How to Recover Data Deleted or Encrypted by Ransomware [Comprehensive Guide]

Summary: This blog presents a comprehensive guide on Ransomware Virus and Ransomware Data Recovery Methods. It includes the following:

Imagine a situation where you lost access to all your memorable moments, as well as the official documents that you had been saving for the past several years. You tried to access each one of them, but they all seem to be locked and carry the same file extension. You contacted your friend and got to know that you’ve encountered a ransomware attack. Soon you realized that you don’t even have the backup of the data that you’ve lost access to.

Does this imply that your data is lost forever? The answer is, No. But how did I say that? Let’s have a look  –  

Before looking forward to a ransomware data recovery solution, it is essential to have a better understanding of Ransomware. Read on to know more about Ransomware data recovery.

What is Ransomware?

  • Ransomware is malicious software (Malicious software – A superset of all the types of software like viruses, worms, etc., intended to harm a computer secretly, and the data stored in it).
  • It gets executed on a PC via malicious download or visiting a malicious/compromised website or by any other infected computer on the same network.
  • Ransomware generally encrypts the data, and block your device and are intended to force you to pay a ransom to the attacker in-lieu of decrypting the data or unlocking the device. The device could be a PC, an Internet of Things (IoT) device, or a mobile device.
  • It can seize your access and can control your Internet of Things (IoT) device.
  • It gives an attacker access to the victim’s data or device or both.

Types of Ransomware?

Based on the outcome of the attack, ransomware can be classified into the following categories:

1: Locker Ransomware

The ransomware that locks your system and demand a ransom to grant you access is categorized as locker ransomware.

2: Crypto-Ransomware

This type of ransomware encrypts your files and coerce you into paying a specified amount of money to decrypt your files.

3: Scareware Ransomware

The malicious actor bombards the victim’s system with pop-ups stating that the system is infected with a virus. It asks the victim to pay for the anti-virus that would remove this virus.

4: Android Mobile Device Ransomware

This type of ransomware either permanently locks your mobile or steals its sensitive data, and demands a ransom to unlock it or to return the data.

5: IoT Ransomware

This category of ransomware is designed to get access to your IoT device and at the same time, stop you from being able to access your device.

What are the Forms of Ransomware?

Ransomware dates back to 1989. The worst thing about ransomware infection is that it does not show any symptoms early enough to prevent the disaster. Moreover, with the technological advancement and the introduction of Bitcoin ­­– an anonymous payment method — it has become easier for the attackers to escape as these digital transactions couldn’t be traced. Due to this, cybercriminals are on the increase and so are the various forms or variations of ransomware in the cyber-world.

Some of the Known Ransomware Forms or Ransomware Variations
Locky VirusCryptoLocker VirusTorrentLocker VirusPacman Virus
CryptoWall VirusCryptoFortress VirusWannaCry VirusWannaCrypt Virus
Onion VirusWallet VirusGandcrab VirusBad Rabbit Virus
Cerber VirusCrysis VirusCTB-Locker VirusGoldenEye Virus
Jigsaw VirusKeRanger VirusLeChiffre VirusNotPetya Virus
Petya VirusSpider VirusTeslaCrypt VirusZCryptor Virus

Who is Targeted by Ransomware Attack?

Anyone can become a target of ransomware attack despite who you are, where you are, what device you use? Thus, it can happen at any point, anywhere, and with anyone. Ransomware can penetrate into your device while you do an online transaction, work online or are connected to a network, surf the internet, or do any other internet activity. All the types of devices that have the capability to connect to a network or internet are susceptible to ransomware attacks. Such devices are laptops, desktops, mobile devices, IoT devices, and tablets, etc..

How Does Ransomware Get on Your System?

  • Ransomware can get into your system by browsing untrusted websites
  • It can spread in your system by opening or downloading email attachments from an untrusted source
  • Installing software, games, etc. from untrusted sources can also lead to ransomware infection.
  • Accessing a PC that is a part of an infected network can also invite ransomware infection.

How Does Ransomware Spread?

There are various modes by which ransomware can infiltrate and infect your PC or IoT device or your mobile device. These modes are termed as “infection vectors.” Such infection vectors are discussed below:

1. Email Vector

  • Most common vector
  • Email attachment or link carries the infectious code.

This method of injecting ransomware involves sending an email to the target. The email contains malicious attachment or link that looks legitimate. Clicking on the link or attachment infects the files with ransomware.

2. Drive-by Download

  • A quickly-caught form of the Ransomware attack
  • Hacked or malicious websites infect the visiting client.
  • The malicious hidden code on the website looks for vulnerable machines.

The attacker chooses a website, hacks it, or infects it with malware. Such websites use their exploit kit to check the visitor’s machine for vulnerabilities, such as finding software bugs, and security flaws of the browser and operating system. If the exploit-kit finds the visitor’s machine vulnerable, it exploits the machine for malicious code execution.

3. Free Software Vector

  • Most basic form
  • Spreads through free infected games, bogus software, screensavers, etc.

The human tendency to get things for free allows the attackers to lure users into downloading and running the malicious code hidden with the “free content.”

Symptoms of a Ransomware Attack

  • Files that won’t open
  • Alarming messages on your desktop
  • A program generating a warning message for a countdown
  • A window pop-up indicating instructions on how to pay for unlocking your files
  • Receiving errors related to corrupt data, wrong file extensions, etc.
  • A message displayed on the screen that asks for ransom and cannot be closed
  • Changed or missing file extensions

What to Do After a Ransomware Virus Attack?

Given below are some of the solutions that may work and recover your data:

  • Remove the infected device from the Network
  • Boot the system in Safe Mode plus launch a deep scan mode of the antivirus software
  • Use the “Restore previous versions” option to restore your encrypted files
  • Check the status of Restore point; if it is healthy, then make attempts to restore your data from there
  • Use Windows Unlocker to clean up ransomware infected Registry
  • Do not pay the ransom
  • Immediately report the ransomware case to the local cyber-crime cell

What are Ransomware Data Recovery Methods?

There are three ransomware data recovery methods available for recovering encrypted data from any system. Let’s look at each.

1. Recover the Encrypted/Deleted ransomware data from Backup:

Encrypted ransomware files can easily be recovered by restoring original files from the external backup device. This can be done only in case if you have a regular backup of your device data in an external Hard drive, SSD, SD card, Pen drive, cloud storage or any other storage device.

2. Recover Encrypted/Deleted ransomware data by Data Recovery Software

If there is no backup available, then you can use data recovery software to recover encrypted files from Hard Drive, SD card, Pen Drive and any other storage device.

3. Recover Encrypted/Deleted ransomware data by using Ransomware Data Recovery Services

What if none of the above countermeasures worked? Then, the next step would be to move to Ransomware Virus Removal Services. Contact a renowned Professional Data Recovery Services company to recover your data from a ransomware attack. The services help you to recover your data seamlessly.

Precaution & Prevention Measures Against Ransomware Attack

Keeping your Windows Operating System up-to-date is the best way to stay away from threats like a ransomware attack. If you upgrade to Windows 10, then you will reduce the events of the ransomware attack to a great extent. Some of the other precautions and preventions are listed in the table given below.

PrecautionPrevention
Ensure to enable system protection as well as file historyAlways back up your data on an external device
Stay alert to Phishing EmailsSay No to unknown links and download attachments from unrecognized sources
Say No to Macros loading in Office ProgramsAlways choose ‘Show hidden file-extension’
Practice two-factor authenticationSay Yes to Application Whitelisting
Always access password-protected or safe internet connectionEnable AppLocker and the BIOS clock back setting
Avoid surfing illegal download sites which are generally a breeding ground for malwareSet Windows Scripting Host to “disabled” mode
Update your antivirus software at regular intervalsInstantly disconnect from the Internet
Ensure proper security of your databaseAvoid using Remote Desktop feature

History of Ransomware Attack In India?

Gandcrab Ransomware Attack – A version of ransomware virus “GandCrab detected in, Jan’2018. Similar to other viruses, it also encrypts the files on the infected computers and asks victims to pay a ransom. This the first ransomware that asks to pay the ransom using Dash  — a cryptocurrency similar to but features faster transaction and secrecy than Bitcoin. Read more about the Gandcrab virus and how to recover data from after Gandcrab attack.

Wanna Cry Ransomware Attack – Wanna Cry Ransomware Attack is one of the largest ransomware attacks that affected more than 2,30,000 computers across 150 countries including India and demanded a ransom. The Wanna Cry Ransomware attack happened through multiple modes, including phishing emails, links, documents, and unpatched systems as a computer worm.

Infographics – India ranks 4th in Ransomware attack Infographic

Conclusion:

Ransomware Attack is one of the most critical situations where you lose access to your data, and on the top of it, you have demanded a ransom. Since ransomware uses common mediums like email attachments, free games, etc. as their mask, it’s your responsibility to be careful while visiting any website, opening an email attachment and performing other internet activities. Follow the precautions mentioned in this blog to prevent a ransomware attack. It’s better to back up your data at regular intervals so that you can get it back in a ransomware attack situation.

If your device or PC has been attacked by ransomware, then try to recover your data by using multiple solutions mentioned in this blog. If you fail to recover your data using the recommended solutions, your last resort, as suggested, remains to counter it.

Frequently Asked Questions

Ques: What is the Med Ransomware?

Ans: Meds are malicious software that belongs to the ransomware family. Meds ransomware is a virus that encrypts the files for ransom and asks the victims to purchase decryption tools/Keys to access their files. There are two main symptoms that tell you’re attacked by meds ransomware. It adds the extension .meds to all the encrypted files. For example, if the original file name was file.jpg, the infected file’s name would be file.jpg.meds. It drops a ransom message file named as _readme.txt. Know more about Meds Ransmoware. 

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