There’s nothing worse for an individual or a small-business owner to start up their computer for the day and have the screen flash to black with a text informing them that their data has been frozen, their files locked, and only a ransom of bitcoin will ever bring it back. You don’t get much more helpless than that.
If you’ve been using computers and the Internet for any good length of time, you’ve probably dealt with your fair share of scams and shifty characters online. From the call centers that ring your line claiming that your system is compromised and that you must let them use remote access to fix it to the sudden lags and stalls in your system that means a virus has jumped on board, most things are in your realm of capability to stop.
Ransomware started changing all that in 2017 when North Korea allegedly released WannaCry, a ransomware that hit more than 300,000 people across 150 countries, demanding a ransom paid in bitcoin to a specific account in a limited amount of time. The threat was that all data being held hostage would disappear if demands were not met.
Some people paid and got their data back. Some paid and got nothing. Some struggled more with how the heck to buy and transfer bitcoin than they did with figuring out what to do. Others just scrapped their machines and started over, or were lucky enough to have backup systems in place.
Ransomware has returned in 2019 and is going after more and more small businesses than before on the logic that they don’t have the available capital to just start over if their devices get infected. Hopefully, they take the precaution of doing the research and finding strong anti-spyware software to elude ransomware altogether.
However for many people, they need for spyware is outweighed by the need to save money or to spend it elsewhere, and that’s where the problem arises.
The good news is that two years of research has garnered a solution for those that want to take the fight back to WannaCry and other ransomware purveyors.
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The answer is a product from Emsisoft that is a free decryption tool. It can be used to wipe out Bitcoin-extorting ransomware WannaCryFake, the sequel to the 2017 version that terrorized the likes of hospitals, banks, and telecom companies.
Emsisoft is looking to the greater good with its decrypt tool which will regain access to files that have been taken, hostage. First things first, you have to remove the malware, which can be done with most major anti-spyware software packages. From there, download the decryptor, run it, and select all hard drives and storage devices that are claimed to be encrypted.
To date, the encryption tool has been 100% effective. Emsisoft is part of a multi-corporation project called “No More Ransom” that is working with other cybersecurity firms and law enforcement agencies to stop ransomware for good. Whether your decryption software works or not, experts say the worst thing to do is contact the ransomers and give them any personal information.