the infected computer, and afterward demand for ransom fee in exchange for decryption tools. The infamous online rogue group STOP/DJVU is responsible for this ransomware virus. Once a computer becomes infected, the next thing that happens is the simultaneous encryption of files stored in it. Such files could be Microsoft word documents, PDFs, videos, pictures etc. After each file becomes encrypted, it will append .zatp extension to it. For instance, files that were previously saved as 1.jpg or 2.jpeg now become 1.jpg.zatp and 2.jpeg.zatp.
On the part of cybercriminals, the basic reason they create and distribute ransomware viruses is to infect many computers while hoping to extort ransom fees from the victims. They encrypt files in other people’s computers, i.e., make them unreadable, and then ask them to pay money before they can retrieve them via decryption tools. While some victims may call their bluff because they have a backup device that can easily replace lost data, others without backup sometimes try to reach out to them, especially when they consider the encrypted files to be essential. However, it should be noted that reaching out to cybercriminals is a bad idea. Likewise, victims should never pay ransom to them.
Once the virus encrypts all data, the next is the ransom note stage, whereby the cybercriminals inform the victim about the development via short messages contained in _readme.txt. The notifications are dropped in each of the affected folders. They also contain two email addresses i.e., firstname.lastname@example.org and an alternative one: email@example.com with suggestions for the victim to write to them so they could provide a solution to the problem.
Victims that do so are usually told to pay a ransom fee of $980. But in trying to make the victim pay without hesitation, they may promise a 50% ransom fee slash, bringing it down to $490. However, it comes with the condition that payment must be made within 72 hours of being notified. Once the time given elapses and they don’t receive the ransom, only the full ransom fee becomes acceptable from now on. There are other conditions as well, such as the insistence that payment must be made via cryptocurrency.
Therefore, the victim has to purchase cryptocurrency that is equivalent to the ransom fee and transfer it to a wallet address provided by the cybercriminals. The apparent reason why they choose this form of payment is that it gives them much-needed anonymity, unlike bank payment or money transfer, which could lead to their arrest. Yet, victims that go through all these challenges to make the payment are either sent an ineffective decryption tool or wholly ignored. In addition to that, we considered other factors before concluding that victims should never comply with their demands. Our advice is in line with the recommendations made by global cybersecurity organizations such as the FBI.
Here are some of the reasons why payment of ransom is strongly advised against:
Victims of the described file-encrypting virus should read the tutorial provided below and remove ZATP ransomware without a delay. Our team recommends using trustworthy security software for an automatic removal of the threat, for example, INTEGO Antivirus. It has excellent malware detection engine and offers user-friendly interface, among other beneficial features.
|Name||ZATP Ransomware Virus|
|Type||Ransomware; Crypto-malware; Virtual Extortion Virus|
|Encryption type||RSA 2048 + Salsa20|
|Previous versions||POWD, TOHJ, TUIS, TURY, POHJ, POWZ (find full list here)|
|Cybercriminal firstname.lastname@example.org and 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 .zatp 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.MK!MTB (Microsoft), Gen:Heur.Mint.Zard.52 (B) (Emsisoft), HEUR:Trojan.Win32.Scarsi.gen (Kaspersky), Gen:Heur.Mint.Zard.52 (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 like INTEGO Antivirus.|
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Below, you can see a screenshot of ransomware-affected data folder containing files with new extensions as well as the ransom note dropped.
Cybercriminals exploit certain deceptive practices to fool their victims and make them infect their computers. However, by being aware of their gimmicks, people can easily prevent such from happening. This section will expose such deceptive methods and how they can be avoided.
Cybercriminals also make use of unsolicited emails in spreading ransomware. In this case, they may claim to be agents of popular brands such as Yahoo, DHL, Amazon, eBay etc. The email is usually accompanied with attachments that are tagged with business terms like Tracking Details, Invoice, or Order Summary. This is only a ploy to make their target audience curious enough to open the attachment. Those that fall for it end up triggering ransomware attacks. To avoid becoming a victim, emails that emanate from unknown or unrecognizable sources shouldn’t be opened.
Cybercriminals sometimes clone popular software copies and embed them with malware before uploading to online torrent platforms. Unsuspecting users may think it saves money to download them as freebies instead of buying the software via the official platform. This is not only morally wrong but also puts the person at serious risk of infecting their computer. We recommend that software should only be sourced legally.
There are other risk factors associated with ransomware virus infection. Cybercriminals also use the opportunity to distribute Remote Access Trojans. These RATs are attached to the primary malware and are released same time too. Their mission is slightly different from the primary malware in the sense that cybercriminals use them in stealing sensitive personal information such as banking details, software login information, credit card details etc.
Here is a list of some popular software copies usually pirated and used in distributing malware:
Normally, people download torrents using various peer-2-peer file sharing software. We strongly advise against the use of P2P sharing networks, instead, software users should buy legally from the original producers.
Considering how damaging this ransomware virus can be, it is crucial for computer users to take proactive measures to protect their PC and files. First of all, every computer should have genuine antivirus software installed and maintained consistently. In addition to that, online activities and the use of software content should be done responsibly. Considering the risk factors and the cost-benefit analysis of using cloned/pirated versions of software, we realized it isn’t worth it. The losses that could arise from ransomware virus infection far outweigh its possible benefits (that’s, if any at all).
It is crucial to remove ZATP ransomware virus once it is detected in any computer. We recommend the use of INTEGO Antivirus software because it is genuine, strong and absolutely reliable.
Before we conclude, also remember take the following steps:
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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:
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ZATP Ransomware Virus Removal Guidelines
Before you try to remove ZATP 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
Instructions for Windows 8/8.1/10/11 users
Now, you can search for and remove ZATP 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.
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In order to use System Restore, you must have a system restore point, created either manually or automatically.
Instructions for Windows XP/Vista/7 users
Instructions for Windows 8/8.1/10/11 users
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.
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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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.
STOP/DJVU ransomware versions are grouped into old and new variants. ZATP Ransomware Virus is considered the new STOP/DJVU variant, just like POWD, TOHJ, TUIS, TURY, POHJ, POWZ (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 ZATP files, follow the given tutorial.
The ZATP 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 ZATP 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.
Victims of ZATP Ransomware Virus should report the Internet crime incident to the official government fraud and scam website according to their country:
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.
You can only open ZATP 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 ZATP 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 ZATP 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.
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