How To Remove Ransomware

Ransomware is a type of malware designed to encrypt the files on a computer and demand a ransom for the decryption key. This type of malware has become one of the biggest cybersecurity threats faced by many organizations. For victims of a ransomware attack, both removing the infection and attempting to restore access to files are important parts of the ransomware recovery process.

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How You Get Ransomware

Ransomware attacks can be very profitable for cybercriminals and are relatively easy to perform. For this reason, these attackers have developed a number of different methods for delivering this malware to users’ machines. Some of the most common ransomware delivery mechanisms include:

  • Phishing Attacks: Phishing is one of the most common methods for delivering malware, and this applies to ransomware as well. Phishing messages – delivered via email, social media, or other platforms – can contain malicious links or files designed to infect the target computer with ransomware.
  • Malicious Downloads: Malicious downloads on the Internet are another popular ransomware delivery mechanism. These downloads can be delivered via trojans – where malware masquerades as something else – or malicious scripts that exploit vulnerabilities in web browsers to download and run malware.
  • Compromised Credentials: The rapid growth of telework means that many companies have deployed remote access solutions like virtual private networks (VPNs) and the Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP). If an attacker learns a user’s login credentials for these systems, they can access the network as that user and install and run malware on corporate machines.

Ransomware attacks can be very damaging to individuals and organizations alike. Taking steps to close these potential infection vectors can have a significant payoff if it successfully prevents a future ransomware attack.

Ransomware Infection Removal

Recovering from a successful ransomware attack is a two-step process. Not only does the ransomware infection need to be removed but it is also worth trying to restore the encrypted files if possible.

  • Malware Removal

As ransomware is a type of malware, a crucial part of the recovery process is removing it from the infected devices. If this step is not performed, then it is possible that the malware may continue to encrypt files on the device or spread through the network.

Ransomware commonly includes persistence mechanisms, which are designed to make it difficult to completely eradicate. Simply deleting the malicious executable is unlikely to completely remove the infection.

The simplest and most effective way to remove ransomware is to wipe the affected computer or restore it from a backup created prior to the infection. If this is not an option, search for a guide on removing that particular variant and follow the steps listed.

  • File Recovery

For most people, removing the ransomware from their computer is only part of the recovery process. Since some or all of their files may now be encrypted, they probably want to recover what they can.

However, this is definitely the more difficult part of the recovery operation. Ransomware operators make their money because people want their files and are willing to pay for them. As a result, ransomware is specifically designed to make file recovery as difficult as possible.

In all cases, making a copy of the encrypted files on an external hard drive or similar file storage is a good idea. While the ransomware’s encryption may not be breakable now, it is possible that that will change in the future.

Preventing Ransomware Infections

While it may be possible to remove the ransomware malware from an infected system, restoring the encrypted files is a bit more difficult. Unless the ransom is paid, the files are backed up somewhere, or the ransomware author made a mistake, in which case the encrypted files are unfortunately unrecoverable.

For this reason, it is better to focus on preventing ransomware attacks rather than dealing with them after the fact. Due to the wide range of potential ransomware infection vectors, a comprehensive ransomware prevention strategy requires a number of cybersecurity solutions, such as:

  • Email Security: Phishing attacks are one of the most common ransomware infection vectors. An email security solution can scan incoming emails and detect malicious links or attachments before they can deliver ransomware to a device.
  • Network Security: Once a system has been infected with ransomware, it is not uncommon for it to scan for shared drives and other computers to infect. A network security solution can help to block the attempted spread of ransomware both inside and outside the network.
  • Endpoint Security: Not all ransomware infection mechanisms are detectable and preventable from the network. Having an endpoint security solution on devices can help to identify and eradicate ransomware infections before they do too much damage.
  • Mobile Security: Mobile malware is becoming increasingly common, and mobile ransomware is a part of this trend. Mobile security solutions can help to protect personal and business mobile devices against ransomware attacks.

Check Point offers a wide range of cybersecurity solutions that can help to detect and protect against ransomware attacks. To learn more about ransomware protection, contact us. You’re also welcome to schedule a demo to see one or more of our anti-ransomware solutions in action.

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