If you're a computer professional, or even just the girl or guy that sits in front of a screen all day, then ransomware is one of the most annoying developments in your life over the last four or five years. Malware like CryptoLocker and CryptoWall can lock you out of your computer and its files entirely, until you pay up — and it's hard to combat. Malwarebytes has a new piece of anti-ransomware software in beta that should stop your system from becoming infected.
Designed to be lightweight, simple, run in the background and to not interfere with the operation of other anti-malware or anti-virus software, Malwarebytes' Anti-Ransomware beta detects and stops the actions of ransomware software like CTBLocker and Cryptolocker in their tracks — preventing them from ever encrypting any of your files. It comes from the company's development of a product based on CryptoMonitor, an anti-crypto bundle from a company that Malwarebytes acquired.
It's extremely quick to install and start up, uses very little memory — like Malwarebytes' other free, lightweight antivirus software — and works in real-time, giving you the peace of mind that your PC will be safe from marauding exploits and virii hiding in the darkest corners of the 'net. It's still in beta, but Malwarebytes says that it'll already stop every major ransomware program and will likely work just as effectively on ransomware that hasn't even been released or written yet.
At the moment, it's a bit like a bear patrol or an anti-tiger rock — how do you know it works unless you intentionally try to infect your system with some ransomware? — but we're more than willing to trust Malwarebytes given its excellent track record with the free and effective Anti-Malware platform and other standalone software like Anti-Exploit.
Here's an excerpt of Malwarebytes' post:
Ransomware is easy to understand but hard to beat. It infects the machine, encrypts all files and then demands payment to get the files back. Ransomware works so well that most variants will even remove themselves when the damage is done, knowing you have the choice of either paying the ransomware author to get your files back, or risk losing them forever.
The ransomware we see today is so sophisticated that the advanced encryption it uses makes it impossible to get your files back without paying the ransom. Even using backup systems isn’t an effective countermeasure because ransomware would actively look for different types of backup systems and encrypt them, too.
Most of today’s security software simply cannot protect you from ransomware. Ransomware does not act like traditional malware: some are automatically updated every day, and even use polymorphic (shapeshifting!) code to evade detection. This makes it exceedingly hard to detect.
This is the type of challenge we love. When ransomware hit the headlines, we immediately started looking for a long-term answer.
This story originally appeared on Gizmodo.