Remove Mlwq Ransomware (.mlwq Files)

Malware researchers claim that the DJVU/STOP malware has a new strain named Mlwq ransomware. This is the 802nd variety to date, and the threat from this family does not appear to be diminishing as the attack progresses. It is obvious that the creators of the Mlwq virus, specifically STOP malware, are making money by selling their decryption tool to victims.

It targets important files

As ransomware, Mlwq begins its operation by looking for common user files like docx, xlsx, pptx, zip, pdf, jpg, png, pdf, dwg, html, and many more on the infected drive. Then, it will use a sophisticated algorithmic technique to encrypt its fundamental data, making it impossible for computer users to decrypt it. After that, the “.Mlwq” file extension is added to the infected item by the Mlwq ransomware. As an illustration, a straightforward mypic.jpg will become mypic.jpg.mlwq once it has been completely encrypted by the virus.

As usual, criminals will take advantage of this situation to demand $980 from victims in order to restore all infected files to their original formats. The ransom note file _readme.txt has a complete description of this demand, which reads as follows:

ATTENTION!
Don’t worry, you can return all your files!
All your files like photos, databases, documents and other important are encrypted with strongest encryption and unique key.
The only method of recovering files is to purchase decrypt tool and unique key for you.
This software will decrypt all your encrypted files.
What guarantees you have?
You can send one of your encrypted file from your PC and we decrypt it for free.
But we can decrypt only 1 file for free. File must not contain valuable information…

Screenshot of Mlwq Files

Is there really a decryption tool?

The Mlwq ransomware’s authors now believe that all of the Mlwq files are encrypted and that they alone are the only ones who can decrypt them. They are providing a Mlwq decryption tool; however, it is too pricey for many victims to pay. Most importantly, it’s extremely unsafe to interact with online scammers. After paying the ransom demand, there is no guarantee that the Mlwq decryption tool and private key will be sent to the correct individual.

It is considerably safer, as advised by computer security professionals, to keep a backup copy of all Mlwq encrypted files and to hold off until reputable security companies and malware researchers provide a free official decryption tool. To stop fresh files from becoming infected, it is currently preferable to clean the computer and remove Mlwq ransomware.

Technical Details
Threat Name Mlwq Ransomware, STOP/DJVU
Threat Type Crypto-virus, File Locker, Encryption Virus
Encryption Method AES-256 combined with RSA-1024 Asymmetric Encryption
File Extension .mlwq
Ransom Amount $490 – $980 (worth of Bitcoin)
Ransomware Note File _readme.txt
Attacker’s email support@freshmail.top
datarestorehelp@airmail.cc

Backup your files

One important step before proceeding with the procedures below is to backup your files. Ransomware attacks are not the same. Each has its own unique set of payloads, aside from encrypting the files with a complex method. Others tend to delete the infected files after a certain period, while others keep them concealed in hidden places. In addition, ransomware decryption tools are not guaranteed to be perfect, and there are instances where files suffer from damages during the decryption process.

So, it is better to create a backup copy of your entire Mlwq-encrypted files right now.

Mlwq Ransomware Removal Guide

The first thing to do is remove the Mlwq virus before attempting the decryption. Remember that as long as the ransomware is active, it will repeatedly encrypt the files on the compromised computer.

Infection with the Mlwq ransomware virus is dangerous to the system because it can inject files that run each time Windows starts. To prevent malicious files from loading, the Windows operating system must run with minimal processes, and this can be done through SafeMode With Networking.

Step 1 : Scan the PC with Combo Cleaner for Windows

Combo Cleaner is a trusted PC security and optimization tool equipped with a powerful virus and malware detection engine. This program can get rid of adware like Mlwq through this procedure.

1. Download the application from the following page:

2. Save the file to your preferred location.

3. Double-click the downloaded file CCSetup.exe and install with the default settings.

4. At the end of the setup process, click Finish to run Combo Cleaner.

5. The tool will update the database file; please wait for this process to complete.

6. To begin checking for threats like Mlwq, click on the Start Scan button. Wait for this scan to finish.

Screenshot of Combo Cleaner PC

7. At the end of the scan process, click on Remove all threats to delete Mlwq hijacker, including all malicious objects from the computer.

To fully optimize the features of antivirus and privacy scanners, users may have to upgrade to the premium version.

Please continue with the succeeding removal procedures if you are comfortable manually getting rid of the threat and malicious items linked to it.

Step 2 : Start Windows in Safe Mode With Networking

The method of running Windows in Safe Mode before running a virus scan is effective in getting rid of Mlwq. This process can prevent most viruses and malware from loading, making it easier to detect and remove them.

1. On the Windows Search bar, please type msconfig.

Screenshot of Win 11 Search

2. Select and open System Configutation on the list of found results.

3. Once you are in the System Configuration window, go to the Boot tab.

Screenshot of Msconfig Win 11

4. Under the Boot Options area, please check Safe Boot so that it starts in Safe Mode after restarting.

5. Next, select Network. This will allow Windows to boot in Safe Mode with Networking.

6. Lastly, click on Apply and OK to save the changes.

7. Please restart Windows.

Do not forget to restore the normal boot process of Windows after running the virus scan. Simply repeat the method above, and this time, uncheck the Safe Boot option to run Windows normally.

Step 3 : Scan the Computer with Sophos Home Antivirus

Ransomware files are placed deeply into the system and on various locations, thus, thorough scanning is vital to totally remove Mlwq virus. Aside from our suggested tool, you may also run your own security program.

To remove Mlwq ransomware automatically, scanning the computer with this efficient antivirus tool is suggested. This scanner does not just uncover known threats like viruses or malware, it is also effective in discovering hazardous ransomware like Mlwq.

1. Please click on the link below to download the program.

2. After downloading, locate the file SophosInstall.exe in the Downloads folder.

3. Install by double-clicking on the file.

4. If it prompts "Do you want to allow this app to make changes on your device?" please click Yes.

5. Next, it will display the Terms and Conditions page. Click the Install button to begin.

Screenshot of Terms by Sophos Home

6. Run the installation with the default settings. Please note that an internet connection is required in order to download important updates.

7. After finishing the installation, you must login to the dashboard. If you already have a Sophos account, please login. Otherwise, please enter your details and click on the Create Account button.

8. Once you are in the Sophos Home console, click the Scan button to start checking the computer for Mlwq components.

Screenshot of Sophos Home

9. Scanning may take a while; please wait for this process to finish.

10. After scanning the computer, Sophos Home will start cleaning or deleting files infected with Mlwq.

11. You may now close Sophos Home. The computer is now free from Mlwq, as well as associated malware and viruses.

The above procedures should have totally eliminated Mlwq ransomware. However, if you find that there are still remnants of the virus, please proceed to the next steps below.

Step 4 : Double Check with Windows Security Apps

Microsoft Windows has a built-in security application that you can use to double-check if your computer is still infected with Mlwq. For Windows 10/11 users, please run Windows Security.

Windows 10 / 11 Instructions:

Windows Security is a free tool that was built to help you remove Mlwq, viruses, and other malicious items from Windows 10/11 systems. Follow these procedures to scan your computer with the tool:

1. Tap or click the Search charm and search for Windows Security

2. Click Open to run the program.

Screenshot of Win 11 Search

3. On the Dashboard, click Virus and threat protection from the sidebar.

Screenshot of Win 11 Virus Protection

4. On the right panel, click on Scan Options to see different levels of checking the computer.

5. Next, please select Full Scan button.

Screenshot of Full Scan Win 11

6. Lastly, click on the Scan now button to start scanning for the presence of Mlwq. The process may take a while to complete.

7. After the scan, Delete/Quarantine identified threats, whether they were relevant to Mlwq or not. You may now restart Windows to complete the virus removal process.

For Windows 8.1 and Windows 7, you can scan the computer for free with the Microsoft Malicious Software Removal Tool (MSRT 64-Bit). It is a stand-alone virus scanner tool that targets prevalent malware groups.

Recover Files from Mlwq Ransomware Infection

In this section, we will provide ways to decrypt files infected with Mlwq ransomware. Aside from dedicated decryption software and common tools, other options for file recovery are provided. As much as we can, we will update this area whenever a new and more suitable decryption tool becomes available.

Find a suitable Mlwq decryption tool from Emsisoft

This service from Emsisoft is helpful in unlocking encrypted files without paying a ransom. The page provides a list of ransomware decryption tools. All you have to do is look for the specific tool and start recovering the Mlwq-encrypted file.

How to protect the computer from Mlwq ransomware?

After the ransomware is removed, it is important to prevent similar incidents from happening again. To effectively protect the computer, the user must know how Mlwq ransomware was able to infect it. To minimize the possibility of infection, staying away from the common sources of this virus is crucial.

How does ransomware infect your computer?

The method of infecting the computers was found to be similar to that of other common viruses. Ransomware like Mlwq is seen to have efficient deployment via spam email messages, web injectors, malicious software installers, misleading online advertisements, and Trojan Downloaders.

Once the virus is executed, it immediately infects the system. Then, Mlwq ransomware communicates with a remote server so that a unique key can be generated for a specific computer. After acquiring the key, it starts to decrypt target files using a complex method that is almost unbreakable. In the final stage of the attack, Mlwq ransomware demands ransom money in exchange for the decryption tool. To further understand the attack scheme, we have included an infographic below.

Infographic image of ransomware attack stages
You can print, download, or share the infographic by clicking the image.

What are the essential things to do?

Do a Regular File Back-up - Always backup your data on a separate storage devices such as external hard drives, optical discs, or online backup services.

Keep Your Software Updated - Make sure that you have the latest software updates especially on the operating system. Recent updates often contain vital security patches to help protect the computer against all forms of threats.

Install a Security Program - Protect the computer with effective anti-virus application using efficient real-time scanning. Regularly run a complete scan to check the computer for presence of malware.

Protect your files with Controlled Folder Access (Windows 10/11)

For Windows 10/11 users, aside from protecting the computer using anti-virus or anti-malware programs, one way to protect against ransomware attacks is by using Controlled Folder Access. This feature of Windows Defender Security Center may not prevent the Mlwq ransomware infection, but it can protect folders and files in general. Follow the steps to enable Controlled Folder Access in Windows 10/11.

1. Go to Windows Search and type Windows Security.

Screenshot of Win 11 Search

2. Open Windows Security to see all the options.

3. Click Virus and Threat Protection, either on the sidebar or on the main panel.

Screenshot of Ransomware Protection

4. Scroll down to the "Ransomware Protection" area, and click on Manage Ransomware Protection.

5. In the "Controlled Folder Access" section, turn the slider to On. This will enable the feature and protect the folder against Mlwq virus or any type of ransomware.

Screenshot of Controlled Folder

6. Click on Protected Folders to see the list of included folders. If Windows displays a message, "Do you want to allow this app to make changes to your device?" please click Yes to proceed.

Screenshot of Protected Folder

7. Click on the Add a Protected Folders button to include additional folders. Make sure that folders with important files are included in the list.

Troubleshooting Guide

Certain programs may be blocked by the Controlled Folder Access feature. To fix the issue, simply have the specific program whitelisted.

1. Under the "Controlled Folder Access" section, click Allow an app through Controlled folder access.

2. If Windows displays the message "Do you want to allow this app to make changes to your device?" click Yes to continue.

3. Next, click the Add an allowed app button.

Screenshot of Allowing App

4. Lastly, click on the Recently blocked app and remove the program from the list of blocked applications.

This Controlled Folder Access feature is one way to protect files against Mlwq ransomware. Other important things to do to keep files safe against ransomware are early prevention, like keeping programs updated, installing an efficient security program, and doing regular file backups on a separate media drive.

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