This free fix will stop Cryptowall 4 from holding your PC hostage

The latest variant of the Cryptowall file locker can be stopped in its tracks with a simple proactive fix.

A new ransomware variant is making its rounds, but one antivirus firm has a preventative fix that could save users both money and heartache.

As we reported earlier, a new variant of the infamous ransomware has been spotted in the wild.

Known as Cryptowall 4, the ransomware infects Windows machines, encrypts files, and demands users cough up crypto-cash to unlock their documents. The new variant, thought to have been developed by Russian hackers, emakes it even harder to crack the files by scrambling file names.

Romanian antivirus firm Bitdefender said Monday it has developed a "vaccine" that can prevent a user from becoming infected with the malware.

In a blog post, the company said it had identified infections in the US; many Western European countries like France, Italy, Germany, and Spain; India, and China. The company added that the malware does not infect a machine if it detects Russian as a keyboard language.

The tool, which can be downloaded for free from its site, does not undo the damage if the malware has already infected a machine, and only applies to the latest Cryptowall 4 malware.

Estimates from the FBI show that ransomware is ensnaring thousands of victims every week, costing millions of dollars in losses.

Image via Bitdefender.