Best ransomware removal tools

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

A ransomware splash screen displayed on a laptop in an office

The threat of ransomware has become increasingly prevalent since the beginning of the pandemic, going from a potential nuisance to a very real security menace as more people shifted to remote working. 

In fact, ransomware was found to be the biggest malware threat to small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) in 2020, according to cloud cyber security provider Datto, with 59% of respondents saying that remote work necessitated by COVID-19 has resulted in an increased level of ransomware attacks.

An earlier study by Check Point found that, in the third quarter of 2020, the number of ransomware attacks in the UK increased by a staggering 80%, which was much higher than the global average of 50%.

Ransomware is a type of malware that can be used to lock a device or encrypt its contents in order to extort money from the owner or operator. It is spread by Trojans, with the first case being the AIDS trojan which terrorised users around the globe in 1989. 

They usually find their way into computers by email, being mistakenly downloaded as a malware-laced attachment, but can also be distributed through a network. Either way, they have a significant potential to have a devastating impact on an organisation, from gaining access to highly-confidential medical records to even endangering lives by forcing hospitals offline.

The first sign that you have fallen victim to ransomware is typically finding yourself locked out of an account or files folder, access to which has been encrypted by hackers. Another common sign is receiving a ransom note which promises to restore access to the files or device in exchange for an immoderate amount of money. However, what must be borne in mind is that, even if one has the resources to pay the ransom, there is no guarantee that the hackers will keep their promise.

Fortunately, there are some decent ransomware removal tools on the market right now which are worth contemplating if the worst does ensue. Don't line the pockets of villains, have a read of our top picks.

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

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 defense 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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