Ransomware is devastating. When critical files are infected and encrypted, a company may be forced to shut down – perhaps permanently.

But ransomware can attack anyone – including decent, law-abiding citizens like you. An infection can be devastating, with precious memories and photographs along with important digital paperwork potentially lost forever.

Unfortunately, ransomware is rapidly becoming the weapon of choice for cybercriminals. Desperate people will pay ransoms quickly to regain access to their files – easy money for hackers. Which is why we are seeing more of these malware attacks – and why you need to know how to deal with an infection before you become a victim.

If you suspect a ransomware infection:

  1. Contain the infection

Ransomware works through your computer, encrypting files as it goes. This process can be very quick, meaning that your information can be lost in a matter of minutes. The malware will also try and infect other devices on your network.

The minute you suspect your computer has been infected you should disconnect it from your home network. Either disable WiFi, unplug the network lead or power the machine off completely.

As well as preventing spread, disconnecting your device should help to protect files that are currently stored in the cloud.

  1. Report the incident

Whether they choose to investigate or not, you should report the infection to the police. Ransomware infections in the UK are handled by the City of London’s Action Fraud team – you can report a crime here.

You should also contact friends and family, telling them what has happened. They need to be warned to be very careful with any emails or other files they receive from you in the next few days as the ransomware tries to spread itself among your contacts.

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  1. Recover from backup

Next, you need to recover working copies of the infected files from backup. Remember that damaged files may have already been synced to the cloud.

Local backups tend to be better for recovering from ransomware because they will have stored several versions of the documents. If backups contain encrypted files, you can roll-back to an earlier, unaffected version.

Ransomware is particularly destructive – you should be prepared to reinstall everything on your computer.

  1. Update, patch and repair

Once you have recovered your data, it’s time to reduce the risk of being attacked again. You should update all of your software -operating system and apps – to strengthen security. Don’t forget to update network devices, like your broadband router, that could stop ransomware breaking in.

  1. Prepare for the future

There’s a very good chance you will face another malware attack soon. Prepare yourself now and you will find it easier to deal with the infection – or to avoid it completely.

Make sure that you have a reliable backup system in place that allows you to recover your files. And don’t forget that Panda Dome anti-malware can stop ransomware within seconds, significantly reducing the risk of infection. Download a free trial here.