There were a lot of events that happened in 2016. As far as cyber security goes, however, there’s been one threat to it that can be considered the show-stealer – ransomware. Malwarebytes conducted a study in August which showed that nearly 50% of U.S. companies had been attacked by it. Kaspersky is also concerned, saying that ransomware had increased the proportion of its attacks threefold from January to September – again, affecting a lot of business in the process. Regular users were also not left behind – the amount of computers that was put under a threat by ransomware is truly staggering.
Of course, security companies are not just sitting there and watching – they try to create solutions that can help combat this new threat. And Cyberreason are ready to make their move – they present a free anti-malware program which is appropriately called RansomFree.
Before we get to that, we need to briefly tell you what ransomware is. It’s a dangerous kind of virus which is created for making you pay money to regain access to the computer and, more often than not, it encrypts your files. Some ransomware programs only affect specific file extensions while others just encrypt everything, and there are also ones that can encrypt your entire hard drive, overwriting the MBR. There’s also ransomware that only creates an illusion that your data had been affected – it locks you out of the computer and displays a message saying that files have been encrypted. In this case, you can consider yourself lucky because you only need to remove ransomware itself, but those kinds of situations don’t happen very often. Losing access not only to your system but also to your files is a lot more probable and you’re demanded to pay for it – Bitcoin is the currency that’s most preferred by ransomware creators. If you pay the money, you often get the decryption key in return, but you shouldn’t count on it. The possibility of getting deceived is quite high and some types of ransomware are even programmed to delete your encrypted files after the payment had been made, depriving you of any ability to restore them.
You also need to keep in mind that payment is not the only thing that’s on the mind of people behind ransomware – they want to put their creation on as many computers as possible. We can use Popcorn Time ransomware as an example – if you refuse to pay, you’re offered to send a link to colleagues and friends. If you manage to lure two of them into downloading, your files are decrypted. And those people will probably stop talking to you.
As far as the situation with the protection goes, it’s not all roses. Programs that can deal with ransomware are in infancy stages and not all of them are successful in removing it, Malwarebytes 3.0 being one of the few. So Cyberreason are ready to try and take the lead.
RansomFree is developed for Windows 7 and up and can also be used with Windows Server 2008 R2 and 2012. It applies behavioral analysis to take the fight to ransomware and this method is considered to be more effective than just updating malware definitions. Cyberreason began with studying different types of ransomware and finding their common traits. After that, they created a piece of software that can detect those traits. And if they’re discovered on the computer, they receive a flag. You can then take a closer look at those processes and decide whether RansomFree is right or not. Be aware that by default it’s set to suspect every program that’s made for file encryption – even if it’s legitimate. So it’s up to you to decide whether you want to continue running it or quarantine it.
And, so far, RansomFree had proven to be effective – it stops most types of ransomware in their tracks and doesn’t allow them to encrypt any data. In some cases, about four of your files can be affected but if you had them backed up, you can restore them without any problem. And it’s a small price to pay, considering the alternative. RansomFree can be downloaded from Cyberreason’s site and, after you install it, there’s a warning saying that several specially constructed files have been put on the computer to allow RansomFree to run. As of now, there’re not many details on what those files do, but it’s known that they’re designed for taking a hit from ransomware if it manages to get inside your system.
And, until something suspicious happens, RansomFree runs in the background and doesn’t make its presence known in any way. In other words, it’s not intrusive and that’s a very positive part. But Cyberreason still strongly advises you to make a backup of your files – you need to consider all kinds of scenarios, even the worst ones. If you have your data backed up, there’s basically nothing you need to worry about – just remove ransomware and then restore all the files. It can take some time but it provides you with the results you need. You also have to keep your OS and software updated, be careful with applications that use Java or Flash, refrain from downloading files from dubious pages and never click on links in spam emails or open attachments that came within them. Prevention is key and it goes double for ransomware.