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It’s a typical weekday morning. You begin reading emails on your laptop while the coffee brews. One email contains an unexpected business opportunity. The email closes with a request for you to “download the document to view the full proposal.” Before you can stop yourself, you click the link—and immediately a picture like the one above takes over your screen.

Nothing can bring your day to a screeching halt quite like ransomware. This highly malicious form of malware can be defeated, however. So if you’re the victim of a ransomware attack, here are a few steps you should take to get your computer healthy again.

The Clock Is Ticking

First, it’s important to know that you may have a limited time to recover your files. The attackers behind ransomware might demand a quick payment before freeing your computer files. For example, WannaCry typically demands that the affected user pay $300 in bitcoin. If the victim doesn’t pay within three days, the amount doubles. If the ransom is not paid within a week, the computer files are deleted.

Many organizations, including the FBI, urge you not to pay the ransom. They argue that paying the ransom will simply open you up to future attacks. Paying …

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