Ransomware has recently begun making significant rounds in the internet community, holding the computers, smartphones, and tablets of individuals hostage until their owners pay a fee to the authors of the virus. And since this ransomware is becoming a more significant problem, infecting hundreds to thousands of users a month, we decided to publish a simple guide to removing this troublesome software without hiring a professional. 

What Does Ransomware Look Like?

Typically, ransomware activates as a federal-looking ‘warning message’ which discusses illegal activities which have been occurring on your machine. It can take over your computer in just a few moments, and will prevent you from accessing any element of your computer or files unless you submit a payment, the “ransom” part of ransomware. The opening screen is often designed to mimic warnings issued by government agencies; though of course, no government agencies would require individuals to pay a fine in this manner. The design typically encourages individuals to swiftly address the problem the fastest way possible: by paying the fee.

How Did I Get Ransomware?

Most ransomware is acquired by individuals when they use their computer, smartphone, or tablet to visit a website running a malicious script. This usually happens in the form of plugin extensions for websites or browsers, multimedia codecs, such as those often downloaded to watch DVD rips, infected software on P2P networks, or other free downloadable software. So, the big takeaway point is that your browsing habits have caused the problem. In the future, installing antivirus software and running it frequently can help protect you from harmful malware.

How Can I Remove Ransomware?

In general, there’s one great and simple way to remove ransomware without hiring a pro to wipe it from your computer. In both cases, it’s necessary to have a strong antivirus software suite installed, or to have a dedicated ransomware removal tool. The most reliable method is the Safe Mode method, which involves restarting your computer in Safe Mode to ensure that the ransomware doesn’t share information with its author over internet connections or infect others.

Restart In Safe Mode

The first part of the process is to restart your machine in Safe Mode, with Networking activated. This should allow you to navigate around your computer and even use the internet. Once your computer is booted up again, immediately open your antivirus program as an administrator and begin a deep scan. Though this could take anywhere from several minutes to an hour, this should indicate if the ransomware was found and, if found, isolated or removed.

Scan More Deeply

At this point, it’s time to also activate your ransomware removal tool, and activate any OS-specific malware programs. Never just rely on a single program when trying to clean such crippling malware from your computer! Once these programs have also run, make certain to clear your computer’s temporary files and your internet browser’s cache. Most ransomware programs use cookies and other elements to transmit information to their author, so clearing out these files can help keep you safe.

The Bottom Line

When you have ransomware on your computer, everything is locked down: emails, files, access to the internet. But you have an alternative to paying hackers for control of your computer! As long as you’re prepared with a strong antivirus suite or ransomware removal program, you can remove the software yourself by restarting your computer in Safe Mode and undertaking a few straightforward steps to delete the program. This is a lot less trouble than hiring a professional to do it for you.