Best ransomware removal tools

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

To pay, or not to pay, that is the question. Except, when it comes to ransomware attacks, the answer is simple: don’t give cyber criminals your money.

The method seems to be working: although ransom attacks in the UK are on the rise, the average ransom payment to hackers decreased by more than a third in the fourth quarter of 2020 as more victims opted not to pay up. The practice of paying ransoms was also criticised by the former NCSC head Ciaran Martin, who told The Guardian earlier this year that he feared the situation was "close to getting out of control" and called for legislation banning ransomware payments.

In fact, a 2019 survey of top IT security professionals found that 40% of respondents share Martin’s views on making ransomware payments illegal, while Eset security specialist Jake Moore told IT Pro that the practice was to blame for funding future ransomware attacks and thus "propping up the system" of cyber crime.

At the end of the day, it must be kept in mind that, even if you’re one of the few organisations which have easy access to financial resources able to cover the ransom demand, there is no guarantee that the hackers will keep their promise. On the contrary: you might be left penniless and without access to your encrypted data.

That is why, instead of negotiating with hackers and potentially losing tens of millions of dollars, it might be more worthwhile to invest in a proper ransomware removal toolkit that will help your organisation survive a cyber attack. In order to help you make the best choice for your enterprise, we’ve compiled a list of the five best ransomware removal which, price-wise, range from free to less than £30 a year. 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 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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