Got ransomware? These free tools might help

Copyright Anna Kolankiewicz +48606344134

Up until recently, if you were infected with ransomware, chances were you were out of luck. Today, it’s more accurate to say, if you’re infected with ransomware, you’re probably out of luck … but maybe, just maybe, not. 

As security companies get wise to the hackers who hold systems ransom and demand payment to decrypt files, they’re coming up with free tools that can help users get their files back

This is a huge step forward, but there’s still only so much that can be done: The tools won’t work for every kind of ransomware, only the specific ones they’re designed for.

Here are three free tools that could be a lifesaver if you wind up getting extorted for your own files:

1. Decrypt Cryptolocker

This FireEye and Fox-IT collobaration from last year was a welcome lifeline for victims who really needed it. While Cryptolocker is mostly gone and hackers are moving on to other, similar ransomware strains, there’s still a chance of infection.

Unfortunately, even this single piece of malware has several variants, so there’s no guarantee this will work for everyone.

2. TALOS for TeslaCrypt

The latest addition to anti-ransomware, Cisco’s tool for decrypting files from TeslaCrypt, an email attachment malware that encrypts files. Cisco was able to reverse-engineer the malware and acquire a decryption key once it realized that the hackers were misleading users as to the kind of encryption they were using. Again, no guarantee of success, but a promising option for desperate users.

3. Noransomware

Kaspersky’s contribution to the anti-ransomware movement goes after CoinVault with the help of Dutch law enforcement. It’s being updated frequently with more keys to help users unlock their files.

No magic bullet

Sadly, these are just three out of several variants of ransomware. It’s difficult to tell how many users will be able to remove the ransomware or decrypt their files using these tools, so for the time being they’re just promising first steps.

The best bets for avoiding ransomware rather than hoping to mitigate the damage are:

  • Training. User awareness of this problem can cause them to think twice before opening attachments, even if they seem harmless. At the very least, pass along stories about ransomware so they know it can happen to them.
  • Updating. Keep all anti-malware up-t0-date. With new variants being discovered all the time, you won’t want to be slow to react to the updates. Doing so could leave you exposed when you don’t have to be.
  • Backing up. Keep backups of important files, off-site if possible. The risks of doing so may be steep, but not as steep as losing access to business-critical documents and files.
  • Having a strategy. Make sure you decide how you will respond in the event one of your machines falls victim to a ransomware attack. Experts recommend not paying because it can lead to further ransom attacks, has no guarantee the files will be released and encourages the hackers to continue using the same tactics.


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