Protect your PC from ransomware

Protect your PC from ransomware

To help keep your devices safe against ransomware attacks such as WannaCrypt, back up your data regularly, make sure automatic updates are turned on, and your devices are up to date.


  • In Windows 10, go to Settings  > Update & Security. You’ll see your update status there.
  • In Windows 8.1, go to Settings  > Change PC Settings Update and recovery.
  • In Windows 7, go to Control Panel > Windows Update.

If your update status says that your device is up to date, then you’re all set. Otherwise, Microsoft recommends you immediately install Microsoft Security Bulletin MS17-010. Chat With Exports

Find out more about the WannaCrypt ransomware virus.

Ransomware is computer malware that restricts access—or even stops you from using your PC—or encrypts your files. It then tries to force you into paying money (a ransom) to regain access to them.

Some of the ways you can get infected by ransomware include:

  • Visiting unsafe, suspicious, or fake websites.
  • Opening emails and email attachments that you weren’t expecting or from people you don’t know.
  • Opening malicious or bad links in emails, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media posts, or in instant messenger chats, like Skype.

You can often recognize a fake email and web page because they have bad spelling, or just look unusual. Look out for strange spellings of company names (like “PayePal” instead of “PayPal”) or unusual spaces, symbols, or punctuation (like “iTunesCustomer Service” instead of “iTunes Customer Service”).

Ransomware can target any PC—whether it’s a home computer, PCs on an enterprise network, or servers used by a government agency.

How can I help keep my PC secure?

Whether you’ve just bought a new PC or you’re using the same one you’ve had, there are some ways in which you can try to keep it more secure:

  • Make sure your PC is up to date with the latest version of Windows.
  • Turn on Windows Defender Antivirus to help protect you from viruses and malware.
  • Turn on File History if it hasn’t already been turned on by your PC’s manufacturer.
  • Back up the content on your PC regularly.
  • Take advantage of storage space to maintain two copies of your PC data.

If you suspect you’ve been infected

Use antimalware programs, such as Windows Defender Antivirus, whenever you’re concerned your PC might be infected—for example, if you hear about a new malware in the news or you notice odd behavior on your PC.

If you actually get a ransomware infection

Unfortunately, a ransomware infection doesn’t show itself until you see some type of notification, either in a window, an app, or a full-screen message, demanding money to regain access to your PC or files. These messages often display after encrypting your files.

Try fully cleaning your PC with Windows Defender Offline. You should do this before you try to recover your files. Also, see Backup and Restore in Windows 10 for help on backing up and recovering files for your version of Windows.