Severity scale:  
  (98/100)

UselessDisk ransomware. How to remove? (Uninstall guide)

removal by Ugnius Kiguolis - - | Type: Ransomware

UselessDisk is a bootlocker ransomware that demands to pay 300 USD to boot into Windows

UselessDisk ransomware belongs to the group[ of bootlockers

UselessDisk is a bootloader ransomware virus that can also be recognized as DiskWriter or MBR bootlocker. Ransomware researchers detected it at the end of March 2018 spreading DiskWriter.exe or UselessDisk.exe files. Once installed, it corrupts the Master Boot Record sequence and prevents Windows from booting. Instead, it generates a ransom screen and asks to pay 300 USD via 1GZCw453MzQr8V2VAgJpRmKBYRDUJ8kzco Bitcoin wallet.

Name UselessDisk
Type of malware Ransomware
Sub-type Lock-screen
Related malware DiskWriter and MBR bootlocker
Symptoms Windows does not boot, gets stuck with UselessDisk ransom screen. Ransom demanded
Distribution Malspam campaigns, exploit kits, corrupted RDP configuratios, fake software updates, phishing websites, etc. 
Related files DiskWriter.exe and UselessDisk.exe
Elimination process To get rid of UselessDisk by booting Windows into Safe Mode and running a scan with Reimage

As soon as the system is infected with UselessDisk ransomware, the virus overwrites the Master Boot Record (MBR),[1] which is a Windows boot sector located on a hard drive or another core system's location that is crucial for the boot process to be processed. It replaces the system's MBR with its source code and the runs a shutdown -r -t 0 script on Command Prompt using administrative privileges.

Consequently, the system gets stuck at Windows boot and, instead of displaying an endless loop or regular Windows boot screen, it generates the following UselessDisk ransom screen:

Oops, your important files are encrypted.
If you see this text, then your files are not accessible, because they've been encrypted.
Maybe you're busy looking for a way to recover your files,but don't
waste your time. Nobody can recover your files without our decryption service.

In order to decrypt, please Send $300 worth of Bitcoin to this address:
1GZCw453MzQr8V2VAgJpRmKBYRDUJ8kzco

The ransom screen does not contain explicit information on how to recover files encrypted by DiskWriter ransomware. It does not include the name of a virus or a personal victim's ID that would let criminals to recognize who transferred the payment. Crooks provide indicate the amount of the ransom (300 USD) and ask to transfer it in Bitcoins via the 1GZCw453MzQr8V2VAgJpRmKBYRDUJ8kzco wallet.

The victim is urged to pay the ransom to remove the UselessDisk ransomware and boot the system again. However, experts from NoVirus.uk[2] recommend not to pay the smallest fraction of Bitcoin for the crooks who developed this infection. It seems that this lock-screen virus causes permanent data loss and needs serious maintenance.

Based on the DiskWriter ransomware analysis, the thieves do not indicate their contacts (except the address of Bitcoin wallet), which does not refer to any specificities of the owner. Besides, the criminals won't be able to recognize who paid the ransom, so they won't know which PC has to be unlocked.

Therefore, DO NOT pay the ransom because it does not seem to have a valid decryptor or UselessDisk removal tool. You should remove the infection instead and then try to recover locked or deleted data with the help of third-party recovery tools.

It's not possible to remove UselessDisk ransomware from the system by fixing the MBR. After that, the system fails to boot normally and displays an error of a Master File Table (MTF). To initiate a full UselessDisk removal, you should boot your PC into Safe Mode with Networking and run a full system scan with Reimage, Malwarebytes MalwarebytesCombo Cleaner or Plumbytes Anti-MalwareMalwarebytes Malwarebytes. We would highly recommend using Reimage as it functions as a powerful Windows optimizer and anti-virus simultaneously.

The ransomware can be disguised under fake software updates

The dissemination strategies of this lock-screen ransomware do not differ from the ones used by crypto-ransomware viruses. The following are the techniques that its developers can use to trick less experienced PC users into a trap:

  • Malspam campaigns;[3] 
  • Corrupted RDP configuration;
  • Drive-by-download attacks;
  • Exploit kits;
  • Fake software updates;
  • Phishing websites;
  • Malicious downloads on peer-to-peer networks, etc.

Anyway, this particular ransomware will be disguised under DiskWriter.exe or UselessDisk.exe files. In case of spam email, the file attachment may be disclosed as a DOC, PNG, DOCX, JPG, or other popular file formats to trick users into opening it. Nevertheless, the fake document will eventually load a DiskWriter.exe or UselessDisk.exe payload.

To protect yourself from attack, make sure to install a powerful anti-virus with a real-time protection feature and don't forget to update definitions regularly. Besides, avoid visiting illegal websites or clicking on phishy looking ads, links, and other content.

Uninstall UselessDisk ransomware virus

UselessDisk removal is a complicated task to perform. The virus affects both the MBR and MTF records. The changes not only prevents Windows from boot but can also corrupt personal files and render them inaccessible permanently.

Thus, we would not recommend you to remove UselessDisk virus with the help of a professional anti-malware. Since you cannot boot into Windows, try to boot it into Safe Mode with networking and run a scan. If you cannot do so, you may need help from a professional IT technician.

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Alternative Software
Different security software includes different virus database. If you didn’t succeed in finding malware with Reimage, try running alternative scan with Malwarebytes.
Alternative Software
Different security software includes different virus database. If you didn’t succeed in finding malware with Reimage, try running alternative scan with Combo Cleaner.

To remove UselessDisk virus, follow these steps:

Remove UselessDisk using Safe Mode with Networking

You will not be able to get rid of this ransomware in a regular way simply because it does not allow to boot the system. Thus, you should try to boot it 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 UselessDisk

    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 UselessDisk removal.

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

Remove UselessDisk using System Restore

If the previous method did not work, try an alternative Windows boot option. That's what you should do:

  • 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 UselessDisk. 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 UselessDisk removal is performed successfully.

Bonus: Recover your data

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

If you managed to get rid of UselessDisk ransomware successfully, but cannot access the data anyway, here's what options for data recovery you have. 

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

Use Data Recovery Pro

Data Recovery Pro can not only recover files and folders after accidental deletion or system crash. It has a powerful search engine that can also decrypt files locked by ransomware infections. Thus, give it a try. 

  • 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 UselessDisk ransomware;
  • Restore them.

Windows Previous Version

To unlock separate files, you can retrieve their copies from the previous Windows versions. For this purpose, you must have to have a System Restore Point created before the 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”.

Use ShadowExplorer

Windows creates and stores Shadow Volume copies by default. If the virus does not corrupt them by running a scrip via Command Prompt, data recovery might be an easy task to accomplish. Here's what you should do to:

  • 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.

UselessDisk decryptor not yet available

Finally, you should always think about the protection of crypto-ransomwares. In order to protect your computer from UselessDisk and other ransomwares, use a reputable anti-spyware, such as Reimage, Malwarebytes MalwarebytesCombo Cleaner or Plumbytes Anti-MalwareMalwarebytes Malwarebytes

About the author

Ugnius Kiguolis
Ugnius Kiguolis - The mastermind

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