Ransomware never seems to go out of style, and lately we’ve seen a lot of requests to help people in their fight against it. That’s why we’ve assembled this post with everything you need to know about how to protect yourself from ransomware, how to mitigate any damage it’s already done, and the options you have to do so.
What is ransomware?
But first, let’s talk about basics. Ransomware is malicious software that uses a variety of methods to get onto devices, then encrypts some or all of the files they contain and demands a payment to restore access to your valuable data.
The software can infect your computer if you, say, plug an unfamiliar USB stick into your computer, visit a malicious site, or download and run a malicious file from the Web or an e-mail attachment. Even being on the same network as an infected computer, and doing nothing wrong, may be enough to get infected with ransomware. One type even looks like a Windows update.
The ransom request specifies payment in bitcoin (or another cryptocurrency), which makes it very difficult or even impossible to trace the payment.
Should I pay the ransom?
The malefactors say they will return your files if you pay them ransom. But in reality, your ransom payment is no guarantee of a safe return for your files. According to our research, 20% of ransomware victims who paid did not get their files back.
In fact, here’s an example: After the Kansas Heart Hospital paid a ransom, the criminals behind the ransomware attack on the facility decrypted some of the files and then demanded still more money for the rest of the files.
The average demand is about $300. Factoring in the odds of the payment ending up well for you, we advise careful consideration rather than a hasty payment.
If I get hit, will I be OK?
Are you prepared to face the threat? Take our quiz for a reality check:
How can I protect? Free ransomware protection
Ransomware recovery is a mixed bag, and avoiding infection is the best path in every way. Do not download suspicious files, click suspicious links, or open e-mail attachments that are unexpected or from unknown senders.
Back up your files frequently as well. That way, even if ransomware locks or blocks your files, you can recover them without paying a ransom. Our backup primer explains how.
Use a reliable security solution. The free Kaspersky Security Cloud — Free protects personal devices not only from ransomware, but from a huge range of other threats, and Kaspersky Anti-Ransomware Tool for Business, which is also free, can be installed alongside other security solutions and does not conflict with them.
My device is infected with ransomware, how do I clean it? Free ransomware decryption tools
Visit NoMoreRansom.org, which hosts free ransomware decryption utilities and is updated all the time. If an appropriate tool is available on the site, use it. Regardless, we do not recommend paying the ransom; if possible, wait and see if researchers are able to create a new tool for this particular strain of ransomware.
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