QkG ransomware / virus (Tutorial) - Virus Removal Instructions
qkG virus Removal Guide
What is qkG ransomware virus?
qkG encrypts MS Word files only
qkG ransomware is a unique example of file-encrypting malware. It is written in Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) macro and is designed to encrypt Microsoft Word documents only using XOR cryptography. The virus has been first spotted on the 12th of November.
According to Trend Micro blog post, the first samples of the ransomware was uploaded from Vietnam. However, the active distribution has not started yet, and it’s still in development stage. However, security experts think that qkG virus might be an experimental ransomware.
However, if you ever encounter this cyber threat, you should not transfer demanded $300 in Bitcoins. You should remove qkG from the computer with RestoroIntego or another reputable malware removal program to keep the system virus-free.
The analysis of the virus revealed some unique features of the qkG:
- It encrypts only one type of file – MS Word documents. Typically, ransomware-type cyber threats targets as much as possible popular file types.
- Malware employs Auto Close VBA macro – the same technique has been used by a Lukitus, one of the latest versions of Locky ransomware. This feature allows executing malicious macro when victims close the document.
- The virus encrypts the content of the infected document, but leave the file structure and filename the same.
- It is designed to corrupt only ActiveDocument – only opened Word files will be encrypted.
- Ransomware can be activated from the infected document on a clean computer.
The crypto-malware program is most likely to spread via spam emails that include Word documents with malicious VBA code. Once a user opens it, it asks to enable editing feature, and if a user agrees to do it, the malware is dropped on the system. Then qkG modifies Windows Registry keys and lower’s Word’ security settings in order to activate malicious macro commands without interruptions and starts corrupting files.
The unseen data encryption procedure
On the affected device ransomware injects malicious code to normal.dot file that is a basic Word template. qkG malware also adds Document_Open() autostart macro command to the targeted document and makes a copy of itself. Then crypto-malware uses XOR cipher and the same key to corrupt Word files. The encryption procedure starts when a victim closes the document.
At the end of the each compromised document, the virus adds a short ransom note that includes the main information: the size of the ransom and Bitcoin wallet address. Victims are asked to pay the ransom, and most likely they receive qkG decryptor via email. However, researchers tell that currently, the malware uses the same hardcoded password: “I’m QkG@PTM17! by TNA@MHT-TT2”.
Additionally, malware is self-replicating. It means that it makes a copy of itself to normal.dot file and can spread with the help of it. It means that if an encrypted document is opened on non-infected PC or laptop, the malicious program sneaks inside it and starts its activities.
Therefore, if your colleague gives you a USB with a bunch of Word files or sends you an important document, first of all, you should scan it with anti-virus and make sure that its safe to open. Additionally, you will have to spend time with qkG removal and data recovery procedure.
qkG ransomware virus encrypts Word documents only and demands to pay $300 in Bitcoins.
The Word-encrypting malware tricks users into opening malicious document
At the moment of writing, the major distribution campaign hasn’t started yet. However, researchers assume that qkG is most likely spread via malicious spam emails and with the help of social engineering tricks people into downloading Word document with malicious macro commands.
The content of the e-letter might seem legitimate and express the urge to open the attachment. It might be presented as invoice, statement or other important documents. When a user opens it, the malicious Word file asks to enable macros to view the content. Hitting the “Enable Editing” button runs VBA code and installs malware on the system.
Even though malware is not actively spread yet, cyber security experts from Les Virus suggest staying vigilant with received emails. Before opening email attachment always make sure that you can trust the sender and the provided issue is real.
Removal of the qkG
qkG removal is performed the same way as other crypto-viruses. You have to employ a reputable malware removal program, such as RestoroIntego or Malwarebytes and eliminate this cyber threat automatically. Attempts to eliminate this parasite manually may lead to irreparable damage to the system. Thus, you should not risk.
However, the virus might block security software. In order to bypass these restrictions, you have to reboot the computer to the Safe Mode with Networking or use System Restore method. Both methods are explained below and help you to remove qkG automatically.
Getting rid of qkG virus. Follow these steps
Manual removal using Safe Mode
Activate security program by rebooting the system to Safe Mode with Networking:
Manual removal guide might be too complicated for regular computer users. It requires advanced IT knowledge to be performed correctly (if vital system files are removed or damaged, it might result in full Windows compromise), and it also might take hours to complete. Therefore, we highly advise using the automatic method provided above instead.
Step 1. Access Safe Mode with Networking
Manual malware removal should be best performed in the Safe Mode environment.
Windows 7 / Vista / XP
- Click Start > Shutdown > Restart > OK.
- When your computer becomes active, start pressing F8 button (if that does not work, try F2, F12, Del, etc. – it all depends on your motherboard model) multiple times until you see the Advanced Boot Options window.
- Select Safe Mode with Networking from the list.
Windows 10 / Windows 8
- Right-click on Start button and select Settings.
- Scroll down to pick Update & Security.
- On the left side of the window, pick Recovery.
- Now scroll down to find Advanced Startup section.
- Click Restart now.
- Select Troubleshoot.
- Go to Advanced options.
- Select Startup Settings.
- Press Restart.
- Now press 5 or click 5) Enable Safe Mode with Networking.
Step 2. Shut down suspicious processes
Windows Task Manager is a useful tool that shows all the processes running in the background. If malware is running a process, you need to shut it down:
- Press Ctrl + Shift + Esc on your keyboard to open Windows Task Manager.
- Click on More details.
- Scroll down to Background processes section, and look for anything suspicious.
- Right-click and select Open file location.
- Go back to the process, right-click and pick End Task.
- Delete the contents of the malicious folder.
Step 3. Check program Startup
- Press Ctrl + Shift + Esc on your keyboard to open Windows Task Manager.
- Go to Startup tab.
- Right-click on the suspicious program and pick Disable.
Step 4. Delete virus files
Malware-related files can be found in various places within your computer. Here are instructions that could help you find them:
- Type in Disk Cleanup in Windows search and press Enter.
- Select the drive you want to clean (C: is your main drive by default and is likely to be the one that has malicious files in).
- Scroll through the Files to delete list and select the following:
Temporary Internet Files
- Pick Clean up system files.
- You can also look for other malicious files hidden in the following folders (type these entries in Windows Search and press Enter):
After you are finished, reboot the PC in normal mode.
Remove qkG using System Restore
System Restore method also help to disable the virus and run automatic elimination
Step 1: Reboot your computer to Safe Mode with Command Prompt
Windows 7 / Vista / XP
- Click Start → Shutdown → Restart → OK.
- When your computer becomes active, start pressing F8 multiple times until you see the Advanced Boot Options window.
- Select Command Prompt from the list
Windows 10 / Windows 8
- Press the Power button at the Windows login screen. Now press and hold Shift, which is on your keyboard, and click Restart..
- Now select Troubleshoot → Advanced options → Startup Settings and finally press Restart.
- Once your computer becomes active, select Enable Safe Mode with Command Prompt in Startup Settings window.
Step 2: Restore your system files and settings
- Once the Command Prompt window shows up, enter cd restore and click Enter.
- Now type rstrui.exe and press Enter again..
- When a new window shows up, click Next and select your restore point that is prior the infiltration of qkG. After doing that, click Next.
- Now click Yes to start system restore.
Bonus: Recover your dataGuide which is presented above is supposed to help you remove qkG from your computer. To recover your encrypted files, we recommend using a detailed guide prepared by 2-spyware.com security experts.
Currently, corrupted Word files can be recovered with the password “I’m QkG@PTM17! by TNA@MHT-TT2”. However, if you need additional solutions, try the methods below.
If your files are encrypted by qkG, you can use several methods to restore them:
Data Recovery Pro helps to restore corrupted files
The program is originally created for recovering deleted or corrupted files. However, it might also be helpful after ransomware attack.
- 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 qkG ransomware;
- Restore them.
Take advantage of the Windows Previous Versions feature
This feature works if System Restore was enabled before the qkG attack. Follow these steps to copy individual versions of the corrupted Word files.
- 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”.
Malware is not likely to delete Shadow Volume Copies yet. Thus, you can try to recover files with ShadowExplorer.
- 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.
Finally, you should always think about the protection of crypto-ransomwares. In order to protect your computer from qkG and other ransomwares, use a reputable anti-spyware, such as RestoroIntego, SpyHunter 5Combo Cleaner or Malwarebytes
How to prevent from getting ransomware
Do not let government spy on you
The government has many issues in regards to tracking users' data and spying on citizens, so you should take this into consideration and learn more about shady information gathering practices. Avoid any unwanted government tracking or spying by going totally anonymous on the internet.
You can choose a different location when you go online and access any material you want without particular content restrictions. You can easily enjoy internet connection without any risks of being hacked by using Private Internet Access VPN.
Control the information that can be accessed by government any other unwanted party and surf online without being spied on. Even if you are not involved in illegal activities or trust your selection of services, platforms, be suspicious for your own security and take precautionary measures by using the VPN service.
Backup files for the later use, in case of the malware attack
Computer users can suffer from data losses due to cyber infections or their own faulty doings. Ransomware can encrypt and hold files hostage, while unforeseen power cuts might cause a loss of important documents. If you have proper up-to-date backups, you can easily recover after such an incident and get back to work. It is also equally important to update backups on a regular basis so that the newest information remains intact – you can set this process to be performed automatically.
When you have the previous version of every important document or project you can avoid frustration and breakdowns. It comes in handy when malware strikes out of nowhere. Use Data Recovery Pro for the data restoration process.
- ^ XOR cipher. Wikipedia. The free encyclopedia.
- ^ Jaromir Horejsi. qkG Filecoder: Self-Replicating, Document-Encrypting Ransomware. Trend Micro blog. Security intelligence blog.
- ^ Les Virus. Les Virus. Latest cyber security and spyware news.