How To Stop and Remove Ransomware

Ransomware Removal

One can agree that the cyber-attacks are getting pretty weird these days. Now data kidnapping is one of the big ticket hacking nowadays. But instead of holing a human as hostage, hackers are holding your data as hostage. Ransomware has been around for a very long time, but it seems to have gotten a full overhaul and hundreds of thousands of users are now being affected by this. But with all this said, what is ransomware? Ransomware is a malicious piece of code which attacks your computers data and encrypts that data. When a user tries to access his/her data, that data cannot be read by the application it was created in and hence cannot be accessed. The hackers will leave a note on your computer telling you that your data is held hostage and you have to pay a ransom to the hackers before your data is released and you are able to access it again. Data ransoms can range anywhere from 200 dollars to millions of dollars. The price the hacker can ask for also depends on the importance of the data they hacked. I can tell you that with any virus or malware attack there is no full proof blocking, but there are steps you can take to cause an hacker great difficulty in installing ransomware on your computer. Users in present situations are also practicing some smart tactics to prevent ransomware threats. Let us look at a few ways to beef up security on your computer to help mitigate a ransomware attack.

Ransomware 7 Point Protection

1. Backup
I cannot stress on the importance of always having a current and updated backup of your important data. Never have your backup on the same device which is being backed up. an example of this is having multiple hard drives in a computer and using one for backups. If ransomware was to hit your computer it would also spread to backup drives rendering the backup useless. Backup to an external drive or to the cloud. Never leave you external device plugged into your computer unless for file transfers. If ransomware should hit you, all you need to do is verify your working backup. After you verify that you can retrieve at least 99% of data from your backup, you may need to do a lower level disk format to ensure that the virus is completely erased. Then simply reinstall your Operating system, then your production applications such as word/excel. Install your antivirus software and then transfer your backup to your drive.

2. Reconfigure Your Browsing Behaviour
There are thousands of malicious websites which simple acts as malware injector. They look genuine, they give you some sort of free download and when you click, malicious application is installed on your computer. Do not ever open links or emails which have an unknown source as a sender. Do not open any lucrative ad or another link to prevent your system from possible ransomware attack.

3. Keep your system updated: Attackers constantly try to exploit holes in various operating systems. They will use these holes to inject their malicious codes. Ransomware attackers love to target less updated computers as it gives them less work to hack into. Many ransomware attackers target those systems which are not updated as these old systems remain prone to virus attacks. It is extremely important to keep your system updated with the latest security updates as these address many bugs within the Operating system. 

4. Do Not Download or Install Pirated Software
There are many sites which claim to offer full version working applications for free. Applications you would normally have to buy. Most of these pirated software comes with cracks that do much more that allow you to use the application, but open ports and create connections for ransomware. Always verify the source of the software you are downloading. As most of the operating software developers require to register and digitally sign all their software. If your OS warns you about the unsigned program than it is better to cancel such installation.

5. Purchase and Install a Good Internet Security Suite
Once you have a good internet security software, it can scan suspicious emails and links and stop them at that initial stage before it reaches the user to make a click. Internet Security suite normally comes bundled with antivirus, firewall, web browser safe surfing, etc.

6. Disable Auto-run
One other good opinion is to disable the automatic running of applications on flash drives and optical disk. Auto-run can allow a malicious software to install itself from the flash drive straight into your computer. With this feature turned off, you would have to open the flash drive and directly click on those malicious applications or links.

7. Set system restore point: This is an effective step to keep your system safe against any possible data loss due to ransomware attack. System Restore point basically takes a snapshot of your system at a certain time period and keeps that good snapshot. In case your system gets corrupted, you can pull that good snapshot and begin to reuse your computer while data is still intact. The only drawback is that you may have to reinstall some applications.

Got Infected by Ransomware? What To Do Next
If you have practiced all the security precautions mentioned above and still infected by ransomware, the first thing you must do immediately is to disconnect from any form of network and internet access. Best practice is to also disconnect all other devices and computers from the network and internet until a network sweep is done and The IT Guy gives the green light for persons to be back browsing. Hackers rely on your internet connection to connect to its Control Servers for instructions.
You can save other machines from getting infected by simply unplugging from the network. Ransomware takes a bit of time to infect and encrypt all your files thus you can save certain amount of data from getting infected.

After you have disconnected the next option is to run a full system scan with your Internet security suite software to scan and remove ransomware. Always ensure your security software is up to date. Remember you can't download updates for your security applications once you are offline. You can either update before you disconnect from the internet or borrow a friend’s computer to manually download the Antivirus updates and then install them. I would recommend that you use more than one Antivirus software to scan and remove ransomware.

  • Always remember to pay keen attention to malicious emails with links for clicking. 
  • Turn off auto-run on your computer
  • Ensure that your Virus definitions are updated
  • Stay away from malicious cracked software
  • Ensure that your virus protection automatically scans any flash drive once inserted