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Remove Zzzzz ransomware / virus (Mar 2017 update) - Recovery Instructions Included

removal by Julie Splinters - - | Type: Ransomware

Zzzzz ransomware – yet another Locky version

Despite the amusing title, Zzzzz virus is no joke at all. It signals that your computer has been infected with the version of notorious Locky virus. Those, who might not have heard about this notorious ransomware, take a look at this article [1]. The malware has gained such title for its feature to encode all your personal files and append .zzzzz extension. However, dealing with this does not leave any positive experiences for its victims. Even if you happen to be on the list of targeted users, there is no need to panic. The first thing you should do is remove Zzzzz completely from the device. In that case, do not waste time and entrust the process to a reliable security tool, such as Reimage Reimage Cleaner Intego. After then, focus on data recovery options.

After Locky had dashed through the Internet with an immense force a couple of months ago, some virus researchers voiced their hopes that the cyber terror was finally over. However, little did they know what Locky developers had up their sleeves. The ransomware has been revived again. As a result, we have seen major new updates: ODIN, Thor, .shit file extension, and .aesir virus hit the Internet. What is more, the hackers even decided to aim higher as they infiltrated Facebook and spread the malware there [2]. The ransomware payload was hidden in a .svg file. Though it is unknown which version has been distributed, there are speculations that millions of the virus versions were dispersed. As the week hasn’t passed since the previous version, .aesir file virus appeared, Zzzzz malware made its appearance. Its operation way has not altered as it encodes the data with RSA-2048 and AES-256 algorithms. The main advantage of this method is that it utilizes the combination of mathematically interrelated public and private key [3]. Consequently, the process of decrypting the files without the private key remains a tiresome task.

Zzzzz ransomwareResearcher shows ransom notes left by Zzzzz ransomware virus. Once it encrypts victim's files, it adds .zzzzz file extensions to them.

On the one hand, it is practical that you can see which files are affected as they are now altered into the files with [8_random_characters]-[4_random_characters]-[4_random_characters]-[4_random_characters]-[12_random_characters].zzzzz file extensions. More explicit information on how to recover the files is provided in instruction.html file. Taking into account that Zzzzz ransomware is the version of infamous Locky, it is futile nurturing hopes of file recovery. Their offered Locky Decrypter might cause more damage rather than bring benefit. Paying 731.52 USD (1 BTC) for it may turn out into a futile activity after all. Focus on Zzzzz removal procedure rather than on the financial transaction.

Zzzzz file extension relates to two different viruses

Although Locky ransomware creators were the first ones to use .Zzzzz file extension, it seems that they have inspired developers of Dharma ransomware to create a similar virus that uses the same extension. However, it must be said that Dharma Zzzzz ransomware acts differently and for some, its developers released not so many versions of it. The most significant difference between Locky's Zzzzz virus and Dharma's variant is that the latter one appends an email address to the encrypted file name, for example, .[].zzzzz. This email was spotted in .wallet file extension versions of Dharma, which appeared before these Zzzzz ransomware variants. However, although Locky and Dharma used to append similar extensions to encrypted files, these viruses are entirely different. No one managed to defeat not a single version of Locky, whereas Dharma ransomware project seems to be falling apart step by step. Someone (probably from the ransomware development team) has released a bunch of decryption keys; however, they appear to be working with certain variants of Dharma only. Nonetheless, we suggest trying this decryption tool by Kaspersky to restore your files if you find .[email].zzzzz file extensions on them.

How does ransomware find a way to infect a computer?

It is not difficult for ransomware threats to occupy the devices of those users who carelessly review their spam folders. Recently, some versions of Zzzzz hijack were detected in fake Amazon emails. The crooks disguise the malware in the email which is supposedly sent from this respective company asking to review the content of the attached file. What is more, the racketeers even dared to exploit the image of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to convince users into opening the files [4]. Luckily, in both cases, it is not difficult to suspect the fraud as the counterfeited emails contain several grammar mistakes, type and style errors. Locky still remains to be one of the most destructive ransomware threats. Its authors publish a new version every week. Therefore, beware of the latest edition – Osiris ransomware. All in all, having un-updated malware removal utility is a must as well [5].

Delete Zzzzz virus for good

When it comes to any file-encrypting malware, we recommend opting for an automatic solution. A security program, e.g. Reimage Reimage Cleaner Intego or Malwarebytes, ensures that no files are left behind after the elimination procedure. Keep in mind that the programs need to be updated daily in order for them to function properly. If you cannot proceed with Zzzzz removal due to some system malfunctioning, go through the guidelines of file recovery. After that, pay attention to the below-given guide to recover the files. Bear in mind that data recovery should be performed only when you remove Zzzzz virus completely.

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Compatible with Microsoft Windows Supported versions Compatible with OS X Supported versions
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 Zzzzz virus, follow these steps:

Remove Zzzzz using 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 Zzzzz

    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 Zzzzz removal.

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

Remove Zzzzz 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 Zzzzz. 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 Zzzzz removal is performed successfully.

Bonus: Recover your data

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

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

Data Recovery Pro – a chance to recover locked files?

Install the utility to recover some of your files. Though initially it was designed for locating the damaged files after a system crash, the creators updated the program to aid users to confront ransomware.

  • 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 Zzzzz ransomware;
  • Restore them.

Windows Previous Versions feature option

If you have enabled System Restore function, you should be able to find the previously stored copy of each file.

  • 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”.

Modus operandi of ShadowExplorer

The program restores files according to the shadow volume copies created by Windows OS. ShadowExplorer then accesses these patterns and recreates your valuable files. However, some versions of Locky are known for deleting these copies. Make a rush and give this app a try.

  • 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.

Sadly, no one managed to defeat Locky virus yet, therefore, a free Locky Decryption tool is not available at the moment.

Finally, you should always think about the protection of crypto-ransomwares. In order to protect your computer from Zzzzz 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
Julie Splinters
Julie Splinters - Malware removal specialist

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  1. tracker007 says:
    November 29th, 2016 at 8:57 am

    Hackers must have been sleepy when making this new version.

  2. kathyLep says:
    November 29th, 2016 at 8:58 am

    I barely avoided Locky on FB…

  3. savingplanet404 says:
    November 29th, 2016 at 8:59 am

    Still no information about the hackers? It seems that one week they launch new Locky version, another – Cerber.

  4. FellaWow says:
    November 29th, 2016 at 9:01 am

    So much time has passed since the appearance of Locky and still no progress in hacking the hackers?

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