If you notice a ransomware infection on your device or computer, it can be rather scary. You start to wonder how it got on there. You are worried about your data and whether the hacker that infected your device has access to it. Your device says it is locked and your data encrypted without any access until you pay the ransom.
Before you panic, you need to take a deep breath and evaluate what options you have available. There are several things you could do to resolve the problem.
Step 1: What type of ransomware is on the device?
There are two general types – one that locks your screen and looks like you cannot get to your files and another that actually encrypts the files and locks you out. The first thing to do is to take your device offline and disconnect it from the internet.
After you do that, then try to access your files, if you can still get to them, then you have screen-locking ransomware. You may be able to remove it using your anti-malware/anti-virus software. If you have the encrypting type, then it can be harder to remove, but with the device offline, you have stopped the hacker from having access to your data.
Step 2: Do you have a backup of your files, data, photos, etc.
If you have a recent backup of everything on your device, then the easiest way to get rid of the ransomware is to do a hard factory reset that wipes the device and anything on it. Afterward, reinstall anti-malware/anti-virus software and do a deep scan to make sure the device is clean. Once it is confirmed the device is clean, restore your data from your backup.
Step 3: Have your original files been deleted?
Some encrypting types of ransomware make a copy of your files and data, encrypt it to lock you out, and then delete the originals. This doesn’t mean your original files are gone. They may be sitting in the recycle bin.
If not, they can still be there, but you will need to get help from a professional data recovery service to see if the files and data can be recovered. Just make certain to inform the data recovery service your device is infected with ransomware.
Step 4: Check your other devices for ransomware.
Take the time to check your other devices for ransomware by doing a deep scan with your anti-malware/anti-virus app. You want to make sure the ransomware did not spread, like if you had your smartphone connected to your laptop to download pictures or music.
Step 5: Take steps to protect yourself from future attacks.
You do want to ensure your devices are protected from future attacks. You also need to change your passwords as soon as possible and verify your home or business network is secure.