A normal virus is scary enough, but imagine getting a message that all the files on your computer will be deleted if you don’t pay the requested ransom. Sounds more like a movie than reality, right? Ransomware is no joke, but you don’t have to pay the ransom to get your PC back. Find out how to prevent and get rid of ransomware in a flash.
What is Ransomware?
Ransomware is a type malware that tries to lock you out of your computer unless you pay a stated ransom. The hackers usually provide instructions on how to pay ransoms from $100 to well over $1,000.
The malware typically encrypts files, locks you out of Windows, and/or stops specific apps from running. The top types you might encounter include:
- Scareware – Fake clean-up and antivirus pop-ups scare you into paying a fee to remove a large list of problems from your computer that don’t actually exist.
- Lock-screen – This type locks your screen and prevents you from accessing your PC. You might see fake law enforcement messages stating you’ve violated the law and need to pay a fine to get out of trouble.
- Encrypted – Cryptolocker, Cryptowall, and TeslaCrypt are just a few forms of encrypted ransomware. This type locks your PC and encrypts files. It’s also the hardest to get rid of, if you can remove it all.
How to Prevent Ransomware?
It can sometimes be tricky to get rid of ransomware, so it’s best to take precautionary steps before you’re hit with a PC infection. The best option is to prevent ransomware infections. A few ways to stay safe include:
- Using up-to-date antivirus software and a firewall
- Enable your browser’s pop-up blocker or use ad blocker software
- Never open spam email or follow links that ask for personal information
- Backup files often
The last doesn’t prevent ransomware, but it will make sure your files are safe should the worst happen.
How to Get Rid of Ransomware?
In 2015, monthly ransomware infections ranged between 23,000 and 35,000. In the first quarter of 2016, $209 million was paid to hackers to restore computer access. Paying the ransom doesn’t mean PC access will be restored, so it’s best to try to combat the ransomware yourself.
If you still have access to your computer, disconnect from the Internet immediately. Run your antivirus software to detect and remove the ransomware.
If your PC is locked, turn it off. You may need to hold the power button until it turns off manually. Try to boot into Safe Mode by pressing F8 repeatedly upon boot. Run your antivirus software.
For the worst kinds of ransomware, a System Restore may be the only option. Turn off your computer and press F8 upon boot. Select Repair Your Computer and choose System Restore. Follow the prompts. This is only available if System Restore is enabled.
If all else fails, you may need to completely format your PC. This is why regular backups are vital to overcoming ransomware attacks.