Watz Virus (.watz File) Ransomware

The Watz virus belongs to the STOP/Djvu ransomware family and targets Windows PCs. Watz can encrypt your files and change original names to files with a “.Watz” extension. Also, it is leaving a ransom note named “readme.txt” in some folders.

Known as one of the most powerful types of malware, the Watz virus successfully blocks many different ways that might be used to recover encrypted files.

In this post, I’ll walk you through the events following a Watz virus attack and guide you on removing the malware from your system. You’ll also discover multiple file recovery methods post-attack.

Watz Ransomware

The Watz virus encrypts files using a robust Salsa20 cipher, incapacitates antivirus programs, and erases backups. It modifies every document – a Word file, Excel spreadsheet, or photo – by appending a Watz file extension. For instance, “photo.jpg” becomes “photo.jpg.watz”. It then creates a ransom note called _readme.txt and places it in each folder containing encrypted files on your desktop, which details the ransom payment instructions as follows:


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_readme.txt file of Watz Virus Ransomware
_readme.txt file created by ransomware

Sharing habits with most STOP/Djvu ransomware variants, the Watz ransomware represents over 70% of individual ransomware attacks since its 2018 inception. It introduced many features now common across ransomware targeting individuals, such as ransom demands, notification methods, and backup prevention measures.

Watz Ransomware

STOP/Djvu ransomware, including the Watz variant, spreads through similar channels, namely software cracks, unlicensed programs, and dubious internet tools. Specifically, it leverages single-use websites that offer trending items like new movies or software cracks. These sites often pushed to the top of search results through spam techniques, host malicious links that deliver ransomware.

Watz Files
Watz Files

Initially, cybercriminals inject downloader malware that paves the way for the ransomware by disabling security defenses, such as Windows Defender, and implementing changes to hinder antivirus programs from blocking or removing the ransomware.

The Watz Virus Encryption Process

Upon entry, the Watz ransomware disables common backup methods and blocks access to potential recovery solutions. It then systematically encrypts files, connecting to its server for an encryption key before starting the encryption process, which it repeats until all target files are encrypted.

STOP/Djvu Ransomware actions scheme
STOP/Djvu Ransomware

To ensure persistence, Watz ransomware clones its executable file into obscure directories, avoiding detection by most antivirus software.

Removing Watz and Ransomware Protection

Given its sophistication, detecting and removing ransomware demands the utmost care. The Watz virus, known for hindering security software execution, requires you to bypass these restrictions for successful removal and system recovery.

Loaris Trojan Remover stands out as the premier choice for eradicating the ransomware threat and restoring your system. It boasts an advanced scanning engine that detects ransomware in all forms and allows for targeted scans with its Custom Scan feature.

To navigate around the ransomware’s execution blocks, boot your PC in Safe Mode with Networking. This can be done through the Troubleshooting panel by restarting your PC while holding the Shift key, navigating to Startup Settings, and selecting Windows 10 Safe Mode with Networking.

Reboot PC into Safe Mode
Reboot PC into Safe Mode

In Safe Mode, launch the Loaris installer, follow the installation prompts, and activate the free trial for full functionality.

Trojan Remover main screen
Trojan Remover Main Screen

Conduct a full scan, review the list of detected threats, and proceed with the recommended removal actions.

Loaris scan for Watz virus
Scanning for Watz virus

Decrypting Watz Files

Decrypting files affected by Watz ransomware might seem daunting, but not all hope is lost. The malware uses two key types – online and offline – with the latter offering a ray of hope for decryption.

Emsisoft’s free tool for STOP/Djvu decryption leverages collected keys to offer victims a chance at recovering their files.

Decryption with Emsisoft Decryptor for STOP Djvu

Install the Emsisoft Decryptor for STOP Djvu from the official website, set it up by specifying target folders, and initiate the decryption process.

Emsisoft Decryptor for STOP Djvu
File decryption process

If Emsisoft’s tool cannot decrypt your files, consider file recovery tools as an alternative. For example, PhotoRec, a free tool, can recover files deleted by ransomware by searching for residual data left on the disk.

Recovering .Watz Files with PhotoRec

Download PhotoRec, specify the disk or partition and desired file formats for recovery and start the recovery process to salvage your encrypted data.

File Recovery for Watz
Files Recovery

Frequently Asked Questions

🤔 Can I decrypt the online key ID by myself?

Deciphering the online ID used by Watz ransomware is currently beyond the reach of modern computing, potentially taking millions of years due to its complexity. The most effective alternative is employing file recovery tools, as detailed above.

🤔 Can Trojan Remover decrypt files?

While Trojan Remover excels at eliminating Watz ransomware and repairing the aftermath on your PC, it doesn’t decrypt files. For decryption attempts, please use the recommended tools.

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