You should know by now that ransomware is currently the worst of online threats you could get on your PC. It’s a virus so powerful that is capable of destroying your business and/or personal life in seconds by hijacking your important files and demanding huge ransom fees in return.
Of course, the best you could do against ransomware viruses is to secure your system so that your PC never gets infected. Hackers, however, are becoming very creative when it comes to tricking users into opening compromised emails and files. And, regardless of your security efforts, you might still become a victim. Here’s a list of steps you should take in case ransomware has sneaked inside your PC and has locked your files:
Identify the Type of Ransomware
Once you find out you have a ransomware infection, it’s important to identify which ransomware exactly has taken your files hostage. There are thousands of ransomware viruses out there and for some of them malware experts may already have discovered decryptors. They will help you easily recover your files, so you could avoid paying the ransom fee. Search the ransomware name online and follow the instructions for decryption and virus removal only from trustworthy sources. If you can’t determine the name of the ransomware, you might want to use CryptoSheriff to figure it out.
Pay the Ransom?
Here’s where it gets tricky. if no decryptors are released yet, you could barely recover a small portion of your data via a data recovery tool. At this point, consider how important your files are. Sometimes, if you just wait a little, decryptors may be released and you could easily get your files back. Quite often, however, decryptors are not released, and many users are tempted to pay the ransom fee to restore their data. We never advice of paying the ransom fee as that only encourages cyber criminals to continue spreading the infection. If your files are not that important, you could just sacrifice them.
On another note, even if you pay the ransom, chances to get a decryption key are not 100%. Sometimes cyber criminals may try to extort even more money from you and may never unlock your data.
In short, let paying the ransom be your very very last resort, and only if you have done enough research on the ransomware type and the released decryptors.
Remove the Ransomware
In case no decryptors are released, but you are determined to not pay the ransom and to not support the cyber crime, remove the ransomware and then look for reliable data recovery tools.
NOTE: Many victims rush to install data recovery tools first hoping they could immediately restore their data before they even remove the virus. Truth is, if no decryptors are released yet, you could recover only a small portion of your data, but if the virus remains in your system, it may further harm it. Thus, make sure you remove the ransomware first either manually (if you are tech savvy) or by using a reliable anti-malware protection (for automated removal). Only then you can install a data recovery tool and try to recover your files.
Use Backup Files
Of course, if you regularly backup your files, ransomware will never be a serious threat to you. In cases of backup, you still need to determine the type of ransomware and then remove it via a trustworthy anti-malware program without worrying about your files.
Prevent Future Attacks
Again, prevention is easier than correction. Backing up your files may be one solution against ransomware infections, but it really is preferable to stop any kind of online threats from entering your system. So, you need to:
1. Educate Yourself How Online Threats May Enter Your System
Ransomware enters your PC mainly via spam emails. Educate yourself on how such compromised emails and files look like and avoid opening them.
Unwanted adware, PUPs (potentially unwanted program) and browser hijackers usually enter your system after you have downloaded freeware and have not paid attention to the preselected options during the installation process. Pay attention to what you download, and never agree to the default settings if they include additional software.
2. Install Trustworthy Anti-Malware Protection and Keep It Updated
Sometimes, regardless of how well-educated and up-to-date you are on the current cyber security state, you can still miss to protect your system from malware. You may still open the wrong link, download the malicious file or install a faulty program. To ensure your full safety, you need to have a powerful anti-malware protection that you keep updated and running at all times. Only then you can have some peace of mind while surfing the net.