Anti-Ransomware - Top 5 Defenders Against Ransomware

Janis von Bleichert

Ransomware isn't the most subtle type of malware. If you've been caught out, you'll know fairly soon since a program will open telling you to pay up or risk permanently losing access to your data. Alternatively known as crypto- or extortion Trojans, ransomware locks your files or even system, only 'releasing' its digital hostages after you've paid a hefty ransom. In this article, we'll show you how to prevent this from happening in the first place.

Every year, ransomware causes billions of dollars in damages worldwide, easily making it the greatest malware threat to both individuals and businesses. Like most other kinds of malware, ransomware conceals itself on your computer either in executable programs or corrupted files.

Prevention is the best defense, and that starts with you, the individual user. If you think twice about opening email attachments from people you don't know and regularly update your operating system and programs, you're already ahead of the game and better off than those who don't.

For even more security, most antivirus suites come with integrated anti-ransomware features. We assessed 16 of the leading antivirus programs and without further ado, present what we determined to be the five best in defending against ransomware.

1.

Bitdefender Anti-Ransomware

Best Overall 2022
Bitdefender Antivirus Test
Bitdefender Antivirus
(330,200)
flawless user interface
excellent protection results
configurable quick actions
good support with 24/7 live chat
Our test winner Bitdefender not only offers high security, confirmed by independent test laboratories, but also convinces with its flawless usability and a comprehensive feature package.
Plan
Antivirus Plus
Devices
up to 3
Protection Features
3
Premium Features
2
Bitdefender Antivirus Plus
$29.99
yearly price
Visit Website »
Best Overall
4.8 / 5
excellent

Bitdefender came first in our evaluation since the program does pretty much everything right when it comes to Internet security, and all without any fuss or shortcomings. It serves as an excellent digital bodyguard, which is confirmed by the independent testing labs we consulted, has a sleek and customizable user interface, and offers bags of features to boot.

Alongside more extravagant extras like a VPN and password manager, the software also provides multi-level protection against ransomware. For example, you'll receive a notification whenever it determines that an attempt was made to encrypt your files. Bitdefender also creates automatic backups of your data and removes ransomware from your system as soon as it's identified.

Bitdefender guards your system against online threats, including ransomware.

Thanks to Bitdefender Free, you can get basic protection against ransomware at no cost, however, for the multi-level security we've discussed above, you'll have to reach for your wallet.

Excellent user interface with customizable quick actions

Flawless testing lab results

Good support featuring a 24/7 live chat

Review Score
4.8 / 5
09/2021
excellent
Visit Website
Installation & Usage
5.0 / 5
Support
5.0 / 5
Features
4.7 / 5
Security & Performance
4.7 / 5
2.

Kaspersky Anti-Ransomware

Kaspersky Antivirus Test
Kaspersky Antivirus
(3,779,570)
quick setup
intuitive use interface
a lot of features
special features like VPN
Kaspersky Internet Security is a user-friendly anti-virus protection with perhaps the best feature package on the market.
Plan
Total Security
Devices
up to 5
Protection Features
5
Premium Features
2
Kaspersky Total Security
from $44.99
yearly price
Visit Website »
Free Trial Version
Review Score
4.5 / 5
excellent

With its Internet Security antivirus suite, Kaspersky manages to pack a wide range of features into a user-friendly interface. We particularly liked the ability to customize scans and schedule them well ahead of time.

So far as real-time protection is concerned, we also couldn't find many weaknesses, with added security offered for payments (something, for example, missing from Norton). Beyond that, depending on your subscription, you'll also have access to extras such as parental controls, backups, a VPN, and a password manager.

Ransomware protection is included in all packages.

Kaspersky helps to avoid the dangers posed by ransomware.

No free version of Kaspersky's antivirus suite is offered, however, it is possible to download a free anti-ransomware tool from the Russian developer.

Quick to set up; easy to use

Provides plenty of features in a tidy package

Good security scores from both testing labs

Review Score
4.5 / 5
09/2021
excellent
Visit Website
Installation & Usage
4.7 / 5
Support
4.7 / 5
Features
4.7 / 5
Security & Performance
4.3 / 5
3.

Avast Anti-Ransomware

Avast Antivirus Test
Avast Antivirus
(6,852,496)
many features
easy to use
functional free version
excellent support area
Avast überzeugt mit einer Gratis-Version, die bereits die wichtigsten Funktionen abdeckt. Lediglich bei der Performance gibt es leichte Abzüge.
Plan
Free
Devices
unlimited
Protection Features
3
Premium Features
1
Avast Free
$0.00
Visit Website »
Download for Free
Review Score
4.3 / 5
good

Avast Antivirus is one of the most powerful antivirus programs on the market, packing a wide selection of features into an intuitive user interface. The software's Sandbox is a real highlight, making it possible to open questionable apps or files in a completely secure environment, from where they're unable to harm your system.

Avast's robust security, backed up by high scores from the independent testing labs we consulted, also shows in how it combats ransomware. In addition to basic protection, you can add extra security to selected files. Beyond that, Avast offers some decryption tools for thwarting well-known variants of the Cryptolocker virus.

Avast Antivirus makes sure that your system isn't susceptible to ransomware.

Avast Antivirus offers one of the best free antivirus programs out there, and includes all ransomware shields and tools.

Powerful free version

Loaded with features

Intuitive to use

Review Score
4.3 / 5
09/2021
good
Visit Website
Installation & Usage
4.7 / 5
Features
4.7 / 5
Support
4.0 / 5
Security & Performance
4.0 / 5
4.

Norton Anti-Ransomware

Norton Antivirus Test
Norton Antivirus
(1,698,878)
elegant-intuitive application
good protection performance
great support
incl. password manager and VPN
missing standard features on macOS
Plan
Antivirus Plus
Devices
1
Protection Features
3
Premium Features
3
Norton Antivirus Plus
$19.99
yearly price
Visit Website »
Review Score
4.2 / 5
good

Norton's antivirus suite also performed very well with the testing labs we consulted, offering excellent security. We found its user interface to be both elegant and intuitive since it conveniently makes all features accessible. Additionally, its live chat support is deserving of high praise.

Like Bitdefender, Norton 360 also includes a VPN and a password manager, however, its catalog of features is less extensive than that of its Romanian rival. Anti-theft measures are nowhere to be found, and access to a file shredder requires payment of an additional fee, even for premium subscribers.

Norton does provide most of the features that we look for, however: Alongside Web, webcam, and email protection, there's also real-time monitoring and of course, anti-ransomware capabilities.

Norton offers anti-ransomware capabilities across all of its subscription packages.

Ransomware protection is included in each of Norton's subscription packages, however, the provider doesn't offer a free version of its software, unlike Bitdefender.

Elegant and intuitive user interface

Provides excellent, testing lab-confirmed security

Solid support

Review Score
4.2 / 5
09/2021
good
Visit Website
Support
5.0 / 5
Installation & Usage
4.3 / 5
Security & Performance
4.0 / 5
Features
3.7 / 5
5.

Trend Micro Anti-Ransomware

Trend Micro Antivirus Test
Trend Micro Antivirus
(113,020)
intuitive Benutzeroberfläche
gute Schutzleistung
gute Performance
viele Features
keine Firewall oder Webcam-Schutz
Plan
Antivirus+
Devices
1
Protection Features
5
Premium Features
1
Trend Micro Antivirus+
$29.95
yearly price
Visit Website »
Review Score
4.2 / 5
good

Trend Micro packages strong, testing lab-verified antivirus protection in a user interface that is one of the most user-friendly we've crossed paths with. Apart from that, the Japanese developer offers excellent support, providing a number of means for getting in touch.

The software also protects against ransomware, promising to identify it early and quickly restore encrypted folders or files. Using the integrated Folder Shield, you can specify which areas of your system should receive additional security. Should it already be too late for prevention, you can take advantage of Trend Micro's Crypto-Ransomware File Decryptor Tool, which might help in decrypting your files.

You can apply additional security to specific files and folders with Trend Micro.

All Trend Micro subscriptions include protection against ransomware, however, the developer doesn't offer a free version of their software.

Intuitive user interface

Independent testing lab-verified security and performance

Comes with plenty of features

Review Score
4.2 / 5
09/2021
good
Visit Website
Installation & Usage
4.7 / 5
Security & Performance
4.3 / 5
Support
4.0 / 5
Features
3.7 / 5

Alternatives

Alongside our Top 5 are a number of antivirus programs that afford protection against ransomware. Since ransomware is one of the biggest online threats confronting both individuals and organizations, all 16 programs offer some sort of counter-measures:

Filter
Sort By
G Data Antivirus Test
G Data Antivirus
(11,075)
many configuration options
great support
interface somewhat outdated
desktop app complex to use
Plan
Antivirus
Devices
up to 10
Protection Features
4
Premium Features
0
G Data Antivirus
from $35.35
yearly price
Visit Website »
Review Score
4.2 / 5
good
F-Secure Antivirus Test
F-Secure Antivirus
(15,040)
easy to use
reliable protection
good performance
VPN and password manager
some missing features
Plan
SAFE (3 devices)
Devices
up to 3
Protection Features
4
Premium Features
1
F-Secure SAFE (3 devices)
$34.99
yearly price
Visit Website »
Review Score
4.1 / 5
good
Panda Antivirus Test
Panda Antivirus
(42,335)
good test lab results
free basic protection
many features
half-baked interface
Plan
Advanced
Devices
up to 10
Protection Features
4
Premium Features
1
Panda Security Advanced
from $42.74
yearly price
Visit Website »
Review Score
4.0 / 5
good
Avira Antivirus Test
Avira Antivirus
(654,014)
free version with basic protection
freely configurable scans
easy to use
weak performance in test lab
no ransomware protection for free users
Plan
Free
Devices
unlimited
Protection Features
3
Premium Features
0
Avira Free
$0.00
Visit Website »
Download for Free
Review Score
3.8 / 5
good
ESET Antivirus Test
ESET Antivirus
(948,968)
simple and intuitive interface
many features
many configuration settings
offers UEFI scanners
mixed results in the lab
Plan
Internet Security
Devices
up to 10
Protection Features
6
Premium Features
2
ESET Internet Security
from $49.99
yearly price
Visit Website »
30 Days Free Trial
Review Score
3.8 / 5
good
AVG Antivirus Test
AVG Antivirus
(7,334,260)
very easy to use
free version with basic protection
very secure
weak support
slight performance impact during scan
Plan
Free
Devices
unlimited
Protection Features
4
Premium Features
0
AVG Free
$0.00
Visit Website »
Download for Free
Review Score
3.8 / 5
good
Sophos Antivirus Test
Sophos Antivirus
(45,474)
easy to use
many features
affordable premium licenses
only offers basic features
few options for manual scan
Plan
Home Premium
Devices
up to 10
Protection Features
5
Premium Features
0
Sophos Home Premium
$45.00
yearly price
Visit Website »
Download for Free
Review Score
3.8 / 5
good
Malwarebytes Antivirus Test
Malwarebytes Antivirus
(394,032)
user-friendly application
solid results in the test lab
pricing easy to understand
missing functionalities
noticeable performance issues
Plan
Premium
Devices
up to 5
Protection Features
4
Premium Features
0
Malwarebytes Premium
from $39.99
yearly price
Visit Website »
Download for Free
Review Score
3.2 / 5
satisfactory
BullGuard Antivirus Test
BullGuard Antivirus
(7,877)
Game Booster for gaming
Vulnerability scanner
clunky user interface
some missing features
average lab results
Plan
Antivirus
Devices
1
Protection Features
5
Premium Features
0
BullGuard Antivirus
$29.99
yearly price
Visit Website »
Review Score
3.0 / 5
satisfactory
360 Total Security Test
360 Total Security
(16,765,192)
intuitive handling
low price + free version
several designs to choose from
privacy raises questions
no current lab results
Plan
Premium
Devices
up to 3
Protection Features
5
Premium Features
3
360 Total Security Premium
$35.98
yearly price
Visit Website »
Review Score
2.7 / 5
satisfactory

How We Tested

In choosing our Top 5 we focused on our overall ranking of the best antivirus programs as well as their specific anti-ransomware capabilities. Our ranking is based on extensive reviews of all 16 providers from our sample, which in turn, is a reflection of the scores we awarded in the following four categories:

Installation & Usage

How long did it take to install the software? Is a free version available? If so, does it require the input of a payment method to download/use? How much time does it take to get used to the app? Is it easy to navigate? We answered all of these questions and more at the outset of each review, going through the installation and setup process step by step.

Our 'best in show', Bitdefender, shined in this category: Not only is its dashboard elegant and logically arranged into different topical areas, but users can also add or remove quick actions from the home screen at will, making the program their own.

When it comes to intuitive design in antivirus software, Bitdefender is the gold standard.

Features

All antivirus software should come with a few standard basics, such as scans and real-time protection against malware. However, even among the standards, there can be a considerable amount of contrast, such as the ability to customize scans or how thorough the real-time protection is. In this category, we looked at each program's core features, as well as what else they offer, from password managers to parental controls. In concluding this section, we also examined each provider's mobile app.

Security & Performance

We don't evaluate each program's security, since others can do that much better than us, namely, the two independent testing labs we trust, AV-Test and AV-Comparatives. These regularly and thoroughly assess nearly all well-known antivirus solutions awarding scores in both security and performance. How effective software is at protecting against ransomware figures prominently in its security score.

Support

Some users are DIY types, others prefer to ask professionals. As such, antivirus developers should cater to both, by providing a comprehensive help center loaded with tutorials, FAQs, step-by-step guides, and other content for the first group, while also offering multiple and easy-to-find means for getting in touch with their support staff for the second. At the very least, this should include an email/support ticket, and ideally, a live chat and/or hotline.

Kaspersky combines a well-stocked help center with multiple channels for reaching out to the developer's support staff.

Do you want to learn more about how we assessed each individual provider? You can read full reviews, as well as a longer explanation of our evaluation methodology in our comprehensive guide to antivirus software.

Conclusion

Unfortunately, ransomware looks here to stay. Digital extortion will continue, and according to experts, likely grow, owing to both the ease at which susceptible users can be found as well as the practice's lucrativeness. For that reason, it's more important than ever to protect yourself against ransomware attacks. Browsing or surfing behavior, how often you install updates for your operating system and software, and your tendency to open emails from people you don't know all play an important role in making you either more or less prone to cyber extortion viruses.

To protect yourself even further, look no further than antivirus software, particularly since the real-time protection features accompanying modern programs specifically monitor against ransomware. The best programs that EXPERTE.com's evaluation found were Bitdefender, Kaspersky, Avast, Norton 360, and Trend Micro. But don't take our word for it: You can check all of our reviews for yourself in our ranking of antivirus software.

FAQs

What is ransomware?
Ransomware is a type of malware that encrypts files, folders, or even entire systems, demanding a monetary payoff from their owner for the decryption key. The first ransomware attacks date back to the 1980s, however, today, these nefarious attacks are responsible for billions of dollars in damage.

How can I guard against ransomware?
As is the case with all types of malware: Exercise caution. Concretely, this means regularly updating software and your operating system, not opening emails or downloading attachments from people you don't know, and frequently creating external backups, for example, on the cloud. Beyond that, you can bolster your digital defense with a solid antivirus program, since nearly all of these come equipped with anti-ransomware tools.

What does anti-ransomware do?
Typically, antivirus programs combine a number of different processes and tools to offer comprehensive protection against ransomware. Threats, often highly complex, are identified at multiple levels and blocked, with security gaps, such as missing patches, outdated software, or configuration errors recognized and rectified. Most antivirus suites also offer users the ability to add extra layers of security to specific files or folders.

How can I remove ransomware from my system?
Antivirus programs offer a range of different decryption tools that you can use to attempt to restore files that have been encrypted against your will. Should you have a recent Windows backup, you can also simply reload it. One thing is certain though: Don't ever pay the ransom. In our guide to combating ransomware, you can find out everything else you need to know to remove this type of malware.

Author: Janis von Bleichert
Janis von Bleichert studied business informatics at the TU Munich and computer science at the TU Berlin, Germany. He has been self-employed since 2006 and is the founder of EXPERTE.com. He writes about hosting, software and IT security.
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