A Recovery Guide to Ransomware: Crucial Questions Answered

Lewis Fairburn

Head of Marketing

How to Recover From a Ransomware Attack

Recovering from a Ransomware attack requires a systematic approach to minimise damage and restore normal operations efficiently. The following steps are crucial in the recovery process:

1. Identify the trigger file(s): Determine the file(s) that initiated the attack, as this helps understand the ransomware variant and containment measures needed.

2. Determine the attack style: Analyse the attack style to comprehend the scope of the breach and the type of malware involved. This will aid in formulating an effective recovery plan.

3. Disconnect all devices: Isolate the affected devices from the network immediately to prevent the ransomware from spreading further. This step helps contain the incident and protect other systems.

4. Understand the ransomware: Seek assistance from cybersecurity experts to decrypt the ransomware and identify any known recovery solutions or decryption tools. This will help in the recovery process.

5. Restore file systems: Once the ransomware has been removed, restore files from a backup solution, such as offline backups or cloud applications. Ensure the backup files are clean and secure before restoring them to prevent reinfection.

Recovering from a ransomware attack can be a complex and time-consuming process. Prompt identification and containment, coupled with regular backups and proactive cybersecurity measures, are essential in minimising the impact of such incidents.

What Should Companies Do if They Have Been Attacked With Ransomware?

If a company falls victim to a ransomware attack, immediate action must be taken to mitigate the damage. Here are the crucial steps that organisations should follow in such situations:

1. Assess the Extent of Damage

Begin by determining the type of ransomware and the scope of the attack. Identify which systems and data have been compromised to assess the potential impact on operations and business functions.

2. Report to a Law Enforcement Agency and Internet Service Provider

Notify law enforcement agencies about the attack. Additionally, inform your internet service provider (ISP) to help investigate and prevent further attacks.

3. Isolate Infected Devices

Isolate and disconnect the infected devices from the network so that the ransomware can be spread. This step can help contain the attack and limit further damage.

4. Restore Backup Data

Use backup solutions and offline backups to restore clean copies of encrypted data. Regularly backing up data and securely storing it can assist in rapid recovery from ransomware attacks.

5. Inform Customers and Investors

Transparency is crucial during such incidents. Organisations should promptly inform their customers, partners, and investors about the attack to maintain trust and manage expectations. Communication should include details of the incident, the steps taken to mitigate damage, and any potential impact on services.

By following these steps, organisations can effectively respond to a ransomware attack, limit its impact, and swiftly restore normal operations.

How Long Does it Take to Recover From Ransomware?

The recovery time from a ransomware attack can vary depending on several factors, including an organisation's level of preparedness, incident response capabilities, and the severity of the attack. The average time it takes to recover from a ransomware attack can range from a few days to several weeks.

One of the key elements that can impact the recovery timeline is incident reporting. The sooner an organisation can detect and report a ransomware attack, the faster it can initiate its incident response plan. This includes activating the incident response team and conducting a forensic analysis to understand the extent of the breach and the type of malware involved.

The severity of the attack also plays a role in the recovery time. If the ransomware variant is particularly complex or the attack has spread across multiple network segments, it may take longer to eradicate the ransomware and restore impacted systems. Additionally, if the organisation does not have an effective disaster recovery plan or backup solutions in place, the recovery process will be more time-consuming.

Another factor that affects recovery time is the search for a decryption key. In some cases, organisations may be able to obtain a decryption tool to unlock their files. However, this process can be time-consuming, especially if the decryption key is not readily available.

In conclusion, the recovery time from a ransomware attack can vary widely based on an organisation's preparedness, incident response capabilities, and the severity of the attack. Organisations must invest in robust cybersecurity defences, incident response plans, and backup solutions to minimise the potential impact of a ransomware attack and ensure a swift recovery.

Best Practices for Ransomware Attack Recovery

Ransomware attacks are rapidly increasing in frequency and sophistication, posing significant challenges to organisations of all sizes. In the event of a successful attack, the recovery process is crucial in minimising downtime and reducing the overall impact on business operations. Having a well-defined ransomware recovery plan and implementing best practices can significantly shorten the recovery time and mitigate the damage caused by such incidents. Next we will explore the best practices for ransomware attack recovery, including incident response planning, backup solutions, network protection, and the utilisation of cybersecurity experts. By following these practices, organisations can recover from ransomware attacks and resume normal business operations as quickly as possible.


Preparation is crucial when it comes to addressing a ransomware attack. Companies need to be proactive in their approach to cybersecurity and have a thorough understanding of potential malware and the various forms of ransomware that may be used against them.


Prevention is crucial in the recovery process of a ransomware attack. By implementing robust security defences, organisations can reduce the risk of falling victim to such incidents and minimise the overall impact on their operations.


Detection plays a crucial role in the recovery process from a ransomware attack. With the increasing sophistication of ransomware attacks, organisations need robust endpoint detection and response (EDR) solutions to identify and isolate potential threats within their network.


After a ransomware attack, conducting a thorough assessment is of utmost importance for organisations to properly recover and strengthen their cybersecurity defences. A ransomware-specific assessment allows organisations to identify vulnerabilities, evaluate the impact of the attack, and develop an effective recovery plan to minimise future risks.


Recovering from a ransomware attack can be complex and time-consuming, with an average downtime of 21 days. The recovery process relies heavily on a robust incident response plan.

Key Elements of an Effective Ransomware Recovery Plan

A ransomware attack can be devastating for any organisation, leading to significant financial losses, reputational damage, and disruption of business operations. Recovering from such an attack requires careful planning and a well-defined ransomware recovery plan. Critical elements of an effective ransomware recovery plan include incident response preparation, backup solutions, network protection measures, and a robust disaster recovery plan. 

Find the Trigger File(s)

When it comes to recovering from a ransomware attack, identifying and removing trigger files is a critical step in the process. Trigger files play a significant role in initiating the ransomware attack, and finding and eliminating them is essential to stopping the malicious activity and restoring normal operations.

To locate trigger files, it is important to search through all devices affected by the ransomware attack. These files can be found in various locations, including temporary folders, system directories, or even within legitimate program folders.

Determine Attack Style

Determining the attack style associated with a ransomware incident is crucial for effectively responding to the situation. Understanding the type of ransomware used and the specific attack style employed by the attackers can greatly influence the recovery process.

There are several attack styles commonly associated with ransomware incidents. These include email phishing campaigns, malicious website downloads, exploit kits, remote desktop protocol (RDP) attacks, and botnets. Each attack style utilises different methods to deliver the ransomware payload and infect the victim's system.

Identifying the attack style is essential for developing an appropriate incident response (IR) plan. The IR plan outlines the necessary steps to limit the damage, contain the attack, and initiate the recovery process. Knowing the attack style, the incident response team can prioritise their actions and deploy the most effective countermeasures.

Disconnect all Devices

When it comes to recovering from a ransomware attack, one crucial step that organisations must take is to disconnect all devices from the infected network. By doing so, they can effectively limit the effects of the attack and prevent further spread of the malicious software.

Disconnecting vulnerable devices from the network helps to block the propagation of the ransomware and minimises the potential damage. This critical action prevents the malware from easily accessing and infecting other devices within the network, effectively containing the impact of the attack.

Understand the Ransomware

Understanding the ransomware that has infected a system is of utmost importance when it comes to recovery. Different types of ransomware may require different approaches for decryption or removal. By understanding the specific ransomware variant, victims can identify if there is a known decryption tool or if assistance from malware experts is required.

Recovering from ransomware may be possible using web-based software or specialised ransomware encryption removal tools. These tools can attempt to decrypt the files or remove the malicious code from the infected system. However, it is crucial to proceed with caution and seek guidance from malware experts or cybersecurity professionals who are experienced in dealing with ransomware attacks.

There are several resources available to learn more about ransomware and recovery solutions. Online forums, blogs, and cybersecurity websites often provide valuable information and advice on ransomware prevention, incident response plans, and recovery strategies. Additionally, organisations can consider engaging the services of cybersecurity experts or ransomware recovery professionals who specialize in assisting victims of ransomware attacks.

Restore File Systems

Restoring file systems after a ransomware attack is an essential part of the recovery process. When a ransomware attack occurs, it encrypts files on the victim's system and demands a ransom payment in exchange for the decryption key. To recover from such an attack, organisations need to restore their file systems to a pre-attack state.

Having a backup strategy in place is crucial to ensure the availability and security of data. Continuous data protection (CDP) is a backup solution that captures changes to data in real time, allowing for quicker recovery. It creates multiple restore points, enabling organisations to roll back to a point before the ransomware attack.

There are two methods of file system restoration: a DIY system restore and third-party disaster recovery. DIY system restore involves using backup and recovery solutions to restore files independently. It provides more control over the recovery process but requires technical expertise and resources.

Frequently Asked Questions :

Recovering from a ransomware attack is a complex process that often raises several questions. The most commonly asked questions surrounding ransomware recovery include:

  • How long does it take to recover?
  • The timeline for recovery from a ransomware attack can vary depending on the severity of the attack and the extent of file encryption. In addition to disconnecting vulnerable devices and understanding the ransomware, organisations should also consider restoring their file systems. Having a backup strategy in place is essential to mitigate data loss during an attack and help speed up the recovery process. 
  • Is paying the ransom the only solution?
  • No, paying the ransom is not the only solution for recovering from a ransomware attack. In most cases, it is not recommended to pay the ransom as there is no guarantee that access to encrypted files will be granted after payment. It is essential to take preventative measures such as backing up data regularly and disconnecting vulnerable devices from the network.
  • What is the role of the IT team in the recovery process?
  • The IT team plays a vital role in the ransomware recovery process. The team should be trained on responding to and mitigating ransomware attacks, ensuring they understand the steps required for successful recovery. The IT team needs to have a clear understanding of the encryption methods used by the ransomware, as well as an understanding of how to identify affected systems and devices.

In conclusion, the recovery process is a complex one, but the steps taken to recover from a ransomware attack can be made easier and faster with an effective backup strategy in place. The IT team should also be trained in responding to and mitigating ransomware attacks, ensuring they understand the steps required for successful recovery.

Pentest People offers a Ransomware Defence Assessment to help your business put the right steps in place, correct processes and strategies to defend against future attacks and support you in the event of a breach. Contact us today to see how we can help.

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