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KCW ransomware. How to remove? (Uninstall guide)

removal by Lucia Danes - - | Type: Ransomware

KCW is a crypto-ransomware virus encrypting web files

KCW ransomware virus

KCW ransomware is a crypto-virus that is currently being used to encrypt web files. Likewise KimcilWare ransomware, it's PHP-based ransomware,[1] which aims at encrypting websites and web files. Locked data can be easily recognized by .kcwenc file extension. Encrypted websites can hardly be unnoticed as well since it gets locked by a Team Kerala Cyber Warriors screen saying that “Your site is infected by KCW ransomware.”

Name KCW
Type  Ransomware (web-based)
Also referred to as Kerala Cyber Warriors
Compromised websites arainwelfare.org and planavent.com
Symptoms The website cannot be access. Ransom note displayed
Distribution Rogue software, infected web browser's extensions
To get rid of ransomware and other infected files from your PC, run a scan with Reimage. After that, use third-party tool to clean the website and reset the browser. 

At the moment of writing, the ransomware has already attacked arainwelfare.org and planavent.com websites. However, that's just the initial stage of the virus, so the more widespread distribution is expected.

It's not yet clear if KCW ransomware targets the specific type of websites. However, it does not seem that it uses a filter to attack the websites, such as online stores, authorities, and similar. Any vulnerable website can be hacked. 

As soon as the ransomware payload is being executed, the virus enables a hard-coded encryption algorithm, creates an index file, which launches a website displaying KCW ransom note. The page with instructions is not informative enough. It says:

Warning: session_start(): Cannot send session cookies – headers already sent by (output started at /home4/ztauseef/public_html/(the name of the website)/kcwdecrypt.php2) in /home4/ztauseef/public_html/(the name of the website/kcwdecrypt.php on line 3

Warning: session_start(): Cannot send session cache limiter – headers already sent (output started at /home4/ztauseef/ public_html/(the name of the website)/kcwdecrypt.php2) in /home4/ztauseef/public_html/(the name of the website/kcwdecrypt.php on line 3

Team Kerala Cyber Warriors
YOUR SITE IS INFECTED BY KCW RANSOMWARE

The first sign of the KCW ransomware infection dates back to 2016 when the Kerala Cyber Warriors managed to hack the website of People for Animals (PFA),[2] the website dedicated to the protection of animal rights against PFA and support for a ban on the extermination of stray dogs across India.

A second case has been reported at the end of April 2018, when ransomware researchers revealed arainwelfare.org and planavent.com websites encrypted by KCW ransomware. The motive of the attack is currently unknown, though experts claim that these sites might have been using an outdated version of the software.

Although ransomware virus typically spread in the form of spam attachments, drive-by-download, exploit kits, unprotected RDS, and similar means, this particular virus most probably infiltrates to the system via compromised web browser's extensions.

Ransomware distribution model

It's essential to take precautionary measures to prevent ransomware attacks in general. The measures comprise spam email ignorance, usage of powerful anti-virus programs, real-time protection enabling, neglection of suspicious ads, links, etc.

Nevertheless, in this particular case, the situation is somewhat different. This crypto-virus is web-based, meaning that it targets websites and the whole chain of web platforms. Therefore, if you are the owner of a site, make sure that your password for the administrative accounts is strong. Besides, zondervirus.nl[3]  team recommend keeping the website updated to the latest version available. 

KCW ransomware removal possibilities

The web-based KCW removal is hardly possible without a third-party security tool. To disable malicious extensions that might have been attached to your web browser by force, we would recommend scanning the system with Reimage or similar security tool.

After that, check for malicious links with the help of web browser's de-indexing, provided by Google and other favorite websites. Here's how you can check for them:

  • Open your source code on a web browser.
  • Under the View menu, go to the Page Source.
  • Now check for the links and tags for external links.
  • Look for links next to the “display=none” attribute.

In case you found any suspicious links and tags, then you should download a tool that is capable of cleaning hacked websites. There are many third-party tools that you can download on the Internet, but make sure to rely on a reliable source.

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To remove KCW virus, follow these steps:

Remove KCW using Safe Mode with Networking

If there's any obstacles that you cannot bypass due to ransomware block, you should try restarting the system into 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 KCW

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

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

Remove KCW using System Restore

Malware and virus removal can also be initiating System Restore. Here's what steps you should try to perform:

  • 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 KCW. 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 and make sure that KCW removal is performed successfully.

Bonus: Recover your data

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

Currently, KCW ransomware does not target personal files stored on people's PCs. It aims at locking web files and websites to prevent the owners from accessing and managing their domains. If, however, the virus would switch the target and start attacking files stored on the hard drive, the following instructions would be helpful for their decryption. 

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

Use Data Recovery Pro

Data Recovery Pro is a third-party data recovery tool that has been developed with an intention to help people retrieve accidentally deleted files or recover them after system's crash. Nevertheless, it can be of use in case or ransomware infection as well. 

  • 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 KCW ransomware;
  • Restore them.

Previous Windows Version

If you are used to creating System Restore Points, then try to enable the last point created before ransomware attack. 

  • 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”.

ShadowExplorer

Exploit Volume Shadow Copies. Download ShadowExplorer and run a full system scan with it. 

  • 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.

No KCW decryptor available yet.

About the author

Lucia Danes
Lucia Danes - Virus researcher

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References