What is Ransomware?
Ransomware is a widespread and very problematic form of malware that is used for extorting money from the users it attacks. The worst Ransomware sub-category is the one that uses file-encryption to lock important files and demands a ransom for their release.
The encryption that is used by newer Ransomware versions is almost unbreakable and there’s often to no way to recover the encrypted files without the matching decryption key that only the hackers behind the infection have access to.
Of course, if the attacked user has backups of their data on another device or on a cloud, they would be able to bring those files back but only after the virus is fully removed from the system. On the other hand, users who hadn’t backed-up their files before the Ransomware attack would be faced with the difficult choice between paying the demanded ransom or finding potential alternatives that may or may not help with the file recovery.
What happens when a Ransomware attacks?
Usually, there are no visible symptoms during the encryption phase of the Ransomware infection. Sometimes, there could be a significant increase in the RAM and CPU use and you may notice that your computer has less free storage space than usual (this goes away after the encryption is finished). Most users don’t normally notice anything, which is why their inability to access their own files comes as a shock. Once the virus is done encrypting, it automatically generates a notepad file on the Desktop (or inside the folders with locked files) that informs the user about the ransom required for the decryption key. Alternatively, the ransom message may be shown to the user in the form of a big pop-up on the screen that shows up automatically.
What are the methods used to spread this type of malware?
Commonly used malware-distribution techniques such as spam messaging and the use of misleading and fake clickbait ads are also used to spread Ransomware. Nowadays, another very common technique is to use Trojan Horse threats that secretly enter the user’s computer and then automatically download the Ransomware without the user’s knowledge or informed permission.
What’s the best course of action?
The best course of action in case a Ransomware cryptovirus has taken hold of your files depends on different factors. First, if you have a backup of your data, you should go straight for the removal guide at the bottom of this post, use it to eliminate the threat, and then restore your files from the backups. If you don’t have backups, you need to carefully consider how important your files are to you. If they aren’t that essential and you can go on without them, just remove the threat and delete the inaccessible files. If, however, you need those files, then you can try paying the ransom to hopefully get the decryption key. This, however, is a risky move and we do not recommend it because you could lose a significant amount of money and still not get your files back since the hackers can always decide to not keep their promises of providing you with a decryption key after you pay them. An alternative approach here would be to try some other possible ways to restore your data. Some of them have been added and explained at the end of the removal guide below. However, bear in mind that those methods will probably not always work against all Ransomware threats of the cryptovirus type so we cannot give you any promises concerning the future of your files. Of course, if those alternative methods fail, you can always go back to the ransom payment but never forget the risks that it entails.
|Danger Level||High (Ransomware is by far the worst threat you can encounter)|
|Symptoms||Ransomware viruses will usually not cause any symptoms initially, save for a certain increase in the amount of CPU and RAM that is being used on the computer. Once they finish encrypting the user’s data, the files on the computer become inaccessible and a ransom-demanding note gets shown on the screen.|
|Distribution Method||Malicious spam emails, misleading web ads, Trojans used as backdoors, illegal torrent sites, etc.|
How to Remove Ransomware
Some of the steps will likely require you to exit the page. Bookmark it for later reference.
Reboot in Safe Mode (use this guide if you don’t know how to do it).
WARNING! READ CAREFULLY BEFORE PROCEEDING!
Press CTRL + SHIFT + ESC at the same time and go to the Processes Tab. Try to determine which processes are dangerous.
Right click on each of them and select Open File Location. Then scan the files with our free online virus scanner:
After you open their folder, end the processes that are infected, then delete their folders.
Note: If you are sure something is part of the infection – delete it, even if the scanner doesn’t flag it. No anti-virus program can detect all infections.
Hold the Start Key and R – copy + paste the following and click OK:
A new file will open. If you are hacked, there will be a bunch of other IPs connected to you at the bottom. Look at the image below:
If there are suspicious IPs below “Localhost” – write to us in the comments.
Type msconfig in the search field and hit enter. A window will pop-up:
Go in Startup —> Uncheck entries that have “Unknown” as Manufacturer.
- Please note that ransomware may even include a fake Manufacturer name to its process. Make sure you check out every process here is legitimate.
Type Regedit in the windows search field and press Enter. Once inside, press CTRL and F together and type the virus’s Name.
Search for the ransomware in your registries and delete the entries. Be extremely careful – you can damage your system if you delete entries not related to the ransomware.
Type each of the following in the Windows Search Field:
Delete everything in Temp. The rest just check out for anything recently added. Remember to leave us a comment if you run into any trouble!
How to Decrypt Ransomware files
We have a comprehensive (and daily updated) guide on how to decrypt your files. Check it out here.
If the guide doesn’t help, download the anti-virus program we recommended or try our free online virus scanner. Also, you can always ask us in the comments for help!