Just imagine a scenario in which you return home, or you arrive at work, and sit down in front of your computer. You turn it on and everything seems to be working as it should, but then you try to access some of your personal or business files, and you suddenly get a message telling you that you are not allowed to access it.
You try again and the same message appears, only now you notice that it also says that you need to pay $1000 if you want the encryption code to open the file and use it again. At first, you might think that this is a joke and that it isn’t happening to you, but no matter how many times you try to open your file things don’t change.
So what do you do now? Regardless of whether it’s only your files or the whole device that’s been locked, you need to remain calm and see what your options are.
Try to learn more
Before you start panicking, take a deep breath and try to determine for sure what’s causing the problem. It can be a ransomware that locks screens, a ransomware that encrypts files or some different kind of software that is only acting as a ransomware, but actually isn’t that good.
Check if you can go to other files, folders, go to my documents and check desktop items. If you are unable to turn of the message on your screen and do anything you are probably dealing with ransomware that locks the screen and this is actually a good thing.
If you are able to navigate through your computer, but there is a certain file or multiple files that you can’t access, then you are dealing with encryption ransomware. This is a worse scenario and you need to close the message as soon as possible – if it won’t close, use the end task functionality to close it.
Take screenshots of the message
Given the fact that you will soon have to disconnect your computer from any networks, other devices or external storages, and probably turn your computer off, you need to document what you are seeing so that you or someone else can look at it and try to learn more, without leaving the computer running.
This is why you should take screenshots of the ransomware message you are getting and all of the files that have been infected. After you’ve done that, make sure that you disconnect your computer from all of the networks, services and other devices to make sure that the ransomware doesn’t spread.
Call an IT expert
If you really don’t know your way around computers, the next step is to call someone who can help you. Don’t try to do things on your own if you understand very little, you can only make matters worse and lose more files. This is not a joke and if ransomware spreads to your whole computer, you can lose everything and possibly infect others.
Do a system restore
If you have some computer knowledge and you’ve caught the ransomware early on, then you might be able to do a couple of things. One of the best options to go with is to do a system restore and get all of your data back instantly. However, not all people back up their drives, as they think it’s useless.
Simply wipe your drive completely to remove the ransomware, make sure that there isn’t a trace of malicious software left, and then restore the data. This is a simple but effective method that can help you get our files back in a matter of minutes. Additionally, there are ransomware file recovery tools that you can download and try to use to return your information.
No matter what you do, one of the worst options is to actually try and pay the ransomware. All security agencies advise against it because of the fact that, in most cases, people don’t get their files back and the hackers don’t remove the encryptions. They simply take the money and go away. Get over the fact that you might have lost something forever and try to save other valuable data that you have on your computer.