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Bitdefender has developed a tool that can prevent users from having their files held to ransom by notorious crypto ransomwareiStock

Romanian security researchers have released a free vaccine that aims to prevent users from falling victim to notorious forms of ransomware. It does this by pretending that your PC has already been infected and encrypted, which prompts the malware to skip your machine during an attack.

A recent cybersecurity report by Trend Micro said that one of the biggest cyber threats in 2016 will be crypto-ransomware, which picked up momentum in the last quarter of 2015 – as 83% of all data extortion attacks were performed using crypto-ransomware.

Bitdefender tool cannot yet crack TeslaCrypt 3

Bitdefender has created a free tool specially designed to defeat some of the most notorious crypto-ransomware families including Locky, CTB-Locker and CryptoWall.

The tool also works on some versions of TeslaCrypt, but not the most recent version TeslaCrypt 3. On 18 March, Talos, the security research arm of Cisco announced that TeslaCrypt 3 is currently impossible to decrypt.

"Bitdefender is currently working on updating the vaccine to protect against the latest TeslaCrypt iteration. It is a work in progress," a Bitdefender spokesperson told IBTimes UK.

Bitdefender always advises users to make sure that they are using a comprehensive antivirus solution on their PCs, and rely on the combination crypto-ransomware vaccine as a last resort. And of course, users should remain vigilant about opening email attachments from people they don't know, or whom have no reason to email them certain types of files.

CryptoWall and TeslaCrypt have been around since 2014, but ransomware Locky is the new beast that hides in macros of Microsoft Word, as well as JavaScript-based attachments.

Infamous for hijacking the computer systems of a Los Angeles hospital, Locky forced the institution to pay out $17,000 (£11,830) in bitcoins to get its network up and running again.