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Remove ZONEware ransomware / virus (Virus Removal Instructions) - Decryption Steps Included

removal by Olivia Morelli - - | Type: Ransomware

ZONEware can encrypt numerous files on the affected computer

Ransom note by ZONEware ransomware

ZONEware is a file-encrypting virus that appends .ZW extension to targeted files and demands to pay 0.25376 Bitcoins for data recovery. The instructions how to pay the ransom popups on the computer’s screen as soon as data encryption is done. Besides, malware places Ransom Note.txt file to each folder that includes encrypted files.

In the ransom note, ZONEware ransomware claims that data is locked with a military-grade encryption algorithm. However, malware researchers haven’t confirmed what cipher the virus use. Unfortunately, criminals do not lie. Victims have to obtain a decryption tool in order to use their files again.

Crooks warn that users should not try to decrypt files themselves. According to them, “it will only make the situation worse.” However, sending 0.2 Bitcoins to the provided address is not a good idea. There’s no information that ZONEware virus is decryptable. Thus, crooks might just take your money and leave with the encoded data.

Right now the only way to restore all of the files is to use backups. Otherwise, chances to access documents, photographies or music files are low. However, you should not give up and follow hacker’s orders. No matter how important personal data is, you have to focus on ZONEware removal.

When ZONEware enters the system, it makes several modifications. It might alter Windows Registry and install numerous malicious files.[1] In this way, ransomware boots with system startup and can run in the background. Having ransomware installed undoubtedly makes computer sluggish and unprotected. So, it’s important to clean malevolent components to use the device safely.

Crypto-viruses are complicated infections that are often hard to remove. Security specialists do not recommend deleting malware-related files manually. Ransomware might inject malicious code into legit processes, so it might be impossible to eliminate them properly without professional help. Thus, you should obtain a reputable malware removal tool for ZONEware removal. We suggest Reimage Reimage Cleaner Intego.

The example of ZONEware ransomware virusZONEware ransomware virus appends .ZW file extension and drops a .txt file in all folders with encrypted files.

Strategies used for ransomware distribution

.ZW file extension virus might be spreading using all “traditional” ransomware distribution methods. The variety of techniques allows reaching users all over the world, including Hungary[2] or the Czech Republic. Therefore, it doesn’t matter that authors of ransomware greet victims in English. Malware might end up on computers located all over the world because of these strategies:

  • spam emails with infected links or attachments;
  • malicious ads that might be placed on legitimate and potentially dangerous websites;
  • fake software downloads available on various file-sharing sites or torrents;
  • bogus updates that might pop up when browsing the web;
  • exploit kits;
  • insecure RDP configuration.

Many ransomware-type viruses share the same dissemination methods. So, you have to be aware of them and act smart when browsing the web.[3] Double-checking information before opening or downloading content from the Internet is a must. If you don’t take cyber security seriously, even the strongest antivirus cannot protect you.

Powerful malware removal tool can eliminate ZONEware from the computer immediately

As you already know, the only safe way to remove ZONEware from the device is to employ a professional malware removal tool. We want to remind that this type of cyber infection is complicated and attempts to wipe out it manually, might end up with a damaged system. Thus, do not risk and invest in reputable anti-malware tool, such as Reimage Reimage Cleaner Intego.

However, automatic ZONEware removal may not be smooth. Malware might stop you from installing or running security software. However, this problem might be solved by following our instructions below.

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What to do if failed?
If you failed to remove virus damage using Reimage Intego, submit a question to our support team and provide as much details as possible.
Reimage Intego has a free limited scanner. Reimage Intego offers more through scan when you purchase its full version. When free scanner detects issues, you can fix them using free manual repairs or you can decide to purchase the full version in order to fix them automatically.
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 ZONEware virus, follow these steps:

Remove ZONEware using Safe Mode with Networking

Reboot the device into Safe Mode with Networking to eliminate the virus:

  • 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 ZONEware

    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 ZONEware removal.

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

Remove ZONEware using System Restore

  • 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 ZONEware. 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 ZONEware removal is performed successfully.

Bonus: Recover your data

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

The only way to recover all your files is to use backups. Those who do not have them are advised to try alternative methods. There's no guarantee that they will work, but hopefully, they will help to restore at least some files.

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

Try Data Recovery Pro after ZONEware attack

This tool is designed to restore corrupted files, so it MIGHT help to recover files with .ZW extension.

  • 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 ZONEware ransomware;
  • Restore them.

Take advantage of Windows Previous Versions feature

If System Restore was enabled before the attack, you can copy previously saved version of your files by following these steps:

  • 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 helps if Shadow Volume Copies are not deleted

If Shadow Volume Copies were not deleted by ransomware, you can obtain this tool and restore files using it:

  • Download Shadow Explorer (;
  • 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.

Malware researchers haven't created ZONEware decryptor yet.

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

Access your website securely from any location

When you work on the domain, site, blog, or different project that requires constant management, content creation, or coding, you may need to connect to the server and content management service more often. It is a hassle when your website is protected from suspicious connections and unauthorized IP addresses.

The best solution for creating a tighter network could be a dedicated/fixed IP address. If you make your IP address static and set to your device, you can connect to the CMS from any location and do not create any additional issues for server or network manager that need to monitor connections and activities. This is how you bypass some of the authentications factors and can remotely use your banking accounts without triggering suspicious with each login. 

VPN software providers like Private Internet Access can help you with such settings and offer the option to control the online reputation and manage projects easily from any part of the world. It is better to clock the access to your website from different IP addresses. So you can keep the project safe and secure when you have the dedicated IP address VPN and protected access to the content management system.

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.

About the author
Olivia Morelli
Olivia Morelli - Ransomware analyst

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