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Remove AWT ransomware (Free Instructions) - Virus Removal Guide

removal by Alice Woods - - | Type: Ransomware

AWT ransomware – a virtual parasite that is similar to Snc ransomware and has emerged at the start of 2020

AWT ransomware virus
AWT ransomware is a notorious cyber threat that provides the ReadMe.txt ransom note

AWT ransomware is a dangerous program that aims to lock files with the .AWT extension and demands a Bitcoin ransom for the release of the decryption software. At the start of 2020, this parasite was first discovered by a cybersecurity researcher named Michael Gillespie who posts his findings on Twitter.[1] The added appendix also includes the user's unique ID and the developer's email address getdataback22@protonmail.com. So, in the end, all filenames will have something like this added: house.png.[2AF6578I][getdataback22@protonmail.com].AWT. AWT ransomware is not the only one of its kind, some similarities were found with another malicious string known as Snc ransomware. 

AWT ransomware provides the ReadMe.txt ransom message where all the demands are written. The criminals encourage users to contact them via unlockdata22@protonmail.com email address and if no response is shown in 24 hours, the victim can write to the getdataback22@protonmail.com email. Then, the crooks require obtaining and paying the in Bitcoin cryptocurrency and offer to send them 5 files that altogether take no more space than 10MB. This way the cybercriminals want to provide proof of the decryption key's existence and encourage you to purchase it faster.

Name AWT ransomware
Type Ransomware virus/malware
Founder Michael Gillespie
Similar apps This dangerous malware form appears to have some similarities to Snc ransomware
Appendix Once the files are locked with an asymmetric or symmetric encryption cipher, all of the filenames get the .AWT appendix added
Ransom note All the ransom demands and conditions are placed in the ReadMe.txt ransom note. Here, crooks urge to contact them via the provided email address and some small size files for the proof of the decryption tool's existence. The hackers also claim that the price depends on how fast the victim reaches out to them
Dangers Despite the encryption of valuable information, the ransomware virus might bring trojans to the system. These cyber threats can steal personal information and money, destroy software and the PC
Spreading The most popular distribution sources of ransomware infections are phishing email messages that provide the malicious payload in the form of an attachment, software cracks that can be downloaded from torrenting sites
Elimination You should use only trustworthy programs for getting rid of this parasite. Make sure that the tool you choose is capable of detecting and eliminating such a dangerous virus
Repair tip If you have found some signs of system compromisation, you can try initiating a repair process with the help of Reimage Reimage Cleaner Intego software

AWT virus uses a unique encryption cipher such as a symmetric or asymmetric one and the key differs for each victim which really hardens the decryption process. Nevertheless, the criminals store both encryption and decryption keys on remote servers so that they could be reachable for anyone except their original owners (the hackers).

There are also other ways how AWT ransomware might try to harden the decryption process for you. This cyber threat can execute specific PowerShell commands that delete or permanently damage the Shadow Volume Copies[2] of encrypted data so you would not be able to use any third-party software for data recovery that requires the Shadow Copies to be safe.

Nevertheless, the criminals who are responsible for the creation of AWT ransomware, write in the ransom note that the price of the decryption tool depends on the time when the victim contacts the hackers. This way users are pushed to reply in a shorter amount of time by making the wrong decision. Here is how the entire Readme.txt message looks like:

[+] All Your Files Have Been Encrypted [+]
[-] Do You Really Want To Restore Your Files?
[+] Write Us To The E-Mail : unlockdata22@protonmail.com
[+] If you did not get any response until 24 hours later,Write to this E-Mail : getdataback22@protonmail.com
[-] Write Your Unique-ID In The Title Of Your Message.
[+] Unique-ID : [redacted 8 uppercase hex] [-] You Have To Pay For Decryption In Bitcoins.
[-] The Price Depends On How Fast You Write To Us.
[-] After Payment We Will Send You The Decryption Tool
That Will Decrypt All Your Files.
_______________________________________________________

[+] Free Decryption As Guarantee [+]

[-] Before Paying You Can Send Us Up To 5 Files For
Free Decryption, The Total Size Of Files Must Bee Less
Than 10MB, (Non Archived) And Files Should Not Contain
Valuable Information (Databases, Backups, Large Excel
-Sheets, Etc).
_______________________________________________________

[+] How To Obtain Bitcoins [+]

[-] The Easiest Way To Buy Bitcoins Is LocalBitcoins
Site : https://localbitcoins.com/buy_bitcoins
You Have To Register, Click ‘Buy Bitcoins’, And Select
The Seller By Payment Method And Price.
[-] Also You Can Find Other Places To Buy Bitcoins And
Beginners Guide Here:
http://coindesk.com/information/how-can-i-buy-bitcoins
_______________________________________________________

[+] Attention! [+]

[-] Do Not Rename Encrypted Files.
[-] Do Not Try To Decrypt Your Data Using Third Party
-Software, It May Cause Permanent Data Loss.
[-] Decryption Of Your Files With The Help Of Third
Parties May Cause Increased Price (They Add Their Fee
To Our) Or You Can Become A Victim Of A Scam.

_____________________AWT_Ransomware_______________________

AWT ransomware also tries to scare its victims by claiming that many things can go wrong if they do not choose to follow the criminals' demands. These people urge not to rename encrypted files and not to try using third-party software as it can relate in permanent data loss, scamming or increase the price demanded for the decryption program.

However, we recommend not believing in these claims as most of them are false. AWT ransomware is aimed to scare you as this is one of the hackers' tactics to receive the ransom price in a faster way. Rather than trusting the crooks and truly risking to get scammed, you can try some data recovery alternatives that have been added to the end of this page.

AWT malware
AWT ransomware - malware that appends the .AWT extension to each encrypted file

Even though the ransom amount is not told by AWT ransomware, the price can vary anywhere from $50 to $2000 or more. However, these people are likely to demand a ransom in the Bitcoin cryptocurrency as such transfers keep the process anonymous and safe for tracking. The same goes for other types of cryptocurrencies too.

Other things that AWT ransomware might be responsible for is booting itself within every computer startup, disabling some types of antivirus software, injecting misleading entries into the Registry and running suspicious tasks in the Task Manager such as searching for encryptable documents every 30 minutes (or any other time interval).

Nevertheless, AWT ransomware can aim to target your Windows hosts file that can relate in permanent damage to this component. The criminals perform such activity as they want to prevent you from visiting cybersecurity-related websites and forums where you might get valuable information on the decryption and ransomware removal processes.

Furthermore, AWT ransomware can bring other malicious infections into the computer system. The ransomware makes your computer system more vulnerable to additional cyber threats and distributed Trojan horses very often. If you end up with this type of threat, you might experience permanent data loss, software damage, and monetary thefts.

If you want to avoid this risk, you have to remove AWT ransomware as you spot the first symptoms of this infection. Note that the manual method might not be helpful here so you should employ reliable software for the elimination process. Also, if your computer system has experienced any type of damage, you can try repairing it with a tool such as Reimage Reimage Cleaner Intego.

Also, note that AWT ransomware removal comes first before data recovery, otherwise, your effort will be useless as your files and documents will get encrypted again. Once you get rid of the cyber threat and fix al damaged entries, scroll down to the end of this page where you will find some data recovery techniques that might allow you to restore at least some files.

AWT ransomware

Email spam and software cracks might hold ransomware

Technology specialists from LesVirus.fr[3] claim that ransomware viruses are distributed through many different sources, however, the most popular ones are phishing email messages and cracked programs. Email spam is often delivered to random users where the crooks pretend to be from reliable organizations, agencies, and companies such as FedEx.

The phishing message comes with a malicious attachment that is usually provided as some type of order message but truly executes the ransomware infection when opened. Regarding this fact, you should always check the sender, the letter's content, and scan all attached files and documents with an AV tool before opening.

Continuously, ransomware infections get delivered through unsecured sources such as peer-to-peer networks[4] that hold a lot of software cracks. Torrenting networks are not the most reliable services to use while downloading some type of program or movie. Better get all of your products from official websites and the original developers.

In addition, ransomware viruses can get delivered through infectious advertisements and hyperlinks that are found online. You should especially be aware of fake software updates, e.g. flash player, that can be disguised malware. Also, always have an antivirus tool running so that it would be capable of warning you if something malicious occurs.

The automatical AWT ransomware termination method

AWT ransomware removal requires cleaning the entire computer system from suspicious processes, malicious entries, and other components. These steps can easily be mixed up or skipped by computer users, so we recommend eliminating the cyber threat with reliable automatical software only.

If you are having trouble to detect or remove AWT ransomware from your Windows computer system, you can boot the machine in Safe Mode with Networking or via System Restore to diminish the block of antivirus tools and deactivate the ransomware virus from carrying out malicious processes.

When AWT ransomware is gone, it is time to think about some data recovery possibilities. We strongly advise not to pay the crooks the demanded ransom price as you might easily get scammed by these people. Instead, check the data recovery steps that have been added to the end of this article.

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Alternative Software
Different software has a different purpose. If you didn’t succeed in fixing corrupted files with Reimage, try running SpyHunter 5.
Alternative Software
Different software has a different purpose. If you didn’t succeed in fixing corrupted files with Intego, try running Combo Cleaner.

To remove AWT virus, follow these steps:

Remove AWT using Safe Mode with Networking

To deactivate the malware and diminish all malicious changes on your Windows computer, you should boot the machine in Safe Mode with Networking.

  • Step 1: Reboot your computer to Safe Mode with Networking

    Windows 7 / Vista / XP
    1. Click Start Shutdown Restart OK.
    2. When your computer becomes active, start pressing F8 multiple times until you see the Advanced Boot Options window.
    3. Select Safe Mode with Networking from the list Select 'Safe Mode with Networking'

    Windows 10 / Windows 8
    1. Press the Power button at the Windows login screen. Now press and hold Shift, which is on your keyboard, and click Restart..
    2. Now select Troubleshoot Advanced options Startup Settings and finally press Restart.
    3. Once your computer becomes active, select Enable Safe Mode with Networking in Startup Settings window. Select 'Enable Safe Mode with Networking'
  • Step 2: Remove AWT

    Log in to your infected account and start the browser. Download Reimage Reimage Cleaner Intego or other legitimate anti-spyware program. Update it before a full system scan and remove malicious files that belong to your ransomware and complete AWT removal.

If your ransomware is blocking Safe Mode with Networking, try further method.

Remove AWT using System Restore

To disable malicious tasks and deactivate the ransomware virus on your Windows machine, you can try opting for the System Restore feature.

  • Step 1: Reboot your computer to Safe Mode with Command Prompt

    Windows 7 / Vista / XP
    1. Click Start Shutdown Restart OK.
    2. When your computer becomes active, start pressing F8 multiple times until you see the Advanced Boot Options window.
    3. Select Command Prompt from the list Select 'Safe Mode with Command Prompt'

    Windows 10 / Windows 8
    1. Press the Power button at the Windows login screen. Now press and hold Shift, which is on your keyboard, and click Restart..
    2. Now select Troubleshoot Advanced options Startup Settings and finally press Restart.
    3. Once your computer becomes active, select Enable Safe Mode with Command Prompt in Startup Settings window. Select 'Enable Safe Mode with Command Prompt'
  • Step 2: Restore your system files and settings
    1. Once the Command Prompt window shows up, enter cd restore and click Enter. Enter 'cd restore' without quotes and press 'Enter'
    2. Now type rstrui.exe and press Enter again.. Enter 'rstrui.exe' without quotes and press 'Enter'
    3. When a new window shows up, click Next and select your restore point that is prior the infiltration of AWT. After doing that, click Next. When 'System Restore' window shows up, select 'Next' Select your restore point and click 'Next'
    4. Now click Yes to start system restore. Click 'Yes' and start system restore
    Once you restore your system to a previous date, download and scan your computer with Reimage Reimage Cleaner Intego and make sure that AWT removal is performed successfully.

Bonus: Recover your data

Guide which is presented above is supposed to help you remove AWT from your computer. To recover your encrypted files, we recommend using a detailed guide prepared by 2-spyware.com security experts.

Files with the .AWT appendix signify about a ransomware infection. Rather than paying the demanded ransom price and risking to get scammed, you can try the below-provided data recovery tips.

If your files are encrypted by AWT, you can use several methods to restore them:

Data Recovery Pro might help with file restoring tasks.

If you employ this software and complete all steps as required in the instructions, you might have a chance of recovering some of your encrypted files and documents,

  • Download Data Recovery Pro;
  • Follow the steps of Data Recovery Setup and install the program on your computer;
  • Launch it and scan your computer for files encrypted by AWT ransomware;
  • Restore them.

Employing Windows Previous Versions feature might appear helpful for data recovery.

If you have enabled the System Restore feature in the past, this method might appear helpful an allow you to restore some of your individual files back to their previous states.

  • Find an encrypted file you need to restore and right-click on it;
  • Select “Properties” and go to “Previous versions” tab;
  • Here, check each of available copies of the file in “Folder versions”. You should select the version you want to recover and click “Restore”.

Use Shadow Explorer and have a chance of file recovery.

Try this method if the ransomware virus has affected your files and documents. However, this method might not work if the malware has destroyed or erased the Shadow Volume Copies of your encrypted data.

  • Download Shadow Explorer (http://shadowexplorer.com/);
  • Follow a Shadow Explorer Setup Wizard and install this application on your computer;
  • Launch the program and go through the drop down menu on the top left corner to select the disk of your encrypted data. Check what folders are there;
  • Right-click on the folder you want to restore and select “Export”. You can also select where you want it to be stored.

There is no official decryption key released yet.

Finally, you should always think about the protection of crypto-ransomwares. In order to protect your computer from AWT and other ransomwares, use a reputable anti-spyware, such as Reimage Reimage Cleaner Intego, SpyHunter 5Combo Cleaner or Malwarebytes

About the author

Alice Woods
Alice Woods - Likes to teach users about virus prevention

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