Remove EdgeWater Ransomware

EdgeWater ransomware is a hazardous computer virus that appends the files with 0nzo8yk. Off course, renaming the files is just the secondary act of EdgeWater because its main objective is to encrypt majority of user’s files and from there, it will extort ransom payment from the victims. Malware researchers found out that EdgeWater is derived from the codes of Sodinokibi-Revil malware group and the extension it is providing to victims could be random. For this particular article, it could be 0nzo8yk, but other victims may see different random characters as an appended file extension.

Spread tactics of EdgeWater Ransomware

Like most ransomware, EdgeWater can spread over the internet through usual tactics. Hence, the one that provides high rate of infection is via email phishing. This is a scheme where EdgeWater ransomware is attached to an email that attackers send out in volume. They have thousands of email address at their possession, which they may have purchased from an underground network of hackers and cyber hoodlums.

The spam emails is often disguising as valid message sent by a prominent company. The topic would be more about product inquiry, payment instructions, invoice, shipping method, and similar messages that are business and office relevant. Makers of EdgeWater ransomware make sure that the message will tempt recipient to open the attached file and to accomplish this, a short but enticing content is included in the body. The rest is inside the email attachment.

Despite of having success in deploying EdgeWater ransomware through email, the attackers are also employing additional misleading tactics to further spread the virus. It can also be found on malicious file installers, fake software update, web phishing, and malicious advertisements that frequently appear on web user’s browser when paying a visit to questionable websites.

Once computer is infected

The moment EdgeWater ransomware is executed, the first thing it will do is communicate to hacker’s controlled command-and-control server to report the successful penetration. EdgeWater ransomware then wait for unique key and instructions. Once it receives the command, EdgeWater ransomware uses the obtained key and proceeds with the data encryption sequence. The extension it appended to the encrypted files is somehow relevant to the unique key and decryption tool that attackers will be providing. These codes must match together in order to unlock the entire encrypted files. The way it looks, it seems there is really no other alternative to recover the files aside from acquiring the solution from the people who holds it.

Screenshot image of EdgeWater ransom note

After making the files inaccessible, EdgeWater ransomware will generate a note (EDGEATER-README.txt) giving instructions to victims on how to communicate with the attackers. No contact detail is provided on this attack other than a website that web user should visit to input their unique key and from there, EdgeWater ransomware makers will give further instructions regarding data decryption.

Technical Details
Threat NameEdgeWater Ransomware, Sodinokibi-Revil
Threat TypeCrypto-virus, File Locker, Encryption Virus
File Extension.0nzo8yk (or any random characters)
Ransomware Note FileEDGEWATER-README.txt
Discovered by@Kingxiaopao
Virus AliasAvast : Win32:Trojan-gen
AVG : Win32:Trojan-gen
Avira : TR/Dropper.Gen
BitDefender : Trojan.CryptRedol.Gen.3
DrWeb : Trojan.Encoder.28004
Emsisoft : Trojan.CryptRedol.Gen.3 (B)
ESET-NOD32 : A Variant Of Win32/Filecoder.Sodinokibi.B
F-Secure : Trojan.TR/Dropper.Gen
Kaspersky : Trojan-Ransom.Win32.Gen.ybg
Malwarebytes : Ransom.Sodinokibi
Microsoft : Ransom:Win32/Revil.SI!MTB
Panda : Trj/GdSda.A
Sophos ML : ML/PE-A
Symantec : ML.Attribute.HighConfidence
TrendMicro : TrojanSpy.Win32.TRICKBOT.SMC
VIPRE : Trojan.Win32.Generic!BT
ZoneAlarm : Trojan-Ransom.Win32.Gen.ybg

For complete details including full detection list, hash file, file names, and technical behavior (registry actions, shell commands, and processes) of EdgeWater ransomware, please refer to this VirusTotal page.

Backup your files

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

So, create a backup copy of your entire EdgeWater encrypted files right now.

EdgeWater Ransomware Removal Guide

First thing to do is remove the EdgeWater 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 of EdgeWater ransom virus is dangerous to the system because it can inject files that runs each time Windows starts. To prevent the malicious files from loading, Windows operating system must run with minimal process and it can be done through SafeMode With Networking.

Stage 1 : Temporarily Disable System Restore on Windows OS

Because EdgeWater and relevant virus is capable of reinstating itself by exploiting the System Restore of Windows, we suggests that you temporary disable System Restore while executing the steps. This option is also helpful to effectively run a full scan on the computer.

Do not forget to enable back System Restore after completing the removal of EdgeWater ransomware. This feature is vital in reinstating the operating system to previous normal working condition in case of problems or conflicts occurs.

Stage 2 : Start Windows in Safe Mode With Networking

Windows 10 Guide

1. Click on Windows logo and select Power icon when options pop-ups.
2. Select Restart from the options while pressing Shift key on the keyboard.
3. Choose an Option window will appear, select the Troubleshoot button.
4. On next window, please choose Advanced Option.
5. On Advanced Option window, click on Startup Settings and then, click Restart button to reboot the computer.
6. When Windows boot on Startup Settings, press function key F5 or number 5 on keyboard.

A simpler alternative for Windows 10 users is to scan the computer with Microsoft Defender Offline. This will run a virus scan in the recovery environment.

Windows 8 Guide

1. Click Windows Start icon at the lower left section of the screen.
2. Open Search window and type Advanced in the field. It will open General PC Settings.
3. Click on Advanced Startup and then, click on Restart Now button.
4. Once the computer starts in Advanced Startup option menu, select Troubleshoot.
5. Next, click on Advanced Options to reveal the next section.
6. Click Startup settings and then, click Restart button to boot the PC in Startup Settings.
7. Use function key F5 or number key 5 to Enable Safe Mode with Networking.

Stage 3 : Scan the Computer with Anti-Malware Tool

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

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

1. Download free anti-malware scanner called MalwareBytes Anti-Malware.

2. After downloading, install the program. It may run automatically or you have to double-click on the downloaded file MBSetup.exe.

3. Carry out the installation with default setup process.

4. After the installation process, click the Get Started button to launch the program.

5. Continue with the prompts until the main program opens.

6. On the main console, click on Scan to run most complete detection method to find hidden objects associated to EdgeWater ransomware.

7. Scanning may take a while. Please wait until the anti-malware tool is done with the checking.

MBAM Scan

8. Once the scan has completed, the tool will display the list of detected threats. Remove all identified malicious items and restart the computer if necessary.

Stage 4 : Double-check with Microsoft's Malicious Software Removal Tool

1. Download the free scanner called Malicious Software Removal Tool.

Download MSRT

2. The tool automatically checks the operating system and suggest appropriate download version. Click on Download button to begin. Save the file to a convenient location, preferably on Desktop.

3. After downloading the file, Windows will prompt that download has completed. Click Run to start scanning for EdgeWater ransomware. Another option is to browse the location folder and double click on the file to run.

MSRT Icon

4. The tool will display Welcome screen, click Next. Please note the message "This tool is not a replacement for an antivirus product." You must understand that this program is made specifically to find and remove malware, viruses, Trojans, and other harmful elements on the computer. It was not designed to protect the computer.

MSRT Welcome

5. Next, you will see Scan Type. Please choose Full Scan to ensure that all EdgeWater ransom virus entities and other harmful files left on the computer will be found and removed. For advanced computer user, you can opt for Customized Scan, if there are other drives or folders you wanted to include in this scan.

MSRT Scan

6. Full scan may take a while, please wait for Malicious Software Removal Tool to complete the tasks. However, you may cancel the scan anytime by clicking on the Cancel button.

MSRT Scan

7. After scanning, the tool will reveal all identified threats. There may be other threats that our first scan fails to detect. Please remove/delete all detected items.

8. When removal procedure is complete, you may now close Malicious Software Removal Tool. We hope that EdgeWater ransomware have been completely deleted from the computer. Please restart Windows to proceed with the normal operation.

Recover Files from EdgeWater Ransomware Infection

On this section, we will provide ways to decrypt files infected with EdgeWater 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 there is new and more suitable decryption tool was made available.

Decrypting EdgeWater infected files with Emsisoft Tools

This service from Emsisoft is helpful in unlocking encrypted files without paying the ransom. It gives three ways to detect the ransomware and provide suitable recovery method:

Upload ransom note – This is usually the .txt or .hta files that was generated by EdgeWater ransomware.

Upload the encrypted file – The actual encrypted file. Choose the one that is less than 8MB in size.

Contact information – Enter the email address or any links provided as it appears in the ransom note of EdgeWater virus.

Emsisoft Tools

After submitting any of the appropriate data, Emsisoft will attempt to identify the ransomware and provide keys if there are available.

Option 1: Windows Previous Version Tool

Windows Vista and Windows 7 have a feature called Previous Versions. However, this tool is only usable if restore point was made prior to ransomware infection. To use this tool as "recovery option" for files encypted by EdgeWater virus, please follow these steps:

1. Open My Computer or Windows Explorer.

2. Right-click on the affected files or folders. From the drop-down list, please click on Restore previous versions.

3. New window will open display all backup copy of files and folders you wanted to recover. Choose the appropriate file and click on Open, Copy, or Restore. Restoring selected files overwrites the current locked files on the computer. The tool is not actually recovering files encrypted by EdgeWater. Instead, it restores files from backup copy.

Option 2: Use ShadowExplorer to restore files encrypted by EdgeWater Ransomware

Just like Previous Version tool, ShadowExplorer is taking advantage of shadow copy created by Windows. This tool allows you to retrieve older version of files before it was encrypted by EdgeWater ransomware.

1. Download ShadowExplorer from the official web site.

2. Install the program with the default settings.

3. The program should run automatically after installation. If not, double-click on ShadowExplorer icon.

4. You can see the drop-down list on top of the console. Please select proper drive and the most recent point-in-time shadow copies of files you wish to restore prior to EdgeWater ransomware infection.

shadow3

5. Right-click on the Drive, Folder, or File you wish to restore and click Export...

6. Lastly, ShadowExplorer will prompt for location where you want to save the copy of recovered files.

How to protect the computer from EdgeWater ransomware?

After the removal of the ransomware, it is important to prevent similar incident from happening again. In order to protect the computer effectively, computer user must know how EdgeWater ransomware was able to infect the computer. To minimize the possible infection, staying away from the common sources of this virus is crucial.

How EdgeWater ransomware can infect your computer?

The method of infecting the computers was found to be similar as other common viruses. Though, ransomware like EdgeWater is seen to have efficient deployment via spam email messages, web injectors, malicious software installers, misleading online advertisements, and through another virus infection.

Once the virus is executed, it immediately infects the system. Then, EdgeWater ransomware communicates to remote server so that unique key can be generated for the specific computer. After acquiring the key, it starts to decrypt target files using a complex method that is almost unbreakable. On the last stage of the attack, EdgeWater ransomware demands for ransom money as payment 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.

Securing the computer against ransomware attack

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)

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

1. Go to Windows 10 Taskbar and search for Windows Defender Security Center.

2. Open Windows Defender Security Center and click on Virus & Threat Protection icon.

Virus and Threat Protection

3. On next window, please click on Ransomware Protection.

4. Under Controlled Folder Access section, switch the slider to On. That will enable the feature and protect the folder against EdgeWater or any type of ransomware.

Controlled Folder Access

5. Click on Protected Folderslink to include additional folders. Make sure that folders where important files are located should be included in the list.

Add Protected Folder

Troubleshooting Guide

Certain programs maybe blocked by Controlled Folder Access feature. To fix the issue, simply have the specific program to be white listed.

1. Under Protected Folders, click Allow an app through controlled folder access.

2. Next, click the Add an allowed app and include the target executable file.

This Controlled Folder Access feature is one way to protect files against EdgeWater. Other important things to do in keeping files safe against ransomware is through early prevention like keeping programs updated, install an efficient security program, an do regular file backup on a separate media drive.

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