Ransomware, or hostage malware, is a type of malware that can encrypt data and files so they will not open up, prevent you from accessing your computer, or make programs inaccessible. In order to return access or decrypt the files, the attacker demands a ransom to be paid. Users are then given a set of instructions on how to pay the ransom—unfortunately, paying the ransom doesn’t guarantee the attacker will restore access.
Ransomware can make its way onto your computer in many ways, but most commonly through security loopholes and phishing scams. This can be from clicking links or attachments from suspicious emails or downloading programs from unsecured websites.
If your computer has been infected, there are steps you can take to remove a ransomware virus (without paying the attacker!). Keep reading to learn about the different types of ransomware and how to get rid of ransomware on your computer.
Types Of Ransomware
Scareware, in comparison to the other types of ransomware, isn’t as scary. It is normally presented as fake antivirus/security software or tech support. Often, a message will pop up saying malware was found on the computer and payment is required to remove it. This type of ransomware does not restrict access to your computer and your files.
Screen lockers prevent you from logging into your computer. When you start your computer, a screen will pop up with messaging to trick you into paying the attacker. This messaging might appear to come from a government agency or the FBI saying your computer has been used for illegal activity and a fine must be paid.
Encryption ransomware makes files inaccessible by encrypting them. The attacker will demand a ransom in exchange for the decryption key or return of files.
How Do You Know If You Have Ransomware On Your Computer?
If your computer has been infected with encryption or screen locker ransomware, you will not be able to access your computer or your files and will receive instructions for how to pay the ransom.
If your computer has been infected with scareware, you will notice popups from a cybersecurity software program you have not installed on your computer. If you have already paid for and installed legitimate antivirus software on your computer, the company would not request further payment to remove the virus.
What To Do If You’ve Been Infected
If your computer has been infected with ransomware, do not send the attackers money. Not only does paying the ransom put your personal information at risk—it also encourages further attacks. On top of this, payment does not guarantee you will regain access to your files.
Always contact an IT Security Expert before you attempt to remove the malware yourself.
How To Get Rid Of Ransomware On Your Computer
Depending on the type of ransomware infecting your computer, there are different methods for deleting the malware:
1. How To Remove Scareware
To get rid of scareware on your computer, run your antivirus software to locate and delete the malware. This should remove the fake antivirus malware popups.
2. How To Remove Screen Locker Ransomware
If you have lost access to your computer entirely, you can try a number of methods to regain access:
- Reinstall the operating system
- Run antivirus software from an external drive
- Restore the system on a Windows machine
- Once back into your system, run your antivirus software to locate and delete the malware.
Contact an IT Security Expert to ensure the malware was successfully removed.
3. How To Remove Encryption Ransomware
Some types of encryption ransomware can be decrypted, while others are much more difficult.
If you can still log into your computer in safe mode (Mac or PC), run your antivirus software to locate and remove the malware. Removing the encryption ransomware from your computer does not decrypt your files, but prevents further attacks.
Recovery of the encrypted files may be possible with free decryptor tools, however, in many instances retrieval of encrypted files is not possible. If your computer has been infected with encryption ransomware, contact an IT Security Expert right away for assistance.
Keep Your Computer And Your Information Safe
There are a number of ways to ensure you are protected from ransomware attacks:
- Continually backup your data. Consistently updated data backups ensure your data will always be accessible, even if your computer becomes infected with ransomware.
- Install legitimate antivirus software, and run it often.
- Never click on links or attachments in suspicious emails.
- Keep all software on your computer up-to-date to reduce security loopholes.
- Use a VPN (especially when you are away from your office).
Being aware of the threats is the first step in keeping your information safe. If you need assistance with backing up your data, setting up antivirus software, or dealing with a malware attack, Nerds On Site is here to help!