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Best ransomware removal tools

The top free and paid toolkits available right now to protect you from hackers

When it comes to ransomware, the key question is often whether or not to pay the hacker's demands. If you're a large organisation, it could be tempting to get your critical files unlocked by simply coughing up the money. However, there are no guarantees here, and hackers are just as likely to take the money and run.

This could very well be the reason why the average payout for ransomware attacks actually decreased by more than a third towards the end of 2020, despite the number of attacks increasing.

Regardless of whether you feel you can trust the hacker, most cyber security experts will tell you that handing over cash is the worst thing you can do, mainly because it further fuels the cyber crime economy. Former National Cyber Security (NCSC) chief Ciaran Martin has previously said he 'feared' ransomware payments would spiral out of control in the future and suggested legislation was needed to ban it. This was also the opinion of Eset security specialist, Jake Moore, who told IT Pro that practice was partly to blame for funding more attacks, essentially "propping up" the cyber crime industry.

Instead of paying out hefty sums to get data or files back, businesses are often advised to invest in sophisticated ransomware removal toolkits. There are a number of options available, but we've compiled a list of the best five ransomware removal tool kits which range from free to less than £30 a year.

Best ransomware removal tools:

AVG ransomware decryption

AVG logo displayed on a smartphone

Price: Free

Available here

Unfortunately, AVG's ransomware removal tools aren't available in one neat package, but they're available from the company's website as free downloads in the form of different files to combat multiple ransomware strains.

The tools created by the company rid your computer of some of the most widely known ransomware such as Apocalypse, BadBlock, Bart, Crypt888, Legion, SZFLocker and TeslaCrypt. The common symptoms of each attack have been listed nicely by AVG with a download link so you can remove the malicious program from your computer. This enables you to correctly identify the ransomware and only use the removal tool specific to the threat.

It may not be the most advanced tool on this list, but it is an extremely effortless way to rid yourself of any problematic software without installing the bigger packages on your machine.

Trend Micro Lock Screen Ransomware Tool

Trend Micro website displayed on a smartphone

Price: Free

Available here

Trend Micro Ransomware Screen Unlocker Tool is designed to eliminate lock screen ransomware from your infected PC in two different scenarios: the lock screen ransomware is blocking "normal mode", but "safe mode" with networking is still accessible, and the lock screen ransomware is blocking both "normal mode" and "safe mode" with networking.

Note: This product will only work with screen blockers. If your files have been encrypted, you will need to look elsewhere.

Microsoft's EMET

Microsoft logo suspended above a conference floor

Price: Free

Available here

Microsoft's Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit (EMET) helps raise the bar against ransomware attackers by protecting against new and undiscovered threats even before they are formally addressed through security updates or antimalware software.

There are 12 security mitigations in EMET that complement other defence-in-depth security measures, such as Windows Defender and other antivirus software, installing with default protection profiles, such as XML files that contain preconfigured settings for common Microsoft and third-party applications.

HitmanPro.Alert

A silhouette of a man shooting a gun on a red background

Price: Free 30 day trial, $34.95 (£28) a year thereafter

Available here

HitmanPro.Alert turns your computer into a highly undesirable victim by blocking the core techniques and exploits malware uses to hide from antivirus software. It also detects crypto-ransomware, simply by observing the behaviours that these threats exhibit. It even makes sandbox-aware malware terminate itself by camouflaging your PC as a virus researcher.

Malwarebytes Premium

Malwarebytes anti virus software on smartphone

Price: Free trial, £2.50 per month

Available here

Related Resource

How to reduce the risk of phishing and ransomware

Top security concerns and tips for mitigation

Large letter 'O' against a background of a city - whitepaper from MimecastFree download

Malwarebytes Premium, which is available for Android, iOS, Windows, macOS, and Chromebooks, promises to protect your machine against advanced ransomware.

The tool's built-in "Ransomware Protection" uses proprietary tech to create a powerful defence against malware that locks down your PC and takes your files and photos hostage, with Malwarebytes claiming its software can detect malware before it begins to wreak havoc on your machine.

This is thanks to the use of machine learning and artificial intelligence technologies, which the company claims can detect emerging threats that no one has ever seen before.

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