Best ransomware removal tools

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

Ransomware, a type of malware that encrypts and threatens to publish a victim's data until a ransom is paid, is on the rise.

The threat has become especially prevalent during the COVID-19 pandemic, as hackers take advantage of mass remote working. Research from Check Point shows that the number of ransomware attacks in the UK increased by 80% between June and September 2020, while the global average of ransomware attacks jumped by 50% during the same three-month period. 

Usually, ransomware is distributed via a Trojan, unknowingly downloaded by a victim via an email attachment or spread through the network using a vulnerability. The way in which it's installed on a user's computer varies dramatically, but the problems it can cause are pretty extreme.

Once the ransomware has infected a computer, it will usually disallow the user from accessing their computer system and block access to files, sometimes encrypting everything on the computer. Users will normally be given a notification to alert them to this fact, demanding a ransom in exchange for returning access. The ransoms are often highly extortionate, often in the thousands of pounds, and there's no guarantee you'll regain access to your computer after the fact.

Luckily there are some pretty good ransomware removal tools on the market right now which are worth considering if the worst does happen. Don't line the pockets of criminals, 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 in this list, but it is an extremely easy 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 defense against malware that locks down your PC and takes your files and photos hostage, with Malwarebytes claiming its software can 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 are capable of detecting emerging threats that no one has ever seen before.

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