NWA ransomware is a data locking malware that stems from Dharma virus family. It also belongs to a long list of other variants released at a similar time, such as ETHKARLS888, and others. 

It was created in March 2nd, 2017 but remained unnoticed for over 2 years. 



NWA's proliferation methods are malspam, Trojans, exploit kits, P2P networks, camouflaged links, fake updates and etc.


Once the payload of the NWA ransomware is executed (it is known the main dropped comes under the name explorer.exe), it performs various system changes to perform file encryption without any interruptions.

A secure encryption algorithm is used to modify files, although it does not mean that they are corrupted. Imagine it as using a password to open a document – it is merely a more complicated version of such process.

NWA virus locks up a variety of files, mostly those that are personally used by users, such as .doc, .pdf, .jpg, .rar, .mpeg, .html, .avi, and others. Nevertheless, the malware also skips system and some other files (usually .exe), as hackers' main goal is not to corrupt the system, but rather receive a ransom payment from the victims.

NWA mainly uses AES or DES ciphers to lock up databases, pictures, videos, documents, and other personal files, which names get modified in a particular way: [filename].[original extension].id-[user ID].[].NWA.


When the encryption procedure is finished and every single one document is locked, the user will notice a ransom note files on their desktop explaining the situation and giving further instructions on what to do next:

All your files have been encrypted!
All your files have been encrypted due to a security problem with your PC. If you want to restore them, write us to the e-mail
Write this ID in the title of your message [unique-ID]
In case of no answer in 24 hours write us to theese
You have to pay for decryption in Bitcoins. The price depends on how fast you write to us. After payment we will send you the decryption tool that will decrypt all your files.
Free decryption as guarantee
Before paying you can send us up to 1 file for free decryption. The total size of files must be less than 1Mb (non archived), and files should not contain valuable information. (databases,backups, large excel sheets, etc.)
How to obtain Bitcoins
The easiest way to buy bitcoins is LocalBitcoins site. You have to register, click ‘Buy bitcoins’, and select the seller by payment method and price.
Also you can find other places to buy Bitcoins and beginners guide here:
Do not rename encrypted files.
Do not try to decrypt your data using third party software, it may cause permanent data loss.
Decryption of your files with the help of third parties may cause increased price (they add their fee to our) or you can become a victim of a scam.

The latter message is presented in GUI, but the next one called ‘FILES ENCRYPTED.txt’ is a text file which basically gives the same but shorter orders to just contact crooks:

all your data has been locked us
You want to return?
write email or


The name of the virus seems to be based on a hip hop group of the same name.

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