You’ve been infected by ransomware. Your files are locked and your network is compromised. Hopefully, you have viable backups and are looking to restore your business back to a functioning state. Before you consider recovering from your backups or paying the ransom, you want to ensure your network does not have any active threats that could compromise the business restoration efforts. Ransomware removal will extract the malware on your computer and network to prevent further encryption.
The ransomware removal process not only covers removing the actual virus files themselves but also includes securing any back doors or vulnerabilities that were exploited.
After all, the last thing you want is to be reinfected after you’ve spent days restoring data and the business has already suffered from costly downtime.
Removing the ransomware virus and associated back doors or vulnerabilities is necessary to contain the spread of encryption and prevent reinfection.
At Proven Data, we’ve helped thousands of clients navigate ransomware removal and recovery.
Our ransomware removal experts have first-hand knowledge of attack methods, malware, and tools used by hackers to inflict ransomware.
Consequently, we have developed processes and strategies to effectively remove malicious malware, identify vulnerabilities, and prepare the network for business operations.
While there are do-it-yourself (DIY) methods that can help you remove ransomware, this article outlines the process commonly used by a ransomware removal service.
Ransomware removal services employ experienced ransomware removal experts who can remove the infection and secure your network all in one stop.
By the end of this article, you will:
Ransomware removal vs. ransomware recovery
When you’re hit with ransomware, one of the first things on your mind is regaining access to your data. But before any efforts are made to decrypt your files, the ransomware virus must be removed and vulnerabilities secured.
Removing the ransomware virus will not decrypt and restore your files to their original functioning state; comprehensive ransomware removal eliminates malicious software or vulnerabilities used to compromise your network.
You may think that simply removing the virus is enough to remove the ransomware from the environment. This is only a temporary solution as the initial exploit used to attack your network is likely still open.
The optimal method of ransomware removal is to wipe and reimage the workstation or server completely. This is not always preferred from a business operational standpoint because it may require you to reinstall software and programs.
However, even a fresh reinstallation of the operating system is not enough to ensure the network is entirely safe. There may still be a remote access vulnerability from your firewall, VPN, or remote software provider.
Regardless of the ransomware recovery method you eventually choose, all threats related to the ransomware must be completely removed first to stop the infection’s spread and ensure the security gaps are closed.
Why do I need ransomware removal?
Ransomware is designed to spread across your network. Taking immediate action to remove malware and secure vulnerabilities from your network can prevent further damage.
Unfortunately, the early stages of many ransomware attacks go undetected for a period of time.
This allows threat actors to conduct reconnaissance, remove data from your network, and create dangerous backdoors to access your network at a later time.
The ransomware removal process should aim to remediate any prior malicious activity performed by the attacker, allowing the environment to be ready for data restoration.
How did ransomware infect my network?
Understanding the attack vectors that the ransomware actors exploited is critical to securing your network.
There are three common ways ransomware attacks happen:
Open RDP ports: Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) is the native Windows remote access method that allows a user or administrator to remotely connect to a computer or server from a location on another network. This is the most common attack vector for ransomware that we observed from 2019 – 2020, especially during the pandemic when many businesses switched to a remote workforce. If your RDP access is unsecured or the password is weak, it is easy for a determined attacker to breach your network. RDP port settings are viewable from your firewall’s port forwarding rules.
Phishing emails: emails containing malware or malicious links that install a ransomware program or remote access trojan on the computer when clicked. One uniformed click by any member of your organization and malware can spread undetected like wildfire through your network.
Exploit kits: an advanced malware tool that allows cyber criminals to target victims through security gaps in well-known software and hardware from technology manufacturers. This potential vulnerability can be exploited if you don’t regularly install software and hardware security updates.
How much does comprehensive ransomware removal cost?
To fully understand the costs associated with removing ransomware from your environment, we will break it down into two stages; ransomware malware removal and vulnerability scanning.
1. Ransomware malware removal
Ransomware malware removal includes scanning computers and servers for the following:
- Rootkits & back doors
- Malicious registry entries
A professional ransomware removal service costs anywhere between $45 – $159 per endpoint scanned.
The software used for cleaning the environment is not left behind on your device after the removal service is completed. If antivirus software is needed by the organization long-term, there would be an additional cost to purchase an antivirus solution.
The factors that influence the cost of ransomware malware removal include:
- Number of infected endpoints
- Sophistication of the ransomware
2. Vulnerability scanning
Vulnerability scanning includes:
- Scanning IP address to discover open RDP ports
- Scanning devices connected to the network to check for known exploits
Professional vulnerability scanning costs between $1,475 – $5,377.
The factors that influence the cost of vulnerability scanning include:
- Number of endpoints on the network
- Multiple domains & firewalls
How does ransomware removal work?
Below you will find an outline of the steps we take to remove the ransomware virus:
1. Establish remote connection
Upon your approval of the service, we will instruct you on how to install TeamViewer. TeamViewer allows us to connect remotely to your device to run a Malwarebytes scan. The Malwarebytes Toolset we use is a licensed portable antivirus program designed for computer repairs.
This antivirus program will not be installed directly on your machine. Using a remote connection to scan your device expedites the process of ransomware removal.
While you are backing up your system, we simultaneously run the Malwarebytes scan. This ensures that you also have a clean backup.
Once a connection to your machine is established, we create a folder on your desktop named ‘ProvenData’. This folder is where we will transfer all the utilities to be used.
2. Run a custom scan to scan for rootkits
First, we unzip the toolset into the ProvenData folder, then run the tool as an administrator. Utilizing the custom scan option, we scan for rootkits. Rootkits allow cyber criminals to remotely control your device and are designed specifically to hide on your device undetected.
The first stage of the scan is for the tool to check for new definitions. Once updated, the scan will proceed.
Once the scan is complete, we will remove the antivirus software. If you are interested in purchasing your own antivirus software, endpoint detection and response (EDR) solutions are available.
3. Save and send log, quarantine malware
Once the scan is complete, we will save the log of the scan as a txt file. This file will be attached to your case ticket. You will be instructed to quarantine the malware which was discovered.
4. Identify and secure backdoors
After the scan is complete, we patch any backdoor accounts that the attacker created to allow them to access the system later.
Next steps to ransomware recovery
After the ransomware is removed from your network, you will be presented with your options for ransomware recovery to get your data back.
Whether you are able to restore from backups, decrypt your files or must consider paying the ransom, the ransomware recovery specialists at Proven Data are here to help you. Our 24/7 services can walk you through a ransomware incident from start to finish.