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Picking 10 top anti-ransomware tools

Ever since (in)famous WannaCry and Petya global attacks the increase of ransomware threat has been noticeable. This is a specific type of software hiding in emails or malicious websites, that enters a computer, denies any access to it and demands a ransom. Even if a ransom is paid, there is no  guarantee on anything.

Typical prevention tactics include using backup software, email filtering, VPN when accessing public Wi-Fi, keep OS and programs updated, restrict access to install software. One more option is anti-ransomware – programs specifically designed as ransomware protection. Our goal is to review the “real-deal” tools, so no Avast, Norton, Comodo, Bitdefender, Eset and other antivirus products trying to sell themselves as remedy against everything imaginable.  

Acronis Ransomware Protection is free and “to-the-point”, only tools for system diagnosis and detection of suspicious software that could block or steal private information. All settings are saved by default in a personal profile. Real-time protection is close to impenetrable, as confirmed by our brief in-house testing: 13 of 13 various test threats were intercepted.

File backup as an additional feature allows to store up to 5GB in the cloud (Acronis Cloud Service). This anti-ransomware app also monitors all active processes on PC/laptop, with options to block and allow. Help center is accessible after one signs in into web account – live chat, extensive documentation, FAQ.

  • Pros:
  • Free software
  • Real-time protection
  • Backup and cloud storage
  • Cons:
  • Some users might want more storage
  • Only few settings and features

Abelsoft AntiRansomware is a noteworthy utility with built-in function of self-monitoring, i.e. if any malicious script attempts to interfere, it will instantly restart a computer. Although, there’s a risk of losing data that’s at work at that moment. To install it, you have to sign up with a real name and verify via email. It costs €14.90 ($17) plus a free trial with a limited set of features.

The publisher is a German company, and its AntiRansomware 2019 product is available in English, German and Portuguese languages. With all that in mind, we must admit testing its detection capabilities showed no good news: all types of test ransomware files (EICAR, AMTSO, keygen, crypto miners, RunSim) were let in without alerts. 

  • Pros:
  • Automatic program updates
  • Email notifications about safe shutdown
  • Animation turn off option to decrease resources
  • Cons:
  • No help available
  • Lack of scanning options
  • Only for Windows

CryptoPrevent is a small security tool with certain anti-ransomware features inside. On first launch you will see 6 available security presets to choose from, along with many user customization possibilities. “HoneyPot Ransomware Protection” is the feature most relevant for our topic, so we see that it keeps an eye on running processes and shuts down any of them if suspicious activity is detected, followed by a restart.

Other tools include: KillEmAll Silent (stops unnecessary apps), junk file removal, fix network settings (e.g. errors in proxy configuration), fix Windows issues, Active defense, email notifications, additional level of protection for files and folders of choice. 

  • Pros:
  • A variety of security presets and configurations
  • “KillEmAll Silent” stops apps/processes
  • Email notifications and alerts
  • Cons:
  • Free version limited
  • Risk of data loss when a threat is eliminated
  • No manual scan option

Only for ransomware protection, no additional bells and whistles, available only in English. CyberSight offers several benefits. Firstly, full automatization – if you want to save time and effort and just let the program to work in the background. Secondly, Multi-Layered Defense tool – to guard user’s personal data, it halts any ransom or malicious attempts as well as points out the source of attack.

Thirdly, real-time alerts with detailed information and tips for further actions in case of wrongdoing. Also, it incorporates some kind of behavioral analysis, which analyzes ransomware actions, checks it in a database of threats, presents insights. Overall, simple and substantive anti-ransomware utility.

  • Pros:
  • Decent protection and detection
  • Behavioral analysis
  • Automation settings
  • Cons:
  • Technical support online only
  • Only 1 interface language
  • No file backup option

A precise tool to stop electronic ransom attempts in early stages. It passed all our tests, having successfully blocked all kinds of ransomware and malware. And though GridinSoft has a line of software products, the app does not flash you with their ads and does not try to install additional tools/plugins/browsers, unlike many vendors, so kudos to the team. Interface is minimalist, basically all one can do is turn on/off automatic protection mode, or set the app to run on Windows startup. Large online documentation goes along to help, however there is no live chat. In terms of credibility, GridinSoft showed impressive results, catching all 13 of 13 test threats.  

  • Pros:
  • Effective active protection
  • Light on PC resources
  • Manual updates option
  • Cons:
  • Basic anti-ransomware only
  • No language switch option
  • Frail customer support

of 10

Heilig Defense RansomOff is a anti-ransomware based on heuristics – meaning it is carefully analyzing each program or script behavior, and is not signature-based, like other tools. It protects PC, data on it, removable devices and drives, although keep in mind, that it won’t be good as classic antivirus replacement. Enable MBR protection is a great feature, MBR stands for “master boot record” – so that the program can guard critical OS, boot and RAM information, thus preventing potential siege of it. 

Via a lockdown feature one can restrict access to installing any programs on a device. Additionally, there are handy import/export settings, network management, notification settings. Kirk, Globe Krypt, CryptoWall, Derialock, Flyper or other malicious code have little chance with RansomOff. 

  • Pros:
  • Free version
  • Strong real-time protection
  • Folder protection feature
  • Cons:
  • No help or user tips
  • No scan options
  • Only for Windows

In addition to their main products, Malwarebytes has introduced this ransomware protection tool against the newest types of attacks such as cryptomining, encrypting/screen locking malware, etc.  A friendly blue-and-white interface greets users with compact dashboard with all data at hand (endpoints/infections, number of detections, tasks, history, etc.) and respective menu tabs on the left for each section.

The main feature is real-time anti-ransomware defense, that has high-rate effectiveness, as proved by in-house testing. Quarantine and removal are the main options for infections. This security app is available as a free trial if you sign up with business email and your job title. 

  • Pros:
  • High level of protection
  • Trusted vendor
  • Machine Learning technology involved
  • Cons:
  • Few features (beta version)
  • Not much settings
  • No file backup option

Trend Micro RansomBuster is free and works on Windows 7, 8, 8.1, 10. It comes both as a part of antivirus/security package and as a standalone app to download. It offers a pretty simple use: add a particular folder(s) to the protected list and it will be under constant protection. RansomBuster also has a decryption feature that is able to regain access to files that might have got encrypted by hackers.

If you forgot which folders had been listed, you can always check it in settings. All features are accessible in 1 or 2 clicks. Intellectual Defense tool is in essence an exclusion list, allowing access to specific trusted apps, as entered by a user, to reach protected folders, thus less inconvenience in day-to-day work. 

  • Pros:
  • Automatic updates
  • Nice and simple interface
  • Decryption tool
  • Cons:
  • 1 language only
  • No backup/copy option
  • No hard drive scanning

A modern security package fitting into several software categories at the same time – antivirus, anti-ransomware, PC optimizer (registry cleaner, disk space/system/Internet connection optimization). It is free, available in 14 different languages and with hard-set interface frame size. Regarding ransomware protection, 360 Total Security offers real-time monitoring, cloud scan component, decrypting tool, and document guard.

Our brief tests of the app showed great results – 12 of 13 test threats were eliminated. There’s a variety of editions to choose from: free, premium, business, Windows or Mac, and when purchasing Premium you also get game booster, VPN, news aggregator, browser protection, system backup cleaner. 

  • Pros:
  • 4 antivirus engines at work
  • Sandbox along with cloud scan
  • More than an antiransomware tool
  • Cons:
  • No scanning for files/folders
  • Ads in free version
  • Uninformative reports

of 10

AppCheck is a tiny anti-ransomware tool by CheckMAL, a young Korean tech vendor, that offers both free and Pro (costs $25 per 1 computer per 1 year) versions. In free edition the features include ransom guard, exploit guard, quarantine, detection logs, whitelist. Also, thumbs up to the company for no ads and banners inside a free AppCheck. Substantively, the app performs utterly well (all test threats detected and blocked), even going over the top and blocking files archived via GZIP algorithm. 

Ransom guard section contains free (real-time defense, MBR, file backup) and paid (file / network / removable drive / server protection, automatic removal of ransomware) components. Infected files can be stored 1 to 7 days before deletion. In addition, Exploit Guard section offers options for web browsers, plugins, media players, MS Office, Adobe Acrobat. 

  • Pros:
  • Decent free version
  • Active protection mode
  • Light system requirements and resources
  • Cons:
  • Help materials in Korean only
  • No custom scan

P.S. Find more utilities in our Anti-Ransomware directory that contains 90 more similar products.

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