You probably thought you’ve done everything to protect yourself from pesky ransomware spreading throughout the Internet. Unfortunately for you, cyber criminals continue to find ways to trick people into downloading malicious files that are meant to wreak havoc in your files. Ransomware is a type of malware that’s designed to encrypt your own files or lock your screen until you pay its creators a fee. Ransomware infection can be mild to severe. But definitely not something anyone wants to deal with. Learn how to stop ransomware in its tracks, and rescue your files if your computer has already been infected.
Here are three important steps to guide you:
1. Make backups
Everyone needs to make regular backups not only as protection against ransomware and other malwares, but also to protect your precious files in case of disaster such as a file corruption, disk damage, theft or loss of your machine. There are free tools like AOMEI Backupper that you can utilise to back up your whole system, a drive, a partition, or individual files. You can also clone one drive to another with a few clicks, and make bootable rescue media for emergencies like a ransomware infection. Always have the latest updates for all your software to patch any newly discovered vulnerability. If you’re a Windows user, check your settings to ensure you receive automatic updates. Whilst you’re at it, find out also which software is in need of patching.
2. Boost your computer’s security
Utilise an online security tool that offers comprehensive protection to your computer. We recommend that you check out Avira Free Antivirus or Avast Free Antivirus, both are good at blocking and removing ransomware. Keep in mind that a new strain or variant of ransomware is being developed somewhere out there. It’s a multi-million dollar crime operation, so don’t expect these criminals to disappear any time soon. Anyone can be a target. You don’t have to be a business or a government agency to become their target. So, it’s good practice to stay informed. At the same time, watch out for new security suites/solutions that can give you extra layer of protection. Spending a little is always worth the peace of mind.
3. Unlock files and remove ransomware
You know you’ve been hit with a ransomware if a message similar to this pops up whilst you’re using your computer: “The files on this computer have been encrypted. You have 96 hours to submit payment to receive the encryption key, otherwise your files will be permanently destroyed.” What should you do if you see this message? Our suggestion: Don’t open your wallet yet. Paying the criminals is no guarantee they will give you the code. Instead, exhaust all means to try and restore the files you’ve lost.
- If your PC is locked by ransomware, try inserting your Windows disc, then rebooting. The machine should boot from the disc rather than your hard drive (if not, press [F8] before Windows loads and use the BIOS menu to change the boot order), and you’ll be given the option to repair or reinstall the operating system.
- You can also use the Advanced Boot Options menu (again via the BIOS) to access Windows System Restore, to remove the ransomware by restoring your PC to a point before it became infected.
- Restoring or repairing your system should remove ransomware, but your files may still be encrypted – or worst, have been deleted. This isn’t a problem if you’ve been diligently making regular backups. Otherwise you need the help of a tool that can decrypt your files. Identify the strain of ransomware that infected your files. If it’s a known variant, there’s a possibility that there are existing security tools that have decryptors that can be used to unlock files or bypass the lock without paying a ransom, depending on the quality of encryption method the attackers used.
Never let ransomware take over your computer (again). Say ‘no’ to suspicious emails and links. If you get an email from unknown source, delete it right away. Exercise common sense. If it seems suspicious, it probably is. If you need help with a virus in your computer, bring it into one of our stores. We’ll take care of it for you.